Thursday, 22 March 2018


 It has been over three and a half years since Narendra Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party came to power at the center in India. It was the favorite party of an educated middle class, especially upper caste people. People had high expectations. It was hoped that caste-based politics will end and corruption will be curbed. Politics of nationalism also held an appeal for the youth. It was believed that nation would become strong by bringing back the glory of past. Narendra Modi was going to be the hero of such a resurgent India.
            What has changed in this period? In addition to other kinds of crimes and reasons for the death of people now several new items can be added to the list without any amelioration in the earlier ones like farmers’ suicides or malnourishment related deaths.

 Now, if a person is suspected of having consumed beef, is seen carrying cattles for whatever purpose, decides to get into an inter-caste or inter-religious marital alliance, especially the marriage of a Muslim boy with a Hindu girl, holds a contrarian point of view to that of Hindutva, defecates outside as there is no toilet at home, refuses to raise ‘bharat mata ki jai,’ ‘vande matram’ or ‘jai shree ram’ slogans, there is good possibility that he could be beaten up by some gang of lumpen elements claiming to represent one of the Hindutva organisations or even may get killed by assailants coming on motorcycles. India is not the same inclusive country as it was before 2014 when it was considered to represent a culture of unity in diversity. Its dominant religion Hinduism was considered a religion of tolerance. Now it has come to symbolize assertive, arrogant religion ready to produce violent reaction at the slightest provocation, either real or made up. Rather than going back to any glorious past it is legitimising a mob culture of executing summary punishment to perceived guilty. The worst aspect of this is the silence of top BJP leadership on these crimes almost making it appear as if gory things are happening under their patronage.
            The quality of educational institutions which was not very good, to begin with, is being compromised by appointment of mediocre people with no independent thinking. Bhartiya Janata Party is supposed to represent the interests of educated class but it is a major contradiction that educational qualifications of some of its top leaders like Narendra Modi, Smriti Irani, and Manohar Lal Khattar are suspect. It is not clear whether they have obtained their degrees in a genuine manner, making a mockery of our education system.
            In spite of numerous forays abroad, India’s international standing has suffered because the unilateral focus of Prime Minister was to isolate Pakistan at international fora by raising the bogey of terrorism. Unfortunately, the PM’s vision was not larger than this. The worldviews Pakistan not a perpetrator but as a victim of the crime. Most of India’s neighbors – Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Myanmar – have moved closer to China and entered into long-term partnerships with it. India has been found to be non-trustworthy compared to China from smaller countries’ perspective. What can be a bigger failure of India’s foreign policy than this?
            Demonetisation was not honest. Bigger denomination notes were soon brought back in circulation. The purpose of checking corruption by making it inconvenient to carry large cash was defeated. The overall effect seems to have been that all the black money was regularised by bringing it into the system. Sustenance of electoral politics on black money is the primary reason for corruption in this country but not an office of any major political party or politician was raided. Similarly, no industrialists, other big hoarders of black money, were touched. Narendra Modi seems to have helped the corrupt. The honest suffered as her income dropped and she had to stand in long queues. In any case, Narendra Modi has been discovered to be more of a buddy of Adani and Ambani than that of common people.
  Goods and Services Tax was implemented as if something akin to the independence of the country was taking place. Midnight parliament was called. The unthoughtful scheme broke the backbone of the economy. The number of businesses closed shop. Hence instead of creating jobs as every government is expected to do the Modi government took them away. It is a good example of how far removed from reality the government was operating.
            BJP government has taken a decision to sell Air India. It is not averse to even a foreign carrier buying it. Indian Railways may be the next in line. This government has not created an asset worth the name but is ready to sell things created by past governments of whom it is very critical. The test of the government is its ability to turn around things rather than take the easy option out.
            Narendra Modi dedicated the Sardar Sarovar dam built by previous governments to the nation on his birthday without addressing the problem of people displaced due to the construction of the dam or protests held by Medha Patkar prior to and on the day of the inauguration at a different location. Similarly, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan did the parikrama of Narmada with much fanfare without once enquiring about the displaced from various dams built on the Narmada.
            CM of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath’s priority seems to be the building of a temple in Ayodhya rather than the health of children suffering from Japanese encephalitis in a Medical College hospital close to his Gorakhnath Math. He has publicly declared that ‘Secularism’ is the biggest lie in Constitution.
  Rather than providing an alternative to the politics of caste, the BJP seems to have provoked the worst feelings of caste and religion among people. Hate crimes based on religion and caste-based groups protesting the screening of Padmavati have further made people conscious of the boundaries of segregation in society. The Dalits and backward at least have a reason to mobilize on caste lines – to fight the discrimination against them. The upper caste groups under the BJP regime indulge in mindless acts some of which turn violent. It is sickening to see people associated with the ‘peaceful’ religion of Hinduism derive vicarious pleasure with glee watching or hearing about these violent incidents. The world is watching with horror India’s transformation to a hypocritical nation.
            The people who have known Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the ideological parent of BJP, had warned at the beginning. But the educated people and intellectuals who have supported BJP in last general election and in various states must reflect what kind of country we want? The ideology which is responsible for Mahatma Gandhi’s murder and demolition of the Babri Masjid, which invited the problem of terrorism to India, is undoing whatever progress India has made in the direction of a modern nation with a progressive ideology based on Constitutional values of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity.


Edited by Adam Rizvi

Sandeep Pandey is an Indian social activist. Magsaysay Award recipient, Gandhian and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a co-founder of Asha for Education. He is a Former Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar.

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