As ‘shining’ India prepares itself for celebrating its 73rd Republic Day on January 26, it may want to cast a glance on the trajectory of majoritarian Hindutva rule embraced by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, Minister for Home Affairs.
For all those who matter in the so-called largest democracy, they may also want to look back at the path the country has taken to stoop this low, as the image it had built for itself based on the principles of Nehruvian secularism.
India observes Republic Day on January 26, every year. Republic Day marks an important event in India’s history. It commemorates the enactment of the constitution of India which came into effect on January 26, 1950, and made the nation into a republic. But, religious freedom conditions in India are taking a drastic turn downward, with national and various state governments tolerating widespread harassment and violence against religious minorities. Indeed, the current regime’s fascist policies have put the image of secular India at stake.
Under the majoritarian rule of fascist Narendra Modi India certainly has become a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu state) and this view is widely held to be true by many insiders as well as outside observers of Indian politics. There are many reports which indicate that ever since Modi’s ascendance to power the number of hate crimes, cases of religious discrimination have increased manifold.
One example is that of Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). The BJP-led government enacted the CAA, which provides a fast track to Indian citizenship only for non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan already residing in India. This potentially exposes millions of Muslims to detention, deportation and statelessness when the government completes its planned nationwide National Register of Citizens.
The other example is that of majoritarian violence against Christian community. According to a report by a human rights group, more than 300 attacks on Christians took place in the first nine months of the last year (2021), including at least 32 in Karnataka.
The report found that of the total 305 incidents of anti-Christian violence, four north Indian states registered as many as 169 of them: 66 in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, 47 in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, 30 in tribal-dominated Jharkhand, and 30 in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. At least nine Indian states have planned anti-conversion laws, including Chhattisgarh, which, activists say, has emerged as a “new laboratory” for anti-Christian hatred in India.
The same report points out a stark contradiction: “Meanwhile, state governments have pursued laws that justify this bigotry. On Dec. 23, the lower house in the state of Karnataka passed the Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, which is designed to prohibit conversion from Hinduism to another faith.”
Illegally Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir is another story, another ground where the majoritarian bias is being played out. On 5 August 2019, the government of India revoked the special constitutional status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, and abrogated Article 35A which had allowed it to define who its ‘permanent residents’ are and what rights and privileges are attached to such residency.
The former state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of Ladakh (without a legislature) and Jammu-Kashmir (with a legislature).
The fact that India has become a dangerous country for religious minorities is endorsed by many other reports published in international media outlets.
As Sumit Ganguly, a columnist at Foreign Policy as well as a distinguished professor of political science and the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University, Bloomington, has rightly pointed out that India’s religious minorities are under attack and ‘Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on a recent spate of hate speech and violence is deafening’.
Similarly, Mahwish Hafeez also points out in her paper titled ‘Status of Minorities in India’ published by Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad: “A closer look reveals that under the facade of democracy and secularism or unity in diversity, minorities and particularly Muslims and Christians have always suffered at the hands of extremist Hindu countrymen.
This suffering has been taking place despite the right that the Indian constitution has given to all its citizens. Also, the hatred against the religious minorities has risen immensely in recent years particularly with the rise of Modi and Hindutva ideology.”
Welcome to Modi’s fascist India!
Disclaimer: Time for retrospection for India – as its social fabric stands in tatters - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view