Sunday, 10 March 2013

Modi and the Animal Song

In 2002, there occurred the mass killing of more than 3000 people in India. This was violence on a scale unprecedented in Independent India. Women were stripped, made to run naked, tortured, then killed and burned. They were tortured by inserting metal rods into their vaginas, and were then set on fire. A pregnant woman’s stomach was slit open and her unborn baby paraded on a trident. The chief minister under whose watch it happened has been re-elected again and again. He is still in power.

Despite the fact that there are charges that the chief minister was involved in a state-sponsored massacre of citizens of his own country, let us forget that for now. The disturbing fact is that he has not apologised to this day for what happened in those 6 weeks  - when citizens of his own state were brutally raped and killed by what he claims were spontaneous, frenzied mobs. How much could it take to make a simple apology for what at any rate was a complete collapse of law and order, and an utter failure to protect the citizens of his own state – 3000 of his very own Gujaratis? Is an apology too much to ask for? But the chief minister has stubbornly refused to apologise for ten years. Does this not show a lack of warmth, sympathy and compassion? The dictionary describes such a person as ‘inhuman’.

But there is serious talk among many Indians of making this chief minister the next Prime Minister of India. This is a very real possibility in 2014. According to one poll, 43% Indians want Modi as PM. How are we, as a nation, so eager to bring to power a man under whose watch 3000 Indians died? How are we so eager to bring to power someone who was unable to prevent rape and mass murder and has not cared even to apologise for it? I wonder what that says about us, as a people. And I think the answer is: we do not really care that 3000 citizens died. We do not care for justice as long as it’s not us to whom the injustice is done.  We too are inhuman, for that is the word for such blatant lack of sympathy and compassion for our fellow-citizens and fellow-humans. These are the values we have apparently inherited from our culture and tradition.

And we also lack respect for basic rule of law; we are not really bothered if killers and rapists are put behind bars. We do not care to know or respect our own constitution (the law of the land), which guarantees rights and freedoms to our fellow-citizens. We do not care if these constitutional and fundamental rights are violated, as long as it’s not us to whom this is done.   

Is compassion for others too much to ask for? Asking for this vital, essentially human emotion is portrayed as 'sentimentalism'; one is accused of being 'too emotional', 'not pragmatic'. But why must must reason and emotion be mutually exclusive? One can be pragmatic and compassionate.  One can be determined to build a strong India and have compassion for others at the same time. But Modi pretends that both at the same time are not possible. He hides his lack of compassion in his emphasis on making India into a superpower. And that is exactly how many of us hide our lack of it. Recognising this lack of humanity is not a sign of sentimentality; it is recognising a hard fact

Perhaps we will ultimately reach our goal of building a militarily and economically strong nation of hypocritical, inhuman individuals. A nation whose citizens are utterly self-interested and care neither for the law of the land, nor for their fellow-citizens. This is the vision we clearly desire and this is the nation we shall ultimately choose to build. 

Modi repeatedly refuses to answer questions about/apologise for/say that he regrets the mass killings of 2002. Video links to 2 such occasions:

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