By Omer Wazir
Since its independence from the British rule, India has tried to accumulate territory, expand its military, and develop its economy, all in an effort to be recognized as the regional hegemonic power, to which it has every right. But it boggles the mind that India recently, under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, has been trying to exert and expand its influence over smaller countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and others in its neighborhood.
One cannot live in an illusion forever. Reality does strike, sooner or later. And that is what is happening with Narendra Modi’s government in Delhi. The illusion that Modi would usher in a new era of modern and progressive governance is fast disappearing and giving way to a new realism.
He led the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a historic win last year with the promise of bringing a new era of economic and political reforms. India is still waiting to see the promised economic reforms. It is, however, witnessing an unraveling of regressive politics which the country has been trying hard to suppress for decades.
Hindu fundamentalist elements are having a field day under the direct patronage of the present ruler in Delhi. Modi, before becoming the prime minister and even after, has assured the nation that he would not discriminate in the name of religion and the minority communities would be given adequate protection and care from the government.
But the right-wing regime is unraveling its agenda with each passing day. The fear nurtured about the BJP and its premier, Modi, is coming true. A strong section in India always suspected that Modi would harp on about economic reforms but at the same time would give a free reign to his workers to unleash the fundamentalist hindutva agenda. And this is happening. The PM presents a modern facade, talking big both inside and outside the country, but at the same time, patronizes parochial Hindu forces hell bent on denting the country’s secular character.
Different incidents have been occurred in the past which showed that how Modi and his party is promoting extremism in the country and this is disturbing the so called secular stance of India. Activists of Hindu-right wing Shiv Sena doused Pakistan ex-foreign minister Kasuri’s book launch organizer with black ink Kulkarni condemned the incident as an “assault on democracy” as he addressed the media in Mumbai, his face and hair covered in ink. Further, a meeting between Pakistan and India’s cricket board officials was cancelled on Monday after Shiv Sena workers stormed the Mumbai office of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Earlier last month, threats from the Sena-led organizers to cancel Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai despite the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assuring that the event would not be stopped. The recent case of converting Muslims in Agra lays bare the deep seated agenda of the radical Hindu groups. Some of the BJP law makers and supporters have openly declared that they will convert hundreds of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism on Christmas Day. These instances clearly establish what Modi actually stands for and the kind of the country he wants India to become. With such a man being the prime minister of India, can his followers and supporters practice politics of inclusion?
He talks of making India a progressive country, a leader at the international arena. But the kind of politics and value system he inspires and condones, does not seem to be promising for the largest democracy of the world. India cannot prosper with such a regressive ideology. At this time, it is important for all to face the reality of who the prime minister of India is and what he stands for. At this point, it is important for us to understand that for the first time in almost seven decades, the idea of India is under serious threat. Modi’s vision of the country is radically at odds with India’s own syncretic past.