Crisis of Trust

Media attention is now firmly focused on India’s next Prime Minister. But Congress Party unlike its rival—Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—is not a united house in projecting crown prince as their next boss. For the 10-year-old anti-incumbency factor, the Congress top leadership seems to be lying low in declaring Rahul Gandhi as their prime ministerial candidate. BJP seems to have taken it granted that they will be able to make it big simply by spending millions on the image-making of Modi that sometimes borders on vulgarism. While Modi’s political ambition is an open secret, Rahul Gandhi’s cautious remarks on this or that, are yet to shed disguises.

Luckily for Indian voters India’s very own ‘war on terror’ doesn’t get currency these days. Nor does proxy war emanating from across the border hit the headlines despite a volatite ‘line of control’ on the Western front. Having failed to convince the people that they are for a growth strategy that will benefit all, Congress party, like so many regional and not-so regional outfits, is trying to raise the bogey of ‘divisive forces’, apparently targeting the ‘popular’ villain—BJP—that serves as a good staple for poor politicians who would like to parade themselves as secular under any circumstances.

While addressing a Conference of State Minority Commissions, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, somewhat vaguely warned against divisive forces and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi asked the people to battle religious fanaticism. It was actually a veiled attack on the BJP and Modi. This is the business-as-usual practice of locating religious communalism only in the BJP to woo minority voters. As it was an event on minority commissions Mr Singh, however, didn’t forget to refer to the Sachar Committee report, which had gone into the socio-economic and educational-backwardness of Muslims, and said with a sense of satisfaction that his government had accepted 72 of its 76 recommendations. Whether sweet words just on the eve of poll can translate into votes is another matter. At least for the Congress the trick is unlikely to deliver.

The fact is that religious fanaticism of any brand is dangerous. Whether they admit it or not BJP is emboldened by their naive approach to minority communalism which is no less dangerous. For all the so-called secular parties it may be called the ‘all roads lead to Rome’ syndrome—how to make a point that they are interested in the upliftment of living conditions of minority community people.

Mr Singh’s assertion that India’s strength lies in unity may provide food for thought to academics as the ground reality is totally otherwise. If constitution is the basis of unity then it has failed miserably to keep Indians united, notwithstanding more than six decades of functioning democracy. In truth Indians today live at many levels while the populist idea of ‘unity in diversity’ has all along been a myth—a gambling myth for politicians who thrive on it. With ethnic and religious identities numerous, and working sometimes at cross-purposes, the idea may be reasonable to armchair research scholars. If the objective of Indian constitution is to provide people with better lives, while safe-guarding security, equality and justice, it is still at its infancy, with a lot of imperfection. That it requires frequent amendments illustrates among other things that the system it guarantees is not reasonable. Too many amendments over the years have just made it too cumbersome to cope with. Lawmakers are happy and finish their duty by passing stringent laws from time to time. It’s not their concern whether they are implemented properly or observed in breach.

After minority community, it has become a fashion for political denominations of all hues, to talk about atrocities against the weaker sections and women. Atrocities against the poor and marginalised are on the rise across the country. As many as 39512 criminal cases were registered in 2012 under the Prevention of Atrocities Act in conjunction with the Indian Penal Code as per the statistics given by the National Crime Records Bureau. About 93 percent of all these cases were reported from Andhra, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. And in most cases the victims were poor, having no power to air their voice of dissent. As for violence against women, the less said the better. Not a single day passes without rape incidents taking place somewhere in the country as if no morning newspaper is complete without rape news. And Delhi is now India’s crime capital as well. Out of 37838 unidentified bodies found across the country in 2012, Delhi’s share was 3359—on an average of nine bodies per day.

Not that divisive forces are getting their sustenance from religious orthodox alone. Caste is equally divisive like religious fanaticism. But the Singhs and Gandhis are silent about it because caste-lords in north India are their electoral allies. For all practical purposes all regional forces with their narrow world outlook and limited political vision are divisive in nature. The hard fact is that these forces are growing out of frustration as the system they are being forced to live in, has failed, curtailing their freedom and intensifying fratricidal conflicts. This very system that continually generates illicit money from criminal activities, corruption, tax evasion, bribes and transactions from cross-border smuggling cannot do anything but encourage divisive forces.

In normal times ‘divisive forces’ abound in North East and Kashmir and both Congress and BJP are united to take tough measures against them. As it is election season it is convenient for Congress to dub BJP divisive. There is no other country in the world where political parties attach so much importance to minority phobia because they are basically not interested in the real upliftment of minority community people.

Vol. 46, No. 30, -Feb 2 -8, 2014

Your Comment if any