Book Review by Ashok Dullu

The period this book covers is from 1964 to 2019 .This covers 55 years of my life experience. That is precisely the reason it has impacted me immensely. Apart from refreshing the events of history I have had the opportunity to witness first hand  ,it also cleans up a lot of cobwebs which had positioned themselves in my fading memory.

It is in this period again that I had to experience the agony of dispersion from my homeland -Kashmir .I settled in Vadodara in Gujarat. The state becomes an important link to this book as it is a place from where Modi  was chosen to commence his political journey.

I chanced upon this title when I was surfing the net for Congressmen who had surprisingly been articulating viewpoints not in line with the party line ,specifically about  futility of dissing Modi. I saw the launch of this book by Jairam Ramesh and mistakenly concluded that it will be one of those books that finds some solace for Congressmen in their current state of disarray. When I started looking for reviews, it turned out to be a case of mis judgement.

I have just finished reading this book which is in my opinion an excellent read of the immediate state of nationhood. This can also act as answers to FAQ ‘s by fence sitters . The ones who have come down to vote for Modi in 2014 and 2019  for want of a better alternative and go back on the fence .This book can give them explanations to their  dilemma of India they had envisioned and the India they foresee unfolding.

The telling moment in the book expectedly is summed up in the epilogue…..

We inhabit the most degraded moment in the history of the republic, the culmination of decades of betrayals, the eruption of long suppressed rage .But the good thing about bad times is that they are great clarifiers. We can see where we stand .The past five years have shattered so many illusions, dispelled so much fog. We can begin to accept how we arrived here: a journey lined up with corruption, cowardly concessions to religious nationalists , demeaning bribes to the minorities, self-wounding distortions of the past and wholesale abandonment of the many for the few….”( page 184)

 Kapil Satish Komireddi is scathing in his  assertions in the book about Modi’s leadership which reeks with Hindu Nationalism .

Modi has drawn out the very worst in many Indians. But his reign has also smashed the complacency that governed our attitudes and activated citizenly antibodies across the country. It has belatedly awakened us to what we may be poised forever to lose. It has revealed to us that the republic bequeathed by the founders was not a sham. It was an instantiation of ideals worth fighting for: rising from the inferno of Partition, it defiantly rejected the baleful idea that national unity could not be forged in the crucible of human multiplicity ,that permanent political division was the only resolution to the predicament of religious variety. Modi ,an affront to that idea, is also the result of the disfigurement of that idea………………….Seven decades after the holocaust of Partition in the name of religious nationalism, can we throw away the improbable unity for which so many good people sacrificed their everything.”( page 185)

We should remember that it is not Modi as our PM that we are against but the ideology which is an antithesis of what this nation  decided in 1947,that we shall live with human multiplicity.

The book answers some if not all questions of ‘what aboutry’.It is scathing in its criticism of Congress and squarely puts the blame on their door to bring the nation to this pass. It devotes one section of 56 pages to this issue – Part One -ANTECEDENTS.

Since it is the future we should be concerned with , the book in its Part  Two- INDIA UNDER MODI is 110 page long .

In order not to take away the suspense for a prospective reader ,I shall point out the  essence only:

PART ONE : ANTECEDENTS ( Erosion , Surrender, Decadence , Dissolution)

