By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: Reviewing the four years of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP (NDA) government’s “misrule”, prominent activists, academics, and intellectuals on Saturday said they would work together for overthrowing this government in the coming 2019 general election. They also released a comprehensive report called ‘Dismantling India’ at the Constitution Club here which has recorded four years of “misrule” by the Modi government, including the list of hate speeches he and his party members delivered in these four years. They warned that if this government returns to power in the next election, then the “fascism will be at its peak”.
The book ‘Dismantling India’ contains 24 articles by eminent writers critiquing who questioned the Modi government’s actions, policies, and directives. Some of the writers came together with the editors of the book to discuss and speak on these issues, which has and will change the picture of the nation if this government continues to remain in power.
“The elections, with Mr. Amit Shah as the party president and Mr. Modi’s lieutenant, saw possibly the acridest and divisive electoral campaigns in the history of democratic India. The Modi-Shah leadership polarised the people, but Mr. Modi also appealed to the emerging ‘millennial’ generation with a promise of development, employment, and a decent life, codified in the word “Achhe din”, Good Days”, the Report said.
They pointed out that the conquest of the Constitution by an ideology has manifest itself in the speed with which it has penetrated the delicate educational, cultural and intellectual ecology.
“Anti-national” is the most heard word in India today, the Report says. Union ministers and party leaders use it to describe members of the parliamentary Opposition, as well as men and women in trade unions, students and teachers in universities, dissidents and independent thinkers in Academies of Art and Literature, and the few who dare write speak in the Media. This government is selectively creating and modifying data to project its own narrative.
In the first session of the one-day conclave, Gauhar Raza, Souradeep Roy, Subhash Gatade and V.B. Rawat spoke on the topic of “Rising hate and Irrationalism”.
Talking about the rise of Hindutva in these years, noted journalist and activist Subhash Ghatade said that the right-wing which used to work covertly has now started working openly and defiantly. The trishuls have changed into Swords. The hatred seeded deep inside the common man is at its height. In Ranchi, RSS was meeting to devise various mechanisms to win 2019 election via social media. They have failed in getting their promises fulfilled so they will polarize communities, he said.
Ashok Vajpeyi spoke on the onslaught on the cultural institutes by making such people as the heads of such institutes who don’t have any experience on Culture. He said that “Hindutva is nothing but a big threat” to Hinduism and if the leaders of Hindus have to protect their religion then they have to fight the Hindutva forces.
Another speaker Rawat said cow-politics has created a huge problem for the small and medium farmers and this fear of cows and its protectors has disturbed the village economy.
On the increasing attacks on minorities and Dalits, Harsh Mander gave first-hand information on the horror account of Mob Lynching across India which he visited during Caravan-e-Mohabbat. He said there is connivance of the state and the perpetrators in mob-lynching incidents.
The alienating hate campaigns, in which government, party, and Sangh have been complicit, triggered it. The internet, the smartphone and the Apps, signs of modernity, became instruments of the targeted hate and the ensuing bloodshed.
He also talked about the great examples of communal harmony shown by father of two boys’ one in Delhi and another in Asansol. In both the cases, they appealed to the political leaders and the masses to shed communal hatred and preserve harmony.
The authors of the Paper pointed out that it is important to see the “process of saffronization of education”, not just as a matter of changes in textbooks and syllabi, although these are certainly the most immediately evident signs of it. It is about producing students who are receptive to being saffronized even outside the walls of the school, or college, or university, where in fact, their actions and beliefs have a much bigger role to play. It is not just about promoting the Hindutva imagination, but about making it familiar, unremarkable, and is willing to accommodate it as the norm, even when not subscribing to it directly.”
Prof Karen Gabriel showed how this government has silently introduced many things in Higher education. For instance, in Higher education, they introduced four modern Indian languages and Sanskrit. But there are no teachers for four languages while they have teachers for Sanskrit. So students are made to opt for Sanskrit and no choice is given, he said and added that the Sanskrit department has been asked to teach history through Vedas, distorting the history, introducing their re-writing of history covertly.
Scientist Gauhar Raza warned that the present government is attacking the scientific institutions in such a way which will be irreversible and the country will be taken back many years.
“This government not only propagates unscientific and irrational views but in these 4 years has slowly reduced the publication of scientific journals,” he added.
Speaking on ‘Unmaking Indian Culture’, Souradeep Roy said that the attacks on culture are not only on artists and writers but on the common man of India, every single person living in this country is attacked.
Dr Sayeeda Hamid highlighted the issue of being a Muslim at this present political and social scenario. She said that she was not made to release that she is a Muslim woman now more than any Governments in the past.
Stating that the worst kind of attacks on ‘women autonomy and rights” happened in the present government, Kavita Krishnan said this government has diluted many laws related to women. She also criticized the controversial Talaq bill saying this government is now bringing a law, which will again give powers to police and state to criminalize Muslim men.
Peasant movement leader Vijoo Krishnan recalled that the government promised that the farmers land will be protected butwithin 6 months they brought Land Ordinance. Massive protests were organized and they had to pull back the ordinance. Now they have implemented these land acquisition bills through the BJP ruled States. In Odisha, 92% of the acquired land is lying un-utilized. This party made many promises during elections for the farmers when they came into power they said that these were only Chunavi Jumla, he said.
About 200 farmers’ organizations from around the country will hold a nationwide protest on August 9, the day the Quit India movement was launched 66 years ago, Krishnan said.
Noted economist Prof Arun Kumar said that the two attacks on the economy by this present government, one was demonetization and GST the way it was implemented. The GST has impacted the employment, Jan Dhan Yojna aggregates small savings of small people and invested in the large sector, he said.
Former diplomat and union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar spoke on the issues of the neighbourhood policies with the present government and how the situations with the neighbours got adverse during this regime.
On the shrinking democratic space, Shabnam Hashmi said the difference between earlier governments and the present government is that they have reached “the 50 % mark of the 14 points which qualifies Fascism if they come to power than Fascism will be at its peak”.
The Report cautions that the shrinking democratic and civil spaces and the new trend of silence and acceptance, directly and indirectly, injected by the State, pose a danger which has an implication, not for India alone. They re-define ‘nation’ to homogenize it, directly threatening India’s secular and ethnic fabric.
Another author of the book, Leena Dabiru spoke on the tables and how the web links were removed from the Internet which was related to the hate-speeches of Modi and other BJP leaders.
Dr. John Dayal thanked all the writers and publication house for getting this book printed and published. He said it was a mammoth task to clear the name of the book. When one prominent lawyer advised us to keep the title properly otherwise, there will be a criminal act.
The Report has a comprehensive set of tables covering the impact of the regime on most segments of life. This included communal and targeted violence against religious minorities. This data has not been released by the National Commission for Minorities, or by the National Crime Research Bureau, and in fact, there seems reluctance to document many hate crimes, especially lynching fuelled by communally charged hate campaigns over social media. It has been a painstaking work by organizations working amidst the communities and researchers.
The Report also exposes data management or data manipulation used by the government to mislead the people. Statistical measurement tools to gauge economic development have undergone dramatic changes over the past 4 years.