A Question of Democracy in the times of Hindu Rashtra!

Mini disclaimer: Please read with an open mind!

In reality and on the ground, India in its current form can never be a Hindu nation. Yes! I said it. It is absolutely impossible in its current form. Hear me out! Almost 20% population is non Hindu and in actual numbers that’s more than 28 crore people. If it’s a country, it will be the 4th largest country in the world by population among 192 UN Nations after China, India and USA. Yes, it will be such a huge nation formed just by Non-Hindus of India. Indians are more sensible than fighting in the name of religion and then let its repercussions fall on their own doorstep. So, even though we may see and feel that there are lot of Bhakts around due to our mind space being occupied by TV Media Channels and Social media, 99.9% of even Bhakts won’t do anything remote to what venom they seem to spew under the garb of relative anonymity on social media.

Most of the TV media has completely crashed at the feet of the government and is more than pliable to say the least. Even the current government knows very well, that they will never be able to achieve a dream of a Hindu Nation but they’re the masters of hogging the narrative showing their followers a false dream of ‘Hindu Akhand Bharat’ and try to spin everything in communal colour as religion is an easy emotional and personal part for most people which can be manipulated and be used sustainably for a long period. As a result, the government doesn’t have to show anything in the way of development and they can continue to loot the nation on behalf of major industrialists and crony capitalists. It can’t be denied that corruption didn’t happen in the past. Of course it did, and at all levels but we ourselves are to be blamed for this mess. But, it has exceeded manifold in the current regime and sadly we never even hear about it in the mainstream. If you have your favourite cherry picked people heading CBI, CAG, Vigilance and every other agency which is supposed to catch your corruption; Surprise! You don’t have any corruption anymore!

BJP’s current model of governance works in the following way. They will do anything and everything to spin the narrative into communal angle and towards failures of past governments so that their own failures can be hidden by controlling media, democratic institutions and judiciary. Anything and everything is on the table as long as it helps them in keeping the narrative communal and flaring religious sentiments.

It is indeed a difficult mess and it seems to be getting worse with each passing day. Let’s understand this problem through a comparison. On ground, if you consider statistically you have a more than 1000 times chance of dying in a road accident than dying due to some violence with a communal angle. I repeat 1000x. In numbers, according to the govt’s own data around 150,000 people per year die on average in road accidents and only around 150 people die due to communal incidents per year in India. Yet, our TV headlines and social media is awash with headlines which flare up religious animosity and never any mention of traffic accidents, road safety or quality of road infrastructure which to a sane mind is utterly ridiculous. But that’s just how the communal angle is played. Most of the people would live their entire life, never having ‘seen’ anything being communal in their mundane life except for maybe minor skirmishes or verbal propaganda. All they would have seen is just ‘hear’ about a communal case when the incident takes place and in majority of the cases if they have a Hindu and Muslim involved, it is spinned as communal in the fast moving immediate headlines and on social media. But when investigation is complete more often than not the law enforcement realises that there was nothing communal about the accident but this portion never makes headlines because, well, it doesn’t sell!

Media inherently is a business of selling ‘fear’. That’s why we can never have a TV channel which reports road accidents deaths daily and generate TRPs. Why? Because, we don’t ‘fear’ road accidents anymore, it happens daily everywhere. We have accepted it as a risk of living life in modern times. There were no automobiles 100 years back, so anthropologically speaking it’s a very new phenomenon for human race, but all of us are comfortable with it. Terrorism works the same way, on an average there are less than 50 deaths average due to terrorism every year in India. But it hogs the media limelight quickly. Why? Yes, you guessed it. FEAR! Compared to modern form of terrorism which we dread and fear i.e bomb blasts, mass shootings etc, Religion has been killing people for over 2000 years consistently and arguably is the biggest killer of all times historically and yet is so close to our hearts. The biggest heist, all modern religions pulled off in last 2000 years of our 200,000 years old human history is finding an emotional chord among its followers. And its biggest selling point even today is. Yes. FEAR! Let’s leave religion aside and focus on media. It was highlighted here because media aligns so well with religion as both are in the business of selling ‘fear’.

