HARSH MANDER | 23 MAY, 2019
'We Are Seeing a Fundamental Change in Our Society'
#TCElects - From our watch party
I don’t believe that it is a stolen election. There might’ve been a marginal impact, but India has been transformed, a fact we have to recognise.
I’ve made 28 journeys to 14 states to reach out to victims of lynching. During these journeys, I observed a striking feature of these lynchings: the cruelty with which these atrocities were meted out. I recall an incident in Sitamarhi, Bihar where an 82 year old Muslim man was attacked after an idol of a goddess in a Hindu temple was found broken. A mob attacked the old man, a mob comprised mostly of young men and even grown up children. A woman too figured among the attackers in the video, which was recorded as they mercilessly beat up the old man.
The current atmosphere has generated a kind of hatred on both sides. The current dispensation has been able to establish a unique equation which posits synonymity between Muslims, Pakistan and the Congress party.
At the same time, they’ve ensured that Narendra Modi is closely associated with the idea of a great nation.
On the ground, studying these lynchings, I observed an extraordinary absence of compassion in these incidents. The effects of lynchings in the past few years are very deep, which stands in contrast to the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots, when certain Hindu factions reached out to the families of riot victims, out of compassion.
I feel that this election has confirmed to me, that there is a surge of hatred on both sides. The forces responsible for this situation want to reconstruct India, in a way which suits them.
Gujarat is not today an overtly violent place. The violence was done, the hatred is there, the ghettos have been formed, the borders reconstituted, and people are going on with their lives. That is the kind of India they want, where Muslims, Hindus, Dalits, Christians, live separately, on unequal terms, but peacefully.
That is the change in our social contract. We are seeing nothing less than a destruction of the pledges in our Constitution. It’s not about EVMs or rigging, and it’s only to an extent about the failures of the opposition parties. What we are seeing is a fundamental change in our society.
That I love my country and so I want to serve the poor, or stand for Hindu-Muslim unity, or work for equality - that idea is gone.
There is a crisis of neoliberal capitalism that’s spreading these burning flames all across the world. The promise of neoliberal capitalism was that you can be richer and richer forever, that everyone can be rich - that is not happening. The failure of this capitalism is that millions are joining the workforce every year, and there are no jobs for them.
The purpose of this hate is to give these people some self-esteem, a sort of heroin of hate that is being given to people.
We will have to find a solution to these challenges, which now threaten the Constitution of India.
Harsh Mander is a civil rights activist.