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India: A growing social and political tolerance for a culture of violence

Sunday 9 January 2022, by siawi3


Mainstream, VOL LX No 3, New Delhi, January 8, 2022

Editorial, Mainstream,

January 8, 2022


It’s been many years now that there is growing social and political tolerance, for a culture of violence that has come to include vigilantism, lynchings, sexual assault and hateful public speeches calling for ethnic cleansing or communal violence, intimidation of critics, acts of vandalism against places of prayer of minorities, etc by some members of India’s ruling party, or political groupings claiming allegiance to Hindutva or other Chauvinist ideology and also at times involving so-called ‘Hindu religious leaders’ (late last year a ‘Dharam Sansad’ held in Haridwar openly incited violence against minorities) Such actions are clearly in violation of the rule of law but lack of punitive action by the authorities embolden the perpetrators.

The police occasionally agree to register police complaints but take no action. If arrests do happen they come after enormous public outcry or under orders from courts. Police seem to follow double standards in the way they act in the face of political speeches or even social media posts by government critics who get charged with serious offenses such as sedition etc or are arrested and or held in detention while no charges are brought for long.

The regime in power in India sits atop a toxic social-political eco-system that is increasingly polarising society along religious lines and overtly using religion to colour its public political stances.

The recent public religious spectacle at the inauguration of the Kashi Vishwanath temple complex directly involving the Prime Minister (and funded by public money), demonstrates the rank hypocrisy of the BJP and the Hindutva political formations that once used to denounce social democratic parties in India for practicing pseudo-secularism and hinting as if the BJP represented a genuine secular stance.

All that convenient political posturing is evaporating now, the ruling Hindutva ideology is implicitly promoting majoritarianism. Is Modi-led India headed in the footsteps of neighbouring Pakistan?