This anomaly between what actually matters and what actually is ‘tailor made for us to seem to matter’ isn’t an accident. It’s a well thought out plan. Imagine, if road safety hogs media limelight, which it should by at least 1000x on TV and Social Media, logically speaking, the government will actually have to invest in road infra which costs time, effort and especially money out of coffers. Higher limelight will also mean higher scrutiny of these projects by public and will reduce lucrative money making opportunities for politicians and cronies alike. Even related infra projects will also attract scrutiny by public which will force the politicians and bureaucrats to focus on these, again minimising corruption. The politicians would also be forced to focus on these development issues as this is what is bugging the public and to be re-elected they don’t have an option otherwise. Contrast this with the absolutely stupid and insipid comments by senior leaders in the govt about Vedic technology, our glorious history, Internet during Mahabharat, Gau Mutra etc which is excellent in grabbing headlines but doesn’t cost the govt a penny. Makes you wonder whether these stupid comments are genuinely beliefs of these leaders or a plow to divert attention from actual issues. You decide!

Media is a powerful force in directing a democracy if used as intended. ‘FREE Media’ from government sounds just like a catch phrase thrown randomly but I hope now you appreciate why it is not only important for any democracy but is absolutely essential. No wonder, Media is called as a 4th pillar of democracy but in actuality it is a mechanism which has the highest influence on policy and direction in which a nation will move forward. A free media makes a nation dictator-proof, that’s why a key component of authoritative regimes around the world is controlling the media and I’ll bet it’s even more important than controlling the military. This is true even intuitively, a nation is made by its people and any country is in a way democratic first, even if it’s an autocracy. Let me elaborate! There is no voting involved but even a king knows that he has to look after his subjects otherwise he will lose power eventually even though it’s a long drawn process. Several decades or maybe even a century until people throw off its dictator. A free media can shorten this long drawn process to a few years or even months. A recent example of this is ‘The Arab Spring’ where several dictators in the Arab world were thrown away within a span of just 2 years between 2011- 12, courtesy the power of social media. Military is portrayed as being important for defending from external threats but in modern times, it is also used to keep a tight watch on aristocracy and bureaucracy which are internal and short term threats even to an autocratic state. That’s why we hear more about internal coups rather than mass people revolutions in modern times.

Coming back to our current state of affairs, it’s clear that the govt realises that they actually can’t do anything even close to what they try to portray through their various stooges but it helps them divert the attention to what actually matters which is absolutely fantastic for a dishonest govt.

“If we actually think about it, at its core there is no other reason why any government would like to control the narrative and the media other than; that they are being dishonest and are deliberately trying to misguide the public. There absolutely cannot exist any other reason for a government to control the media, if it has nothing to hide.”

Now, I might have painted a very gloomy picture but its not actually so bad. The best part is even though the actual situation on the ground isn’t that bad communally speaking, there’s already a large pushback against the government. Recent protests against CAA/NRC were a proof to that and it should give us a lot of hope. Our PM is still scared of giving press conferences/unbiased interviews fearing that someone may ask about Godhra 2002 riots under his watch (Remember Karan Thapar’s ‘Dosti bani rahe!’ interview), almost 2 decades later and still scared. The government can’t implement anything close to what it envisions, which is a Hindu Rashtra which in itself is a utterly stupid concept. You can’t just throw away 28 crore people into the sea or detention camps, infact anywhere if they aren’t willing to convert to Hinduism. The number of people and odds against this jumla are just too high and India can never become a Hindu Rashtra in its current form. I said in its current form and the map we are accustomed to. It definitely will have to disintegrate which will be much much messier than what had happened in 1947. You see, areas under West and East Pakistan were primarily Muslim dominated areas before independence. Now Muslims are spread all over India with almost all major states having more than 10% of their population as Muslims spread across the length and breadth of India. Plainly speaking, it’s just an impossible concept. There is a poem by Javed Akhtar by name ‘Naya Hukumnama’ which shows us the way. A few excerpts from the poem are below.

