viernes, 26 de enero de 2018

Divide and misrule | The Indian Express

Divide and misrule | The Indian Express

Divide and misrule

India’s institutions face large challenges. We need more democracy, less restrictions.

Written by D. Raja | Published: January 26, 2018 12:05 am
A school student waves the Indian Tri-Color flag during the National anthem sung in an event on the occasion of Independence Day at Carter Road, Bandra
Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty 15-08-15, Mumbai

India in 2018 confronts mounting challenges of critical proportions. These are a product of the divide and misrule of the BJP-led NDA regime in the past three years. Never before has the country faced such intense and devious polarisation, of the magnitude last seen at the time of Partition. The NDA regime is recreating that situation in a calculated manner for political gains and with an understanding that such a strategy brought them to office. India in the 21st century is being pushed back to the medieval age, with people being mobilised on religious lines. The Constitution, idea of the Indian nation and the secular fabric of our society are all under threat. The divisive ideology of the BJP is mounting a serious assault on India’s unity and integrity.
This divisive ideology was revealed in the statement of the Union minister, who scornfully called secularists people ignorant of their parentage and ancestry. Instead of subscribing to a secular identity, he wanted people to define themselves as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Brahmins, Rajputs, etc. He even had the audacity to say that the Narendra Modi government is here to remove secularism from the Constitution.
By reducing people to their immediate, primordial identities, the minister went against the very essence of the Constitution which recognises the individual citizen as an Indian regardless of religious, caste or linguistic affiliation. Strangely, the top leadership of the BJP and NDA government did not utter a word against the minister for his disparaging remarks. It was only when the matter was raised in Parliament by the Opposition that the minister expressed regret. Thereafter, the government dissociated itself from the minister’s statement. The fact that the government did not come forward on its own to defend the Constitution speaks volumes about its understanding of the ideals of the nation. These ideals are ingrained in the Constitution; the assault mounted on it is indicative of the gathering crisis confronting the nation.
Let us not forget that during the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, attempts were made to review the Constitution. K R Narayanan, the then President of India, responded sharply. He said: “Let us examine if the Constitution has failed us or we have failed the Constitution.” It forced the then NDA regime to abandon the idea and instead opt for a commission to review the working of the Constitution. We need to be inspired by this rich legacy when the Constitution is under threat from diabolical forces masquerading as nationalists.
Babasaheb Ambedkar, in his historic speech in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949, said that “however good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happened to be a bad lot. However bad a constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it happened to be a good lot”. By now, it has become clear that the Constitution is in the hands of a bad lot. They are asking the people to accept a Constitution based on the Manusmriti in place of the present republican Constitution.
Apart from the Constitution, the institution of Parliament is being undermined. The law-making process and the democratic method of governance based on deliberation, dialogue and consultation has been irreversibly compromised by declaring many bills as money bills and, thereby, depriving the Rajya Sabha of the opportunity to scrutinise those proposals. Never have we witnessed such a situation wherein the money bill route is being taken to bypass deliberation, consultation, dialogue and better scrutiny. Ambedkar famously said that Parliament belonged to the Opposition. But unfortunately, the space for Opposition to debate and discuss legislative proposals is being shrunk. Besides, the well-established convention of referring bills to Parliamentary Standing Committees for scrutiny is being dispensed with, with the objective of diluting critical examination. In undermining Parliament, the present leadership is negating the people’s will and mandate. In other words, it is an assault on democracy. This constitutes a serious challenge. India, known for a million mutinies, would explode if such challenges are not mitigated by a full flowering of democracy. What we need is more democracy, more freedom and less restrictions.
The country is already suffering from convulsions because of cow vigilantism, “love jihad” and the profiling of people primarily based on religion. History is being distorted to promote divisive agendas. The Mumbai High Court, in a judgement in the early 1960s, had observed that when the ruling class uses history as its handmaiden it would spell undesirable consequences for the society as a whole. The Sangh Parivar is spreading social obscurantism by questioning the theories of gravity and evolution to promote a communal fascist agenda.
The alarming consequences of neoliberalism, imposed almost three decades ago, are now manifesting in the growing income inequality, rising levels of corruption in the corporate sector and monopolisation of quality education by a few. This is a serious challenge to the Constitution, which celebrates liberty, equality, fraternity and secularism.
The growing disaffection of people against the present regime is unmistakable. Let us follow the method of education, organisation and agitation to deepen public reasoning so that the mounting challenges faced by India today can be addressed.

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