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Some Dominant Features of Contemporary India

The people of this country want to live in peace and harmony, and not in conflict and fear

Tuesday September 24, 2019 6:16 AM, Syed Ali Mujtaba

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There are some dominant features of the contemporary India that needs to be narrated to understand the nature and direction of change that our country is making in a push to redefine nationalism and the bench marks of patriotism. A short summery is that these dominant features of contemporary India, screams loudly that the words like humanity, democracy, justice are shallow and hollow that can be sacrificed on the altar of nationalism.

Weak and Timid Opposition

Currently, the ruling BJP do not face any challenge from its political rivals and lords over the Parliamentary majority. The opposition Congress Party is rudderless mired in an internal leadership battle. Regional parties, such as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Rashtrya Janata Dal party in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are decimated on the ground. The Trinamool Congress in West Bengal has suffered surprise defeats at the hands on BJP in last general election. So the weakened regional parties do not have the wherewithal to put a leash on the ruling party, the current lord and master of Hindustan.

The BJP government in a veiled threat to its opponents to entangle them in corruption cases has effectively blunted their voices. Seeing the plight of MA Chidambram, many opposition leaders are compelled to redeem themselves by taking strongly nationalist positions and avoiding any face off. Arvind Kejriwal and Myawati are toeing the government line on Kashmir for fear from democracy rather any conviction towards it.

The opposition does not have the self-confidence to take on the rising tide of nationalism stoked by the BJP leader Narendra Modi. Modi’s nationalism has thrown the entire opposition into a tizzy and has bankrupted their intellectual resolve to protect the constitution and the democratic values. The opposition is unable to mount any effective resistance to the ideology threats to core values of our constitution and democratic institutions.

The opposition political parties are unwilling to give a call to stop the Modi’s juggernaut that is harming our democracy and shaming the India’s plural values. If one can recall, on 8 May 1974, George Fernandez as a trade unionist gave a call for nationwide railway strike and then the whole country came to a grinding halt. Now, if we look at the hardship each Indian faced during the horrendous note ban decision in 2016, why no political party gave any such a call. Even the rigged election of 2019 that brought the BJP to a commanding majority in the Parliament was never resisted by the opposition parties and accepted as a fait accompli. So timidity and weakness are the hallmarks of the opposition parties, They lack credibility to lead the nation as a result injustices are being unleashed by the ruling party and this is one of the dominant feature of contemporary India.

Independence of Judiciary in jeopardy

It is glaringly being seen that the Supreme Court and other high courts and lower courts are not functioning independently. It appears that in their judiciary have virtually abdicated their responsibilities to defend core values of Indian constitution and are indifferent to protect the democratic values. For example, the Supreme Court has declined to give immediate judgment on abrogation of article 370 & 35 A and allowed it to play it out. It also turned blind eye towards the human rights abuse done by the government and the mass detentions in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. There is no justice to the rape victims and murder by lynch mob or cow vigilant by the judiciary. There is complete weakening of independent judicial system in the country and is yet another feature of contemporary India.

Malicious use of Public Institutions

Security agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CB) are being used by the government to target its political opponents. The unprecedented hurry that the enforcements sleuths had shown to get PA Chidambram by climbing the wall of his house in New Delhi, shames even Indira and Sajay Gandhi of their high handiness.

In addition, the current government has sought to exercise direct control over public universities and controlling their academic freedom. The way Jawaharlal Nehru University and other institutions are being haunted by the government is a glaring example of the government’s intensions. In the same chain of link is the diktat on the owners of media companies and editors who are critical of the government. They are coerced to publish pro government reports refrain from contents that may trigger antigovernment sentiments. The way the reportage on situation in Kashmir is being done by the media is a vivid account how the government has asked the media houses to sing ‘His Master’s Voice’ tune or face its music.

Muslims being targeted

Since Modi government came into power in 2014, there has been a spike in religious hate crimes against the Muslims in India. Added to the communal violence, the lynching of Muslims by the Hindu cow vigilante has added into the crime diary against Indian Muslims. The murder mob given clean chit by the courts has made a mockery of justice in the country. The fact is no one has yet being punished for the demolition of the Babari mosque in 1992 and Hindu criminals are going Scott free is vividly evident. The outlawing of practice of triple talaq a move towards the abolition of Muslim Personal Law is another example of the subjugation of the Muslims in India. The ruling government by converting Jammu and Kashmir into a union territory has yet again demonstrated to downgrade its only Muslim-majority state with the brute force of Parliamentary majority. In Assam, the government has a created National Register of Citizens where it has identified nearly two million residents as foreigners. In this register though there are both Hindus and Muslims are stripped of citizenship, it’s likely that under Modi government, Hindu’s citizenship may be restored but Muslims will be excluded and rendered stateless, forced into detention camps. All these narratives fit into the dominant pattern of deliberate marginalization of Indian Muslims under the current government.

Probability of war given a push

India has adopted a muscular Kashmir policy to solve the problem of sub nationalism seething since seventy years in the Kashmir valley. The current government has asserted its muscular policy by the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A that gave special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The current government by doing so wants to send out the message that in India democracy is no more where the will of the people is sovereign. There is an explicit message in to Pakistan that India does not recognize its claim on Kashmir. India also has also shown defiance to the world community that it cares two hoots to bodies like United Nation and its other organs, and has challenged their supremacy in the world order. The new Indian position on Kashmir has closed all the doors of negotiations on the question of sovereignty and self-determination of Kashmir and have outcast the people of Kashmir, Pakistan or the rest of the world who want for a peaceful resolution of this vexed problem.

India's new position on Kashmir, in such situation has brightened the possibility of war both with Pakistan and China at the same time. The current government is confident that it can defeat the enraged Pakistan in an act of war. The government of the day is also self-convinced that can call off the nuclear bluff of its adversary and have the wherewithal to face its opponent menacingly threating with weapons of mass destruction. The current dispensation is also confident to run over Chinese territory of CPEC and could deter its nuclear warheads in case of war with the PLA.

Well, if this is the mindset of the current dispensation of the country then what will be the fate of the nation if war is forced on the country due to misconceived muscular of the current government. The people of this country want to live in peace and harmony, and not in conflict and fear that is being created by the government in power is another feature of contemporary India.

The BJP government in a push for nationalist conformity seen as an attempt to create a nation marching to the tune of nationalism has a horrendous impact with cascading effects. Beneath the symbolic shows of nationalism there is a fearful vision of India where democracy, justice, constitution are being compromised, where dissent is a crime, where opposition and media are being gagged, where normal institutional protections are fast vanishing. These are some of the dominant features of contemporary India. The irony is the a few people sees these prosecutions not as malicious abuses of state power but as part of the Prime Minister’s drive to create a new India. It looks inspired by Mein Kampf India is making tryst with destiny under Modi 2.0.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com.]

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