• Sophia Suri

Is India on its way to becoming a dictatorship?

India has always been regarded as the port in a storm for all nations, faiths and beliefs.

Today, it is this same country that disregards every social, political and economical disagreement as “anti-national”. Since the beginning of time, India was held together by its Constitution which granted equality for all, however, following the 2014 elections that saw the victory of Narendra Modi, India seems to have been remade into a country where some individuals and communities are recognised as more Indian than others.

Modi, the current Prime Minister of India, is a member of the present ruling political party called the Bharatiya Janata Party and is also a member of the RSS, an organisation promoting Hindu nationalism. Being right-wing groups, both the BJP and the RSS have exceedingly indistinguishable ideologies. Both groups staunchly profess their fidelity to Hindutva, a doctrine that strives to institute the dominance of Hindus and the Hindu way of life and living across society. Moreover, under Prime Minister Modi, what seems to have been forgotten is the fact that India’s success as a country representing unity in diversity is all thanks to its democracy, federalism and secularism, and not thanks to an autocratic form of government.

While Prime Minister Modi has had his share of the good, his ‘Together We Grow. Together We Prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India” statement, stands antithetical to his recent services, actions and behaviour towards the country and its citizens. A recap glance at BJP’s 2014 manifesto indicates that Modi promised a rise in employment and the establishment of a system that would significantly reduce corruption. Instead, the nation saw demonetisation in 2016 where Modi announced that the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes would be disregarded as legal tender.

Bearing in mind that this was 86% of the currency in circulation at the time, the sudden demonetisation resulted in the lower stratas of society facing a cash scarcity especially considering the majority of the Indian population relies on hard cash to sustain themselves. Moreover, it gave rise to an increase in inequality, a drastic escalation in unemployment rates due to the liquidity crunch and a 1.5% reduction in the growth rate as well. Despite the aim of this stately financial gesture being to catch hold of corruption, detect false currency and give way to a cashless and digital economy, it only failed.

Additionally, Modi and his government in their manifesto proposed to ameliorate the current system by placing India and the interests of its people at their forefront “without exclusion and exception”. However, present-day India tells a completely different tale, where Modi is underway to build a “Hindu” nation; a nation steadily becoming a dangerous place for many communities, especially that of Muslims. This can be seen through the riots that broke out in parts of Delhi in February where Hindu mobs shot, killed and injured countless Muslims and those against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. Students attending Muslim universities were victims of severe police brutality, with many being shot by the police as well. It had reached a point where this community was singled out and stamped as a target of violence. After days of tranquillity, Modi addressed his people and called for peace, harmony and brotherhood and mentioned how these three objectives were central to the nation's ethics. However, the Indian ethos is “Hindu” and peace and brotherhood required non-Hindus to know their place.

Furthermore, over the years it has been ingrained into the minds of people that Hindu’s and Hinduism are in jeopardy, and their only saviour is Modi. So much so that one needs to tread with caution because going against the government results in the risk of being labelled as “anti-nationals'' and better even “anti-Hindu”. Moreover, news channels owned by the BJP are solely responsible for the heightening and spreading of Hindu-Muslim debates and National-Antinational ideologies which is used as propaganda to derail citizens from issues that matter. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal went ahead and compared Modi to Hitler while Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah affirmed that another term with Modi as Prime Minister would see him becoming a dictator with future elections being doubtful. This continuous outspread of false information regarding communities and opposing parties not only damages the mindset and opinions of people but also destructs society as a whole.

Clearly, Modi’s popularity does not lie in his achievement, but rather in the way he brainwashes his citizens and reshapes matters of concern, turning them into less irrelevant affairs. He aims to bring significant adjustments to the Indian Constitution, not only to increase his adulation and jurisdiction across the country, but also to make Hinduism the de facto ideology, religion and faith of the people of India. Historically, a country that has had Muslim Presidents, a Sikh Prime Minister and a woman as Prime Minister is now the very same country heading towards a totalitarian majority appeasing nation, where the views of the majority surpass the rule of law.

The Politician Independent Newspaper, created in 2020