When we started our journey as a free, independent nation, our forefathers led the stone for a foundation that didn’t stand on religion, it stood on growth. They termed us secular, diverse and inclusive. Of course, we’ve come a long way since then, with changes in more parameters than we can name. But one thing that remained constant throughout was this one little factor of acceptability, the coexistence of diversity, and secularism. This is what the world knows and respects us for.
More than half a century later, we’re here, questioning our very roots. The debate that started with the augment of Narendra Modi led NDA government, is costing us much more than we can imagine, be it in terms of growth, money or reputation. The action of the Union government led by Mr. Narendra Modi has made it evidently clear that we’re headed towards what is termed as a Hindu Rashtra. Now, proclaiming it not being said wouldn’t make much difference since the intent is shouting it out loud.
For instance, in his speech after becoming Prime Minister in 2014, he mentioned how India had been enslaved for 1200 years. He obviously was referring to the Islamic reign, whom he chose to imply as the slave masters of India. This was the beginning mark of his Hindutva ideology and has only increased manifold since, which we’re confronting every day.
And before we begin the debate on how morally wrong this is, let’s talk on terms purely economic today. After all, growth is something we all want, isn’t it?
Unlike Narendra Modi, the former BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not Hindutva-wadi and the people who ran the economy for him didn’t hold the fascist branch of RSS, making him one of the few prime ministers under whose control economic growth increased significantly.
However, the case is a lot more different from Modi. Before joining BJP, he was a propagandist at RSS and thus, his ideology of Hindu Rashtra is boldly in front. Internet shutdowns, un-assented reorganisation of states, people having to prove their citizenship, passing bills without opposition’s approval, or ignoring protestor’s plea- the government’s authoritarian side is taking over with each passing year.
Communalism in any form seeks to reshape the economy and its people in confined terms and limitations, and as we witnessed in the Industrial revolution of 1991, economic growth needs freedom. Religions tend to draw borders on people, things and activities and in the process, do not confine with the norms of equality, freedom and fraternity, which however are the pillars of Indian democracy. Hindutva defines what is acceptable and what isn’t and thus, by definition, it is authoritarian. No wonder governments with Hindutva mindset bring authoritarianism in their style of leadership in a democracy, as we are confronting today.
As mentioned before, this ideology is costing us in terms of growth and reputation. And thus, under Modi government, we are at the 42-year low nominal growth, the one we witnessed back in Indira Gandhi’s era, another authoritarian who believed they could make the economy flourish. Before blaming it on the pandemic, note that one of the biggest reasons for this slowdown is a shake in investor confidence due to unstable political environment, indicating a lack of opportunities. Businesses need the freedom to expand and restrictive communalistic ideologies are doing nothing but taking it away from them.
The presence of Hindutva-led nation’s ideology has made people fall victim of the anti-national debate where those who question the government’s authoritarian policies and decisions get labelled anti-nationals and are forced into prisons with their charge sheets as false as the promise of growth by Modi government. This forces people to give in and not raise their opinions as is the right of democracy, which as repeatedly mentioned above, is being converted into dictatorship. History holds record that no democratic country has flourished without a powerful opposition and accountability seeking leftist population.
One of the major problems with Modi led BJP government has been the prime minister’s excessive economic intervention which has done much more harm than good to the economy. The current finance minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman as well as her predecessor, late Mr. Arun Jaitley, made it evidently clear that economics isn’t one thing the country’s going to be good at. With bleeding public sector banks begging to lend and claims of corporate taxes being lowered, even though the problem has been on the demand side, have not been able to gain investor confidence and unemployment is looking right at the country’s face.
Modi’s authoritarianism in the name of democracy is not compatible with capitalism and thus, economic growth.
Our history is filled with incidents of what religion can do to people. And the problem is, it’s not just what Hindutva establishments like RSS seek to achieve but how it seeks to achieve it. Take into consideration how today it wants to annihilate all other schools of thoughts, because the carriers of communalism are the flag bearers of misinformation and negligence, who are ready to drive down to any extent to make sure it achieves the former. The divide and rule broke our country in two then and is fooling us yet again. I can’t recall the last time people took to streets to make people chant each other’s religious slogans.
The fact that majoritarian government has been on the opposite end of economic growth says a lot about the nature and scope of the two. It is imperative to understand that communalism, at any form, brings only restrictive boundaries that a developing nation needs to stay away from. No matter how progressive we claim our society to be, the ideologies of majoritarian nation contradict the support pillars of democracy and are thus, not in-line with economic growth. The balance of power between religious and economic elites in the society can be seen bending towards the former in the Modi-government tenure and if continued, society’s institutions would cause obstacles to economic growth remarkably. Thus, we, the people of the nation are left all alone to face the increasing difficulties in the face of an economic downturn encouraged by the government policies.