Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


Modi’s gyrations in the U.S. in the company of assorted tech tycoons in Silicon Valley exhibit his desperation to connect with his followers and cheerleaders, who now seem to be mostly in the diaspora, as a way of compensating for his lackluster performance at home.  Facebook, Google, and Microsoft executives are embracing him because their markets at home are saturating and they are looking for other opportunities to make money. It is interesting that the rosier accounts of his trip are all in the Indian media, which is still in thrall to him, while the mainstream U.S. press appears to have mostly ignored him.


Back at home in India, all the recent political and cultural news reinforces the trajectory the nation embarked on after the 2014 election. The party that acquired an absolute majority of seats in the Lok Sabha with 30% of the popular vote is now accelerating its drive towards subverting the liberal-democratic Constitution bequeathed to the nation by its founders after independence from Britain. The acts of hate, intolerance, and bigotry being perpetrated on the Indian political, social, and cultural fabric by organized groups or individuals connected to the ruling dispensation, are not, in and of themselves new or unknown; they were, on occasion, resorted to during earlier regimes in pursuit of “pragmatic” policies aimed at placating, wooing, or, more often, surrendering to sundry interest groups that were important vote banks in various areas of the country. But that was then. What is being done now is a comprehensive programmatic attempt to remake the fabric of the country to serve a majoritarian interest defined solely in terms of religious identity, Hindutva or Hindu-ness, on the surface but behind which looms a monolithic, unelected, upper-caste, hierarchical organization, the RSS. This shadowy organization, that claims it is merely a cultural group, is the true ruler of India; the BJP is merely its political wing and Modi, a former RSS pracharak, its choice as political leader. Its goal is to alter the basic character of the Indian state.


Let us consider a few recent acts, undoubtedly promoted by its many acolytes and servers:


(1) The assassination of rationalist thinkers and activists by activists or criminals who remain unknown and unapprehended by the police but whose identity as Hindutvawadis is not in question.  The killings of Narayan Dabholkar, Comrade Govind Pansare, and, very recently, Prof.  Kalburgi, were all done because these individuals challenged obscurantist thinking and writing, and the use of religious prejudice and superstition as a means of undermining reason and rationality. Many other progressive individuals continue to receive hate mail or death threats.


(2) The attempt by the state to coercively alter the food habits of the citizenry by enforcing bans on various food items that offend the sensibilities or religious practices of one group or the other belonging to the majority. The fact is that it is exclusively the minorities, in particular Muslims, who are made to economically suffer from these bans, which negatively impact the pockets of those in the meat trade.

(3) Sabotaging the prosecution of Hindutva terrorists who have committed many terrorist acts, such as bomb blasts of the Samjhauta Express, Ajmersharif, Mecca Masjid and others that have killed and maimed many innocent victims, but whose perpetrators remain unpunished as the police and judicial system grind on slowly, and witnesses are killed or are threatened and recant. A senior Maharashtra public prosecutor, Rohini Salian, accused the National Investigation Agency, a Central Government body, of deliberately obstructing and retarding prosecution of these terrorists as they belonged to Hindutva groups that were probably close to political figures.


(4) Appointing third rate Hindutva ideologues as directors of prestigious national institutions, such as the Film and Television Institute of India, FTII, whose students went on strike, or other academic bodies like the Indian Council of Historical Research, the University Grants Commission, etc. This bound to cause long-term damage to the Indian academy, but Modi and his regime, whose academic credentials do not extend beyond Twitter, and Facebook are probably least bothered. Appointing a virtual illiterate, Smriti Irani, as the Human Resources Development Minister gave sufficient notice for what has followed.


“Vikas” for Modi and his ilk is the so-called Gujarat model, offering freebies to fat cats to make what they can regardless of what they do to the environment or the welfare or those less well-off. He can get away with it as long as the media in the country, owned by the same fat cats, pull for him or his RSS managers and their acolytes can continue to successfully polarize the electorate to let him win elections.

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