Ramachandra Guha, the arrogant, self-serving historian, decided to take it upon himself to ‘rate’ India’s democracy on the occasion of the 73rd Independence Day. In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, he serves to downgrade Indian democracy by stating that the democracy is on its way to become a 30-70 democracy from the previous 50-50 democracy. In order to substantiate his view points, Guha attempts to present the same old repetition of an old rhetoric of Modi fascism, seeming like a copy-paste job with the exception of adding his displeasure at the abrogation of Article 370.
Guha begins his article at elaborating the skepticism of colonial mindsets at the prospect of India surviving as a unified country with multiple languages, cultures and religions, which eventually happened. However, according to Guha, with this momentous achievement, there have been certain failures at the behest of the Modi government. He states that as long as Nehru was alive, the Hindus and the Muslims lived peacefully, but soon after his death, the conflicts began which “accelerated since the 1980s, with the rise of the Hindu-first Bharatiya Janata Party.”
Since the past 60 years, Congress was following appeasement policies with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announcing in the National Development Council meeting that “minorities have the first right over India’s resources”. In a country that thrives on equality and secularism, such statements will not heed well amongst the people and blaming the BJP for the angst of the people when the differences were borne out and encouraged by the Congress is not only unethical, but is out-rightly wrong.
Then Guha goes on to state that “India is closer to being a Hindu Pakistan” and he further states that one of the reasons the government has “shown such a harsh hand in Kashmir is that the majority of Kashmiris are Muslims.”
Thereafter he continues to state in an extremely sarcastic tone, jibing at the PM, “Pakistan’s long-standing role in fomenting Islamist terrorism in the valley, and the cult of personality around India’s current prime minister, Narendra Modi, these repressive methods have attracted applause rather than criticism from Indians outside Kashmir.”
It is beyond a prudent individual’s understanding that when Guha is aware of the ground realities of Islamist terrorism in the valley, which has taken thousands of lives over the past 3 decades; how can he even expect that having a harsh hand to curb the menace is somehow supposed to attract criticism.
Ramachandra Guha then attempts to list the next set of failures, that is, the “dismantling of impartial, rule-bound public institutions”. He coined a term, “election-only democracy”, implying that the party is unaccountable for its acts once elected, and stated that India is on its way to becoming that.
According to Guha’s sense of judgment, the “Parliament barely functions.” To completely refute his claim, after the adjournment of this Lok Sabha house sine die, statistics had come out highlighting the productiveness of the session, in which it was established that this has been the most productive session since 1952.
Ramachandra Guha then attempts to sympathize with the media stating, “Large sections of the media are scared or co-opted” and that “independent news websites and television channels — The Wire, Quint and NDTV, among others — have faced intimidation through libel cases, tax raids, etc.”
On the contrary, the media platforms are as independent as can be. If they expect to hold their 25th anniversary celebrations in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, like they used to, in the Congress regime then they have got another one coming. More so, in case a few of them are undergoing defamation cases or tax frauds, then it is no one but the organization’s fault. If Guha is worried about the fact that such activities, which largely went unnoticed during the Congress regime, are being penalized during the BJP government, then he should frame his sentence in a different way.
Ramachandra Guha also alleged that the “civil service and the police are in the pocket of the BJP.” He also blatantly stated that “President Trump cannot set the tax authorities and intelligence agencies on his critics, but Modi can, and might.” Guha seems to forget that Congress was voted out of power for the very reason of their eternal list of scandals and frauds. The government officials were largely eating out of their hands and have been straightened up by the BJP government. More so, the Modi government has also taken the unprecedented step of voluntarily retiring the civil servants, who were accused of fraud, corruption and sexual harassment, something the Congress predecessors never imagined to.
Ramachandra Guha also stated that due to industrialization, India has one of the “highest rates of air pollution” and that “Many of our rivers are biologically dead.” While these facts vary, the government under PM Modi has taken unprecedented steps to give a boost to the renewable energy sector, so as to enable industrialization, for the developing economy and also maintain a healthy environment. For this, “Transparent bidding and facilitation for procurement of solar and wind power through tariff based competitive bidding process have led to significant reduction in cost of solar and wind power,” Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said in a release. Moreover, hefty investments have also been made in the sector. In fact, last year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has selected PM Modi for the year’s “Champions of the Earth” award, which is the UN’s highest environmental honour.
As for the rivers, Sabarmati river in Gujarat, which was one of the most polluted rivers in the country at one point of time; now breathes a new life.
Thus, Guha’s rant about fascism and collapse of the country under the Modi government are just a bunch of misguided opinions. The question here is who appointed Ramachandra Guha as the custodian of Indian democratic values, a person who has such a skewed sense of approach. How did he come to believe that he has the authority to sermonize others about Indian democracy and moreover, consider himself able and worthy enough to ‘rate’ the largest democracy in the world?