  • Congress ,post independence in the mind of Mahatma….”Mahatma Gandhi ,repelled by the authoritarian temptations  supplied by the exalted position it occupied in the Indian imagination, called for Congress’s immediate disbandment after Independence. He was ignored.”
  • Nehru’s death……”the backdrop of almost universal anxiety about India’s fate, was perhaps the truest measure of Nehru’s achievement.”
  • Shastri……”…..Mobilising Indians in the name of religion , when memories of Indian dismemberment to accommodate the demands of Muslim nationalism were still tender, would probably have been easier and politically more rewarding. But Shastri like Nehru before him ,believed in and subordinated himself to the higher ideals of republic.”….
  • Dynasty roots…
    • ”The Nehru’s injected dynasticism into Congress Party’s genetic makeup decades before the advent of Indian republic.”……..
    • Nehru’s closest colleagues in  Congress( Shastri & Kamraj) openly acknowledged that Nehru was grooming Indira to be his successor…” “Yet Nehru, posthumously divinized by establishment intellectuals, received no reproval on this subject from his contemporaries.”…
  • Traits of Congress leadership…
    • “The authoritarianism in Nehru existed alongside and was tempered by a genuine aversion to dictatorship and rigid  adherence to democratic procedure : he did not always get his way, and he accepted the outcome when he did not”.
    • “But the self-moderating complexities present in Nehru seemed to attenuate with each generation in his blood line.”
    • Indira  ,to fund Sanjay’s car project….”the banks nationalized by his mother were raided for un-secured loans.”
    • “ In 1973, shredding convention, she appointed a junior ( and pliant) judge as the Chief  Justice of India.”
  • The high of 1971 war and the low of Emergency in 1975 during Indira’s reign is a popular lore.
  • How did intellectuals & bureaucrats respond to emergency…
    • “The Indian citizen’, declared Indira’s Solicitor General in earnest.’ has absolutely no right to his liberty, even if he is totally innocent’.
    • “Bur a substantial segment of what passed for the nation’s intellectual gentry either caved  before or collaborated with Sanjay”.
  • “ Perhaps the only redeeming quality in Indira’s political career was her unwavering adherence to the most important component of Congress ideology: secularism.”
  • 1984 was the most violent year since Partition and the eighties was a decade of gruesome communal rioting.”……….Congress’s claim to being the guardian of Indian secularism was in tatters. When elections were announced, the RSS, sworn foe of Indira, campaigned for her son ( Rajiv) ,who refused to disavow their support”.
  • “ The surrender began with Rajiv’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision in 1985….”
  • “ What remained of the secular character of India after the slaughter of Sikhs and the cascade of concessions by Congress to competing communal claims was now on line.Muslims abandoned Rajiv.Hindu’s who wanted Rama Rajya had more authentic alternatives on offer.”
  • 1991 :
    • ..Economy….843 million population had 5 million telephone lines…
    • The Indian map had rarely looked so vulnerable to another cartographic revision. If the flames of separatism in Punjab appeared to be abating , the secessionist strife in Kashmir was just peaking.
    • ..”The barren rhetoric of economic self -reliance and political non-alignment could no longer conceal the republic’s decaying reality.”
    • …” It is now de rigueur to credit Manmohan Singh, who became finance minister in 1991,with India’s rapid metamorphosis .But in a country where economic isolation was an inviolable ideological axiom,putting Singh’s prescriptions into action was a distinctly political challenge.”
    • …”The man who shouldered this responsibility was an unlikely figure. He was seventy and had undergone  triple bye pass surgery when he became the prime minister…….” ….”Tfelt, had been avenged.”here was hardly a voice that did not lament his rise to the top. And yet if Nehru ‘discovered’ India , it can reasonably be said that P V Narasimha Rao reinvented it.”
    • Babri demolition…..
      • ”The unthinkable had happened – and it had happened on Congress’s watch.”
      • “For many in the expanding Hindu middle class – demoralized for decades by Congress’s betrayals and being rapidly unshackled, by Singh’s liberal economic policies, from Nehruvian shibboleths about self restraint – the barbarism in Ayodhya contained a self-empowering ,even redemptive message : an ancient civilization had purged itself of the shame inflicted by history by razing the monument to its subjugation. The past , so many felt ,had been avenged.”
    • Fear of Birth of Hindu Rashtra
      • “The promise of a violent release for the resentments and confusions incubated by  Hindu’s unresolved feelings about their history is what gave Hindu nationalism its   visceral appeal . The anti-colonial nationalism pioneered by Congress, cohering in opposition to the British, had applied a romantic gloss on pre-colonial India: it was Eden vandalized by satanic Europeans.”
      • “The conceit  of the freedom movement led by Congress was that a fully developed national consciousness existed in the sub continent  before the British arrived, smashed it and divided the natives . Singling the British out as uniquely disruptive villians proved convenient way for republican India’s secular intellectuals to bypass awkward questions that ought , in the long -term interests of the country , to have been confronted head on . The air brushing of the pre-colonial past was intended to deny ammunition to all those who cited the creation of Pakistan to intensify their clamor for a Hindu rashtra.
      • “Historiographers ,tasked by secular Congress establishment to clarify India’s past, motivated by the desire to do good, caused immeasurable harm by blurring it. They applied recondite techniques and treatments to source material, ladled their prose with jargon and ,lost in disciplinary sport, neglected the needs of the lay person outside the priesthood. Students emerged from exposure to their output without rudimental apprehension of their difficult past. Medieval India , despite all the evidence of its methodical disfigurements, was depicted in school books as an idyll where Muslims and Hindus coexisted in harmony and forged an inclusive idea of India which the British came and shattered.”
      • …..”Such a thesis was always going to struggle against the overwhelmingly contrdictive evidence……arrayed against it.”
      • …”Such a well-intentionedsanitisation of the past was never, in the long run, going to be able to withstand the awakening of people to their history or sustain an inclusive nationalism…”
      • …”A thousand years of Indian history were obfuscated. The reasons were lofty ; the consequences of the well -meaning distortions , alas , baleful.”
      • “Sonia Gandhi finally took over Congress in 1998 and Rao, deemed insufficiently deferential to the family when he was in office , was swiftly ostracized.Credit for his achievements was given to Singh and -absurdly -Rajiv and Rao’s name was gradually effaced from Congress’s history….”
  • 2004
    • “In 2004 ,Manmohan Singh was sworn in as the thirteenth prime minister of India……”
    • “A lifelong theoretician ,he was suddenly  placed in a position where he could implement his theories without having to account for their social ramifications.Nobody could dispute the theoretical soundness of the logic underlying his deference for the market: that to finance social welfare , India needs to generate wealth. But what he engendered in practice was a lavish social welfare scheme for the rich financed by the public.”
    • ““India’s burgeoning cast of billionaires raided state banks for loans, the deeping nexus between politics and business under Singh having destroyed oversight.”
  • 2009
    • “Singh’s star began to fade after the Congress -led coalition bleached of the communists who had objected to Singh’s pro-American lurch, won a second term in 2009 as a result largely of the disarray in the ranks of opposition and the welfare schemes steered by Sonia Gandhi. It didn’t take long for the scams – the hideous nexus between politics, finance, journalism,- to come to light.”……..Men and women who would go to reinvent themselves as resistance under Modi were heard enegetically pimping themselves to the rich.”….( Radia Tapes)
    • “…. But what remains beyond doubt is the pernicious inroads made by big business into the highest offices of the state .”
    • “As always with Congress, squalid corruption flourished against the percussion of heavy moral rhetoric by the party’s proprietors.”…………..”Our economy may increasingly be dynamic, but our moral universe seems to be shrinking, Sonia bemoaned at the ‘Indira Gandhi Conference’ in 2010”….
    • “In his second term , abandoned by his fickle worshippers, Singh took to amplifying his sycophancy- lavishing praise on Rahul Gandhi.”……..”But Congress sidelined Singh Just as briskly as it had drafted him into service. Against Modi went up the latest scion of the Nehru -Gandhi dynasty”
    • The once glittering citadels of Congress power in the capital looked drained of colour and life in the summer of 2014. They were like the deserted palaces of Shah Reza Pehalvijust before the Ayatolla Khomeni glided into Tehran.

