By Syed Ali Mujtaba
Modern India was born when it got independence in 1947; then there was euphoria and a dream to build the modern India with democracy secularism, and social justice as its shining ideology.
However, the zest and momentum of modern India started feeling tired sometime since around 1990, when a new ideological force based on Hindu religious nationalism started surging around. It started challenging the ideological parameters of the modern India and at present hold the centre stage in the country.
Even though we many may not like to read the obituary note on modern India, the fact remains that new India is now celebrating more than two decades of its existence and this is a very seminal development in the country.
Apologists like me are still basking in the old glory hoping that it’s a passing phase of Indian history and the ideology of modern India that still exists in our constitution, will bounce back to do the course correction in the ideological journey of India.
Wishful thinking indeed and notwithstanding the facts, the present India is witnessing a distinct change in the Indian ideological parameters.
India has already travelled from the centre to its right and there are definite symptoms of gravitational pull towards its extreme right.
In the wake of very weak and feeble opposition to the current narrative of the New Indian ideology taking shape, it may not be incorrect to say that the Modern India exists no more and the birth of New India has already taken place.
This can be substantiated by the fact that now imprint of the Hindu nationalist party, the BJP is could be seen in more than 20 states of India. The way it has spread its reach shows its growing popularity and a death knell to Nehruvian Secularism that symbolized modern India.
The Hindu nationalist ideology the symbol of new India has emerged the dominant force in the country paling the modern India’s ideology into the oblivion.
Modern India took birth in 1947; and words like democratic, secular and socialist became the biggest rallying point for majority of the Indians. There was a distinct ideological veneer that was overlaid to accommodate several strands of ideological flavour that were clamouring for domination at that point of time.
The Nehruvian Secularism clearly defined the parameters of secularism and communalism. It dubbed the majorities communalism as the worst enemy of the country.
In modern India, all believed in the centrality of Nehruvian secularism as the dominant ideology as it alone had the power to integrate the entire diversity in the country.
However, as India traversed its journey since independence, the religious nationalist ideology started clamouring for ideological space in the country.
This actually started happening sometime around the 1990 when the peddlers of Hindu religious nationalism openly started questioning the Nehruvian vision of secular democracy.
The Hindu nationalist forces called Nehruvian secularism as minority appeasement and wanted to replace it with their own ideology that equated Hindu religious identity to nationalism. This has given birth to New India.
As of now, there exits two ideology, that caters to two distinct India that is; the modern India and the new India.
In modern India the Nehruvian Secularism remains the motivational pull for the common man while in the new India, the rallying point is Hindu religious nationalism.
While the ideology in modern India catered to the entire diversity of the country, the Hindu nationalist religious ideology catered to the handful Hindu majority community.
It’s apparent that the new India has thrown the secular mask that modern India wore for long and is now marching towards the fundamentalist democracy.
There are series of events those points to this fact. First the Ayodhya movement was built, then the Babari mosque was destroyed caring two hoots about the law of the land. Second was the Gujarat riots, where thousands of Muslims were butchered in the Hindu communal uprising that followed the Godhra train tragedy.
Third the holy cow protection campaign and the lynching of the Muslims. Fourth, saffron clad people emerged in the power structure and this tribe has started growing thick and fast. All these development proclaims loudly that modern India is dead and New India has acquired its place.
It appears that the gravitational pull of fundamentalist democracy currently holds sway over the country and has put up a show of Hindu unity. However it has yet to evolve a dynamic formula to unite the entire diversity of the Satana Dharmis under its fold.
The other salient feature of New India is the growth of crony capitalism. The New India’s economic system is characterized by close, mutually advantageous relationships between business leaders and government officials. The classical example is the growth of Patanjili group and its propmoter Baba Ramdev.
The euphoria of economic growth has appealed to some groups that are turning towards the Hindutva politics. The dynamics of the New India suggests that its vote bank is the upper caste and the capitalist class.
We like it or not the fact remains that a large chunk of people are keen to join the new Indian apple cart, is enough indicator of ‘death of modern India and birth of new India.’
According to one report Prime Minister Modi and his party enjoys about 70 per cent of the popular support and holds a distinctive advantage over other political forces in the country. This is despite facing the charges of mismanagement, corruption and running a fascist democracy.
This is a very queer development and it’s high time to understand these phenomena while scripting the story of New India. Is 70 per cent of the people in the country adhering to Hindutva ideology or they belong to the RSS cadre.
Why the BJP is scripting emphatic victories in state after state. Why the opposition is totally side lined. Is this not an obituary note on modern India and the birth of New India?
The new development comes with some caveats. How the New India is going to handle its birth pangs? How minorities and other group are going to adjust in the New India? How the protagonists of modern India are going to accept its obituary note or will they turn the tables around in their favour are stories that remains to unfold.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is an internationally awarded journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com