Kisiko ye koi kaise bataye, Gulistaan mein kahin bhi phool ikrangi nahi hotey, Kabhi ho hi nahi sakte…
Ki har ik rang mein chupkar, Bahut se rang rehte hain
Jinhone baagh ikrangi banana chahe thay, Unko zara dekho,
Ke jab ik rang mein Sau rang zahir ho gaye hain to
Woh ab kitne pareshan hain, Woh kitne tung (harassed) rehte hain…

I insist you listen to the full poem using the link below.

Clearly, he is taking a dig at Pakistan who chose to become ‘Ikrangi’ during independence in 1947 but we all know that is not the answer. Once they became an Islamic nation, now they have religious divisions over Shia, Sunni, Ahmadiyas, Mujahirs etc. Then they have regional divisions by being Punjabis, Sindhis, Pathans, Balochis etc. I can go on and on about in how many ways people find an excuse to divide themselves. You personally would have felt it in your daily lives, how we hate people including our neighbours because they are slightly different than us. But its no big deal. The essence is, it’s very innately human to find differences and similarities among us. Anyway, how sure can we be, if we become a Hindu Rashtra one fine day we won’t have any differences the next day? You think the divide among us, the Dalits, Backwards, Brahmins, Rajputs, Jats etc etc will suddenly disappear and there won’t be any politicians exploiting that? This is just first level. Then there are differences between cultures in different states. A Tamilian would feel more at home with a Sri Lankan than a Punjabi who in turn will feel more comfortable with a Pakistani than a Sikkimese, who in turn will feel closer to a Tibetan than a Gujarati. Hope you get the drift and I haven’t even touched our customs, beliefs, the way we dress, what we eat, what we speak etc etc… It is a never ending cycle. The catchphrase thrown around so often for India is ‘Unity in Diversity’ but most of us fail to even realise and think about its depth and appreciate what it actually means to be living in such a diverse nation.

#When India got its Independence in 1947, it was regarded as an impossible nation. No geopolitical expert worth their salt predicted India to last for even a decade. There is no historical precedent ever and still isn’t. India is like Europe with double the population and still more diversity than Europeans can ever imagine and there are 48 countries over there mostly divided by language. Heck, at least they all look the same! My point is, India is truly a wonder on global stage and many geopolitical experts and thinkers till date have been writing obituary for this country every decade for it to collapse. The point being, even though India has endured for over 7 decades, it indeed is fragile and it still baffles people around the globe how India still stands as it was 7 decades ago unharmed. I don’t believe in the romanticism associated with being a one nation India, but I believe most of the Indians don’t share my feelings which I’m glad about as somewhere deep inside, all of us cherish this Indian identity inside us much more than we cherish being from UP, Maharastrian, Kannadiga or Bengali. Let’s try to keep it that way!#

When various forms of governments including communism, socialism, theocracy, democracy were being discussed in the 18th century till when most of states existed as monarchies, democracy had a very slim chance.

The primary argument against democracy was, “For a democracy to work, a citizen must ‘never’ support its government publicly. Never ever. They must constantly question and criticize it.”

Although, they may of course support the government electorally while simultaneously being a very vocal critic of the same. And this seemed to be a very tall order among thinkers of 18th century and most of them believed democracy can never succeed as a model as we humans are so hard wired to see kings rule over public that not having a cult image of a leader was impossible to imagine. To counter this, a vote must be a secret ballot was proposed which seemed to be a very flimsy defense at that time. Also, we can’t deny that democracy has served this world and humanity well. Most of the advancements in the quality of life of ordinary people have happened in last 100 years which is directly correlated with democracy being increasingly a dominant form of governance amongst all nations of the world. Other forms of governments exists today as well but none has been even close to bringing prosperity to human race as a whole as democracy has, other parameters being similar including a nation’s resources, culture, social demographics, religious and racial divide.

