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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 13, New Delhi, March 13, 2021

Growing Global Criticism of Narendra Modi Government | Sankar Ray

Friday 12 March 2021, by Sankar Ray

What is ‘international conspiracy’ in the political lexicon of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi is international solidarity to libertarians the world over. Mind you, Modi termed the three-month-plus-long farmers’ stir in the borders of National Capital Region in his pre-election campaign in West Bengal at Haldia during the end-February. Around the same time on 27 February Toronto Star carried a full-page advertisement, expressing solidarity with the struggling farmers and strongly indicting the Bharatiya Janata Party-led federal government, headed by Modi. More than 100 labour, community and civil society organisations the world over were signatories from Canada, USA, UK, Norway, Germany, South Africa, Pakistan and India. The three farm laws, repealing of which is the demand of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee comprising 250 organizations from 20 states , representing all sections of farmers including Dalit agricultural labourers “blatantly advance the interests of Modi’s crony corporate capitalists, such as Ambani and Adani, against those of the vast majority of the agricultural sector, effectively throwing farmers to the corporate sharks,” the ad stated.

In a much bolder tone, the US democratic socialists, carrying slogans of a distinctively new type , have warned the US President Joe Biden against the policy accommodating the Modi regime unlike his predecessor Donald Trump. Jack Swick in the winter 2021 issue of Socialist Forum, mouthpiece of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) briefly narrated the abominable role of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-brand Fascism is. It carries forward ‘many parallels to German and Italian fascism: a hierarchy of citizenship/humanity, the scapegoating of an internal enemy, hyper-masculinism and the rigid bifurcation of gender roles, (para)militarism, youth involvement in the military via youth organizations, a massive propaganda apparatus, anti-communism, and an ethno-nationalist ideology riddled with historical falsehoods.’ and its ideology of Hindutva and its history. Sanghis –through RSS and its constituents such as BJP, Viswa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal – have been trying to impose this in trying to convert India into a new Fascist state of majoritarian communalism with a terrorist gusto.

Hindutva aims at ‘a Hindu Rashtra, or Hindu polity; a nation of and for Hindus and suppression of freedom of Muslims and Christians who for the Sangh Parivar ideologue as ‘not truly Indian, since their Holy Land is in the Middle East. Their loyalty to the Motherland is suspect’ and hence ‘are an obstacle to the creation of the Hindu Rashtra.’ Adding to this, Swick narrates the frightening feature of RSS-fascism possessing ‘ many parallels to German and Italian fascism: a hierarchy of citizenship/humanity, the scapegoating of an internal enemy, hyper-masculinism and the rigid bifurcation of gender roles, (para)militarism, youth involvement in the military via youth organizations, a massive propaganda apparatus, anti-communism, and an ethno-nationalist ideology riddled with historical falsehoods” .Very appropriately quoted is the enunciator of Hindutva, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. He stated in a speech in 1938, unabashedly comparing the rightwing Hindu nationalists to the Nazis “….if we Hindus in India grow stronger in time Moslem friends of the League [All-India Muslim League — a political party representing Muslims] type will have to play the part of the German Jews.” Savarkar was then the president of All India Hindu Mahasabha, then sole political arm of RSS. For Hindu nationalists like Savarkar , Muslims in India belong to Pakistan and Hindutva is ‘thus opposed to the secular, pluralist vision of India as put forth in the country’s constitution’.

The warning against the rising threat of fascism through majority communalism – call it ‘political Hinduism’ as a dialectical retaliate of ‘political Islam’ – is in sync with the theoretical construct of DSA as put in by Chris Masiano in the same issue: ‘The structural biases of the political system currently work to the benefit of the Right, and they know it. This is why they defend the undemocratic aspects of the constitutional order, and why they will likely become increasingly anti-democratic in the years to come. ” This is in contrast to racism, xenophobia, and contempt to freedom to expression and dissent.

They remind Biden and his legislative record towards India. Swick recollects that in 2005 he ‘cosponsored a bill authorizing the transfer of warships to India. He also served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when the 2008 US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement passed, which permits the sale of nuclear material for energy production. This, despite the fact that India had tested nuclear weapons not long before the bill’s passage. ’

DSA is a gradually expanding island of hope in whose setting the new US President was elected to the sear of power. “DSA is now around fifteen times bigger than it was four years ago – from roughly 6,000 to nearly 90,000 members. In addition to numerical membership growth”, wrote Masiano, adding, “there has been a major change in the quality of DSA’s organizational life, from a largely paper membership to active participation and organization building. DSA chapters in cities and states around the country have elected members to office, built workplace organizations, and fought a wide range of issue campaigns from housing and land use battles to demands for publicly-owned energy companies. Anyone who was involved with DSA before its transformation knows just how profound a change this has been.” It is firmly poised against every socially irrational realities in the land of Abraham Lincoln – “rampant inequality, the deep dysfunction of the political system, persistent racism and xenophobia, police violence and mass incarceration, impending ecological chaos” DSA’s unflinching opposition to the regime of Modi and his closest-ideological companion- India’s federal minister of home affairs, Amit Shah who described undocumented migrants as “infiltrators” and “termites,” reminiscent of how Hitler spoke of Jews as “insects” and “roaches” in Mein Kampf), wrote Swick.

I remember Dexter Filkins 13700-plus word ‘Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India in New Yorker ( 2 Dec 2019) focusing on the historic expose of humanimalistic features of Modi-hukmat. He quoted political psychologist Ashis Nandi, who characterised Modi as ‘a fascist in every sense I don’t mean this as a term of abuse. It’s a diagnostic category.’ Nandi whom Filkins interviewed studied the mentality of the rising Hindu nationalists and that of RSS biggies such as Modi, a little-known B.J.P. functionary until the late 1990s. Nandy identified “all the traits of an authoritarian personality: puritanical rigidity, a constricted emotional life, fear of his own passions, and an enormous ego that protected a gnawing insecurity” in him.

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