It might be too soon to bemoan the death of Indian democracy, but that horrifying prospect doesn’t seem all that far off. Over the past year, several distressing incidents – that point to a drastic fall in tolerance – have taken place:
– One of India’s best-known painters is forced to die in exile after Hindu fundamentalists force him to leave the land of his birth.
– The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh makes even the possession of beef punishable by a seven-year prison term. Police are also given the authority to carry out raids on the mere suspicion of the presence of this ‘substance’.
– One of India’s most famous authors is stopped from delivering a video address at the Jaipur Lit Fest due to electoral compulsions and threats by Muslim fundamentalists.
– Some obscure Sikh group is all up in arms about Jay Leno’s joke connecting Mitt Romney and the Golden Temple, forcing the government to lodge a formal complaint.
– The government of India asks the BBC to apologise over the ‘insults’ to India in the Top Gear Christmas Special. (The only apology due from the BBC is for making this much-awaited show such a tame and tepid affair.)
– People wearing black clothes at a Rahul Gandhi rally are asked take off their black attire. This follows several incidents where Congress workers beat up protestors.
– The government – and the honourable Delhi High Court – warn that online services could be banned if ‘objectionable’ material was not removed.
Meanwhile, our leaders (and that’s in the worst-possible sense of the word) bicker and squabble in their bid for power and ascendancy. Unfortunately, most of them seem to think that the presence of regular elections is a symptom of good democratic health, everything else be damned. Continue reading Article of Faith: The Death of Indian Democracy