CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

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

OPINION


India Joining Ranks of Illiberal Democracies


Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist, was arrested in Ranchi on 9 October. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which carried out the arrest, claimed he was a member of the CPI (Maoist) organisation. It appears that anyone who works for Dalit rights, or is not in full agreement with the toxic ideology of the Sangh parivar, must be a Maoist.

  Through the ten days that have passed since the arrest of the 83-year-old priest and activist, protests have been staged across the country. The latest one was in Ranchi on 17 October, where 5,000-odd people formed a human chain. The Jesuit organisation has deplored his arrest and asked for his release.

  While claiming that Swamy was an active Maoist, the NIA also said he was in touch with a number of people already incarcerated by the government in connection with the peaceful and public Elgar Parishad meetings held in Pune on 31 December 2017. Swamy became the sixteenth person to be arrested in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case.  

A brief recapitulation of the case would help clarify the issues. The Elgar Parishad is an organisation of Dalit and human rights activists, which held meetings in Pune in which issues connected to Dalit rights and the oppression of Dalit communities were discussed, the Sangh parivar criticised and cultural programmes held. On 1 January 2018, the next day, Dalits met at Bhima-Koregaon village to celebrate the bicentenary of the victory of a Dalit Mahar unit, assisting a British regiment, in a battle against a Peshwa army. The Peshwa were Brahmins who were at that time at the helm of the Maratha Empire.  

Thugs belonging to Hindutva groups attacked the Dalits. Violence broke out and continued over the next few days throughout Maharashtra. Two Hindutva leaders were thought at first to have orchestrated the attack—Milind Ekbote and Manohar Bhide, also known as Sambhaji and Guruji. FIRs were filed against both after a Pune Police committee found evidence that they had played a leading role in orchestrating the violence.  

Bhide, who is close to the prime minister, was, curiously, never even questioned, while Ekbote was arrested only after the Supreme Court admonished the Pune police force for failing to carry out their duties. In a few months, however, the police dropped its investigation into the role of Hindutva agents provocateurs in fomenting the violence and manufactured a spurious Maoist connection with the Elgar Parishad events, going so far as to claim, laughably, a plot to assassinate the prime minister. As mentioned, 16 people have been arrested so far, among them academics, lawyers, activists and now a priest.  

The Bhima-Koregaon case encapsulates certain key features of the authoritarian, majoritarian, obscurantist regime that now rules India. There is, of course, the systematic persecution of Muslims and Dalits, combined with the relentless repression of those who seek to represent their rights. This is part of the larger project of demonizing and persecuting those who challenge the regime, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Sangh parivar, with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at the heart of the spider’s web.  

Dissent is being both criminalised and persecuted while a concurrent project of de-institutionalisation has been pursued from 2014. It involves the subversion of democratic and constitutional structures and values. Thus key institutions like the Election Commission, the Central Vigilance Commission, and judicial and law-enforcement agencies have been subverted or undermined.  

The stated objective of the regime is to institute the complete dominance of one party. The unstated part is that this is a pit stop on the way to establishing a political system in which democratic rights will be purely contingent and human rights given short shrift at every point when they come into conflict with the objectives of the regime—the establishment of an authoritarian, Hindutva-dominated political order.  

If these claims seem fanciful, one merely has to examine the record of the regime in Kashmir and the treatment meted out to migrant workers in the context of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The latter established a kind of draconian benchmark for arbitrary, illegal violence inflicted by a government against its own citizens that can only be matched by formally authoritarian (and vindictive) states.  

With the judiciary abdicating its role in establishing and protecting citizens’ rights, the current regime’s intolerance of dissent or scrutiny has only increased. The manner in which it has forced Amnesty International, the global human rights watchdog out of the country is of a piece with its arrogation to itself of the right to free itself of any criticism and constraint.  

Amnesty was forced to announce the closure of its operations and offices in India on 29 September after all its accounts were frozen on 10 September by the Enforcement Directorate. About a month before the organisation was financially choked, Amnesty had published two reports.  

One was on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir on the “occasion” of the passage of a year after the abrogation of the state’s special status on 5 August 2019. It was extremely critical, pointing to the detention of the BJP’s political opponents, the clampdown on the media and suspension of access to the internet. In the introduction, it demanded ‘the release of all political leaders, journalists and activists from administrative detention, restoration of 4G mobile internet services, decongestion of prisons and a prompt and independent investigation into the attacks on journalists’.  

The other was in the context of the Delhi riots. This report documented human rights violations committed by the Delhi Police and the impunity it enjoyed. It said, “…this investigative briefing by Amnesty International India is not regarding the ongoing investigations by the Delhi police. This is about the Delhi police. As the Delhi police investigate who is responsible for the riots, there have been no investigations till now into the human rights violations committed by the Delhi police during the riots.”  

It is not exactly a secret that as with the Bhima-Koregaon case, so in the case of the Delhi riots, the actual instigators, BJP leaders, and those predominantly responsible for committing murder and mayhem, Hindutva storm troopers, have until now faced practically no action, just as they got a free run in March, while Muslim youth, students, academics and others who had been protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, have been targeted by the Delhi police under the supervision of the Ministry of Home Affairs.  

Amnesty operates in 70 countries. The only one in which it has had to shut its offices, apart from India, has been Russia, where it shut shop in 2016. The organisation has often been accused of pro-Western bias. But Amnesty’s biases or lack of them is not the point. The point is the way in which the current regime in India—run by the duumvirate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah—is dismantling constitutional democracy in India.  

