Promod Puri Vancouver, British Columbia
It is the institutional damage which is a primary cause of concern for the survival and functioning of democracy in India.
The plummet of the Congress paved the way for the BJP to capture the power four years ago primarily by nurturing and exploiting its inherent strength in Hindu nationalism. It is under this ideological guideline that the BJP has got an opportunity to reshape the very character of India’s democratic institutions.
Judiciary, election commission, media, and statistics are some of the most operative integrals of democracy which keep it authoritative, functional, dynamic, and accountable. If any or all these systems are damaged, corrupted, compromised or abused, democracy becomes meaningless or even collapses.
Allegedly, all the democratic fundamentals have been brazenly as well as subtly fiddled with shrewd politics of religious fanaticism, fear, threats, murders, fake police raids, intrusions and influences in the media, obstructions, and interference in the bureaucracy, and deceptive claims of accomplishments.
The autonomous, independent and credible status of the democratic establishments has been defaced and undermined.
The seventy-three years of the solid foundation of Indian democracy after the Independence in 1947 suddenly became fragile in just four years of the BJP rule.
It has been almost a Machiavellian leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi assisted and ideologically maneuvered by his trusted and crafty lieutenant Amit Shah.
To cash out the desired outcomes, crony appointments have been made. Suitability and competence criteria along with academic and professional credentials have been secondary or trivial in this politically-infused drafting.
Examples being in the choice of supreme court judges, the governorship of states, Reserve Bank governorship, university vice chancellorships, Election Commission chief, Chief of the Indian Army and film censure board. Recently, a bureaucrat with only a masters’ degree in history got the Reserve Bank governorship position.
As far as the constitution of the country is concerned, it carries only ceremonial value. Seeking direction from the prime minister rather than the constitution is the loyalty which is supreme under the BJP regime.
Most media, with due respect for some fearless and vigorous journalism, are the cheerleaders who are spun to report, misreport or ignore the news. Rather false news and biased views are manufactured in the party’s publicity machinery and delivered thru paid press and social media. Also, are tasked an army of loyal soldiers (known as Bhagats) for country-wide and world-wide spread of the fake commodity.
Cracking down on free speech, threats, murders of writers, dissident lawyers, and judges constitute the new and dreadful feeling of the current political climate in the country.
Along with that lynching of minorities followed by blessed and garlanded welcome support with job offers for those accused of these heinous crimes have happened quite frequently. Rallies, organized in support of rapists affiliated to the party, rather than consoling the victims, have taken place in the recent past. Example being the Kathua rape case of an 11-year-old nomad girl.
It is the institutional chiseling which has been purposely done to carve out a non-secular nation based on narrow confines of Hindutva agenda.
This is an agenda which is fundamentally anti-Hindu. The identity of Hinduism lies in its wide open structure where liberal, secular and diverse customs and traditions co-exist and flourish.
Pursuing the Hindutva agenda also goes against the very spirit of democratic India in which its national institutions play non-religious, non-political, professional and bureaucratic roles crucial for unbiased, audited and scrutinized direction to the governing party in the conduct of nation’s business.
But when these institutions are politically fixed, controlled and manipulated by the governing party to uphold its power base just for electoral gains then the damage is done to them.
(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions). Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and progressivehindudialogue.com)