Among general population in India, there was never much discussion about who supports which political party or any type of cult following of leaders of political parties unless elections are near in that region or nation. And that has been the way till the end of last decade in India and is a prime reason for India to survive in the same form. However, the fault lines in India are increasingly getting deeper day by day,it may never become a Hindu Rashtra but the same can’t be said about the democracy in India or even the map of India as we know it today.

In conclusion, I’m reminded of a Quote from a futuristic dystopian fictional TV series 'Westworld’,

“These violent delights have violent ends.”

Edit: Some people have asked me whether it’s an article about developmental thought process over sectarianism or just an extreme left leaning article.

My response:~ Well, that’s a nice perspective! When I was writing the article I wasn’t thinking about this!

What I was thinking when I was writing was basically, the way the government is going, putting a Hindutva Mask on is just to divert attention from real issues and most of us are buying into it because that’s what is being discussed by pliable mainstream media and by the strong BJP IT Cell muscle on Social Media. It ends in only one of two scenarios. In the first, the government loses support and is thrown out as more and more people are getting disenchanted with the govt with each passing day and in the second scenario, there is unprecedented communal rioting in the country and the nation fails to keep intact as we know it geographically and the destruction to human lives and property is worse than in our worst dreams. Of course in the article, I’m looking at the optimistic side and think we will end with Scenario 1 in all probability while giving a fair warning about the Scenario 2.

Eventual purpose of the article was to serve a warning about both of these scenarios as people will suffer in both of these scenarios and in any case we lose a decade or more which could have been used for the betterment of the citizens especially when China is losing ground due to high labor costs there and the world is looking towards India with bated breath. But, we have to realise that any foreign businessman looking to put major direct investment will be looking for stability of returns in the long term as initial 3-5 years is just pure investment and then the returns trickles. No foreign businessman is confident of long term stability in this communal climate and it is driving them away to South East Asian nations such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia who in recent times have got a lot of FDI for developing high tech manufacturing. It’s a lost opportunity for our nation from which we will take decades to recover from. Case in point, even after relaxing a lot of FDI rules, govt’s ‘Make in India’ campaign, improving World Bank’s ‘Ease of Business Index’ Rankings considerably and Modi’s innumerable infamous foreign trips to attract business, the country is still unable to attract any substantial FDI inspite of being touted as the next China with low labor costs and a major consumption market for these large manufacturing firms. This is especially true in the current times when their is a looming threat of inward looking nations and deglobalisation accelerated by onslaught of modern AI and 3D Printing Manufacturing tech which may make the transition faster towards more local manufacturing in most nations and towards UBI for well off and resource rich nations. If we lose these next two decades we may never be able to get on the metaphorical developed nation bus!

This was the line I was thinking in when writing the article and there was no thought of right, left or centre angle while writing this piece. More importantly, the article sounds leftist coz it’s against the RW govt, there’s nothing much relating to LW ideology in it.

As I researched more I realised, the thinking ideologues in BJP realises that either scenario doesn’t bode well for them but this diversionary kind of politics is paying rich dividends now and they seem to be addicted to it as it’s an easy way to emotionally manipulate the majority Hindu population, which is a great tragedy of our times! Remember, they need to get less than a third of voting population to be in thumping majority, that means even among Hindus, only if 40% agree and decide to vote for them, they are set for major political gains. It’s like they have discovered a shortcut to political success and they aren’t willing to put in the hard work for betterment of even Hindu citizens, forget about Muslims or others! They simply don’t care about the ordinary citizens, they just want to hold on to the power for as long as they can!

Do let me know what you feel about the article in the comments and a hearty thank you for sparing your valuable time.

1 Like

A very interesting piece. I would not be comfortable with a “Hindu Rashtra”, no matter how “Hindu” is defined or validated as Indian. Hindu for all we know relates to a religion now and it is not something many millions of Indians will be comfortable identifying with. Hope sense prevails among our politicians these days with so many enemy surrounding us, the last thing we want is frivolous notions dividing us from within.