Although the process had started earlier, the last 10 years have seen a steady decline of influence of left ideology in India. The last five years have in particular seen rapid decline of the left. To paraphrase a favorite Marxist term, ‘the left is withering away’. The left, in its inconsistent but more destructive form of ‘Nehruvian socialism’ dominated the cultural discourse of India. The political left has been influential in several regions as well and as such often wielded considerable influence in India’s policy decision-making as well. Who can forget Left’s famous stubbornness over Indo-US nuclear deal? Fortunately, the political left has all but ousted. The exit polls for 2019 General Elections show that this might be the last election left parties participate in. The left has been completely ousted this time around. Kanhaiya Kumar was supposed to be the star candidate from the left front; however, in the state of Bihar, the left has failed to get even a single seat in any of the exit polls. In West Bengal- their once upon a time glory, out of all the exit polls, only Times Now VMR has given them a seat, that too in the best circumstances. Even in Kerala, their traditional stronghold, the Left Democratic Front is getting around 3-5 seats, in a best case scenario; a substantial downfall from the 8 seats they had won previously in 2014.
But elimination of political left is not enough for India’s progress. The antiquated, destructive ideology in its every form must be eliminated from every sphere.
After being rendered completely irrelevant from the political front, the next 5 years will ensure that their influence in the field of academics, media and cinema sees the same result. The Cinema culture has already been witnessing many welcome changes. The cinema is an important aspect of the society as it not only portrays the narrative prevailing in the country but also shapes it to an extent. Before the NDA government came to power, the cinema was controlled with a leftist narrative and was reflected in many forms. During this time, movies of a nationalistic genre were rarely visible. The glorification of trade unions in the 70s-80s cinema, the driving narrative of minority victimhood, blatant hatred for upper castes were some of the features of Indian cinema, driven by left ideology. In a striking contrast, the last 5 years have seen an influx of nationalist movies. In the past few months itself, there were movies such as Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran and Uri: The Surgical Strike, which were focused on the country’s achievements in security and defence, the Accidental Prime Minister, based on the life of the previous prime minister, enabling the people to get an insight into the UPA government, The Tashkent Files, based on important historic facts and Manikarnika and Kesari, which were based on the historic nationalist figures. These movies have not only shaped the perception of the people, eliciting a surge of nationalism in the citizens but have also led them to be more knowledgeable. Moreover, the people are now becoming more informed and vocal against the leftist propaganda in the movies, and what is being witnessed is a surge of nationalists objecting to false portrayal of Hinduism and against those who link Hinduism to intolerance. India, being a secular country does not show any religion in a bad light, and certain pieces of cinematic art such as the Netflix TV show Ghoul, which showed the Indian army in a bad light, and, now, the TV show Leila, which has shown a Hindu state being adversely controlling, similar to a Nazi regime, have been much criticised by the people.
With the cinema already showing welcome changes, there is the academia to focus on. The Nehruvian ideology, a mixture of pseudo-secularism and socialism, was the guiding light for Indian academia for most of the years succeeding Indian independence. Any contrarian thoughts or ideas were rejected outright by the left dominated academia. This academia shaped the historical narrative of India. The ‘idea of India’ as they liked to call it, had no place for Hindu history and was driven only by compulsions of Nehruvian secularism. As a result, a distorted form of Indian history has been peddled and absorbed for generations. This monopoly of the left on academia has seen a remarkable decline in the last five years.
Apart from the mainstream educational institutions, there are several government research centers which are now seeing an influx of right wing academia, earlier dominated by left wing intellectuals. Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), being a prime example of those. Looking back, during the pre-independence era, the Indian historical sphere was dominated by nationalists such as RC Majumdar, Jadunath Sarkar and K N Neelakanta Shastri. Thereafter, after the influx of Nehruvian ideals, there was a surge of Marxist historians. With them, the historic focus was shifted from nationalist history to social and communist history. With the establishment of the ICHR, the entire emphasis continued to be on the so-called ‘people’s history’, leading to the domination of few left historians like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Bipan Chandra among others. During the first NDA rule, the government had tried to inculcate a right wing culture at the esteemed research council but the left influence was so strong that the move has met with fierce opposition. However, during the past 5 years, the government oversaw the appointment of many prominent nationalistic personalities such as Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, Meenakshi Jain and Saradindu Mukherjee. How the citizens view the country is shaped by the historical narrative so a nationalistic and a factually correct narrative is essential. Apart from them, the Union Ministry of Culture has replaced four extremely leftist members in the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library Society with academia such as the Chairman of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Ram Bahadur Rai, former Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and the President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations Vinay Sahasrabuddhe. The Indian Council of Social Science Research has also witnessed several changes, they key one being, a move from “pure ideological research” to one that is in sync with policy imperatives. The academia still has miles to go to break away from the Nehruvian framework and hopefully, a 2nd NDA term at the centre will facilitate the much needed reforms.
Apart from this, there is a 4th and most important aspect in the country which is dominated by leftists, i.e., the media. The media has been inherently leftist in the country because of Congress domination since the past 70 years. The left-liberal media establishment collaborates with the opposition, mainly Congress, which has nurtured and nourished it since the days of state monopoly over media. The state monopoly over media ended in last the few decades but the subservience of left-liberal media to Congress remains the same. That is why; the people in the media, such as Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghosh, Rajdeep Sardesai and Ravish Kumar, amongst many others, still pursue fear and rumor-mongering on the direction of their political masters. Hence, in the name of “liberalism”, media has been propagating an inherently biased narrative, which is aimed at tarnishing the right winged ideology and the associated concept of nationalism. This is the reason they have been continuously critiquing the current government as soon as it came to power, oblivious to the actions or inactions of the Congress. Since the media has wide freedom of speech and expression, the NDA government cannot and doesn’t even want to exercise control. However, with the encouragement of right wing ideology, the bogus “neutral” façade of the media is cracking and the people now perceive the information given to them with a pinch of salt. Several right-leaning or right-of-center media platforms have achieved immense popularity; Arnab Goswami led Republic TV being the chief among them.
The NDA government has no doubt in the past 5 years, helped bring about a balance in the country as far as left and right wing ideologies are concerned. It has led to dissent from purely left-wing dominance. Politically, the left is completely wiped out, as the citizens have realized a leftist alternative is not viable in a democracy. The academia, media and the arts have miles to go, but the first 5 years of NDA have been on the right path.