PART TWO : INDIA UNDER MODI ( Cult, ,Chaos, Terror, Vanity, Seizure, Disunion)

  • 2014
    • CULT
        1. “After six decades of faltering secularism, India yielded spectacularly to the Hindu nationalist insurgency.”
        2. “ It heralded ,in the words of a former adviser to Singh, the birth of a ‘second republic’. He meant  that the India founded in 1947 by Congress was dead, and now  Modi,who had drained his youth propagandizing for RSS,would wield the largest democratic mandate in more than a generation to recast the republic in the mould of indurated ideology.”
        3. “ Modi was the hand grenade  hurled by all those  who had been sneered at ,stamped upon ,marginalized , subjected to cultural condescension and objectified for anthropological amusement by the preening cast of English speaking elites fostered by India’s venal secular establishment.”
        4. Even 2002 tragic events under the watch of CM-Narendra Modi  had to take a backseat …….
          • ’Skillfully wading his way through the onslaught of a massive slander campaign,’ he ‘ dealt a convincing and crushing defeat to the principal opposition party, the magnitude of which stunned friends and foes alike’  ……his official profile published by the Gujarat government after the state elections following the bloodshed that returned him to power.
          • “It is difficult to brush aside the impression that Modi’s Gujarat, like Putin’s Russia, was a place where circumstances fell into the habit of becoming mysterious when it came to the departure of leader’s enemies.”
          • ‘Modi’, Nandy later wrote , ‘met virtually all the criteria that psychiatrists,  psycho-analysts and psychologists had set up after years of empirical work on the authoritarian personality.  He had the same mix of puritanical rigidity, narrowing of emotional life, massive use of the ego defense of projection, denial and fear of his own passions combined with fantasies of violence - all set within the matrix of clear paranoid and obsessive personality traits. I still remember the cool, measured tone in which he elaborated a theory of cosmic conspiracy against India that painted every Muslim as a suspected traitor and a potential terrorist’.
        5. “The austere martinets of the RSS could not have anticipated, when they deployed the sinews of Hindutva in the service of Modi, that their notoriously collectivist movement was incubating the most potent personality cult since Indira Gandhi.”
        6. “Support for Modi was concentrated in two constituencies: religious fanatics itching for the overthrow of the secular state, and free- marketeers hankering for a powerful pro-business leader.”
        7. “On the campaign ,Modi conjured up a picture of a corruption-free India and a Congress-free India- the two had become interchangeable in voter’s mind – and promised ‘good days’; twenty million jobs every year, repatriation of trillions of rupees stashed illegally in the vaults of Swiss banks to be distributed equally among Indians, dozens of ‘Singapore- like ‘smart cities, a sparkling clean Ganga, a muscular foreign policy.”
        8. “ As  the  first Hindu nationalist  to receive an absolute majority in parliament, he has decided to erect himself as the towering totem of the Hindu rashtra he has set about constructing on the ruins of the secular state.”
        9. “Modi’s most spectacular achievement has been  the Congressisation  of the BJP. Obeisance to him  has become the norm in a party …..”
        10. “Cabinet functions as a Sycophantic court. Leaders across the country have been reduced to fawning couturiers.”
        11. “For their part, Western heads of state, desperate to make up for all those years of high-minded repudiation of Modi, grasped early on the utility of flattery when dealing with him”.
    • CHAOS
      • De-monitization:
        1. …”As if to inoculate the measure from criticism , he added a national – security codicil: it would invalidate the vast amounts of counterfeit currency allegedly channeled into Indian economy by the sponsors of terrorism in Pakistan.”
        2. At the end of the count ,99.3 % of all the abolished currency …..had been turned in .”
        3. Demonitisation ,ceasing to be the anti-dote for all ills cited at its roll out, was touted as a trigger for the creation of ‘cashless’ economy”…..According to RBI household savings in cash rose, post demonitisation to nearly 3 % of the national income- the highest in a decade.”
        4. “What aggravates the woefulness of all this, even if we ascribe the purest intentions to Modi, is that none of it need have happened. As the occupant of an office that qualifies him as one of the most powerful men in the world, Modi was in a position to summon any number of experts on the planet to advise him. Deliberation ,tempering ruinous impulses  by subjecting them to dispassionate scrutiny, is one of the major strengths of democracy.”
        5. “Modi’s idealism , lethal to the poor , has always been modulated with realism. ………..The BJP’s income between 2016 and 2017 grew by 81%........Months after demonitisation , Modi removed limits on corporate  donations to political parties with statutory modifications so brazen that many dictatorships would not consider them.”
    • TERROR
      • Lynchings ( Mohd. Akhlakh ; Pehlu Khan; Gauri Lankesh)
        1. “Communal prejudice has always existed in India. The room for giving homicidal expression to it has expanded exponentially under Modi.”
        2. “ The mood music for terror has been composed and played by card carriers of Hindu Nationalism.”
        3. “ Barbarity against Muslims is not a digression from his beliefs : it is an affirmation of them.”
