The turmoil continues in India over police violence, over the attempts by the Centre to destroy Jawaharlal Nehru University, over the imposition of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on an angry population, over the imminent invasion of the National Register of Indian Citizens(NRIC) and the National Population Register(NPR). There are protests across the country, regardless of brutal retaliation by various police forces and the hardened stance of the Government of India.
All this is part of the RSS dream to create a majoritarian Hindu state where every Indian who is not a card-carrying member of the Sangh Parivar will become a second-class citizen in their own land. In the face of enormous public anger, some governments try and reason, back down, wait. That is democracy. But the BJP and its owners do not want democracy. They want autocracy, or perhaps even their version of a fascist theocracy.
The tragedy for India is that none of this is new or unknown. It’s just that the gradual normalisation of the RSS and its bigotry has become institutionalised. At the same time, its biggest ideological opponent, the Left, has delegitimised itself. Barring Kerala, it has lost electoral strength and the mirror it held up to prejudiced India is now too ineffective. As the right-wing drumming has grown louder, other voices have got softer.
The vagaries of regional politics have brought India to this pass, in a sense. And yet, given the stranglehold that the BJP-led Centre has on most public institutions, today regional powers are India’s only hope.
As the orange (distinct from saffron in the tricolour) wave in states has receded somewhat, there is a possible chance, slim as of yet, that the Constitution of India will stand strong. Given the dark times we live in, even the refusal of the Supreme Court of India to endorse the constitutionality of the CAA, was seen as a victory of sorts for democracy.
It’s early days yet and plenty of wishful thinking. The very fact that Delhi Police could brazenly charge the very students who were thrashed by ABVP activists in JNU on the night of January 5 shows that there is no chance of getting justice from that quarter.
In case anyone has forgotten, this police force stood about and did nothing as masked invaders went on a rampage through the JNU campus. Do they want us to now believe that the Delhi police are leftists under instruction from a leftist student organisation to allow attacks on JNU students, teachers and property? The mind boggles at how much rubbish we’re supposed to quietly swallow.
This is a major problem: we’ve swallowed enough rubbish happily enough since 2013 since Narendra Modi’s campaign kicked into full gear. Or since 2011, when the India Against Corruption movement roused public anger against the incumbent UPA government, egged on by a complicit media. That anger was based on what we now know are false figures floated by the Comptroller and Auditor General on spectrum auctions.
The media has remained complicit since in normalising bigotry and prejudice. Or worse, encouraging the spread of anti-minority, anti-Dalit, anti-underprivileged hatred and discrimination.
Experts in the future will effectively analyse why India gave in to fascism and religious majoritarianism so easily. But for us, now, we can see a trajectory. We can see how we allowed ourselves to be fooled, nimbly assisted by a large number of enablers in the media, in academia, in business, in educational institutions, to believe that the BJP and only the BJP and Modi and only Modi had all the answers to save India and take us forward to some mythical glittering future.
Why did we give in to this mass hypnosis? Since May 2014, India has been on a downward curve on every single aspect of life except hatred and violence. Forget growth and development, we have no economy, no quality of life, no livelihood.
All around us is distress and destruction. And we have a government which still talks of bogus dreams like a “5 trillion dollar economy”. The Prime Minister of India was too scared to go to Assam to inaugurate the Khelo India Youth Games because of threatened anti-CAA protests. Assam is a BJP-ruled state. The Prime Minister is the most well-guarded person in India.
Voters who fell for the propaganda were promised a 56-inch chest.
Instead, we got hatred, misery, destruction and cowardice.