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India: BJP summoned the gau raksha genie, now it must bottle it

2 July 2017

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The Times of India, July 2, 2017

by Aakar Patel in Aakarvani | India | TOI

It is warming to see Indians rally against violence but why ‘not in my name’? Is it the case that the murder of Indian Muslims by protectors of cattle is being done in our name? Let’s examine the matter. For those readers who may not know of the rallies across India, these were spontaneous gatherings of Indians, many young, calling on the government to end the violence.

The answer to the question is: yes. The killings are directly linked to government policy. I would hold the government personally responsible for these murders and any reasonable person would. The data journalism website Indiaspend has reported that 97% of lynching murders by gau rakshaks have come after 2014. They are the gift to us of the Modi government and of the state BJP governments (Haryana and Maharashtra in particular but they are not alone) which lit the fuse on gau raksha through legislation and rhetoric on cow slaughter. Almost no violence was happening before this on the matter of cattle, as the data proves.

‘Not in my name’ contains another message. The great linguist and dissident activist Noam Chomsky is often asked why he focuses on American atrocities around the world. Why not write books and campaign against, say, the barbarism of ISIS or ISI or, indeed, of Hindutva? Chomsky’s response is that he opposes all such violence but you stop what you can. It is his citizenship of America that makes him assume responsibility for the actions of the American government. Those wonderful people who gathered in Delhi, Mumbai and elsewhere were in similar fashion owning the fallout of the actions of their country’s government.

A friend from Delhi sent this message: “How beautiful is the sight and sound of the Indian people standing up for the values that we believe define us and in opposition to the dark influences threatening to take over.” Very true. And to this we should add another aspect.

Democracies are often self-correcting only under public pressure and activism. America performed criminal acts in Vietnam and Korea and Cuba and Nicaragua and Iran and Iraq. Chomsky says if the Nuremberg standards were applied to the crimes of post-war American presidents, all of them from Eisenhower to Bush would be hanged. I believe him. But this sorry record has one silver lining: the not-in-my-name activism and protests of Americans, particularly the young, which ended the Vietnam war and blighted the one in Iraq from the beginning.

The protesters and activists did the job that others should really have done. The media in America, as is the media in our parts, was totally compromised. It bought or enthusiastically subscribed to whatever version of nationalist/anti-national hokum was being served up. What we think of today as ‘liberal’ media, like the New York Times, Chomsky proves was actually cheerleading the establishment on.

‘Not in my name’ tells us that the participation of citizens in democracy does not end with voting. We cannot hand over our country to the BJP or the Congress or whoever else for them to do what they will for five years once elected. We are citizens and not subjects. We have a say and we must resist the criminal actions of the Indian state because we can influence it.

Awful things are done in our name. The eyes of Kashmiris are being put out by shotguns fired in our name. And the murder of public transportation systems for the poor (the BJP again taking the lead in MP and Chhattisgarh by shutting down ‘unprofitable’ state bus services) while billions are pumped into projects for the wealthy like bullet trains. And the relentless purchase of weapons systems, more warplanes, more drones, at the expense of health and education in an India half of whose citizens, by any honest estimate, are poor and illiterate. Many things in India are waiting to be resisted.

After the barbarism in Una last year, the PM gallantly asked the cattle mob to not murder Dalits but shoot him instead (How? Why? To what end? These details he omitted to provide). The mob’s response to this theatrical act was not reported. But they have of course continued their slaughter — 2017 is on track to be their finest year — so one presumes they have already answered.

My view on this is boring: no Indian needs to die over cattle, whether as victim or martyr. The PM can reduce the violence if not put an end to it by ordering his party to stop pushing the cattle slaughter issue. That’s it. His party summoned the genie out, the data is absolutely transparent here, and it is directly responsible for bottling it up again. If he refuses to do this, he should remember that the killings are happening, whether he sees it that way or not, in his name.


The above article from The Times of India is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use