The Direction of Indian Politics
Indian politics is headed towards a challenging direction, one which could have momentous implications for the country’s plural nature and Indian state’s secular character. The urge to mix politics and religion usually comes at the expense of secularism, tolerance and societal peace. Whether its Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka – violence targeting minorities with apparent impunity is increasingly becoming common.
The arrogance of power, hatemongering in the name of religion sows the seeds of instability and violence. In India the riptide of politics and religion is obvious to mind if one tries to understand BJP and PM Modi’s ‘Hindutva’, a religious hindu chauvinism that sanctions and perpetuates the politics of hate and ‘othering’ in the name of religion. This ‘othering’ can also been seen when the BJP tries to appropriate leaders of the past and eminent personalities who made great contributions– very important to win the hearts and minds of the 90s Kids – the young demography which today contributes a sizeable share to the Indian population.
The politics of “us and them” is the calling card of the ruling party, the BJP – even after having the majority mandate the party and its leaders are indulged in polarization which only points to the fact that the policies introduced by the BJP and Modi aren’t working and there are absolutely no policy outcomes to show. Hence the BJP occasionally fudges government data and changes methodologies for calculation with the help of Statisticians. Imagine, the Indian state today uses statisticians to reduce the number of Farmer Suicide in the revenue books. Happens only in India I guess.
Vote for Modi, Give life to the Cow
2014 elections BJP campaigned with the slogan “Vote for Modi, Give life to the Cow” – we became one of the largest beef exporters in the world under Modi, accounting for almost a quarter of the global market, earning more than 4 billion dollars a year, the hypocrisy is jarring Another slogan of course “the cows will be saved, the country will be saved” – Sure India is a nice place for cows, what about humans?
The question the population need to ask themselves is that if religious compassion was foremost in a politician’s mind they might show more for the masses of people living in poverty, farmers driven to suicide because of debts they can’t repay or women all over the country complaining about lack of security and police invisibility in public places. Why are cows more important than these people? Or is it just an excuse, since they cannot perform at all. Where are the people who ask the right questions?
Losing Diversity at the Cost of ‘Belief’
India is proud of calling itself the largest democracy, yet failing to uphold the rule of law and allowing self appointed guardians of Hinduism (don’t confuse it with Hindutva) engaged in public lynching against the minority, it is a blot on nation’s dignity and is an assault on human rights. The silence of the majority is deemed acceptance. And somehow the young don’t understand for what it is and the old don’t really care – half of them are feudal anyway. Historian D N Jha’s book “myth of the holy cow” is an interesting read if anybody likes to reason with cow politics.
India is such a diverse nation there is no alternative to tolerance, you eventually have to accept everyone for who they are, what they do, what they eat and how do they live. Every political commentator around the world writes how ‘hindu nationalism’ is in rise in India, but the thing is there is nothing hindu about hindu nationalism. how are you going to build a just and inclusive society if the PM and the largest ruling party members are happily reaping the dividends of communal polarization.
Is this the End of Idealogical Politics?
With this the days of ideological politics are gone. Politics, corporate and media nexus is constantly bombarding the people with hate, with narratives that divide people, the most unimportant issues are debated in prime time whether its loudspeaker or a yogi smooching cows in his cowshed, the popular jingoism that is sweeping the middle class revolving around the army, prime minister permanently being in the election mode and with far right hate politics is keeping the nation in a perpetual state of agitation. With this useless information overload you just have to give up your expectations that any good is going to come out ‘of you’ getting involved in politics. But then, you pay taxes too. Somebody has to answer where your money is being used.
What we see is the end of local politics, local candidates discussing national issues which are mostly exaggerated, whether its national security, corruption and nationalism. The use of social media to influence the voters, significant increase in the number of local TV channels made every local election a matter of national debate. India is a large political union, there is an election taking place somewhere in the country, and with the help of this complicit media the national party is capable of keeping the entire country in an election mode.
Majority Appeasement Politics
Speaking against minorities and spreading hatred by party officials is seen in India as a legitimate voter mobilizing strategy. We the people keep hoping that once the ruling party is in power, the power will make them responsible and inclusive but that isn’t the case here. We see, India witnessing a complete takeover of its social, political, intellectual and cultural space by the BJP and RSS. With media being a helping hand in this takeover process, victimization of journalists offline by vigilantes and online by social media paid trolls, gradual takeover of media organization by business groups aligned with BJP is leaving very little space for alternate contesting voices.
India is fast becoming a one party state, combined with the fascist tendencies of RSS, you sometimes wonder whether democracy is really at risk. Even after the BJP is ousted from power, its going to be an impossible task for the Indian state to untangle those nationalist knots. The damage is already done.
We the people set our priorities straight, justice equality and toleration should be the guiding features of our body politic, we should think twice before wasting our energies on non-issues – discussions on whether Modi and Smriti Irani have fake degrees or not, spending house of air time on these debates are counterproductive. Democracy recognizes ordinary citizens posses political competence and entitled to participate in policy debates.
Every individual has the right to be heard and has the right to hold their elected representatives to account for acts of omission and commission. But a complete ignorance by the present national leadership has murdered the national political discourse. I would blame the young and old for being ignorant on national issues. Young don’t want to learn and the old forgot to teach – Indian values, culture and history; which is haunting us all equally.