This post is an attempt to fit a more accurate story that befits that headline: Undoing 6 decades in 6 years.
No new born nation can rise without her problems. So did independent India. Fresh from nursing her wounds due to the four centuries of destructive European colonialism and a bloody partition, India was looking ahead. Her gaze was focused on two ideals. First was scientific temper which was institutionalized as the many institutions that to-day serve the people. Second, and more importantly, a truly visionary constitution to bind her diverse people together.
The six or so decades since independence until 2014, have been mired with problems. Poverty, corruption and disorganization had become second nature to the sub-continent.
Even amidst all this chaos, the essence of India as a pluralistic and diverse nation of a multitude of cultures, languages and peoples had largely remained in tact. A naive citizen like myself might even claim that she was thriving like no other country in the world.
That is until the ominous 2014 elections which resulted in a landslide victory to the RSS’s political wing: BJP, with a “strong man” as the prime minister. This was not an unexpected victory. This was the culmination of a century long hate brewing of the Hindutva ideology that has threatened the core of Hindu philosophy: co-existence.
Here are at least six aspects of India cultivated in the six decades since independence that have been undone in the last six years.
6. Economy: The least worrisome of the havoc created by the BJP government is the economy. It is not worrisome because it does not affect people but this is the easiest even for a BJP supporter to recognise. The disastrous demonetisation and unplanned implementation of GST are text book examples of economic mismanagement that has cost people their lives and livelihoods.
5. Public sector: The unabashedly right-wing populist government does not shrug away from embracing the capitalist mantra of Private-Sector-Good and Public-Sector-Bad. The BJP government has loosened any form of regulation and has systematically weakened all public sector units, all the while chanting “Make in India”. The most recent 20 lakh crore scheme was, to borrow the Home Minsiter’s words, a jumla that turned out be an auction of any remaining PSUs.
4. Scientific temper: The COVID-19 crisis has revealed that the panacea offered by this government for any and every crisis is a gimmick, sprinkled with a bit of the holy goumutra. The sheer scale of mismanagement of lockdowns, lack of testing and unpreparedness all the while maintaining there is no community transmission is the epitome of ignoramuses running the show.
Even before this crisis, the lack of respect demonstrated towards science at all levels of the government is mind boggling. From claiming that plastic surgery was invented in our mythology to talking shallow about climate change, there was never a doubt about their ignorance. It is now costing people their lives.
3. Freedom of expression: The troll army of the BJP IT cell have created a toxic environment online. The vile of their online sewage does regularly spill onto the streets leading to the beating up of students, attacks on dissenters and murders of journalists. Needless to mention the lapdog media channels who bark at anyone when pointed by the ruling party. Any semblance of a fair fifth pillar of democracy has been annihilated.
2. Secular ideals: The past six years have changed the secular ideal enshrined in the Indian constitution to a cuss word. Liberalism and secularism are treated as vice unfit for practice; all the while openly spewing hatred towards Muslims, Christians, Dalits and every minority group one can think of.
Diversity and the struggles to find unity in it make up the genetics of India. In the past six years, systematic persecution of minorities has been carried out in broad daylight destroying the very fabric of India.
1. Basic human decency: The worst of all is that the last six years have brought upon us a gradual degradation of basic human decency across the board. We have gotten back to an uncivilized state where lynchings have become so common that it does not even make it to the news cycle or warrant remorse. Such apathy is not only accepted by the ruling party but also recognised and lauded. This abysmal dive of basic values is their biggest accomplishment in the past six years.
So I agree with Mr.Shah. Six decades have been undone in six years.