Mishandling of farmers’ agitation has damaged PM Modi’s carefully cultivated image as a world statesman

As conspiracy theories go, this one takes the biscuit. We’re to imagine that Rihanna, Greta Thunberg and varied different worldwide celebrities are in league with Khalistani teams in a plot to destroy Indian democracy. If this principle had been being unfold by some lunatic, Hindutva fringe group, it might not discover point out on this area. Sadly, it’s being unfold by senior officers within the Authorities of India and by BJP spokesmen.

The Delhi Police, managed by the Residence Ministry, are so satisfied of the reality of this weird principle that by the top of final week a case was registered towards ‘unknown individuals’. It was primarily based on a ‘toolkit’ for destroying India that was supposedly downloaded from the web site of the teenage local weather activist. The costs and the conspiracy are each absurd and hilarious, however they’re being taken significantly in essentially the most exalted corridors of the Authorities of India.

So significantly that the primary response to Rihanna’s tweet supporting the farmers’ protest got here from the Ministry of Exterior Affairs. If she had been the president or prime minister of a main nation this response can be applicable. She is simply a pop star. Was there any want to reply in any respect? The Authorities of India was so rattled by Rihanna’s tweet in assist for the farmers that inside hours the Residence Minister had additionally leapt into the fray together with dazzling celebrities from Bollywood and the sports activities world like Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar. Kangana Ranaut, who flaunts her ‘bhakti’ for Modi on her sleeve spat out such venomous tweets in response to Rihanna that some needed to be taken down.

To let you know the reality, my first response to this conspiracy principle was to giggle. Then I remembered that one of the issues that I hear most on social media is that the explanation why Narendra Modi is so beloved by his ‘bhakts’ is as a result of they imagine that he has helped them to really feel ‘proud of being Indian’. After I first began to see feedback of this type on my Twitter timeline, I dismissed them as the ranting of goofs. One of the nice achievements of the previous 70 years is that Indians have discovered to suppose of themselves as Indian and take pleasure on this. In these early years of our journey as a fashionable nation state this was not true.

Within the first twenty years of Independence political commentators routinely speculated in regards to the breakup of India. By the Eighties and Nineties there have been secessionist actions in Kashmir and Punjab and in states on our northeastern border. By the point Modi turned prime minister there was just one severe secessionist risk left, and that was within the former state of Jammu & Kashmir. This is the reason the abrogation of Article 370, with close to unanimity in Parliament, had widespread assist. It had assist in Ladakh and Jammu and even perhaps within the Kashmir Valley the place unusual individuals have suffered too lengthy as a result of of those that have been preventing violently for ‘azadi’. Many unusual Kashmiris stopped supporting secessionist teams when an Islamic state within the Valley turned their objective.

The purpose is that almost all Indians are proud of being Indian. So the place have these Indians come from whose pleasure in being Indian has solely developed after Modi turned prime minister? They’ve come from the aggressive Hindutva that’s in the present day referred to as ‘nationalism’. Its tenets are clear. Believers should detest Muslims and Pakistan. They need to worship the Mom Cow they usually should despise anybody who dares to criticise Modi or his insurance policies. That is what passes for nationalism in the present day and for this reason those that dare protest towards a new legislation or coverage are instantly labelled anti-national.

The issue with the farmers’ agitation is that this labelling didn’t work. The farmers shortly made clear that it was their sons and brothers who had been defending India’s borders. When the labelling technique fell aside, it was as if the federal government of India lapsed into a interval of confusion. It was throughout this era that the media was dragooned into supporting the federal government. Personal information channels, some extra servile than Doordarshan, proceed to unfold the phrase that the federal government has been versatile and the farmers stubborn. The chaos in Delhi on Republic Day they blame on the farmers, not on a failure of legislation enforcement. Within the speedy wake of January 26 got here indicators of a crackdown on the Ghazipur border. Rakesh Tikait received that spherical. So as an alternative of a crackdown what we see in the present day is a technique to barricade Delhi by fortifying its borders with trenches, razor wire and large iron spikes that might rip the tires off tractors.

It’s these barricades which have drawn worldwide assist for the farmers. Most individuals discover it arduous to grasp why unarmed farmers must be handled as in the event that they had been enemy troops ready to assault India. It’s his mishandling of the farmers’ agitation that has damaged Narendra Modi’s carefully cultivated image as a world statesman. And it’s as a result of of this that even the tweet of a pop star has so rattled the boldness of the mighty Authorities of India that it’s now spreading insane conspiracy theories. As a substitute of attempting to close down international voices it might be higher for the Prime Minister to pay attention his energies on attempting to win again the belief of our farmers.

This text first appeared within the print version on February 7, 2021, underneath the title “An insane conspiracy principle”.

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