Right after winning independence in 1947, India did two crucial things. It gave all citizens the right to vote, and it adopted a secular constitution that enshrined equality before the law. Over the decades, some of that high-mindedness has eroded. Corruption and “goondah-raj” (thug rule) politics have frequently tarnished Indian democracy. The enduring reality of caste and class privilege has undermined the ideal of equality.
Under the populist rule of Narendra Modi, India has also drifted away from secularism. That shift has accelerated since his re-election in May 2019 to a second five-year term, with the 20% of Indians who belong to minority faiths, as well as secular-minded liberals, increasingly concerned that Mr Modi is determined to remake India as an explicitly Hindu rashtra or state.
This is why a seemingly small change to citizenship rules introduced in December, which grants adherents of some religions fast-track naturalisation, but specifically bars Muslims, has provoked nationwide protest.… But Muslims’ cumulative resentment, compounded by wider fears of creeping autocracy, has stirred stronger resistance. As a result, India is growing dangerously polarised. Mr Modi’s partisans increasingly see their opponents as saboteurs of a grand civilisational project. His growing number of enemies see the Hindu nationalists as wreckers of the constitution, who may be sowing the seeds of long-term strife.
- Narrow vision of Modi govt – By Bhaskar Kumar (Feb 7, 2020, The Telegraph)
- CAA: Protestors Forced Into Hiding, As UP Police Puts Bounty On Their Heads – By Betwa Sharma (Feb 7, 2020, Huffington Post)
- Speaking violence: Public discourse and the democratic response – By By G.N. Devy (Feb 7, 2020, The Telegraph)
- Government needs to talk to protesters – By Meghnad Desai (Feb 9, 2020, Indian Express)