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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 1 New Delhi December 21, 2019 | ANNUAL NUMBER

Facing the Challenge

Saturday 21 December 2019, by SC



With this Annual Number Mainstream enters the fiftyeighth year of its modest existence having completed fiftyseven eventful years. At this juncture alongside the country as a whole it too is experiencing a massive attack on the values that had inspired us since the days of our freedom struggle and which continue to do so as they are highlighted in the most precious document we gave ourselves in less than three years following our emancipation from alien rule, that is, the Constitution of India adopted on January 26, 1950, our Republic Day.

A year ago on December 18, 2018 it was written in the Editorial:

It has been repeatedly conveyed in these columns in the past that since 2014 what the country has been experiencing has no parallel—the incessant attack on minorities, Muslims and Christians in particular, alongwith assaults on the depressed sections of society, especially the Dalits. Initially these incidents, constituting a real blot on our society, were sought to be attributed to fringe eliments but over time one has been witness to the fringe getting increasingly identified with those occupying the centre-stage of the ruling circles.

A year ago, when these lines were written, there was a glimmer of hope that the Modi-Shah duo running the BJP Government from the Centre would suffer a setback in the twentyfirst national polls for the Lok Sabha in mid-2019. That expectation proved to be illusory and the Modi dispensation returned to power with a renewed majority which was in fact greater than in 2014. Some close observers of the electoral scene attributed this success of the BJP Government to manipulation of the EVMs; however, many others opined that this was not the case but the outcome of a whirlwind campaign by Modi during which he mesmerised the electorate with his unsurpassable demagogy.

Be that as it may, there is no gainsaying that with his second victory at the hustings Modi with his Sancho Panza is in a highly defiant mood and has carried on his task of total overhaul of the country. The demonetisation of November 2016 played havoc with the economy the consequences of which one is still being forced to bear. After the May 2019 victory the Modi-Shah duo first sought to break the backbone of the people of Kashmir by withdrawing the special status of the region for which purpose the Constitution’s Articles 370 and 35A were revoked—the whole idea being a direct assault on the people of that Muslim-majority area thereby exposing the naked face of the present BJP Government’s anti-Muslim approach. This was accompanied by turning the territory into a zone of Indian occupation completely reversing this country’s ethos thereby earning the world’s opprobium with all major political leaders, including those like Dr Farooq Abdullah, in detention, and the people of the region gagged into silence. At the same time, the State of J&K was transformed into two Union Territories—those of J&K and Ladakh. This kind of arbitrary action was a direct assault on democratic functioning. To take shelter behind the brute majority in Parliament to justify such a step will not wash in the long run since the Modi dispensation’s autocratic behaviour cannot be concealed before the public at large.

Then on the eve of the International Human Rights Day on December 10, the Lok Sabha was made to pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019, one of the most arbitrary and discriminatory legislations in the annals of post-independence India. As is now specifically pointed out in several publications, this legislation alters the basic terms of Indian Citizenship and thus is violative of the core structure and spirit of the country’s Constitution as it effectively excludes and marginalises the country’s largest religious minority, the Muslim community. This is a blatant majoritarian attack on the Muslims in particular, something rarely seen at any point in our post-independence history. The Union Home Minister has lately betrayed his abysmal knowledge of history by seeking to shift the entire blame for this major move to his bete noire, the Congress, by charging it with having partitioned the country on a religious basis. In a Leftist publication, it has been emphatically mentioned that “this is a brazen and mischievous lie” having no connection with our actual history which clearly “records none other than Savarkar of Hindu Mahasabha, worshipped by the BJP as its ideological-political pioneer, as the original exponent of the flawed and disastrous two-nation theory that eventually led to the traumatic tragedy of partition”.

With every passing day it is becoming increasingly transparent that the present ruling conglomerate is dead-set on destroying the edifice of our secular- democratic polity. This too is an unprecedented development. Unless all secular democrats, regard-less of their ideological predelictions unite to defeat the diabolical design of those in power today the country will lose its basic character and the principle of unity in diversity that forms the bedrock of our nationhood.

There is therefore no time to lose. It is incumbent on all of us to unitedly resist this fascist onslaught on our national identity. As Mainstream approaches another milestone in its chequered journey, it pledges to contribute its maximum to defend and safeguard India’s secular democratic polity, which is the product of all our freedom fighters who selflessly sacrificed to make this a living reality and which is being sought to be dismantled by Right reaction in its offensive against the ideals of our freedom struggle.

December 18 S.C. 

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