The Moral Economy of India: Modi as the Anti-Gandhi
Anyone familiar with Nietzsche’s writings would observe that, apart from the fact that he wrote diverse fragments on almost everything that constitutes existence, he often contradicted himself. Nonetheless he was, here and there, remarkably consistent when it came to hating Jews, women, feminists and socialists. His writings are filled with malicious sentiments against them. For instance, in his Thus Spoke Zarathustra he wrote: “Man shall be trained for war, and woman for the recreation of the warrior; all else is folly.” This view finds echoes within Rasthriya Swamsewak Sangh (RSS), which subsumes a woman’s entire being into a set of cliques contained in their founding fathers’ writings. The RSS is a paramilitary volunteer group of Hindu fundamentalists that is reminiscent of Hitler’s Brown Shirts; the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), headed by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is the RSS’ political arm.
In Nietzsche’s last work Ecce Homo, he again writes: “when they elevate themselves as ‘woman-in-herself,’ as ‘higher woman,’ as ‘idealist’ woman, they want to lower the general level of rank of woman; no surer means for achieving that than grammar school education, trousers and the political rights of voting cattle.” Nietzsche’s epistemology of hatred, as we well know, had bloody consequences for the entire world. It descended on its progenies as a collective psychosis and genocide. What happened after Hitler, an open admirer of Nietzsche, took over the reins of the German State, needs no comment.
What is remarkable, however, is the fascination that RSS has with Hitler and his methods of ethnic cleansing. The RSS that backed Narendra Modi publicly extolls Hitler and his ideas. To digress again, Nietzsche had praised Manusmiriti, a founding ideological text that charts out, like Plato’s Republic, a road map as to how best to run and organize a slave-based society. The RSS’ admiration of Manu is a public fact here in India. They look up to him as one of the greatest Hindu law givers. Manu is believed to have written the Manava Dharma Shastra, which is an ancient “sacred” set of laws and code of conduct followed by Hindu fundamentalists. This is analogous to Sharia law in Islam. These laws promote contempt of women and a rigid caste system in India, with the Brahmin at the top.
What the RSS has done in India is to replace Jews, who were seen as the source of all social disease, with Muslims. Like the Nazis, RSS also believes in the pure Aryan race nonsense. This might sound harsh, but when was capitalism ever opposed to the slave trade and racism? Both, as we in News Junkie Post have argued, are hand in glove with each other.
Modi is a RSS swayamsevak: one who spreads the gospel of Hindu Rastrya. RSS is the same organization which, as subaltern historian Gyanandra Pandey notes, distributed sweets on the streets of Amritsar after news of Gandhi’s assassination spread like wildfire in 1948. Modi may, as he claims, have begun his life as a chai-walla (tea vendor), but surely it is not hard to see that today he enjoys his regular chai at seven-star hotels with oligarchs like Ambani, Adnani, and Tata.
Modi’s victory in this national election is perhaps the culmination of the middle class’ frustration with the inept and corrupt Congress Party. The voters had been geared for the either/or mode by the media. And this strategy worked. The Indian middle class found itself locked in binary-mode politics: either vote for a through and through corrupt Congress or a neofascist-populist Modi. Young India Inc. prefers the efficiency of fascism. Any other combination was thought to be unstable for the country: a view shared by the pliant media.
Let this be clear. Since the “opening” of the Indian economy in the early 1990s, the middle class has aspired to a globalized lifestyle. It dreams of dining in Bangkok and shitting in Shanghai. The trouble with this dream is that it cannot be accomplished without money. With rising inflation and cost of living, this dream has become yet less affordable. Aravind Adiga, in his Last Man in Tower (2011), a seminal novel that brilliantly archives the neo-imperial impulses of India’s emergent middle class, wrote: “Senility for a banker, Masterji thought, must consist of lots of zeros going around his head.” India, as it stands, is the victim of a fixated mindset that cannot see beyond these zeros. Currently India has a vast number of mentally trained slaves, who work, booze, eat and shit and, to prove that they are culturally advanced, read Chetan Bhagat, a third-rate writer of fiction and essays. It is this India that loves Modi and his fierce xenophobia, and when you remind them about his role in the choreography of the Gujarat riots, they say that it was an act of revenge. Or, as many would argue, Modi was just not involved. Or if you happen to be a person with a Muslim name, then the argument is: you are anti-Hindu which is why….
It is true that the Supreme Court is in no mood to investigate Modi. But here is a small piece of an explosive report filed by the Amicus Curiae Raju Ramachandran [Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No.1088 of 2008]. In his report, he cites the evidence of Sanjiv Bhatt, the then Deputy Commissioner of Police (Intelligence), as per his statement: at a meeting on February 27, 2002, around 11:00 p.m., Modi instructed the police officers present not to take action against the mob that was venting its anger against the ordinary people who were at the receiving end.
It was further established that two of Modi’s Ministers, Shri I. K. Jadeja and Late Ashok Bhatt, were inside the police control rooms on February 28, 2002. One may wonder as to what exactly they were doing: perhaps controlling law and order? Despite this evidence, Modi continues to dodge the law and make a mockery of the entire judicial system that refuses to prosecute those involved in a mass murder.
India is a rich country. A vast amount of natural resource is trapped in the central and eastern parts of India. These areas fall in states like Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Odissa, Andra Pradesh and parts of Madhya Pradesh. A good many multinational corporations like Vedanta have in the past faced massive protests from the tribal inhabitants. With a weak central government, it wasn’t possible to clear the “infested” areas (Infested with what: of course with the people who live there.). Now with a strongman with a 56-inch chest, this will be quite easily done. In short, this election will take us straight to a near-civil-war situation that will be fought between government troops on one hand and armed Communist-Party-of-India Maoists on the other. Maoists already control some 150-180 odd districts of our 550. And if one takes note of Manmohan Singh’s word, then “Maoists constitute the gravest threat to India’s internal security.”
This election has once again proved what the mass media can do. One can see, these days, television programs that compare Modi to superman. The net result is that within days of the elections, members of minority groups, including Muslims, women and political opponents, feel threatened. The efficiency with which RSS-BJP get rid of their opponents is well known. RSS cadres have been involved not only in destroying Babri Masjid (mosque) in 1991 but also in killing several Christian missionaries. It is no accident that Modi’s home state of Gujarat tops the list of states where well-known Right-to-Information activists have been killed.
Modi’s rise to power has put India’s secularism, which was so dear to Mohandas K. Gandhi, in jeopardy. India’s Muslim population of about 168 million people (14 percent) is at risk of persecution. This election has also weakened the base of traditional leftist parties; in their worst performance since the country’s independence, they won 11 seats in a house of 545. One does not know what will happen in future, but even the most ardent Modi supporter would admit that if a riot-like situation develops, then the whole country will burst into flames. This would be the gift we bestowed on ourselves by electing Modi.
Editor’s Note: Imtiaz Akhtar is the author of Kafka Sutra, a collection of short stories. Photographs one, five, nine and ten from Al Jazeera English. Photographs six, eleven and twelve by Dey. Photographs three and eight from Narendra Modi photo-stream. Photograph four by Peter Barker and photograph two by Lori Wright.