Throttling of democracy, choking of constitutional bodies and rising intolerance were the bane of the last few years, especially the year which has just gone behind the curtains. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country is slowly but consistently losing its unified face. If the country was divided into many kingdoms prior to independence, today it is divided on many counts: religion, caste, regionalism, language and more. These divisions are popping up menacingly off and on, leaving the nation bleeding. Hate crimes induced by religious bias saw an alarming increase in the last couple of years; mob lynching caused by ‘adoration of cow’ is taking a heavy toll of human beings; lip service to farmers is putting the agrarian sector in great distress, leading to suicides; special love and favour for industrialists is draining the exchequer of thousands of crores of rupees, causing huge bad debts.
The worst thing to happen under the Modi regime is the lost value of human beings and the glorification of animals and statues. The lynching in the name of cow and building of statutes at a stupendous cost of thousands of crores are examples of the wrong track the country is being taken forward. What is heard on the ground are mere slogans and what is seen are nothing but ‘jumlas’. Above all, the economy is in tatters; trade is in doldrums. The torturous act of demonetization and the unplanned implementation of the Goods and Services Tax have derailed the growth process to the hilt. Former Union Minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, in his latest book, has aptly called it the ‘unmaking of India’. Individuals and institutions are feeling the heat. A weird principle of ‘one man decides everything’ is gaining momentum. This is anti-thesis of all what the nation and nationhood stand for.
The ‘unkindest cut of all’ came when the government recently expanded its spying powers to an unprecedented level -- granting 10 agencies the power to intercept, monitor and decrypt data from citizens. This undemocratic step will help the government snoop into conversations and browsing habits of millions of citizens. It is directly contradictory to the fundamental right to freedom enshrined in the Constitution.
But, all is not lost. Whenever the hard-earned democracy and its tenets are under unprecedented strain, the ordinary people, rather than political leaders, come to its rescue. We have seen it many times both at the Centre and in States. The year 1977 was the best example in this regard. The situation is similar to those two traumatic years after 1975. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions and absurdities? The rule of vigilantes should come to an end and law-enforcing agencies should enforce the rule of law. Focus should be on providing roof over head for the ordinary mortals rather than constructing ‘gaushalas’. Job creation should get priority over Mandir construction. The recent Assembly elections have thrown up a ray of hope. We are, probably, not far away from seeing a new dawn in the New Year.(Published on 31th December 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 01)