Monday, October 19, 2015

Let us Think and Act with an Open Mind to
Develop a Vibrant Democracy – Article 25
Stem the rot quickly to prevent chaos and anarchy

Introduction: This series of articles (which can be accessed in blog OR had emphasized that neglect of problems other than economic growth has led not only to worsening of peoples’ problems but also to many shameful situations for the country (Article 15). More recently, hundreds of farmers have committed suicide and lack of adequate remedial measures by government have created humanitarian problems. What are worse, violent attacks and even murders due to intolerance of dissent and denouncement of core values of Indian civilization are leading to chaos and anarchy in the country as detailed below.

Writer Nayantara Sehgal returned her Sahitya   Akademi award in protest. In a statement titled “The Unmaking of India” she stated: “In memory of the Indians who have been murdered, in support of all Indians who uphold the right to dissent, and of all the dissenters who live in fear and uncertainty, I am returning my Sahitya Akademi Award.”  (The Times of India dated 7th October 2015.

“Citing the killing of writers and rationalists like M.M. Kalburgi and Govind Pansare, she said India is going backwards under the Modi government which is rejecting our great idea of cultural diversity and debate.” She was also upset by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence over this reign of terror” (Deccan Chronicle dated 7th October 2015).

Writers Shashi Deshpande, Ashok Vajpeyi, Sara Joseph and Rahman Abbas joined the protest. Protests are increasing day by day. Sara Joseph stated: “An alarming situation is being created in the country in all spheres of life after the Modi government came to power.” (Deccan Chronicle dated 11th October 2015)

Anand Patwardhan was disappointed that about 31% of Indians “brought to power an extremely narrow-minded ideology that contradicted the ethos of those who had fought for India’s freedom.” “The rapid rise of an armed lunatic fringe in our society is a real danger. All extreme right-wing groups have risen with the present government.” ”There are many ways in which the government tries to crush dissent – censorship, attacking and killing activists and saffronising appointments to key institutions.” Fr. Prakash said: The government has also “entered the private domain of what people should eat and wear, what films they should see and whether or not an Indian girl can even be out late at night.” (The Week dated 4th October 2015, page 47. More details are given in pages 42-49)

Intolerance in some peaceful fields which many people enjoy is becoming shamefully common. For example, ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali was not allowed to perform in Mumbai. Sudheendra Kulkarni was smeared with black paint for organizing a book launch. Dr. Suma Sudhindra said: “it is time people opened their eyes. Music, books, art – these are the things that bring people together. We should be encouraging these activities, not hindering these.” (Deccan Chronicle dated 13th October 2015)
Film director Govind Nihalani said:”These are worrying times. There is a tremendous unease in general over the recent incidents. One feels that very dark clouds are gathering over the cultural horizon of this country. We can see communal divide and polarisation becoming more and more acute.” (The Times of India dated 11th October 2015)

The President of India cautioned: “the core values of India’s civilisation that celebrate diversity, plurality and tolerance should not be allowed to wither away.” (The Times of India dated 8th October 2015.

Even after this clear exhortation by the President that withering away of the core values of our civilisation should not be allowed, the Prime Minister asked: what is the role of the centre in the Dadri incident? (He refers to murder as an incident!!) May be, he does not also know what is its role in the criminal attacks on authors because of intolerance of dissent. It is a matter for serious concern if the Prime Minister (the top most leader of the country) does not know that he should condemn outright all violent acts of intolerance by people taking law into their hands and take immediate action to punish these criminals and hate mongers so that respect for law is re-established and the core values of India’s civilisation are not allowed to wither away. If he knows and deliberately avoids taking suitable action, that too arrogantly ignoring the exhortation by the President mentioned above, the situation is worse and alarming and gives credence to the caution some months back by L.K.Advani, an erstwhile top visionary leader who had built up BJP, that an emergency like situation seems to be coming up.

Evidently, the present Government is unable to control criminal intolerance and anarchy that are creeping in due to allowing some extremists to take law into their hands and even glorify commitment of murders.

Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyer has exposed some crucial aspects of the atrocious Dadri murder on mere suspicion: “The clincher is the refusal of BJP leaders to condemn the lynching by a Hindu mob of a Muslim in Dadri for supposedly eating beef – which is entirely legal. BJP apologists have performed verbal acrobatics to somehow avoid condemning this murder.” (The Times of India dated 11th October 2015)

He further cautioned: “The Dadri murder is not just a moral but economic issue. Fear of RSS goons has forced many shop keepers to keep selling even buffalo meat. Transporters of cattle are fearful of arrest and worse. India has a large leather and footwear industry employing millions of workers (including many dalits). All these face shortages of hides and rising prices that make them uncompetitive in exports. Farmers have always sold aged cows, oxen and buffaloes in abattoirs. Indeed, this has enabled India to become the biggest beef exporter in the world.  Suddenly this large industry, a major employer, has become very risky and may become extinct in some states. The price of aged cattle has crashed or gone to zero, diminishing the wealth of millions of cattle owners.” Firstly, this shows indifference to welfare of millions of rural people who form the vast majority. This indifference is confirmed by lack of effective measures to prevent farmer suicides and non allocation of funds to create smart villages while spending huge amounts to develop 100 smart cities. Secondly, this is an instance of a huge “make in India” industry employing millions of workers and a major exporter being forced to wither away and questions the sincerity of Modi’s “make in India” exhortation. These are other serious consequences of not taking proper action after the Dadri murder.

The editorial of India Today (October 19, 2015) supports these views: ”The narrow politics propelling the cow  agenda and ethnic vigilantism puts road blocks on Prime Minister Modi’s  drive on development. The mandate given to this government in the General Election was for economic development and not for Hindu revivalism. The government will do well to remember that. Also, it should know that once you uncork the gene of religious tensions in a multicultural society like India, it is difficult to put it back. It will only hurtle India towards an Age of Chaos.” Being confident that Modi will remain silent, Hindutva groups like RSS, VHP, Shiv Sena and Rama Sene have thoughtlessly uncorked the gene and contributed to creeping in of anarchy. If all of them do not use their ingenuity to re-cork the gene matters will go beyond their control.

It may be re-emphasised that all these unchecked incidents of intolerance and disrespect for law are leading to chaos and anarchy. This gives added justification and urgency to expedite the comprehensive democracy suggested in Article 24. Since it will take some time to materialize even after taking it up with vision and commitment, immediate action has to be taken to stem the rot before it results in chaos, anarchy and violent revolution.

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