CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

OPINION


A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices


Why did some of us expect anything else from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the Nation the other evening? Why did we imagine that this massive migration of dispossessed, wretched labourers, walking unspeakable distances with babies on their shoulders, an aging mother on the waist, indescribable pictures of hungry children, pregnant women, misery beyond imagination, would even be noticed by the country's most awesome leader? Like King John signing the Magna Carta with his Barons, Modi mollified the disgruntled business caste by giving a huge chunk to the MSMEs.

His silence on the 16 Gonds who slept between rail tracks to be run over by a goods train was stunning. Labourers were simply longing for what the Bard called "sweet nature's second course" - sleep. And they got a surfeit of it.

Unlike western philosophers, who dwelt on society, our Seers had the cosmos in their ken. In their elaborate framework, migrant labourers have all been given lottery tickets for upward mobility only in the next life.

The great sociologist M.N. Srinivas asked, "What is Hinduism without caste?" Modi knows the answer. Since he is engaged in an architecture of Himalayan proportions to take us back to our "golden Hindu past", he has fallen back on divine sanction to neglect the underclass.

With lamentable naiveté some of us began to expect tectonic changes once the lockdown was lifted. The build-up to the Bastille, we forgot, is a long process. What did the millions who migrated from the post 9/11 wars in Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Africa, Afghanistan, Yemen achieve in Europe? Nothing immediately. Initially Europe hid behind barriers.

It takes a while for people to begin to cause organic changes. Since the countries from which the migrants came were Muslim, even fading images of Osama bin Laden and Jihad facilitated a revival of Islamophobia. Identity politics began to rear its head everywhere. Even post war Germany's most successful leader, Angela Merkel was unsettled. In Bharat this genre of politics leads to communalism with which we have lived since 1947 but which, in Modi's hands, is the brick and mortar for a Hindu Rashtra.

During this period of change, George Soros and Steve Bannon were hopping across Europe and the Americas, pushing for their respective visions of capitalism. Soros is a neo liberal capitalist within a democratic framework; Bannon, a known supremacist, seeks to promote the market in an illiberal, xenophobic order. Which one does Modi approximate to?

Soros has launched $1 billion fund for campuses to fight authoritarianism and to promote liberal values and democracy among the youth. Will some of this charity trickle down to Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia and numerous campuses which are fighting excesses with their backs to the wall? Soros, a Hungarian Jew, is involved in a cat and mouse with Viktor Orban, the Hungarian dictator who stands for, what he calls, "illiberal" democracy. Will Modi stand with Soros or with Orban?

Orban is very much on Bannon's anti-Semitic, crypto fascist network. Anti-Semitic? But Modi is a buddy of Benjamin Netanyahu, is he not? Unlike in socialism, such contradictions are inherent within differing shades of capitalism. Recently, Bannon was accorded legitimacy on the Indian channel which defers to Modi on most issues.

Some months ago Bannon told a crowd of far-right French politicians - Marine Le Pen, for instance - that they should wear labels of "racism" like a "badge of honour". If they call us "xenophobes and nativists" let them "because every day we get stronger and they get weaker." Modi, likewise, thumbs his nose at critics.

Jair Bolsonaro, of Brazil, whom Modi handpicked to be the Chief Guest for the Republic Day parade is another one of Bannon's favourites. Bannon bolstered his media management which enabled Bolsonaro to topple Lula da Silva whom President Barack Obama once described as the "most popular politician on earth". This was at the G20 summit in 2009 in London. Modi would do himself a favour if he watches The Edge of Democracy, a great docudrama on Netflix, on the rise and fall of Lula.

Bolsonaro has been quite as forthright about Brazil's indigenous people as Modi has been about the yoke of "1,200 years of ghulami". One of his quotes is a classic: "It's a shame that the Brazilian cavalry was not as efficient as the American (cavalry), which exterminated all the Indians." 

Bannon, Bolsonaro, Orban, Modi and many "soul mates" waiting in the wings have got their fingers crossed. They are aching for a second term for Trump. But there is a huge fly in that ointment. The covid pandemic and the lockdown have so secularized the political game that serious policy makers are speaking a vocabulary which would make Senator Joseph McCarthy turn in his grave. Socialism is becoming a kosher concept in the post pandemic mayhem.

Little wonder, a brand new mantra of Universal Basic Income is acquiring wide acceptance. A productive work force, 40 million strong, is staying at home in Europe and receiving salary. Finland has done a path breaking study: 2000 Finns were paid UBI of 560 Euro's per month for two years. They were able to improve their lives in every possible way. They were so productive that the Pope endorsed UBI in his Easter message.

Can Modi buck this trend? Ironically, Lenin provides him comfort. Human misery even on a gigantic scale does not by itself provide objective conditions for revolutionary change. Other factors are needed.

A middle class willing to give the lead, for instance. Fortunately for Modi, this class is in his thrall. Even so, there is little doubt that an upheaval lurks on the horizon but what its contours will be is less than clear. Who knows, it may not be possible to lift the political lockdown quite yet. Which means no protest marches. Protesters, please return home, otherwise the nation runs the risk of expiry from coronavirus.

   

OPINION

  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • ROADMAP TO A CEASEFIRE: AFGN - PAK
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  •