In a little over a year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in on May 27, 2014, the mainstream narrative in the country has changed drastically. And it is not the “change” we were promised.
I confess here that I worked on a small digital operation of the election campaign that brought the BJP to power – a historical campaign that won the BJP a 283-seat majority in the 543-seat Lok Sabha in 2014. It was a job and I did it to the best of my abilities despite my moral dilemma. I ignored the small voice in my head that said, “The BJP coming to power would be dangerous to the essence of this country’s secular and democratic spirit.” I reasoned with that voice with, “How bad can it be? It will be fine. It will help industry which in turn will help the economy and the people.”
My reasoning was what can the party possibly do? India is strong. She has seen many a hard time and she will survive. And hopefully, be strengthened in some way. But since those thoughts crossed my mind two years ago many things have happened that fill me with shame for being so delusional.
I had thought to myself then that the party could saffronise education, but silenced that fear. Surely, it wouldn’t do that. Or would it? But it is doing just that. The process of rewriting textbooks had already begun in June 2015.
The Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) is now being headed by Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, a former professor of history at Kakatiya University. He was also heading the Andhra Pradesh chapter of the Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojna, also known as the ABISY. Three others of the ABISY have been elected to the ICHR council. It is not hard to imagine what will happen to our history books following these appointments.
The BJP can’t possibly dare to mess with our cultural institutions and their freedom. But it has done just that. The students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) stand testimony to the BJP’s attempt to infiltrate a campus that is meant to be pushing the boundaries of art. Historically, films as a medium have been a means of expression to bring about social change. But they can also be used to reinforce certain ideals and influence people through propaganda as was seen in the Soviet Union during Stalin’s dictatorship. Today, there is a blatant attempt by the right wing to either take over the FTII to make such propaganda films or silence dissidence.
I had silenced my fears that the BJP will mess with our rights. How can it possibly do that in the largest democracy of the world?
But today, that too has happened. My right to what I eat and say is under threat. A man in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, who ate or stored beef was dragged out of his home and lynched. It was not even certain whether the meat in question was mutton or beef. A former BJP MLA of Dadri even went so far as to say, “If cow slaughter and its consumption is proven they (the victim and his family) are at fault.” So he justified a mob killing a man.
I can’t believe that I did not see this coming. I chose to ignore the signs and believed that this was not possible.
I feared I would live in fear but had chosen to ignore that thought because I convinced myself that it wasn’t possible. But this too was naïve. I fear for my friends and those who speak out against the government. I should have read the signs and known that there was only one way for the politics in this country to unfold.
I had not imagined that the government would crack down on NGOs that fight for the environment and rights of people. But it has. It has frozen accounts of Greenpeace that only hopes to promote sustainable development and suddenly eco-warriors and activists are being seen as terrorists. I am in shock.
I feared that women would be told what to wear and what to do. I chose to believe that that too wasn’t possible. But of course I was wrong. Our esteemed Union culture minister has said, “Girls going out at night is not a part of Indian culture.” The time when the regressive and appalling Manusmriti is quoted can’t be far.
Rationalist MM Kalburgi, a renowned scholar and rationalist was shot dead outside his home in Dharward in Karnataka. He is known for his views on idol worship and Hindu rituals. Did I think this was possible? No. But it happened.
The chilling fact is that these incidents are happening so close to people’s homes, whether it be Dadri in north India or Dharward in south India. The message is loud and clear. Either you toe the line of the government or you might be pulled out of your house and killed in broad daylight.
A close friend and columnist had warned us for years that these things were going to happen but I always thought he was being too harsh on the BJP and its leader. But again I was wrong.
The good news today is that there is nothing left to fear. My worst-case scenarios have already come true. We are headed towards being a nation that is torn apart by what’s on our plate.
And this is just the beginning. Things will get worse. But I think we will get used to being violated and being servile as India has always been in the past. We have always been mercenaries and served any master that showed us economic gains. We did it for the British and now we will probably do it for this government as long as they can show us the money. Modi meeting all the heads of industry in the Silicon Valley will hopefully show real results. And we will accept everything after that and get ready to be whipped into the “right” shape.
English novelist George Orwell in his essay Notes on Nationalism wrote, “Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also – since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself – unshakeably certain of being in the right.”
But I can vouch for one thing – outrage over a bleeding exchequer in retrospect seems to be a much better than people bleeding over food and faith.
Article Courtesy – dailyo.in