Monday, Sept. 27 marked approximately one year since India’s Farmers’ Protest began, causing protests in and around India’s capital city of New Delhi. About a year ago, the Indian government passed laws that minimized the government’s role in farming, thus leaving farmers vulnerable to corporate farms controlling prices. These laws have devastated the income of many farmers with smaller plots.
These protests have posed immense opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Given the way Modi has treated India — throughout the Farmers’ Protests, the COVID-19 pandemic and with the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), to name a few — it is high time people worldwide hear what Modi’s opposition has to say and take note. Modi’s government does not adequately protect the basic human rights of all people in India, and this is not something people should forget or take lightly.
In terms of the Farmers’ Protests, the Indian government maintains the idea that the laws will help modernize the nation by, according to an article by AP News, “boosting production through private investment.” However, the government has constantly failed to hear the concerns of the citizens actually involved in the agricultural industry. During the protests, the Indian government has restricted and arrested journalists and shut down internet access in certain states. The Indian government’s response to the Farmers’ Protest clearly violated human rights in this way.
Apart from the Farmers’ Protests, the Indian government had a dismal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, India’s health system was collapsing with overwhelmed hospitals and a shortage of ICU beds, supplemental oxygen, antiviral medications and vaccines. Instead of taking preventative action, Modi as well as other members of the BJP held massive rallies in order to win local elections and, in April, held a large religious pilgrimage event where thousands of participants tested positive for COVID-19.
Early during the pandemic, Modi enacted a lockdown of the country preventing people from leaving their homes for about 21 days except in extreme circumstances where people could obtain a travel pass. The lockdown did allow people access to necessities such as shops, banks, gas stations and other essential services, but this was unclear when the announcement was first made.
Although at first this may seem like a good idea, Modi only gave the people about four hours’ notice before ordering this lockdown. This is extremely sudden for a country with such a large population. In addition, with such a large homeless population and long commuting distances, this announcement was disorganized and did not accommodate everyone’s needs.
Modi’s knee-jerk legislation and announcements is not just a one-time, COVID-19 related occurrence. Similarly in 2016, Modi demonetized the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. Modi’s announcement gave people 50 days to exchange their money for new rupee notes to be accepted, however this was still not enough time. This announcement caused extremely long lines at banks as it affected more than a billion people.
This is a pattern for Modi and his government — they create laws with no concern for the population nor its effects. Rather than listening to the people and understanding what would most benefit the majority, Modi’s laws only benefit the elite, if even that.
Modi’s government has a notorious reputation of being anti-Islam, seen with the passage of the CAA in Dec. 2019, which provided a path to citizenship for undocumented Indian immigrants based on religion. However, the legislation failed to include Muslims, with the reasoning that Muslims are welcomed in neighboring nations. This reason did not take into account the fact that Muslims who follow certain sects of Islam, such as Rohingya Muslims and Ahmadiyaa Muslims, do face persecution in nearby nations such as in Myanmar and Pakistan.
In conjunction with India’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) which documents all legal citizens of India, the CAA has created concerns for current Indian citizens who do not have adequate documentation to prove citizenship. This could lead to deportation or to many current citizens being declared stateless.
Modi’s legislation and announcements in all these cases emphasize how dangerous he is to India as a nation. His actions are classist and favor people based on religion.
People should pay attention to the opposition he has faces and why so many people protest his legislation. When the next election comes in May 2024, allowing Modi to win would be dangerous for India and has implications for the world. Modi’s actions cannot continue to go unpunished with unwavering support. It is high time people everywhere pay attention to his abuse of power and the dangerous environment he has created. Modi clearly does not care about the population of India and will engage in dangerous actions and violate human rights to fulfill his goals.
Well done. A great article that hits all the important points about the protests, especially about the guy who caused them.
The problem is that Hindu nationalists think they need to get “revenge” on Muslims (and, on occasion, India’s other minorities, but mainly Muslims in the current climate). Somehow, India’s Muslims living today are responsible for all the terrorist attacks, the wars against/launched by Pakistan, and of course, the various conquests over 1,000+ years by Muslim empires. Perfect sense, right? That’s why the Hindu nationalists were justified in tearing down the Babri Mosque, and why there must be a temple built in its place (I should point out, I can’t understand why the Indian Supreme Court even took that case — the US Supreme Court wouldn’t have touched such a case with a 10-foot pole). Because, revenge must be important, especially when Hindus control everything in India, right? Yeah, sure.
India’s Muslims are patriotic people. They had reason to leave India for Pakistan back in 1947 (the latter was created to be the home for Muslims in the Indian subcontinent), and yet, they chose to stay. Even as they’ve been tormented with racial slurs and whatnot, they’re still loyal Indians. Unfortunately, people like Modi don’t care. Be it India’s Muslims, or the farmers as this article is describing, Modi demonizes anyone who doesn’t agree with him, no matter how reasonable their grievances are. India’s farmers don’t need Hindu nationalism to make their lives better — they need better agricultural policies. The BJP doesn’t care about any of that. Still, the farmers love their country. That’s why they’re protesting — they want their country to do better. Peaceful protests are expressions of patriotism.
