India of Modi

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The Prime Minister Narendra Modi is celebrating three years of his government. In a series of tweets he posted, Modi said these years had seen his government embarking on concrete steps that have “transformed” the lives of people. He tweeted out statistics related to various sectors to show comparisons between 2014 and now. He also invited the public to participate in a survey on his NarendraModi App about the performance in the three years of his government. However, though the figures have been challenged by the opposition, the real problem with Modi’s dispensation has never been his development focus but its detrimental ideological fallout on the country. These three years have seen Modi shift the ideological gears of the country firmly away from Nehruvian secularism. Besides, Modi’s takeover as PM has been responsible for deepening the insecurities of minorities, particularly Muslims. His three years in power have ushered in a new political sensibility and a new ruling intelligence explicitly informed by the resolve to reclaim India for Hindus.

Many outfits who claim to represent the exclusive interests of Hindus have felt empowered. And their leaders have felt free to issue communally-tinged statements which have vitiated the atmosphere. However, while Modi’s leadership may have strengthened some fringe communal elements, the secularism in India has taken a mortal beating. That is, even though secularism in India wasn’t all that it professed to be before Modi arrived on the scene. Three years have seen the Muslims become the targets of a ruthless right-wing Hindu violence, one that now seems to enjoy a degree of social sanction.

Not only are Muslims and also Dalits being threatened and subjected to recurrent mob violence but they are also facing an increasing institutional bias. And there are examples to show for it. Soon after Modi became PM, a mob lynched a Muslim techie in Pune after he uploaded morphed pictures of late Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray and Maratha icon Chhatrapati Shivaji on Facebook. His killers exchanged an ominous message on their mobiles which read, ‘The first wicket down’. Ever since the situation has only gotten worse. We are confronted with a bigoted state of affairs.

Though already precariously placed, Muslims have found themselves drifted to the margins of India’s political landscape. They have become extraneous to India’s idea of itself. And as the idea of India is set for a drastic ideological makeover, there is some amount of consternation in Kashmir too. BJP’s absolute control over India empowers the party to execute its longstanding ideological agenda in Kashmir, one of them the abrogation of Article 370. Kashmir’s anxieties are profound. One of the fundamental factors that had persuaded the people to join the Hindu India in 1947 was its secular and pluralist credentials as against the Muslim Pakistan built on theological foundations. And as BJP’s monochromatic national vision takes the centre stage, the people in Kashmir can’t help but feel a deep sense of betrayal. What Kashmiris as also the minorities and liberal sections in India desperately want is for India to reclaim its secular moorings.

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