        4. “The prime minister ,diligently dispensing his deepest condolences via Twitter to victims of tragedies in distant countries, maintains a sociopathic silence on the mounting horrors right under his nose.”
        5.  “ There is a tragic irony to the designation of the cow as the mascot of murderous religious  nationalism…Indian zoolatry ,often ridiculed in the west , is in fact a measure of the sophistication , not the benightedness , of its cultural traditions .It is anchored in Indian civilization’s profound emotional investment in the non-human world, its reverence for nature , its compassion for living beings.”
        6. “Into this crucible of foiled aspirations, Modi tossed a tonsured fireball called Ajay Bisht. The  head abbot of a militant monastery , Bisht- who goes by his born -again name , Yogi Adityanath – is an unadulterated bigot. He was one of the first politicians to demand the prosecution of the Akhlaq family……….Once written off as a fringe figure , Yogi is now a cynosure of the BJP.”
        7. “The hunting of defenseless minorities has become so normalized under Modi that often there is no spark for violence.”
        8. “The Hindu capacity for depraved savagery in Modi’s India is exceeded only by the Hindu capacity for diabolical self-pity.”
        9. “ Unless cushioned by wealth or political connections, criticizing  him is an extremely hazardous undertaking.”
        10. “If his election to the premiership energized Hindu supremacists, his silence as prime minister emboldened them.”
        11. Gauri Lankesh…..”…she was an unrelenting critic of Hindu supramicisism and Modi’s project to recast India as a Hindu nation.”……..
        12. Seemingly well-to-do and ‘progressive’, she was an archetypal ‘presstitute’ despised by Modi’s myrmidons. Her killing , and the shock it induced , was an exhilarating spectacle for them.”
    • VANITY
      • Foreign relations…
        1. ‘The world’, Narendra Modi said six months into his term, ‘is looking at India with renewed respect. For once , it wasn’t bluster. Modi galvanized stagnant foreign relations from the moment he was elected.”
        2. “ Foreign policy fell prey to the prime minister’s vanity, and national interest became indistinguishable from narcissism.”
        3. “ Momentous decisions that will affect India long after Modi is gone have been made with barely any debate.”
        4. “ India’s global ambitions over the past quarter century have grown with its wealth. But where once its foreign relations were governed by a realistic appraisal of India’s interests in the world as it existed, they are now an expression primarily of uncontainable vanities – the vanities of a Hindu supremacist boosted by the vanities of a solipsistic elite clamoring for ‘super power’ status or a country that for all its new riches and hard military strength, is still home to largest number of the world’s poorest people.”
      • Neighboring countries…
        1. Nepal
          • “He managed to arouse what once seemed nearly impossible to achieve: a near-universal hatred of India in Nepal”
          • “The apparent reason for the showdown was that the Constitution -an evolving document-had not given adequate representation to ethnic Indian minorities in the Nepalese plains.”
        2. Pakistan
          • “By turning up in Pakistan with barely any notice- a few hours after announcing his trip on Twitter- Modi immediately undermined the opposition and his parliamentary colleagues on an issue so vital to India’s national security that it always remained above partisan politics. More Pakistanis in power than Indians knew about Modi’s travel plan”.
          • “ The man who had so brazenly undermined India’s non-partisan political traditions by visiting Pakistan, and was exploiting the Indian Military’s valour , was deified as a patriot and those who refused to worship him were demonized as ‘anti-national’.”
        3. Myanmar
          • “The Indian Army has routinely conducted clandestine counter-insurgency operations against militant posts inside Myanmar with the acquiescence of the country’s rulers. Modi vandalized this hugely advantageous arrangements to advertise a raid conducted on his watch in June 2015.”
        4. Palestine
          • “The Policy towards this state had changed earlier to Modi’s reign…”Once a bastionof pro-Palestian sentiment , India appeared at the bottom in a worldwide poll in 2011 of countries sympathetic to Palestinian statehood.”
        5. Israel
          • “A triad of reasons account for the revision of India’s attitude towards Israel…..”
            • No dividends to keep defending Arab sentiment;
            • Coldwar & demise of Soviet Union meant ,India had to make new partnerships
            • “Relationshp between Israel and India tends to grow stronger when…..India experiences a rightward shift in anti -Muslim public opinion or in leadership”
        6. China(Tibet)
          • “Vajpaye’s surrender on Tibet was the single most ignoble concession to China by Delhi.It yielded no tangible benefits for India.
          • “Nothing more depressingly conveys India’s psychological dread of China than Singh’s decision in 2007 to downgrade , on China’s demand , Japan’s participation in exercises with United States designed to boost India’s defence preparedness against…China”
        1. China(Doklam)
          • “China’s communist overlords ,long accustomed to to treating Indiashabbily , appeared in the beginning to be unsettled by Modi. And Modi translated his muscular attitude into action  in 2017 when Chinese troops materialized in Doklam.- a piece of territory
        2. USA
