Modi’s election as PM will invite the world to revisit his crimes against humanity as it gets to know him. I am not sure that a close scrutiny of Modi’s past will advance the economic interests or soft-power that India seeks
DR MUQTEDAR KHAN
Yatha Raja Tatha Praja
As the Ruler So the People.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he old Indian proverb makes an interesting philosophical observation about the relationship between people and their rulers. It is not clear whether it means that the ruler reflects the character of his subjects or if the subjects shape the nature of the ruler’s reign. Regardless of the direction of causality it is safe to assume that in the end the morality of the public is reflected in the moral character of the ruler and vice versa.
Unfortunately India is on the verge of electing an individual as Prime Minister over whom the cloud of divisive, communal and genocidal politics hangs ominously. He may facilitate economic growth for a few Indians, but he might also bring death and destruction to others.
India, the world’s biggest democracy, and one of the world’s oldest and most diverse of civilizations, is going to the polls in an elaborate and extended display of democratic politics; from April 07 to May 12, 2014.
According to most polls, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a center-right coalition of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and several small regional parties will be the biggest winner. It is not clear whether they will win outright majority and form the government or will end up as the biggest party and will lead a coalition government.
The Allure of Fascism
The high prospects of a BJP-led NDA winning elections and Narendra Modi, the controversial Chief Minister of the merchant state of India, Gujarat, becoming India’s next Prime Minister make this election a critical one.
The long governing centrist Indian National Congress (INC) is expected to lose. Corruption scandals, a stagnant economy, and the insatiable desire for growth of a large and rapidly modernizing middle class, are perhaps the reasons why Congress will be punished at the polls. A taste of humility for the Congress and their young rising political superstar Rahul Gandhi maybe good for restoring the integrity of India’s biggest and oldest political party.
But will India fare well under the stewardship of Modi, self-avowed fan of Hitler, and a longtime member of the Hindu nationalist movement RSS. According to those who care about free markets, capital growth, and free trade, Modi is the Ronald Reagan of Gujarat. These admirers of Modi either overlook his fascist tendencies or perhaps like him more for that since he expresses on the political stage the animus they harbor in their hearts.
He has overseen an economy that has grown faster than the past and has attracted more investments from abroad than in the past. A lot of Modi supporters attribute this to good governance and support for business, but Modi has ruled India when a lot of things have gone its way and a close look at the economic numbers suggests that the success of Gujarat is more hype than reality.
Gujarat’s economy has done as well as other states and thrived at a time when globalization and liberalization have transformed Indian economy. Narendra Modi is a strong advocate of religious fundamentalism and economic liberalization. It is possible that his supporters admire him for one or both of these qualities. My fear is that on the national stage, if the economy does not recover then the only card Modi will have left to play is religious politics and that will undo decades of social progress in India. Voters must resist this temptation to vote for Modi hoping that the economy will do well and Modi now more mature will show his moderate side.
However, for those who also care about human life, about democracy, about civil and minorities and for religious freedoms; Modi is no Reagan; he is the anti-Christ of democracy. He is a threat to social harmony and civilized norms.
He oversaw one of the most heinous crimes against humanity in the history of India since partition. In 2002 while he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, in a systematic spree members of right-wing Hindu parties, including his party, went on a rampage killing and murdering Muslims and burning their homes and their businesses. Nearly 2000 were massacred and hundreds of thousands rendered homeless and displaced. Many women were gang-raped and children murdered under the watchful eyes of the police and the government.
Investigations have failed to prove direct responsibility of Modi in the carnage of Gujarat. It is tough to make such cases when the entire law enforcement and justice system is biased against minorities and culpable of the same crimes. However there is political consensus that if Modi wanted he could have stopped the carnage very early and afterwards he could have prosecuted those who perpetrated these heinous crimes.
It will suffice to say that Modi and his political party have the blood of thousands on their hands. Those who remember these crimes and are still hoping that justice will be done one day are horrified by the very idea that Modi might soon hold the highest political office in India.
Muslims and other minorities fear that if Modi became PM, then many national institutions will be communalized. Hindu nationalism will be promoted and religious diversity, pluralism and tolerance, long the key hallmark of Indian culture, will be subverted and weakened.
Minority interests will be marginalized, scholarships and welfare schemes cancelled, minority assets, business and historical and religious places will become unsafe, their academic and socio-cultural institutions will be pushed into decline, their cultural needs will be overlooked, and above all their physical security will be in jeopardy, since emboldened Hindu fanatics will unleash more violence against Muslims and other minorities. What happened in Gujarat in 2002 can happen again this time on a national scale.
These are fears. It is possible that India may become an even greater economy than it is and Modi might bring more peace and harmony, but there is nothing in his record so far that can vindicate such wishful thinking. We can only judge him by what he has done and not by what he promises. In Modi’s Gujarat today, murderers and rapists abound and they enjoy state protection. What has Modi done about it?
Risking the Future
Indians desperately want to be powerful, influential, admired and respected on the international stage. One can see this desire to be important in the arena of international cricket where India is using its newfound wealth to literally buy influence and power. India want’s to replicate this in more important global areas.
In the past few decades, India has grown rapidly and significantly. Its democracy ahs gained depth and purpose at home and respect abroad. Its economy has grown to become the fourth biggest in the world and has produced a big and colorful middle class that drives domestic growth. India has become an important nation and it is a matter of time that it gains due recognition as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
The nation that gave the world leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, Maulana Azad, and Mother Teressa cannot now go ahead and elect a K-Mart version of Hitler. If it does then the world will have to revise its conceptions of Indian pluralism, tolerance and democracy. A vote for Modi will be seen not just as a vote for a better economy; it will also be seen as a vote to accept the crimes against humanity that come with Modi and BJP.
The international respect and reluctant admiration than India has earned in the past few years will be lost as fanatics empowered by Modi’s success go about banning books, murdering Muslims, Christians and Sikhs and violating human rights. Modi’s election as PM will also invite the rest of the world to revisit his crimes against humanity as the world gets to know him. I am not sure that a close scrutiny of Modi’s past will advance the economic interests or soft-power that India seeks. The world will wonder what kind of people vote for people like Modi and as long as he is the PM he will be an ugly zit on India’s face, a constant reminder of past crimes.
Yadi Modi raja, tho kaisi Praja?
If Modi is the ruler, then what kind of people are the ruled.
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