India is joining the growing ranks of illiberal democracies. It is becoming like Russia, Israel, Belarus and Pakistan—countries in which elections merely provide a veil for authoritarianism, repression and the attempt to destroy an open society. The problem with going down that road and being seen by the international community as going down that road is a loss of credibility.   

India would obviously like to be part of the mesh of international alliances that includes the world’s democracies. India’s most salient allies look at India as one of the democratic bulwarks of the Global South. Charting a course away from that location would be a fraught project. We will have to look to forces within the country to steer back towards the path of constitutionalism and political processes that incorporate opposition, dissent and diversity.  

The author is a freelance journalist and researcher. The views are personal.  

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
  • The 'American Way of War' Is Built On A Foundation of Racism
  • Covid -19 And The Crisis of Education-An Insight
  • Governments That Preach Non-Violence Must Lead By Example
  • New Status of Hagia Sophia Signals The Death Of Secularism
  • Covid 19 and Furthering of Sectarian Agenda in Education
  • Biden's "Conventional" Approach vs Trump's "Whimsical" Handling of Foreign Policy
  • Why Arguments Against Reservation are Flawed
  • Curfew Welcomes One Year of Abrogations in Kashmir
  • Ayodha: What is BJP's Motive For Holding Ram Temple Ceremony Amid Pandemic?
  • New Education Policies of India And Pakistan Will Further Divide, Within and Without
  • Does India's Handling of China Make Sense?
  • Return of the Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka
  • An Independent Supreme Court Is a Must for Democracy
  • Does Rule of Law Trump Tide of Public Opinion?
  • UAE-Israel Deal Accelerating Fragmentation of West Asian Politics
  • Congress And Its "Unprecedented Political Challenge""
  • Does The 20th Amendment Threaten Pluralism in Sri Lanka?
  • Digital Hate, Now A Profitable Commodity
  • Rising Cases, Unemployment: Is India Ignoring Fears Stoked by the Pandemic?
  • Surging Pandemic, Slumping Economy - And the Crisis of Democracy
  • Anxious Leader, Passive Citizens and "Criminalised" Governance
  • Parliamentary Session Merely A "Notice Board" For Government Decisions?
  • The Collapse of Democratic Institutions Under Majoritarian Rule
  • Mughal MUseum Rekindles Question of India's "Slavery""
  • Babri Masjid Demolition Case: Court Ignored Findings of Liberhan Commission
  • As Politics of Hate Takes Over, The Biggest Casualty is Compassion
  • Hathras: The Last Opportunity to Reflect
  • India Joining Ranks of Illiberal Democracies
  • Rising Uncertainties May Lead to Election Chaos in The us
  • 'Secularism': A Dirty Word
  • Is Bihar Tired of Nitish Kumar Rule?
  • In Crisis: India Now A 'Pale Shadow of Former Self'
  • Economy VS. People: Differences Between US and China's Response to Covid-19
  • Trupm is Gone But Trumpian Populism Lives on
  • Bihar's Silent Voters: Explaining the BJP-JDU Alliance
  • How Many X-Factors Can an Election Take? Many, it Seems
  • Objectivity and Fascism
  • Is The Saudi Kingdom Moving Towards Recognising Israel?
  • Asaduddin Owaisi: An 'Exasperating Opponent' For Right,Left, And Centre
  • 'Do Not Trifle With the Peasantry'
  • Is Modi's Popularity on the Decline?
  • Farmer's Agitation: A Spoke in The Wheel For BJP's Hindutva Strategy?
  • Maleeha Lodhi
  • A DYSFUNCTIONAL PARLIAMENT: POLITICAL COMPETITION LEADING TO THE DEMISE OF DISCUSSION AND DEBATE
  • Shaheen Bagh and the Farmers Protests, the Urban and the Rural
  • WILL US RUSSIA ESCALATE MILITARY TENSIONS?
  • A CASE OF ‘TOO MUCH’ OR TOO LITTLE DEMOCRACY?
  • MODI REGIME’S VISION FOR MEDIA INVOLVES TOTAL ALIGNMENT
  • FASCISM REARS ITS HEAD, A NEW THREAT FOR THE BIDEN PRESIDENCY
  • RIGHT TO PROTEST: PUBLIC MEETINGS A “TRADITION OF OUR NATIONAL LIFE”
  • Biden is Shifting Leftward?
  • The handmaiden of capitalism
  • ‘Lose a Battle to Win the War’- Kisan Leaders
  • People’s Power!
  • The Peasants Movement Constitutes a Major Crisis for Corporate Capital
  • Democracy Crumbles Under Central Push to Control NCT
  • Overzealous Crackdown in Jaffna Adds to Divide
  • Ambedkar and the Writing of History
  • ISRAEL'S METAMORPHOSIS FROM DAVID TO GOLIATH
  • UN PANEL PROPOSES ACTIONS TO PREVENT FUTURE PANDEMICS
  • ‘Outright Attack on the Land Rights of the People of Lakshadweep’
  • Biden Under Pressure to Harness Israel
  • THE POLITICAL JOURNEY OF MAMATA BANERJEE
  • A Public Health Necessity Gives Birth to Billionaires
  • THE END OF NETANYAHU AND ABBAS
  • This is No Time For Competition
  • WE ARE CREATING IDEAL CONDITIONS FOR FURTHER VIRUS EVOLUTION
  • THE IRAN HARDLINER WHO COULD HELP BIDEN
  • TALIBAN IN COMMAND AS US DOWNSIZES IN AFGHANISTAN
  •