By Ananya S Guha
Is it more than a mere coincidence that both the days of Christmas and Good Friday have been declared National Good Governance and National Digital Days respectively? What does this mean? Good governance and digitization are part of a governance plan, to be worked out strategically. Why choose them on special days? This is sheer mockery of both governance and digitization, which will have implications in the long run. Having two particular days to ‘celebrate’ them is nothing short of rigmarole. Secondly what is worrying is that they have been chosen for the days, which are holy days for Christians. Why couldn’t other days be chosen? This is nothing less than harassing and irking communities without any provocation.
Some of my worst fears seem to be coming true. Whenever benefit of the doubt is given to the present government, it reinvigorates certain hidden agenda. It seems to be hell-bent on creating a monolithic structure in the country without batting an eyelid. In one of the previous articles I had mentioned about the idea of alienation. People are also protesting the fact that the voices of dissent are being muted or ruthlessly suppressed. Isn’t this also suppression or even repression? Won’t people of these communities feel hurt, anguished, and even humiliated? But we don’t seem to have a sentient government. Rather, our government is one, which is ruled by whim and caprice. What needs to be understood is that such steps can be bad and damaging in the coming times.
Christian-bashing has been going on for a long time. Since the recent past, we have been witnessing schools and churches being attacked. The Christian missionaries have been assailed for ‘conversion’ activities. But then these ring wing groups must ask themselves a basic question: why do they send their children to these schools, where tireless missionaries strive for the cause of education?
Today the country is suffering from acute schizophrenia. On the one hand, we talk about pluralism; on the other hand, our actions prove contradictory when we claim India to be a monolith with one language, one culture, and one religion. Secularism is being redefined. However, we cannot have multiple ways of defining secularism. It has only one definition, which is tolerance. The current imposition of the two ‘National Days’ has taken away the value of tolerance and secularism, which is a blatant violation of human rights.
This kind of slow-poisoning can only lead to reactionary voices. Are we heading towards revisionism that would declare a new Constitution, new laws and a Hindu nation? History is being shredded, the forces of history are being declared as disruptive. What is happening now is a disturbing insensate chaos, where minorities are made to feel that they do not belong here. Fringes have suddenly become strong and legitimate enough to come up to the center and form the mainstream. There is moral policing and debunking of all western ideals and philosophies. The overall damage is being done slowly but surely. The progressive section of India, which includes many leading thinkers and writers, is smeared with insults today. There is an emerging phobia for anything the ‘leftists’.
We must analyze the sequence of events unfolding since 2014. An analysis of the patterns of repression would reflect a larger and clearer picture of intolerance. They are anathema to our understanding of secularism and good governance. Power cannot exude from the barrel of guns, or a brutish force. Power should be egalitarian and must be used for the common good, as Plato thought.
Change should be progressive, not regressive. Changing the name of some road, city or even country is in no sense transformative! Rather change should come at the social, economic, and technological front.
It is sad but true that the past incumbents were self-destructive because of their corruption and perpetual dynastic rule. They misused and abused power. The current sad state of affairs is basically a continuation of the past baggage of rampant corruption and abysmal lack of mature leadership. When people voted for change, perhaps in their imagination they never dreamt of a renewed hell, moving from platitudes, to contradictions in practice, hurting sentiments and violating the laws of equality.
The people of India are paying badly for a chequered past. They voted for a better future, which seems elusive. Should we then be fatalistic, which after all is also an aspect of Indian ‘culture’?
Ananya S Guha is Regional Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Shillong.
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