          • “There was some anxiety in Washington and even in Delhi that Modi, shunned by successive US administrations after the Gujarat pogrom, might upend the emergent partnership. When he did not , it was explained away as a measure of his maturity: he wassetting aside personal rancor for the larger national interests.”
          • “Modi was motivated by baser reasons……bespoke a deep need , after enduring that humiliating entry ban, for validation and legitimacy from the US president.The Americans met the need by kneading his enormous ego.”
          • “ History is replete with the tragic consequences of the mis-calculations of those who mortgage their security to others to bask in the mythic virtues of ideological consanguinity. Indians who had clamored for closer ties with the US were left complaining that Donald Trump did not extend Delhi any support during its stand-off with China at Doklam.”
          • “Nehru , it is fair to say , got much more from Washington in 1962 without giving an inch to American demands than Modi Did in 2018 after having offered up India’s bases to America.”
    1. SEIZURE:
      • “It is certainly a miracle that institutions ,battered for decades by Congress, have survived at all.”
      • “Conceived to safeguard a pluralistic nationalism, and annealed in a climate of official adherence to secularism, they are despite their defects, structurally inimical to the prime minister’s brand of majoritarianism.”
      • “Unable precipitously to remake all of India, Modi sought programmatically to subordinate India’s institutional machinery to his political project.”
      • “The poor health of the republic – political dysfunction,bottomless corruption scandals , collapse in trust Is what propelled him to power.”
      • “And It is in the name of resuscitating the ailing republic that he has subverted and seized institutions indispensable to India’s existence as a secular democracy.”
  1. Indias’s Military:
    1. India’s modern military……, has been the republic’s most respected institutions. It never intrudedin civilian matters, and politicians never sought to exploit it for electoral advantage. Modi betrayed no qualms in stamping on this sacred covenant.
    2. Religion disavowed by the military , was injected into the propaganda built around its valour.
    3. The consequences of Modi’s eroding of that wall for immediate political gain will haunt India long after he has exited the sense.
  2. RBI
    1. The RBI , as one of its former governors correctly pointed out ,’figures only after the army in terms of perception as a custodian of society’s trust.’
    2. It is clear  in retrospect that the bank’s autonomy – its capacity to mount resistance- was methodically abraded in the months preceding demonetization.
    3. Patel’s docile acquiescence, shredding RBI’s credibility, emboldened Modi to make a push for its total subjugation……..His deputy fired a warning shot in an impassioned speech in Mumbai in October 2018, telling Indians that the ‘risk of undermining the central bank’s independence are potentially catastrophic.’
  3. Public Universities:
    1. The intervention was indirect , delegated to the foot soldiers of the movement in the student wing of the RSS, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi  Parishad. Backed and safeguarded by the powers that be, these thugs have acquired a chilling leverage on university campuses across the country.
    2. Members of ABVP sniff the air each morning for fresh offence, trace the origin of offence to a Dalit scholar or a Muslim student or a liberal left-wing student organization, accuse the offenders of propagating ‘anti -national ‘ ideas, and trigger unrest and agitation until the university , shivering  with dread, takes punitive action.
    3. At central universities from Delhi to Hyderabad, from Rajasthan to Bengal, students and staff have been terrorized for failing the test of nationalism devised by people pledging allegiance to the RSS, an organization that once refused to recognize the Indian flag on the grounds that it was a totem of secularism.
    4. Modi announced the creation of ‘Institutes of Excellence’…….One of the colleges selected for inclusion in th’s office. category was Jio Institute…..Jio existed only on paper: there was no campus, no curriculum , no faculty, no student. It was a phantom institute, decorated with the ‘eminence ‘ tag on instructions from the prime ministers office.
    5. The termination of the UGC will mark the most significant transfer of power in this area from the states to the centre in at least four decades. A single agency under the thumb of the union government will henceforth decide what is taught, how it is taught and who teaches it. This is a major triumph for the BJP and the RSS , which have sought  for decades to seize education.
  4. History- rewriting
    1. In 2017 ,the government constituted a committee of scholars to produce, in the words of its chairman , a ‘report that will help the government rewrite certain aspects ancient history’. According to the minutes of their secretive meetings  reviewed by Reuters,
    2. which was the first to alert the world to its existence , they were laboring to ‘ establish a correlation’ between Indian history and the vast body of Hindu mythology.
    3. The diligence with which the distant past was illuminated must also be applied to the task of revamping how the relatively recent past is filtered and taught. The previous millennium was a calamitous period for India. By papering it over with untenable tales , secularists infantilized Indians, insulted their memories and rendered them susceptible to piffle purveyed by Hindu Nationalists………
    4. But a corrective to the well meaning distortions enshrined in the curricula by secularists cannot come from the luminaries of the current dispensation. They are bereft of the intellectual equipment and emotional  equanimity essential to explicate the past sincerely without seeking to avenge it.
