The Days Ahead

Arecent judgment of the Rajasthan High Court, absolving the deceased Pehlu Khan, who was killed on charge of trafficking in cows, has laid bare the falsity of the charge and has also exposed the nature of the custodians of law and order, who had lodged a case of illegal cow trafficking against the killed while maintaining a studied silence on the question of punishing the killers. It is obvious that the trend of killing Muslims on such flimsy, and often false, charges will continue with the tacit approval of the state, whose organs will try every means to help in the continuation of this trend. The open tendency of othering Muslims in India is also clearly manifested in the so-called NRC affair. The BJP is somewhat disappointed at the result of the findings of the NRC in Assam, but is declaring openly that only the Muslims will be declared infiltrators. Mr Dilip Ghosh, the West Bengal state president of the BJP, has 'discovered' that there are 20 million of illegal Muslim immigrants in West Bengal, without substantiating the claim and without caring for the number of Muslim populations in West Bengal. It is curious that the present governor of West Bengal has refused to sign a bill in respect of lynching by cow vigilantes on some flimsy technical ground. So, the march of Hindutva and othering of Muslims goes on relentlessly. Of course, a section of the petty bourgeoisie, all over India, is supporting this march, having been bewitched by the saffron propaganda barrage as also by their own ingrained communal sentiments. It is this kind of petty bourgeoisie that hailed the rise of Hitler in Germany, and expressed joy when Hitler nefariously occupied Czechoslovakia and the British and French governments gave approval to it. It was only when Germany began to face defeats in its Russian campaign that they were brought to their senses. They had to pay the price of their jingoism. This will definitely be repeated in India with Indian characteristics.

On the other hand, the Kashmir tour of the members of the European parliament has ended in a fiasco and had to be cut short, and the character of the sponsorship of the tour has been revealed, drawing only indignation from well-meaning people. Five workers from the West Bengal district of Murshidabad, who had gone to Kashmir in order to work in apple orchards, have been killed. While Kashmir's Kulgam and Bengal's Murshidabad are mourning for them and people of other states, mostly Bengalis, working in Kashmir are returning to their native places, the central government goes on making the absurd claim that the situation in Kashmir is quiet and normal. The peace that has been achieved is the peace enforced through repression.

Another aspect of the current situation is the nauseating bargaining among political parties for office. The Shiv Sena is bargaining with the BJP over the chief ministerial berth, and the latter has allied with Duswanta Chautalas in Haryana. The Congress and the NCP has kept their options open; they are not averse to supporting the Shiv Sena in order to keep the BJP out of ministerial power. Principle and morality have long become obsolete in Indian mainstream politics and their places have been taken by horse trading and lures of office, although all parties talk of these two human virtues, morality and principle. Factories are closing down, and cutting their output. The problem of joblessness is deepening and aggregate effective demand, largely determined by the pattern of distribution of income and wealth, is slowing down. The coffers of the big corporate bourgeoisie have been fattened by means of lavish tax concessions. This is certainly one aspect of Modi's nationalism. To think that the more the big bourgeoisie is wooed and allowed to raise their net profits, the greater is the chance of attaining 'sabka vikas' is certainly a grand nationalist idea, of which journalists like Swapan Dasgupta are certainly full of admiration. Externally, this nationalism has been reduced to outcries against Pakistan. Verbal bombardments against China have now ebbed because the government is in desperate need to boost up exports to China in order to solve its balance of payments problem. Boosting domestic demand through increased government expenditure on infrastructure, health and education is repugnant to the Modi government, nor does it have the courage to punish big bank defaulters. Some banal talks and measures like continuous lowering of the repo rate will not be able to make any dent on the problem, because the crisis is a crisis of demand, not of supply. With growing inequality and job losses, the problem of demand must grow, and the potential investors cannot be persuaded to listen to the exhortations of the government. This is a crisis of neo-liberalism, which Manmohan Singh had introduced, and Narendra Modi has been pursuing with greater vigour. Ordinary, particularly marginalised, sections of the people will have to pay the price of it.

Jingoism cannot be an alternative to food and clothing, nor can the people belonging to the religious majority be excited for ever against Muslims particularly when they are faced with economic ruin. Propagating absurd and mythical ideas, a trait common to power wielding illiterate demagogues of the BJP, in the name of glorifying India's past, can only draw ridicule from those who have some rationality in outlook.


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Vol. 52, No. 20, Nov 17 - 23, 2019