Namit Arora

India is on a sinister path, much darker than most worried citizens foresaw in 2014. Things have gone downhill rather fast. So what do I see as the near-term outlook (5-7 years) for India? I offer my provisional thoughts. I hope I’m wrong.

I see a bleak economy. Its key features: anaemic growth, rising deficits, falling rupee, crony-corporation-led model of growth, chronic joblessness and underemployment, auctioning of the public sector, shortage of real skills despite paper degrees, growing inequality.

The economy is being run by unqualified hacks high on simplistic ‘privatisation’, amid stifling authoritarian command, mixing the worst impulses of technocrats and nationalists. I see a demographic time bomb (not dividend), with a skewed sex ratio and few women in the labour force.

To mitigate electoral blowback, we’ll see more populist welfare/handouts, sold as largesse of the Party honcho. The Party will also keep redirecting public concern by intensifying sectarian strife through fear of Muslims, Hindu pride, mythic national glory, Pak-bashing, etc.

Indeed, we’ll see aggressive, Hindutva-led polarisation and fascist mobilisation against Muslims and ‘anti-nationals’ in up to a dozen states. It’ll turn on endlessly manufactured issues to incite and keep communal strife simmering: Hijab in schools, azaan from mosques, namaz in public, halal as ‘economic jihad’, ‘land jihad’, cheering for the wrong cricketers, dietary moral policing, especially during Hindu festivals, removing Urdu from public spaces, the bogey of Muslim ghuspethiye (‘infiltrators’) and ‘love jihad’, etc.

More divisive issues yet to be dreamed of will join older Hindutva agendas, led by lumpen mobs, hateful propaganda, fake news and manufactured historical grievances — many of them brewing for a century, originally inspired by racist European ethno-nationalisms.

The police, working with Hindu mobs and militias, will produce more oppressive, one-sided action against Muslims, more UAPA incarcerations, with colluding or spineless courts, where most law professionals have already gone saffron.

The socio-economic boycott of Muslims will escalate, as will open apartheid in housing, rentals and jobs. Most Hindus will happily or silently support the marginalisation of Muslims and jailing of critics without trial, though a notable minority will oppose it.

Hindutva relies on weaponising Hindus against Muslims, and turning India into a cauldron of religious hate. It’s also distracting from, and successfully overshadowing, people’s economic and aspirational grievances.

How long will NRIs in Western, plural, liberal democracies fail to see through the false facade of his oratory and remain hypocritically supportive of his brutal regime that’s systematically gutting democracy and the rule of law? 

Recently in MP, a government bulldozer razed, with apparent impunity and mob support, both the shop and the home of a Muslim man who dared to enter into a relationship of mutual love with a Hindu woman. No blowback or recompense. This is who we have become.

The disease is spreading. Today, the home of a national hockey player was razed in Madhya Pradesh.

We’ll see more armed Hindu mobs — chauvinists, dolts, bullies, fanatics, fascists high on violent millenarianism and muscular Hindu pride and domination. They are now even indulging in ‘compensatory’ desecrations of mosques and dargahs.

We’ll see more rabid dharam sansads, and our media channels are already not far behind RTLM radio station of ’93–’94 Rwanda. These divisive forces may well crack, burn, and wreck India ? making it a future case study of how societies go terribly wrong.

We’ll see Muslims forced further into ghettos, poverty and civic exclusion. They’ll face more frequent arson, violent vigilante ‘justice’, deadly communal riots and pogroms (some urban quarters/addresses are already being marked and mapped out, as if with yellow stars).

Muslims will be provoked into response, escalating the conflict. We’ll see attacks on the few to instil fear in the many, the persecution of ‘fifth column traitors’ or ‘urban Naxals’ by organs of the state, via tax raids or prison, with most victims forgotten amid mounting tragedies. 

The moral degradation of the much-vaunted ‘spiritual/dharmic Hindus’— long politically immature, gullible, illiberal, mired in inferiority complexes — is turning out to be an amazingly low-friction affair.

Climate change will only make things harder: more crop failures, extreme weather events, , pollution, water shortage and internal mass migrations will lead to xenophobic politics. With more heat waves, the ‘wet-bulb temperature’ will rudely enter public awareness.

A new reality dawns, in which the barbarians aren’t at the gates but are emerging vertically, as if from trapdoors all around us in our streets, homes, offices. This is the time to take stock, regroup, and prepare for a whole new battle for the soul of our society.

Hope lies in movements that resist this fascist turn. Think anti-CAA protests, the farmers’ movement. The Opposition needs to get its act together fast. The world needs to wake up to this far more debilitating virus — a social virus — that’s ravaging India.

Namit Arora is the author of Indians: A Brief History of a Civilization. He blogs at Shunya.net

Top - Home