    5. Indian school children , already at the mercy of an educational system that withholds from them an intelligibly forthright accounting of their country’s disturbing past, now appear destined to be conditioned by the ludicrous yet lethal pseudo-history that Modi and his confreres- many of whom today sit atop India’s most eminent institutions- internalized in the boot camps of the RSS. They are men consumed by resentments. Their cure is rage and fantasy.
    6. As chief minister of Gujarat Modi had written a preface to a ‘ history ‘ book for school students which informed them that the Hindu god Rama had flown the first aircraft.
  5. Finance Bill
    1. In 2017 , Modi made the most far-reaching power grab in recent memory. He piled on , stealthily , to that year’s Finance Bill- a special class of legislation exempted from traditional checks of the upper house of parliament, where BJP sits in opposition benches- a stack of amendments tailored to expand dramatically the executive’s power.
    2. More disturbingly , it vested tax inspectors , who have a hoary history of being deployed to exact political vengeance , with the power to raid any property without the need to disclose the purpose of the raid – not just to person being raided but even to the tax tribunals. The law, moreover, could be applied retrospectively.
    3. …….’electoral bonds’……The most extraordinary part was that the donor’s and recipients’ identities were to be kept confidential from the public.
    4. If this was not outrageous enough , a year later , the government amended , without debate, a  law that banned foreign donations to Indian political parties.. Enacted ex post facto ,the change not only emancipated the BJP and Congress from legal sanction – both parties were found guilty by a Delhi court of violating the law in its previous incarnation- but also opened the sluice gates to ( anonymous) overseas money.
  6. Election Commission
    1. The Election Commission of India is a marvel to behold………The behavior of this illustrious institution in the age of Modi betokens a distressing attrition of its autonomy.
      1. Electoral bond – ‘retrograde step’ / ‘ a step in the right direction’
      2. Election timings suiting ruling dispensation.
      3. After casting his own vote……  Modi proceeded to stage an improvised campaign march in flagrant violation of the ECI’s codes. No action…
      4. The enormity of the ECI’s accommodation of the BJP, having gone largely un-noticed in a country distracted by the theatrics  of the ruling dispensation , will become painfully clear when other parties clamor for the leeway generously extended to Modi- and when denied  it, defy the ECI exactly as Modi did.
  7. Constitution
    1. Rewriting the Constitution is the highest ambition of Hindu nationalists. The greatest obstacle in realizing it are the courts.
    2. Judgements ?
      1. …the capital punishment awarded to a Kashmiri militant was upheld on the grounds that ‘the collective   to conscience of society will only be satisfied’
      2. …The solitary interview one of its officers held with Modi’ was more to place Modi’s defense on record rather than to ferret out any inconsistency or admission of wrongdoing’ on his part.’ The advice of the Supreme court ‘s amicus  to the special probe that criminal charges could reasonably be framed against Modi based on his alleged instructions to the police to ‘go soft on Hindu rioters’ was rejected.
      3. …Even as detail of Loya’s puzzling death were slowly trickling forth and a clearer picture of a criminal conspiracy to choke the lower judiciary  was beginning to congeal , the Supreme Court became embroiled in what seemed like the most apocalyptic crisis in its  history since Indira’s dictatorship
      4. The integrity of the highest court in the land, ,they explained , was being imperiled by the manner in which important cases were being assigned by the chief justice to the benches of his choice with ‘no rationale’.
  1. Media
    1. ‘ Influential owners, anchors, editors across the nation’ , as the dauntless journalist Krishna Prasad has observed, serve as an advance party to quell dissent , manufacture consent, set the agenda, drum up support , and spread fear ,venom, hatred and bigotry – sometimes through sheer silence/
    2.  Careers of Modi’s critics have tapered away…..Karan Thapar , Bobby Ghosh , Nikhil Wagle, Raghav Behl….
    3. There is a pervasive atmosphere of self -censorship in newsrooms. Four hundred pairs of eyes and ears monitor every news channel in India from the offices of governments’ I&B ministry. What they see and hear , for the most part , are shrill theatrics camouflaging the ethical and intellectual destitution of India’s news media in the age of Modi.
    4. In India , with some exceptions , the proprietors of the most of the once great and trusted brands in journalism have degenerated into hustlers.
    5. An extensive undercover operation in 2018 by the website CobraPost exposed the depths of the rot: a reporter posing as a deep-pocketed Hindu nationalist was able to obtain enthusiastic assent from virtually every major print and electronic news entity for his proposal to air anti-opposition, pro-Hindutva propaganda in return for cash…….TOI, IT, NIE, Radio One…….
    6. The democratic content of the republic was gutted in the age of  Modi, but the people believing themselves to be the guardians of democracy were concerned most of all with image of India, you see , had become Modified.
    7. India was ranked 138 in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index….
