The silence of India's most influential

The silence of India's most influential

It was assumed the industry would act as a brake on the violent majoritarian politics, but that has not happened

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

We have not thought about the silence of our most powerful people after the open calls to annihilate and exterminate Muslims were broadcast from Haridwar, Delhi, Raipur and other places. One would believe that would have created some unease in the sympathisers and legitimisers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). These influential people include the industry leaders of this country. They had taken the lead in persuading India's masses that one could do business with the RSS and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). We are also told that the industry needs peace, law, and order. So why are they keeping silent when society is torn apart?

Is it because there is no relation between smooth business and social cohesion and peace? After all, we have seen the fortunes of these corporate houses rise exponentially with increasing hatred and violence in society. Could it be the case that hate and violence help capital?

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Still, the question remains, why have the industry leaders who are in dialogue with the RSS not even tried to broach the issue? Is there an understanding there between them? You do your job and let us do ours? That the RSS does not mind such vile speech against minorities is not a revelation, which is evident from the fact that there is no condemnation from its side, let alone outrage. The BJP, the ruling party in Uttarakhand and in charge of the Union government, has not thought it necessary even to criticise such gatherings. When asked, a BJP spokesperson said that these are matters to be addressed by Rahul Gandhi. The BJP shrugged off the question, and the questioner shamed as to how could a nationalist party be disturbed with such trivialities.

There was a time when a section of the media did expect the prime minister and the government to condemn lynchings and hate speeches. Gradually it understood that it should not be seen as indulging in negativities. Instead, it should see how the PM is dragging the nation on the path of development, prodding, flogging it as it has become habituated to a state of inertia. Moves like the GST and demonetisation were to shock it into action. The media appreciated these difficult decisions.

The PM keeps shaming Indians that they, even after 70 years, have not yet stood on their feet. He is here to make them learn how to do it, how to walk. For this, he has to lift them by their ears, and he does the unpleasant task of smacking them. All this pain is worth bearing if the nation has to learn to use its feet, learn to walk and run.

To keep the nation on the path of development, the man had to remain in power. And for a long time. Power in India, unfortunately, comes only through elections by conjuring a majority. In a fractious society like India, the only way to beat the divisions is to forge a broader unity. If this is to be attained, some counterpoint is needed. A pole has to be erected around which the majority would gravitate. What would be that pole?

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It has been seen that Muslims and Christians can easily be used to scare Hindus that their numbers would deplete if the minorities are not restrained, and to do that, you need a party with a commitment to contain Muslims and Christians. It is true that nearly all political parties in India are dominated and led by Hindus, but that does not suffice. It is true that no major political party is led by a Muslim, no state is headed by a Muslim chief minister, but they still matter. It is important that they are made irrelevant politically, culturally, socially, and economically. They have to be turned into vassals of Hindus. Or this is the illusion that Hindus have because, as it turns out, Hindus themselves are being asked to behave the way prescribed by the RSS and BJP. But the pleasure of doing violence compensates for this feeling of subservience.

And to do that, it is essential to have a Hindu Party with a drive and mission to discipline, tame and dominate Muslims and Christians. Only the BJP can do it. The BJP, the political arm of the RSS and supported by the armies of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and other numerous outfits, was the best bet for the impatient developmentalists.

For development, you need a stable government. Not only stable but strong. Not like the one headed by a party that could allow the opposition to immobilise Parliament and not let development move fast. 

So, the decision was made. Those who put their money on it, quite literally, were and are amply rewarded. Land, forests, mines, utilities built with public money are being handed over to them. Banking, insurance, nearly everything is being offered on a platter. The corporates never had it so good. But much more still remains. Capital is always thirsty. The decision is, therefore, to keep the good party firmly in the saddle.

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But elections always bring uncertainty. Human minds are unstable, and Hindus can easily forget their Hinduness to fragment into their castes. So you need something potent as a cementing factor. Nothing better than the blood of Muslims and Christians. Their blood and their tears of humiliation.

The bargain was also straightforward between the corporates and the rulers. Voters cannot be left feeling deprived and powerless. The power to humiliate others, bully at will and dominate, and feel that the land belongs to you compensates for the material impoverishment. While capital fattens, Hindus feel they are on top of the world. Muslims and Christians will suffer, of course, but even if we look at it coldly, the sheer size of the Hindu market is sufficient for profits.

It was not only the money of the corporates that were used. Their voice was also needed, and they obliged. After 2002, they started presenting Gujarat as a state all Indians deserved. So what if its Muslims had been pushed to the margins. The corporate leaders were quite impressed by the way Narendra Modi brazened out the pogrom of Muslims. Capital, they say, has no soul. To perpetuate itself, it needs leaders without an ethical core. Or, leaders who can embarrass those who believe in an archaic thing called soul are the ones capital needs.

It was a long preparation. The man who led the Gujarati Hindus into believing that any condemnation of the pogrom of 2002 was an insult to them was gradually turned into a likeable figure. There was an aggressive campaign to accept the politics of the RSS as a legitimate viewpoint, forgetting that it meant permanent subjugation of Muslims and Christians.

The industry was getting impatient with the curbs on its onward march. This impatience had to be converted into a politics of impatience. Cultural impatience, moral impatience, etc., was generated to reinforce it. The India against Corruption (IAC) movement has to be seen in this light. One must understand why corporate media, generally pro-establishment, made IAC its campaign. It was couched in a moral language. But it was to delegitimise the old regime comprehensively.

Close on the heels came the elections of 2014, and the BJP secured an absolute majority. Extraordinary if we look at the past election results. It was an unambiguous Hindu vote. But the old civil hesitancy remained, and it had to be called a vote for development.

It was not a worry to bother the industry that, for the first time in the history of the Indian democracy, a political party that did not hide its aversion to the minorities but had led movements to disenfranchise them in all aspects, had secured absolute power.

After that, many attempts were made to present the RSS as an organisation transforming itself, making itself inclusive. It was for Muslims and other minorities to respond to it by making themselves more Indian. It was assumed that the industry would act as a brake on the violent majoritarian politics. It did not happen. The corporate world was gratified, and in return, it tolerated the politics and culture of violence. Opposition parties were blamed for being a poor alternative while the corporate money lubricated the wheels of the election machinery of the BJP.

It is a bargain. The BJP is handing over the ownership of the nature of India to the corporates, they in return, are handing over the ownership of culture to the RSS.

(The writer teaches at Delhi University) 

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author's own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of DH.

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