Modi knows that he has a large mandate — his voter base is strong enough to defeat his tepid opposition (thinking about INC, and how they think keeping the Nehru-Gandhi family in power matters more than winning), and that allows him to do anything. The situations you described perfectly demonstrate Modi’s attitude towards governance. Overwhelming a country’s health system? No problem. Panicking people with a four-hour notice for an intense lockdown? No problem. Demonetizing commonly-used bank notes? No problem. As long as Modi’s power runs unchecked, he can act like a dictator and claim his domestic enemies (Muslims, farmers, journalists) are the problems (and foreign enemies too, but that’s not what this article is about). Ironic for the world’s largest “democracy.”
When I was at UConn, I had the privilege of taking Prof. Betty Hanson’s South Asia in World Politics class, and she taught us the dichotomy of a stable India versus the rest of the subcontinent. India’s neighbors have all experienced some form of a civil war or military coup, because their leaders (such as Yahya Khan, R. Premadasa, King Gyanendra, Hussain Ershad, and Ne Win among others) prioritized nationalism or personality cults over governance. India has always survived the toughest challenges. The diversity that has made India great has given it the strength to survive as a free nation. But, Hindu nationalists like Modi, who would rather prioritize criminalizing interfaith marriages (even though some of India’s most famous marriages have been between Hindus and non-Hindus, such as those of Akbar/Jodha, Bajirao/Mastani, Indira/Feroze Gandhi, and Shah Rukh/Gauri Khan, where the non-Hindu spouse didn’t convert) over real solutions for the farmers believe that India can only be great if there’s a large saffron banner flying over Rashtrapati Bhavan. Funny thing is that if this were happening in Pakistan (which, around the time India announced it was building a Hindu temple in the Babri Mosque’s place, started construction of a Hindu Temple in Islamabad), the Indian government would be up in arms, yelling about the horrors of Islamic nationalism. But, I guess it’s okay if it’s Hindu nationalism, right? Around the world, many of the Hindus who condemn other forms of right-wing extremism give free passes to Modi. I guess standards don’t matter when it’s their own religion.
There’s that famous quote (often attributed to Sinclair Lewis) about fascism coming to the US, and we can see that when fascism came to India, it was wrapped in the Tiranga and carrying a Bhagavad Gita. Yeah, I’ll call Modi what he is — a fascist, a demagogue, a bigot, a xenophobe, and all the like. I hate to sound like Lindsey Graham, especially because he didn’t stick to his words, but I’ll also end with something similar to what he said. You know how you make India great [again]? Tell Narendra Modi to go to h€ll.
Also, I am Hindu. I am absolutely appalled by what Modi and co. have done, especially when wrapped in the cloak of my religion.
I am grateful to the fact that earlier this year, Modi’s poor handling of COVID-19 finally, finally gave him some bad publicity, but the reality is that he’s always been this way. He only thinks about what makes him look strong, like his kindred spirits in Ankara, Brasilia, and Budapest. Religion is constantly wielded as a tool by this man. Too many times, I’ve heard of Muslims being attacked for selling beef, or simply being suspected of it. Now, the Sikhs also come under attack in the Farmers’ Protests. It’s not hard to see the sectarian nature of who he chooses to go after – nothing, nothing at all about Kumbh Mela. As a Hindu (yes, this is not my real name), I think about my faith – it is like a virgin, being groped by the perverts of the BJP, simply hoping to use it for their own gain. For what, exactly? Revenge on Muslims for the past? I could of course argue that the Mughals did far more good than bad (surely we cannot hold Aurangazeb’s actions in greater weight than those of Akbar and Shah Jahan, can we?). People don’t seem to realize how Bahadur Shah Zafar was equally venerated by Muslim and Hindu subjects. Today’s sectarianism has unfortunately clouded all of that.
These days, I practically shy away from calling myself an Indian American – ‘South Asian American’ leaves me more comfortable, as I find India is getting to be harder and harder to recognize. It’s a flawed democracy now, slowly slipping towards authoritarianism. While his people were suffering from this deadly pandemic, the moron chose to grow out his beard to resemble Rabindranath Tagore. Yes, that was the priority of India’s Prime Minister! Lal Bahadur Shastri carried his nation to repel an invasion on the slogan of “hail to the soldier, hail to the farmer…” and all Modi can do is say “look at me, I’m a revolutionary!?” Seriously? India, that is the best that there is?
A huge, huge problem in India is that the opposition is weak. While I applaud them for wishing to stand down, it is inexcusable that two years after the election, the INC has still not chosen new leaders in the places of Rahul and Sonia Gandhi. I fear that when they finally do, they’ll just go with Priyanka Gandhi instead of a new face. India’s fate is likely to rest on someone like Mamata Banerjee – she beat this moron Modi once, and she can do it again, but ONLY if the opposition gets their act together. The cracks may finally be appearing in Viktor Orban and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s walls as they did with Netanyahu’s. Modi is not invincible. He can be beaten, if people realize how he’s robbing India of what makes it great. Nationalism and sectarianism dragged Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and (especially) Afghanistan through civil wars and military dictatorships, taking countless lives with them. India does not need to add itself to that list.
I should also say, well done to the author.