    1. India is an improbable nation……… constructed its sovereignty by bypassing all the traditional determinants of nationhood – language, ethnicity, religion- long adduced to sift human beings into exclusionary silos. The polyglot, poly- ethnic , poly religious political union envisaged by the founders of India was ratified in a free vote , held in 1951…….
    2. Secularism , it turns out ,was a great deal more than the private fetish of a deracinated post colonial elite. It was , with all its defects , the condition of India’s unity.
    3. Only a citizenship premised on the repudiation of the procrustean presumptions of the phrase ‘national identity’ could fuse the bewilderingly variegated peoples of India into a nation. 
    4. But as India moves under Modi from defective secularism to de facto Hindu supremacism, it can no longer invoke the foundational arguments of the state to retain non-Hindus within its fold……
    5. J&K :
      1. India’s sole Muslim -majority state was a moral blot and a criminal enterprise long before Modi appeared on the scene.
      2. But his Hindu nationalism is not even theoretically equipped to defuse the crisis of legitimacy that stalks the state in Kashmir.
      3. Modi’s presence in the prime ministers office is , if anything, a dream-come true for Kashmir’s radical Muslim separatists- and their sponsors in Pakistan- who have long preached to the province’s brutalized majority that India is a Hindu state and they are its subjects.
      4. Pakistan…………Kashmir’s accession to India would instantly debunk the argument for Pakistan’s invention- that Muslims and Hindus could not co-exist in one state- and  obliterate Pakistan’s claim to be the authentic homeland of the subcontinent’s Muslims that gave a gloss of purpose to its puzzling existence.
      5. Whatever the case , Kashmir had acceded to the Indian union by the legal mechanism instituted under the terms of subcontinents partition. The matter was settled in law.
      6. Inciting religious passions had yielded tremendous dividends for Jinnah in India .But the technique did not work in Kashmir.
      7. ….But Abdullah’s rejection of Pakistan was also a reminder to India that secularism was the non-negotiable condition of Kashmir’s place within India. Kashmiris, as he said , will never accept a principle which seeks to  favor the interests of one religion or social group against another.
      8. The destruction of democracy and democratic institutions which began in the rest of India after Nehru’s departure was inaugurated in Kashmir by Nehru himself.
      9. In 1988, a substantial segment of Kashmiri Muslims , seething from the rigging of elections orchesterated by Congress the previous year, demanded independence for a state whose autonomy had progressively been eroded by a succession of  Indian governments.
      10. The purely indigenous strand of the movement for Kashmiri independence appeared and fell by the wayside after a burst of ecstatic violence and retaliatory massacres.
      11. The cause , born of a just rage, was almost instantly hijacked by the vultures in Pakistan, who supplied arms, trained young men in terrorist camps on its soil, diverted the veterans of the anti- soviet jihad in Afghanistan to Kashmir.
      12. Hundreds of thousands of non-Muslims were cleansed from the valley at gunpoint as the call for Islamic union with Pakistan eclipsed the clamour for freedom from India.
      13. India responded with extraordinary brutality ,turning Kashmir into the most militarized zone on the planet and granting its troops total  immunity from prosecution .
      14. Terrorism began to ebb in Kashmir in the 2000s.In the face of frequent mass protests, India spent a decade ploughing money into the state  - Kashmir is the largest recipient of government grants in the union – and holding transparent elections in the hope of winning back the hearts and minds of the people.
      15. Every generation carries in its bones a deeper trauma than the one before it, and India is now confronting a generation – a young, articulate, politically conscious, religiously perfervid generation – formed in the troubles in 1990s.
      16. An acknowledgement of their torment , an apology for causing it and a commitment to accountability by India are imperative, if inadequate ,for the rift to heal.But in the age of Modi , it is unthinkable……….
      17. When Kashmiri Muslims look at India, what they see is a republic where Muslims are killed for eating beef, where Kashmiris are socially ostracized and physically brutalized by ordinary Indians for being Kashmiri…….An India that has ceased to be secular will have forever lost its moral argument in Kashmir.
    6. Rest of India
      1. Indian unity , even beyond Kashmir , is not  divinely ordained. The founders recognized this and were consumed by the union’s fragility.
      2. Under Modi , the old divide between north and south has once again opened up.
      3. For the first time , the grievances of the south are anchored in language of economics :-  it is that they are giving too much away.
      4. There is nothing natural or preordained about Indian unity. Indian civilization is antique; Indian unity is rare and recent. And it is far from clear that it can be supported by a radical departure from the conditions in which it was forged.
    7. India survives as a nation because most people see themselves as Indian first. And those who do not can be persuaded to see themselves as Indian because Indian nationalism is not premised on religion, or language or ethnicity………Bur the dynamite of division that has always existed beneath the surface has never seemed so primed for detonation as it does under Modi.

