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Unsettling Signs of Fascism - India

Image result for fascismLet me begin by removing some misconceptions that you may have based on the title. I am not calling India a Fascist State. The ruling power is not a fascist party. The article has been largely written without any prejudice or bias (debate me if I am wrong) and includes only facts which have been backed by relevant sources. Lastly, the views are personal and have not been written with anti- ruling party/ pro-opposition party viewpoints but have been written as a private individual observing from a distance.

If the article seems too long or you do not have the time, read the paragraph 'What is fascism?' as well as the last paragraph 'TL;DR' and refer back to an individual case study if you find it important or need a detailed argument.

What is fascism?
Fascism is a rightist-totalitarian ideology that was conceptualised by Benito Mussolini in Italy and also widely copied and renamed as Nazism by Hitler in Germany. Fascism can be broadly characterised by the presence of an omnipotent state that instilled nationalism in its people, lack of opposition and racial purity among others. The State in a Fascist society ensures that individuals have only one goal and that is to glorify the State to the greatest possible extent. The country's military is glorified and strengthened and their achievements were propagated by exaggerating the extent of success. How is all this relevant to India?

Case A - Bhima Koregaon Issue:

The Bhima Koregaon issue rose to headlines when five activists with suspected Maoist links were put under house arrest. These five ironically included Rona Wilson, co-founder of Committee for Release of Political Prisoners. Although they are technically not prisoners yet, they have been 'detained' and placed under house arrest for inciting violence on January 1, 2018. The Supreme Court reserved their verdict on the five activists' release while their lawyers are furiously working towards it. Most of the activists' families said that although they were shocked, it was unsurprising in retrospect considering that the BJP led Maharashtra Government has been conducting multiple raids on left leaning activists.

Notably, the violence that erupted in January this year, only killed one person and none of the activists arrested were anywhere close to the site of violence. The same International media that used to praise Modi when he entered office in 2014, reports this act as one of Modi's ploys to remove his opposition, as the 'recovered letters' (of the activists) were riddled wih inconsistencies, inspite of which, according to the Government, linked these activists along with Muslims, Human Rights groups, Dalits, Chinese and the Congress with Naxalites. It further reported a probable political motive that included silencing the opposition before the State Assembly polls in November and strengthen pro-hindu and nationalisitic ideologies and also that India as a 'deep State' may want a 'deeper role'.

This case makes it evident that the ruling party is trying to silence the oppostion in ways that are to an extent domcratically possible, glorify the State at the cost of silencing the voice of the opposition  such as the dalits, muslims, human rights groups and such. It is no surprise that India has been put on an exclusive list of just thirty eight countries that have been shamed for repressing Rights Activists. We now share the spotlight with China, Russia, Saudi Arabia among other countries.

Case B - Surgical Strike Day:

The success of the Surgical Strikes that were conducted by the Modi Government in September 2016 was largely exaggerated by them. Fifty militants were killed while no Indian army personel was. However, besides the death of the fifty militants, the operation was largely unsuccessful as it did not deter further attacks. As a matter of fact, one month later, near the LoC, an Indian base was attacked in which we lost seven of our servicemen.

The Union Grants Commission in September 2018, called upon higher education institutions to observe September 29 every year as 'Surgical Strike Day' which is unconstituonal.
The mandate of the UGC is limited to ensuring promotion and coordinaton of standards of teaching in universities. No where does it mention that particular events that the UGC decides important should be celebrated. Besides the fact that it is unconstitutional for the UGC to say this (although the argument essentially ends here because it is unconstitutional), what is the point of celebrating a half-hearted victory when there have been many other cases in which similar operations have been carried out on a regular basis and some have been far more successful than the September 29 ones, as mentioned here?

It is obvious that this is to instill a feeling of patriotism from 'successes' of the ruling party which the State should ideally not do as patriotism is largely non-prescriptive and should originate from within.
However, it is clear that the Government's agenda is two fold:
1. Glorify the achievements of State.
2. Glorify their personal achievements to win the elections as was evident in Uttar Pradesh where banners of the BJP, mentioned the surgical strikes as an achievement of the ruling party. BJP won in Uttar Pradesh.

The success and role of the Government in this incident is obviously exaggerated to achieve their nationalistic goals, and the very fact that they are celebrating the achievement of a not-so-successful activity that had limited effect on what happens at our borders, makes absolutely no sense, apart from that fact that it is unconstitutional and hence unjust.
It is not surprising that universities are uneasy about this decision. Despite everything, Modi hosted a three day festivity at the India Gate starting September 28. If only public money could have been used instead to procure the remaining Bullet Proof Jackets that the army requires and has not yet received. Glorification of the past vs Safety of the future?

