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Do you fear / hate Modi or are you actually afraid of another Indira

Why is our faith in power of people so weak?
Do you fear / hate Modi or are you actually afraid of another Indira

Reading the Lounge this Sunday, I was particularly struck by the conspicuous underpinning in several articles fearing a dictatorial dystopia in Indian politics. Whether it was the article and a story on Giant Statues, translation of the poem of dissent, caricature fiction on the eerie mix of mega weddings and government control, or the note on movements of the 'collective' - all of them smoked of dissension from the Modi government's policies, attitude and actions.

Why is this striking, you may ask - after all we're just about a quarter and a half away from the General elections and media is expected to write anti-establishment. It isn't really the fact that these articles and stories are anti-establishment which strikes me, but that most of them hint towards the fear of a dictatorial dystopia which people fear Modi will usher in. Even in private discussions, I have found more Indians wary (and even angry) not at what was done (Demonetisation, GST, Statue of Unity), but at how it was effected - the dictatorial streak of Modi manifesting distinctly in these actions.

I personaly like most of the initiatives of Modi including Demonetisation, GST etc but more notably the federal restructuring of planning in India and the Swachh Bharat abhiyaan - his ideas have been transformational, disruptive and relevant to the athirst young demographic of India. And yet the disruption he has caused in the otherwise tranquil pace of Indian politics has caused discomfort to the Indian public in general.
In fact, Modi has disrupted so much that it may actually be a better outcome in 2019 that a more consensual accomodative and execution oriented leader to emerge - someone who can, without reversing any of Modi's ideas, bring speedy closure to the turbulence that his disruptions have caused. Devendra Fadnavis, the calm, composed but sharp Chief Minister of Maharashta comes to mind as such an individual; Piyush Goyal - the star performer in Modi's own cabinet could be another choice - but alas both have too less administrative experience as yet, to be elevated to this position. Nitin Gadkari looks like a choice the RSS (BJP's ideological parent) and BJP's allies might agree on. Having said that - the more central question is whether or not BJP (and its alliance NDA) will manage to scrape past the majority in 2019. 
As I wrote above, more than just being anti-establishment, these media articles hint the fear of India turning into a more dictatorial country than its current avatar of being the melting pot of cultures, communities, ethnicities and even races. This fear emanates not so much from what Modi has done but from the past that the media fears. In private circles at least, Modi is being compared a lot to Indira Gandhi than with his own ideological predecessor Atal Behari Vajpayee. His style to push his projects and even deadlines down the throat of his ministers, his party, the bureaucracy and even the nation as a whole, is what is detested more than the actual impact of his actions.

This actually adumbrates our fear, not of the right-wing ideology that Modi represents, but in general of what India faced in those 21 months of Emergency when Indira Gandhi chose to misuse the constitution with the help of her weak Presidential appointee. But I contend that these fears are not only misplaced but also represent a shallow understanding of the Indian Republic!

For starters, Indira Gandhi was rooted out by the Indian public immediately following the emergency, setting such strong precedence that no other leader will dare bring in an emergency again. Second, Modi belongs precisely to the anti-emergency camp; his predecessor Atal Behari Vajpayee being one of the leaders who was jailed by Indira during the emergency. Hence, it is not just unlikely but impossible for Modi to bring in any measure even remotely close to emergency; and even if he dares to carry out any other sort of coercive action, he will get squarely blocked by leaders in his own party.

Secondly, not just in a post-independence India but even in past Indian people have hardly given in to a regime which is unilateral and tries to impose a particular kind of socio-cultural behavior on them. Even though the British ruled India for 200 years - aside economic measures, they mostly kept the socio-cultural fabric of India untouched. In past, whenever a ruler - elected, invading or inherited - has tried to force change in the Socio-Cultural fabric of Indian peoples, it has led to the downfall of the ruler or the whole clan.

In fact, dynasties who have ruled India for more than a century have been those who have allowed the populace freedom to continue their own Socio-Cultural lives (and only tried to extract an economic tax from them). And whenever a dynasty tried to impose Socio-cultural changes on the populace - they have faced the wrath of people. Mauryan Empire declined after Ashoka tried to impose Buddhism on Indian people. Mughals declined after Aurgangzeb when he abandoned his predecessors' legacy of pluralism and religious tolerance, introducing Jizya tax, destroying temples, and execute Guru Tegh Bahadur.

In fact, people's "intolerance" for leaders who impose a singular socio-cultural method on people and try to take away cultural freedoms, is the reason why India has remained a cauldron of civilizations. Every culture, art form, race and religion is welcome in India and no one can ever push a singular ethos on Indian people.

Our constitution is also ultimately a reflection of the same unwritten convention which has been practiced in India for centuries and our fear of the emergence of a totalitarian or dictatorial government in India only reflects our lack in understanding our history!


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Do you fear / hate Modi or are you actually afraid of another Indira "

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