India under Modi has undergone the most total transformation since 1991. Hindu chauvinism , ennobled as a healthy form of self-assertion, has become so untameably wild that it cannot be challenged on terms other than its own. Hindu rage that once manifested itself in localized violence has metastasized into a pan -national cancer. Anti minority vitriol that once lurked on the peripheries of high politics has deluged the mainstream. Democratic institutions have been repurposed to abet Hindu nationalism. The military has been politicised, the judiciary plunged into the most existential threat to its independence since 1975………………

The hoax of a technocratic modernizer crafted by an ensemble of intellectuals and industrialists collapsed early on under the burden of Modi’s incompetence, vainglory and innate viciousness.

Five years later , we have more than a glimpse of New India he has spawned. It is a reflection of its progenitor : culturally arid, intellectually vacant , emotionally bruised, vain ,bitter, boastful, permanently aggrieved and implacably malevolent , a make-believe , land full of fudge and fakery, where savagery against religious minorities is among the thereapeutic options available to a self pitying majority frustrated by Modi’s failure to upgrade its standard of living.

Unless the republic is reclaimed , the time will come when all of us will be one incorrect meal, one interfaith romance, one unfortunate misstep away from being extinguished. The mobs that slaughtered ‘bad’ Muslims will eventually come for Hindus who are not ‘good’.

India’s tragedy is that just when it is faced with an existential crisis, there exists no pan-Indian alternative to BJP. What remains of the opposition is bleached of conviction. The values of Hindu nationalism have become the default setting of the  Indian politics.

Acquisition of power is the principal objective of a party ( Congress) that now seems to exist solely to provide subsistence to those who feed of it. And so it has taken to mimicking the BJP and annexing its most explosive causes…..Indira Gandhi suspended the Constitution to brutalise Indians. Modi will seek to write his ideology into the Constitution to bisect them.

This book was released before the election results of BJP winning the second term came to light. BJP has commenced its term as Modi 2.0 with a mandate of 37% of votes in its favor. That settles the debate about what majority in India wants as per the rules of the game.

There are people wondering what is 67% of Indians ,who voted, but  not for BJP, thinking at this time. They are not alone but have a few more from the 37% who were on the fence but voted for Modi as there was no likeable alternative. It may not be possible to sift committed and uncommitted from this latter lot.

I can only speak for myself and that I will. I am an  admirer of my PM as I feel we need a person who may be following an ideology which I cannot subscribe, but he surly is a person who is committed to build a new India which has a possibility of claiming a position on its own in the 21st century.

My stand is akin to going to a ‘reputed’ restaurant and picking a thali with assorted fare . Some preparations may be , not likeable at all and some may be delicious and some in between . I hope for a balanced meal  and shall decide to keep sitting on the fence till the time for next election arrives. Till then I only hope that the dishes being served by Modi 2.0 do not kill me by food poisoning. And , If I am still around, we shall meet to discuss where to order the meal in 2024.Till then Vande Matram and Jai Shree Ram……

Ashok Dullu


Camp Noville , Switzerland