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Mainstream, VOL LII, No 41, October 4, 2014

Unmasking the Modi Regime in US

Monday 6 October 2014, by Humra Quraishi


Till about yesterday I sat wondering where are those Indians or Americans who can dare talk of the dark realities, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for his tour to America. Well, here comes the news that the Ghadar Alliance—a US-based educational/watchdog coalition created by concerned citizens in the wake of the BJP victory—is releasing on September 26, a comprehensive ‘100-day report’ evaluating the performance of the Modi Govern-ment’s first 100 days in office.

The report, titled ‘Fast Track to Troubling Times’, is said to be the first independent people’s report to be published since Modi came into office, and identifies the economy, religious extremism and human rights as grave areas of concern. “We have been very careful and meticulous in collecting data only from public sources to build an evidence-based and fully data-driven report,” said Raja Swamy, economic anthropologist and one of the authors of the report. “When it comes to the economy, our report shows that the new administration wants to eliminate all democratic protections in favour of corporate giveaways and ripoffs. One example of this are the amendments that the Modi regime has proposed to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 that do away with meaningful safeguards for those losing land, especially for India’s poor, marginal peasantry and indigenous peoples. The proposed amendments accept in-toto all corporate demands and eliminate existing safeguards. From the evidence available, can we not conclude that the minimal protections for ordinary people are being wiped out to favor corporations?” he added.

The report is replete with such detail as it compares the Modi Budget with the previous United Progressive Alliance Budget, and points to such facts as the BJP Government’s plan to raise four times more money through the ‘sale of state assets’ than the previous government did... The report highlights the empowerment of violent gangs of the supremacist Hindu Right under the Modi dispensation. In the three months since Modi took charge, there have been over 600 cases of anti-minority violence in one single State, Uttar Pradesh, and several cases of forced ‘reconversion’ of Dalits (India’s so-called untouchable castes) to Hinduism. “If there is one thing that is clear already it is that under Modi, Hindu supremacist gangs will virtually rule the streets. There is a palpable sense of insecurity today among the minorities, Dalits and women as non-state actors have turned hyper-aggressive, and Modi, through his consis-tent silence and refusal to hold offenders accoun-table, has given tacit approval,” said Anu Mandavilli of the San Jose Peace and Justice Centre and a co-founder of the Ghadar Alliance. “The privileging of economic growth as the primary goal functions to dictate an amnesia about Modi’s Gujarat record with US investors eager to capitalise on the Indian market,” added Professor Snehal Shingavi, also a co-founder of the Ghadar Alliance. “And for many of us born and raised in a racialised US context, the targeting of minorities in India by Hindu reactionaries uncomfortably corresponds to our own experiences with anti-immigrant racism here.”

The report compares the first 100 days of the new government with Modi’s 12 years of rule in Gujarat. “Examining Modi’s first 100 days in the context of his record in Gujarat reveals a number of disturbing parallels, and these parallels legitimise the report’s predictive capacity,” said Mandavilli. The report is the first in a series of actions that the Ghadar Alliance is initiating to keep a consistent and critical focus on the BJP/RSS from outside India. The Founding Committee of the Alliance is intergenerational, of multiple faiths, of diverse professions and geography. “We represent the true diversity of India rather than the narrow homogeneity of Modi supporters lining up to welcome him here in the US,” said Dr Swamy.

Hema Malini—Your Insensitivity Is Disgusting ! 

It’s okay for film star-turned-politician Hema Malini to stand there and ‘sell’ veggie and water purifiers but it’s a serious matter to represent a constituency. As representative of the Mathura constituency she visited Vrindavan and instead of coming up with a formula to lessen the plight of thousands of widows languishing in this little township, she uttered the unthinkable. Yes, unthinkable! Words along the strain that widows from Orissa and Bengal and Bihar ought to get back to their native places/home States and not crowd the already crowded Vrindavan. What a solution! Perhaps, she alone could come up with such a ‘practical solution’; after all, it’s in the backdrop of sheer practicality that she had married Dharmendra. Remember, Dharmendra had converted to Islam (only temporarily) so that he could to marry a second time, and with that he’d married her.

Getting back to the plight of the widows of Vrindavan, and with that let me write that those recent television shots of the Vrindavan homes where these widows are housed seemed in a hopelessly pathetic condition. Yet, in the backdrop of those shots, Hema Malini was heard uttering rather too repeatedly, “yes, some live nicely ... very nicely ...some nice homes!“

Yesteryears dream girl seems to be dreaming of nice and lovely homes! She seems to be living in one of those wonderlands... far, far away from the realities of Vrindavan. Wake up, Hema Malini, and raise funds for better housing and living infrastructures in Vrindavan and with that help these widows to live somewhat comfortably...

It’s about time that the National Commission for Women or the Ministry for Women’s Welfare or even the National Human Rights Commission step in and see for themselves the plight of these hapless women. In fact, Women’s Welfare Minister Menaka Gandhi should halt coming up with those communally tainted theories along the strain that slaughter houses/meat processing plants are aiding terrorists. She should stop distracting the masses with such bizarre-cum-provocative utterances, and instead ought to help lessen the plight of the widows of Vrindavan.

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