I went to sleep on the evening of February 2 safe within the data that my nation, Mera Bharat Mahan, was robust, safe, and self-reliant-in a phrase, atmanirbhar. I awoke the following morning to seek out that our safety and sovereignty had been shaken to its foundations by a tweet from a foreigner. By the night, nevertheless, my fears and anxieties had considerably abated. An announcement by our all the time truthful Ministry of Exterior Affairs, a tweet by our all the time honourable Dwelling Minister, and, above all, some profound ideas from these nice and visionary political theorists, Akshay Kumar and Sachin Tendulkar, had collectively ensured that I went to mattress final evening assured that our nation’s delight and self-reliance was fully intact.
Satire just isn’t my pure fashion, and I shall quickly depart from it, but maybe solely mockery and satire can do justice to the best way by which our authorities and its helpful idiots responded to a brief tweet by a girl named Rihanna. Their response was steeped in hypocrisy and dishonesty, but above all it lacked a way of proportion. These collective, coordinated, expressions of delight, solidarity, defiance and backbone strikingly revealed the delicate foundations on which our nationalism now rests.
The seventeenth-century French author La Rochefoucauld famously described hypocrisy because the homage paid by vice to advantage. This aphorism is especially apposite on this case. For it ought to by no means be forgotten that as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi actively intervened within the political affairs of one other nation, by asking Individuals of Indian origin to vote for Donald Trump within the presidential elections of 2020. In departing from many years of principled bipartisanship by earlier Prime Ministers, that endorsement was extraordinarily silly. It was additionally extraordinarily counter-productive. Absolutely an Indian Prime Minister instructing Individuals on whom to decide on as their President is a extra egregious act than a Barbadian singer merely drawing consideration to a news article detailing some information a couple of farmers’ protest in India. Certainly, after Modi stated what he did about Donald Trump in Houston with Trump beside him, the Indian authorities has completely no leg to face on when confronted with any form of criticism of its actions by any type of foreigner in any respect.
At a lesser degree, the hypocrisy within the authorities’s response was additionally manifest within the tweet from the Dwelling Minister. For the inventor and overseer of the ruling occasion’s IT cell, for this Grand Grasp of spin and distortion, to accuse others of ‘propaganda’ brings to thoughts hoary proverbs each in English (the pot calling the kettle black) and in Hindi (ulta chor kotwal ko daante). For a politician who has thrived and prospered on stoking divisions of faith, caste, language and area to ask for the nation to be ‘united’ calls to thoughts the identical cliches. In India, much more than elsewhere, hypocrisy is certainly the worth paid by vice to advantage.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Exterior Affairs or MEA issued a assertion that started with a lie. This was that the farm legal guidelines had been handed ‘after a full debate and dialogue’ in Parliament. In reality, legal guidelines that proposed such far-reaching modifications within the agricultural sector ought to first have been mentioned with the states. They weren’t. They need to have been referred to a parliamentary committee; they weren’t. After bypassing these procedures, the Modi Authorities acted extra openly nonetheless, by not even permitting a division and a proper counting of votes within the Rajya Sabha. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta wrote on the time, “It is a travesty of parliament. It’s railroading a invoice by, not on its deliberated deserves, but on the sheer dint of energy.”
The MEA claims that the federal government’s dealing with of the farm protests is proof of “India’s democratic ethos and polity”. In fact, on this – as in so many different respects – the Modi Authorities has acted in dangerous religion, each inside and out of doors parliament. Had the legal guidelines not been handed in such an underhand and deceitful method, the protests could not have taken the form, or assumed the size, that they ultimately did. The venomous characterization of peaceable protesters as Khalistanis, the barricading of roads with spikes and fences throughout the nation’s capital, the suspension of web companies in district after district, the spate of FIRs in opposition to journalists, the strain on Twitter to dam accounts of these essential of state excesses, all imply that claims made by the Modi Authorities that they perceive or search to uphold “India’s democratic ethos” carry little credibility.
Earlier than yesterday, I barely knew who Rihanna was. Nor, I think, did our Dwelling Minister or our Overseas Minister. However as soon as they did, they acted as if all they needed was for her 100 million Twitter followers to be annulled by 100 million Twitter followers of Indian celebrities taken collectively. Movie stars and sportspersons have been thus falling over one another to advertise the federal government line, usually utilizing the identical phrases and identical hashtags on Twitter.
The federal government’s response to a single six-word tweet by a foreigner was disingenuous, dishonest, and completely excessive. In his personal tweet, the Overseas Minister acknowledged: “Motivated campaigns focusing on India won’t ever succeed. We have now the self esteem at the moment to carry our personal. This India will push again.” The very wording of this tweet confirmed the vacancy of the boast made therein. Alongside together with his colleagues, the Overseas Minister had revealed to the world the fragility and insecurity of our collective nationwide ego. For, not like our personal craven ‘celebrities’, the Barbadian singer was talking spontaneously, as a free and unbiased agent. It was the response of the federal government and the ruling occasion that was motivated. And it displayed not self-confidence, but paranoia. A authorities extra positive of itself would have ignored the tweet altogether.
As a lover of cricket myself, it was unhappy to see the person and collective abasement to state energy of our most well-known and feted cricketers. Solely one of many ilk stood his floor, held his personal. This was Bishan Bedi, who responded to the manufactured outrage with this dry, self-deprecatory, and devastating tweet: ‘Actually it appears I did not know something about what is going on on on the Delhi borders till the… Barbadian in conjunction w/Indian TV’s woke me up from my slumbers.. Come on Outdated Man begin turning into “sensitive” or else U are heading in the direction of anti-nationalism..!!!’
In the meantime, as a scholar of Gandhi, I questioned what that the majority patriotic of all Indians would have product of the hyper-heated jingoism that parades as love of the nation at the moment. What would he have considered the boasting and bragging, the stigmatizing and name-calling, that passes for desh-bhakti in Modi’s India? Some remarks that Gandhi made in 1938 give a clue: “On this age, when distances have been obliterated, no nation can afford to mimic the frog within the properly. Typically it’s refreshing to see ourselves as others see us.”
(Ramachandra Guha is a historian primarily based in Bengaluru. His books embrace ‘Environmentalism: A World Historical past’ and ‘Gandhi: The Years that Modified the World’.)
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