Growing fascism and future of India

Modern India became a republic on 15 August 1947 by gaining independence from the British colony. The new republic inherited colonial bureaucratic legacy and administrative structures.  The secular democratic nation’s new constitution guaranteed equal rights to its citizens beyond religion, ethnicity, and gender. India’s diversity in multi ethno-religion-linguistic is portrayed as a model secular state, second most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world.

India has the second largest Muslim population in the world coexisting with world’s major religions, and they constitute the largest minority religious group.However, today India has morphed into a hypernationalistic identity founded on Hindu supremacy.

The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) was democratically elected in 2014 and Modi became the Prime Minister.BJP is the political wing of Rastriya Swayam Sevak (RSS). RSS ideology of Hindu nationalism is borrowed from European fascism of 1930s.  Father of nation, Mahatma Gandhi, the icon of nonviolence was killed by an RSS member in 1984.

The demise of Nehru, the first congress Prime Minister and architect of modern India created a political vacuum later filled by his daughter Indira Gandhi. She was self-centric and distanced herself from Nehruvian era politicians. However, she maintained a circle of cheerers and maintained an iron-lady image. When her political legitimacy was challenged under law, shedeclared the Emergency in 1975 and consolidated leadership to herself. Political opponents, journalists and community leaders were arrested under draconian laws, most of which were introduced in post Nehruvian era. During the Emergency, her second son Sanjayliterally ran the nation from home and committed crimes particularly against Delhi Muslims.

After the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, RSS was banned. However, because of the prevalence of Hindunationalism, RSS infiltrated into Indian political realm. In 1991, under Congress rule, RSS launched itself into the public eye flaunting the demolition of 550-year-old Babri Masjid, a Muslim place of worship and a national heritage. They were able to demolish the Muslim Mosque in daylight because of the apathy of secular parties, inaction of Indian security agencies and the incapability of the judiciary system. This explicitly exposed the fact that RSS was already embedded within Indian security forces and judiciary. India witnessed bloodbath of Muslims after the demolition of Babri Masjid, yet the Indian judiciary was unable to punish any perpetrators. For the last four decades, India’s secular identity has been diminishing and now any semblance to it no longer exists.

The RSS enabled the intrusion of its ideology into the masses and into government institutions by creating hybrid nationalism based on a mythological past. The result was crime against minorities particularly Muslims, journalists, activists, and women greatly increased. The victims do not get justice because perpetrators do not get charged, instead the culprits are glorified by media and supported by politicians.  Public lynching of Muslims became a norm of daily life.

BJP was re-elected in 2019, determined to change thepolitical landscape and secular identity and a new Citizenship Act and anti-farmers law were introduced while Article 370 was revoked.

Privatization began much earlier than current BJP government. However, over   privatization, increased unemployment are curtained under the far-right nationalistic image.  Nationalism has been used to silence opponents and using draconian laws against journalists. Such repressive actions are a threat toIndian democracy.

Increased human rights violations in Kashmir has lowered India’s credibility at international level. The Indo-China rivalry, border disputes with China anddeteriorating relationship with India’s traditional allies such Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka  predicts amurky future.

The recent developments in Afghanistan has further isolated India in the region. Domestic unrest, militant religious extremism, statesponsored hyper-nationalism, cult figure of leadership and weaker economic performances are signs of weakening within and isolation in the region and a lackluster future for a nation once considered a superpower in the region.

Written by Hanif Bismi

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