Is there still an Antidote Available?


Don Aguiar

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is riding broad support from a selected populace that is happy with the country’s direction. Despite the optimism, however, new data shows the nation is veering dangerously away from democracy.

Why has India’s index declined? The main reason is that the legislature is increasingly lame, unable to check the power of Modi, whose BharatiyaJanata Party-led coalition enjoys a big majority in the lower house and nearly controls the upper chamber leading to fear that India is beginning to lose the only system that provides such freedom.
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Liberal democracies are worsening for India, while the corruption index surged to a level never measured before.

India was promised transformation. Four years down the line, it has indeed changed beyond recognition. The last seven days have seen four cases of lynching across India. The crime has now spread like an epidemic. Tuhaid Ansari is killed in Ramgarh, Jharkhand on June 20. Two Muslims were lynched by a mob just two days after Eid in Hapur. Five days before that, on June 13, two Muslims were lynched in Godda, Jharkhand. The week before, two men in Assam, both Hindu and ethnic Assamese, were lynched by villagers who thought they were child kidnappers.

There is no outcry though. Akhlab of Dadri could get space on the front page. Now it is routine. There is no novelty, either in the target or in the method. The news of killings by lunch mobs no longer excites our social or political imagination. These cases are sought to be seen as isolated, disparate cases, exceptions in a huge populous country like India. We are advised not to rush to generalizations. India continues to be a land of diversity where there is no discrimination on the basis of religion, is what the home minister claimed while rebutting the UN report indicting India for crimes against minorities.

Modi’s undeclared ‘communal’ emergency today is far worse than Indira’s ‘political’ emergency, says former BJP leader YashwantSinha

He said though the leaders of the opposition parties are not put behind bars now as they had been during the 21-month long Emergency period, what prevails now in the country is far worse, quoted The New Minute.

“While nobody has been put behind bars as in 1975, there is still an all pervasive atmosphere of fear, people are scared and people are scared to talk. Even cabinet ministers are not spared,” he said.

Sinha went on to condemn the recent trolling of Minister of External Affairs SushmaSwaraj and called it as an example of the poisonous communal atmosphere of today.

The Swaraj’s saga reveals harsh truths: These sympathizers-turned-online-stormtroopers for the BharatiyaJanata Party have started a fire that will eventually burn down the BJP’s own house. And the party’s scorched-earth policy for electoral victory at all costs is fanning the flames of dangerous anti-Muslim hatred that could destroy the very edifice of democratic and cultural decency.

The army of right-wing trolls who targeted Swaraj is normally deployed to strike at enemies across ideological enemy lines. Journalists have been routinely smeared, slandered and, in several cases, threatened with rape and death.

What is both shocking and shameful is that not a single party leader of consequence not even the other women in the Modi cabinet, have publicly spoken to Swaraj’s defense. Why would Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has appointed women to key roles in his government usually reserved for men (including foreign affairs and defense), not swiftly and publicly condemn this language of hate and sexism? Whatever the facts of the passport case are eventually proven to be, does Swaraj not deserve the respect of her Cabinet colleagues? Or is it that in the run-up to the big election in 2019, it is the BJP’s cynical calculation that, come what may, it cannot afford to be seen as “soft” on Muslims?

Yes, other ideological camps and political parties are attempting to raise battalions of trolls, too. But none are as organized or as feared as the social-media machinery of India’s political right.

The ugly underbelly of the right-wing’s political Internet culture cannot be divorced from the reality in India today. Women even in public life have to constantly battle for basic respect. And for demanding the dignity that should be theirs automatically, but they are expose to even fiercer attacks. If a high-ranking, influential, powerful minister does not have the protection from verbal violence, what chance do the rest of them have?

Even media, Sinha said, is in “direct line of fire” under the current government as a consequence of which “many senior honest journalists have lost their jobs.”

“Today the situation is very bad. Media is giving a totally misleading picture… (It’s) completely subdued and made to toe the line,” he said.

The attack on Swaraj from people within her own party’s political base reminds me of what Hillary Clinton once said about Pakistan: You cannot keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors.

The Narendra Modi government claim of fighting black money has taken a major beating. The latest data released by the Swiss National bank reveal that the amount deposited by Indians in the Swiss banks in the past one year has increased by 50 percent. THIS IF TRUE is most despicable ACT of the government.

There is a steep decline in ethics, values and principles in the country. Political ambitions lead our leaders today not values and righteousness. A thorough course correction is necessary for the nation.

The question now: Is there still an antidote available?

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