Case C - Compulsory Recital of the National Anthem:

In India, it is compulsory for the tricolour to hoisted as well as the national anthem to be sung in ALL private and government run schools in the country on two occasions - Independence Day as well as Republic Day.
In February 2017, the Government had introduced a proposal to make the singing of the national anthem complusory in all school. The then Attorney General of India, Mukul Rohtagi said that this was important to instill the feelings of nationalism in an individual and the best way to do this was by starting it at an early age. This notion of prescribing nationalism on an individual is ridiculous and against the principles of liberty that an individual is supposedly guaranteed in our State. As stated before, nationalism is an internal feeling that should not be prescribed and should arise from within and not due to brain washing from a young age.
Similar policies were adopted by Hitler in Nazi Germany too. To apease the public, money was spent on public gatherings to incite a feeling of oneness and love for the motherland. In schools, nationalism was forced down the throats of everyone and the ruler was glorified. The innocent minds of children being brainwashed at this age is not good in a liberal nation like ours.

Case D - Beef ban and the lynching of Md. Aklaqh
Md. Aklqah was lynched by a mob of around 100 for supposedly carrying beef which turned out to be lamb in the state of Mahrasthra where beef is banned. Narendra Modi, the Head of State has a duty to ensure that his citizens act in a civilised way. While it is impossible for him to speak to each and every individual telling them what not to do, after the killing of an innocent man that sparked international outrage, it is ridiculous for Modi to not even comment about the lynching of Md. Aklaqh. This propagates a message of support to the lynchers who believed that they were carrying out Modi's wishes.
Some said that forensic reports claimed that it was beef and not lamb and many Hindu Nationalists immediately justified the acts of the mob by saying that it was beef after all, as if the possession of beef legalizes the actions of the mob. A preposterous argument indeed!


Besides this specific incident, the entire proposition of banning beef around the country is anti secular to say the least. If the cow is sacred to a religion practised in the country and this is grounds for banning the slaughter of cows, then keeping in mind the sentiments of Islam, pigs should also not be slaughtered in my opinion.

Case E - Raids on Non Governmental Organisations:

The Enforcement Directorate raided Amnesty International's Bengaluru office about a week ago on October 27 on the grounds that they were accepting foreign funds through illegal means, a charge that Amnesty has said is untrue. The raid on Amnesty comes after Greenpeace, another NGO's office was raided earlier this month. In the  last four years, the Modi Government has placed greater surveillance on non-profits and even cancelled the licenses of many on the grounds that they have misreported donations.
Although it is too early to comment and arrive at a conclusion, it is plausible that these raids are fuelled by political motives.

 TL;DR

In a nutshell, all that I am trying to say is that neither Rome nor Nazi Germany was built in a day; it was created over a long period of time with many factors contributing to its formation. Both Hitler and Mussolini came to power legally and did not usurpe it.

Bhima Koregaon - Elimination of the opposition and threatening the opposition through democratic ways.
Surgical Strikes - Exaggeration of success of military activities carried out by the Government to inspire the masses.
Compulsory Recital of the National Anthem - Anti-libertarian and prescriptive of the State.
Beef Ban - Trying to promote racial purity by keeping in mind only Hindu sentiments. We cannot always listen to what our politicians say without introspecting and hearing the opposition's argument. On the flip side, when they decide to keep their tongues tied, we better open their mouths and force them to speak.
Raid on NGOs - Silencing the opposition through legal methods.

-----
Case A:
https://thewire.in/caste/meet-the-five-arrested-in-the-bhima-koregaon-case
https://www.economist.com/asia/2018/09/15/ten-indian-activists-are-arrested-over-a-far-fetched-conspiracy
https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/koregaon-bhima-case-supreme-court-reserves-verdict-on-five-activists-arrests/article24996729.ece
https://thewire.in/rights/un-decries-shameful-reprisals-on-rights-activists-in-38-countries-including-india

Case B:
https://scroll.in/article/895362/opinion-why-the-ugc-s-surgical-strike-day-circular-must-be-rejected
https://www.firstpost.com/india/observe-29-sept-as-surgical-strike-day-ugc-tells-universities-higher-educational-institutes-academics-call-it-forced-nationalism-5230071.html
https://thewire.in/politics/ugc-surgical-strikes-day-election-political-fodder
https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-signs-off-on-deal-to-buy-186-lakh-bulletproof-jackets-for-army/article23484049.ece

Case C:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/15/india-says-children-should-sing-the-national-anthem-in-schools
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3254623/Father-beaten-death-bricks-Indian-mob-son-left-fighting-life-rumours-circulate-d-eaten-beef-actually-lamb.html

Case D:
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3254623/Father-beaten-death-bricks-Indian-mob-son-left-fighting-life-rumours-circulate-d-eaten-beef-actually-lamb.html

Case E:
https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/modi-government-trying-to-silence-critics-through-raids-says-amnesty-1938885

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