Forget ‘Mann Ki Baat’, Open ‘Mann Ki Ankhen’ – Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks from the ramparts of Red Fort in Delhi while the iconic Jama Masjid is seen in the background. AP photo.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks from the ramparts of Red Fort in Delhi while the iconic Jama Masjid is seen in the background. AP photo.

Prime Minister Modi only needs to open his ‘Mann ki Aankhein’ to see a new vision other than the perspective he simply sees from either the eyes of crony capitalists or the protégés of Hindutva

ANURADHA BHASIN JAMWAL

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n his recent ‘Mann ki Baat’ prime minister Narendra Modi sought suggestions and ideas, saying that his speech on the 70th independence day anniversary would be based on messages from citizens. If he really needs to know what the teeming majority of the country’s citizens, he has failed in less than two years, want, he does not need messages and tweets from a handful of stooges and admirers.

He only needs to open his ‘Mann ki Aankhein’ to see a new vision other than the perspective he simply sees from either the eyes of crony capitalists or the protégés of Hindutva. He would then grasp the true essence of this great day. He needs to see India in a new light, with its legacy of Indian freedom struggle, its core values of secularism, liberty and equality and its vibrant diversity, any ruptures in which impede the growth of India – economically and socially. He would then see the many strengths and weaknesses of the country in all their nakedness and learn the true worth of what inclusiveness means.

Mohammad Akhlaq, 52, was killed by the village mob while his youngest son Danish was critically injured in the attack in September.
Mohammad Akhlaq, 52, was killed by the village mob while his youngest son Danish was critically injured in the attack in September.

He would realize that as head of the State, he owes as much to the poor starving farmers, the oppressed Dalits and the continually harassed Muslims and Christians of the country as he does to his crony capitalist friends who rob poor people of their right to land and food and his saffron mentors who inspire him to keep mum as their marauding armies go about lynching and beating the minorities in the name of ‘Love Jihad’ and ‘Cow protection’.

He would realize that as head of the State, he owes as much to the poor starving farmers, the oppressed Dalits and the continually harassed Muslims and Christians of the country as he does to his crony capitalist friends who rob poor people of their right to land and food and his saffron mentors who inspire him to keep mum as their marauding armies go about lynching and beating the minorities in the name of ‘Love Jihad’ and ‘Cow protection’.

Only if the prime minister could dispassionately engage with the realities around he would be able to see all that his coloured lenses do not allow him to. The marauding lynching armies of the saffron Parivar that he turns a blind eye to are altering the very idea of India by robbing people, selected for their caste or religious identity, of their liberty and sense of security.

He would have then seen that beneath the trumpet of non-existent achievements he often blows and the one-liners and innocuous phrases he often says, the country he rules has people who have been pushed to the brink – the financially poor crave for the much ‘acche din’ he promised; the corruption free Bharat he promised has taken new avatar in far more bloody scams like Vyapam scam; the religious minorities are feeling threatened and the Dalits and socially oppressed are so vulnerable that their frustration and anger has reached a tipping point.

Women wail as the funeral procession of 20-year old Riaz Ahmed Shah passes through Srinagar. AFP
Women wail as the funeral procession of 20-year old Riaz Ahmed Shah passes through Srinagar. AFP

What kind of a government would go into denial mode not just over the political nature of Kashmir’s unrest but also overlook the brutality that goes on there at the hands of official forces but see the violations across the borders in Balochistan and Pakistan Administered Kashmir, which pale into insignificance before the bloodbath of Kashmir Valley. The prime minister would need to open the eyes of his mind because the government of a free and democratic country cannot be so insensitive and thick skinned towards such open state sponsored tyranny.

Kashmir has already crossed that mark. And, in the face of that dire situation, he chooses to wear a blind fold and gag his own mouth, used only to speak about cross-border terrorism. With that one word, all of Kashmir is criminalized and every act of tyranny justified.

Far from compassion, he used his theory of ‘laptops versus stone’ to rub salt over the wounds of a population in deep anguish and distress. If only he would open his ‘Mann ki Aankh’ he would know that what goes on in Kashmir in the name of fighting insurgency and maintaining security and integrity of the country’s territory is gross violation of human rights by any standards. What kind of a government would announce committees to look into the issue of pellet guns and sleep over it while innocent children battle for life and lose their eye-sight due to pellet injuries?

What kind of a government would go into denial mode not just over the political nature of Kashmir’s unrest but also overlook the brutality that goes on there at the hands of official forces but see the violations across the borders in Balochistan and Pakistan Administered Kashmir, which pale into insignificance before the bloodbath of Kashmir Valley. The prime minister would need to open the eyes of his mind because the government of a free and democratic country cannot be so insensitive and thick skinned towards such open state sponsored tyranny.

Modi has thus shown that though he can be elected with thumping majority as prime minister of the world’s largest democracy; he cannot evolve into a statesman and leader that this country with its rich diversity and rampant inequalities requires. The fault lies in his inability to sift out the Frankenstein of a Hindu right wing mind that has been part of his political training.

The RSS, like all other right wing organizations, of which Modi was once a pracharak, trains its activists not by inspiring them to the quest for learning and knowledge but through indoctrination and propaganda, which requires shutting off the doors of minds to knowledge and reason. He is conditioned by a certain kind of drill that forbids him to think beyond the blinkers he has got accustomed to using.

His inability to see, his shocking silence over increasing intolerance in the country and his pro-active agenda to press into full gear state sponsored tyranny to manage political conflicts within the country is at odds with the very values that formed the essence of India’s freedom struggle and which the freedom fighters of the country invoked when the country finally became free 70 years ago. He wouldn’t understand all of that. Because, the right wing RSS was not part of the movement. It sided with the British imperial powers. And, the RSS didn’t teach him otherwise.

As long as he was just the RSS pracharak and later even the leader of its political wing, BJP, his closed mind thinking would have been excusable. But as a prime minster, when he is expected to serve the people of the country and when his words, actions or silence have a bearing on the social, political and economic landscape of the country, he cannot have that luxury.

Specially not, when the achievements of all these decades post independence have been put in reverse gear through a retrograde discourse and through open patronage of lumpen elements and goons ever since he sat on the throne. For the people of the country, who got mislead by his lofty promises of ‘acche din’ and ‘sabka vikas’, he must learn to open his eyes and see as a prime minister, not shut them like an RSS pracharak.

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