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The Modi Phenomenon:RIDING THE HINDU BACKLASH, by MD Nalapat, 24 December 2007 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 24 December 2007 

The Modi Phenomenon


By MD Nalapat

(Holds UNESCO Peace Chair, Prof, Geopolitics, Manipal Academy of

Higher Education, Ex-Resident Editor, Times of India, Delhi)

Although medical specialists know that a "half pregnancy" is impossible (either the lady is pregnant or she is not), yet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh clearly believes he can be "half" secular. In other words, that his Government can continue with visibly exclusionary policies, only in their case, those excluded are those belonging to the majority community. While he looks with approval on a communal mindset within minority groups, the Prime Minister of India seeks to confine the practice of secularism to the majority community.

Small wonder that across the country, a Hindu backlash is developing that is coalescing around Narendra Modi, who has broken the "Vajpayee Taboo" against Nehruvian policies. India's first Prime Minister was so nervous at the prospect of Hindu supremacy that he created a network of policies that, in effect, reduced the majority community to second-class status in India. Taking control of their houses of worship, depriving them of benefits given to the minority community and leaving the societal laws and customs of the major minority groups intact while passing legislation that affected only Hindus.

Especially since 2004, in a transparent effort to wean away Muslim voters from the regional parties ( which incidentally have a far better record of protecting their rights than the Congress), both Sonia Gandhi as well as Manmohan Singh have sought to create a fear psychosis among Muslims and Christians that they are facing discrimination in India

Very defintely, there are numerous excluded Muslims and even a few Christians. But they are hardly alone in their pain. Almost all the communities in India (barring affluent and minuscule groups such as the Jains and the Parsis) face the politics of exclusion in one part of the country or the other.

For example, the Brahmins are mercilessly baited in Tamil Nadu by the UPA's second most important component, the DMK. In many parts of Kashmir, the Hindus are an endangered species, and dozens of temples have been destroyed in the State since 1989. Despite documentation of such crimes, neither Sonia nor Manmohan has even acknowledged this cruel reality.

The Sonia-Manmohan effort to create a conscious divide between Hindus on the one hand and the Muslims and the Christians on the other has led to the Narendra Modi phenomenon, where a master strategist has capitalised on the growing discontent within Hindu society at the way they are being portrayed as supremacists, when the reality is that the minorities in India have by far the best deal as compared to those in almost any other country. Covering up this reality is an action that casts a shadow on the future of India 

The Christian community can be proud of their immense contribution to education, health and other social fields, a contribution far in excess of their number. Yet a tiny minority within them is creating a backlash against the community, by constantly portraying the majority community and its faith in the most lurid and abusive terms.

For example, in today's international order, the United States is far and away the most important country, one crucial to future economic progress in India. In Congressional commiitees, in the lecture circuit and in the pulpit, a constant stream of negative information about India is being disseminated by Christian groups based in India. The spokespersons for these claim that India is a "hell" for Christians and that rapes of nuns, murders of priests and burning of churches ids commonplace.

As a result, the image of India in several US minds (including key legislators) is that of a fanatic Christian-hating country that has no claim to belong to the civilised world. The only individuals happy at this mis-characterisation of India would be the ISI, or geo-political rivals of India such as China

Why has Sonia Gandhi not been more active in defending the people of India, especially the Hindus, from the charge that they are supremacist and exclusionary? Instead, her constant refrain has been that the minorities are in deadly danger, and that they, therefore, need to run for shelter under the cover provided by Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.

Incidentally the two are both members of minority communities who do not seem to have done too badly out of India. Such a Jinnah-style policy embeds within itself the danger of a Hindu backlash, and this is precisely what is on view in Gujarat.

India has come a long way from the Nehru era, when the colonised mindset of fear and awe towards the Government was the principal one. These days, the people are starting to question the past and the present, a needed process in building up a secure future.

Gujarat has shown what the political map of India could be in just a few years, now that the majority of the voters of that State have decided that enough is enough, and that the Nehru-era policies and practices that seek to contain and marginalize the Hindus ought not to be allowed to continue.

The only way such a backlash can be contained is to ensure that the Constitution of India gets followed, and India is made a genuinely secular country. This means the framing of policies that are religion-neutral, and which impact equally on all faiths rather than just on a few or even one.

Gujarat has brought into the open the anger of the majority community against policies that exclude them from benefits given to selected minorities, and both Sonia Gandhi as well as Manmohan Singh would do well to heed the warning, rather than confine themselves to the abuse of Narendra Modi. ---- INFA

(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)

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