Sunday, 18 May 2014

Silence Is Deafening, Are My Fears Unfounded? | Nandita Das

Silence Is Deafening, Are My Fears Unfounded? | Nandita Das

The election of a new government in India is the result of a democratic exercise so vast that any critique of the mandate needs to be respectful. And more so, if it is a pre-emptive one. Yet, there are good reasons why some of us are fearful. Let’s begin with the much-proclaimed promise of ‘development’ and the great enthusiasm among the middle and elite classes for the ‘Gujarat model’. Just for the record, the state has always been among the more enterprising and prosperous ones. And in the last decade, even by the simplistic yardstick of economic growth, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu have done better than Gujarat. In any case, economic growth is not the only measure of success, as a large number of Indians are marginalised and suffer on many other counts. Will their voices be heard in an economic model driven above all by corporate policies? Will there be any focus on social measures that are so crucial for the underprivileged? Will the ‘development’ be inclusive and for all?

While we are being asked to move past the 2002 carnage, there is no hesitation in invoking memories of the Partition or going as far back as Babar! What scares me is that let alone any remorse, apology or concern for those whose scars have still not healed, there is a fearful rise in prejudice and its legitimacy. Clearly evident in these elections is a religiously charged ethos, created through the campaign, revealing that under the ‘development’ story the core remains divisive politics. Amit Shah’s speeches in Muzaffarnagar, Modi’s refusal to wear the skull cap, while he wore every other headgear during the campaign, Praveen Togadia asking Muslims to be thrown out of “Hindu areas”, to name a few.Silence Is Deafening, Are My Fears Unfounded? | Nandita Das