The swelling outpouring of angst about alleged calamities being visited by Narendra Modi on India are unlikely to be coordinated, but clearly each one is inciting others. This is a bemusing puzzle.
The fact of the matter is that nothing, absolutely nothing, tumultuous has been happening in India during his 18 months in office. On the contrary, one could make a case that some rather good things have occurred, not least Modi’s purposive foreign forays, which are predictably being trashed by some in the Opposition.
A complex India, made nigh impossible to govern and steer, thanks to the most outrageous behaviour of a defunct Opposition and its minions in the media, is also moving forward painfully into a better and more developed future.
The not very distinguished Sahitya Academy prize returnees, usually those who won preferment for services to the Congress party and its first family, are not really worthy of comment. Others of supposed apparent greater distinction are echoing their complaints too, about endangerment of India’s diversity and tolerance, but closer examination of their personal antecedents suggests commonplace motivation. One recalls the admonition of Dr. Watson, the Bishop of Landaff, for indulging in the rancour and malignity of disappointed hope!
The one tragic and shameful event that has undoubtedly occurred is the mob lynching of a Dadri Muslim man accused of consuming beef. However, that ghastly episode turns out to be as much about theft of cattle and animus between neighbours as the inflammatory case being made out about Hindu intolerance of beef consumption.
Somehow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is supposed to take responsibility for the behaviour of the mob in a state infamous for its lawlessness and where 5,000 murders occurred in a year.
A partisan media is also straining to pin responsibility on Hindu extremists for the murder of two writer-activists for their supposed ‘rationalistic’ critique of Hinduism though much of it is plain ugly abuse.
Some comments on Hindu idolatry made by one of these unfortunate murder victims were deeply offensive but nothing could justify their murder although they would have merited the death sentence in almost any Muslim country, but let that pass.
Yet, their distressing murders, by as yet unknown assailants, are being attributed to the permissive backdrop supposedly created by Narendra Modi’s election as prime minister of India.
No arrests have yet been made in the non BJP states where these crimes occurred, but alleged Hindu extremists are already being blamed. And the prime minister is, again, accused of inducing them to commit murder. As the Americans say, give us a break!
Yet, the awakening of conscience to condemn supposed failings of the elected government, implicitly repudiating the very legitimacy of Indian democracy, is clearly a tad selective.
There is little record of hand wringing and distraught condemnation of the nation and the supposed dark propensities of the civilisation of its majority before foreign audiences at every opportunity, when the Congress had directly sponsored an astonishing pogrom in its capital city in 1984.
But of course that was the responsibility of India’s ennobled first family and its Cambridge educated scion, not the unwashed hoi polloi majority. Nor were Indian civilisation and its ineffable diversity and tolerance endangered when an entire population was violently expelled from their homeland in the Kashmir valley.
More poignantly, the recent murder of a young man for his love for a member of the minority community, also hacked to death, by her own brothers, was not an occasion for the fraudulent dismay now on selective display.
Many more incidents, no less appalling than the reprehensible lynching of Dadri, have not prompted the breast beating that is being used to impugn a prime minister, whose rejection of communal violence is unambiguous.
Quite clearly, murder and mayhem is not the issue at all, but how to demonise the prime minister and the alleged extremists he is deemed to represent.
It is well to remember how the media and its political patrons within the country and abroad whipped up a frenzy, not long ago, about attacks on Christians and their places of worship since proven to be manufactured in every single instance.
Yet the most prominent and privileged members of that minority community were falling over themselves to demonise alleged extremists of the majority community and the prime minister and his government for acts to which neither had any connection.
Professor Shireen Moosvi, like her colleague, the redoubtable putative Muslim ‘Marxist’ historian, Irfan Habib, has tender concerns about the falsification of history by Hindutva protagonists. Yet they and their stalwart eminent historian colleagues curbed research of alternative narratives, preventing the training of historians equipped to reflect.
But they have always had an agenda, which has been to deploy a shamefully corrupted concept of secularism to legitimate a conquered India’s appalling historical experience.
Professor Moosvi’s performance in court over Ayodhya exposed her infidelity to historical truth, whence she shamelessly contradicted herself.* Her whinge represents a well practiced modus vivendi of a cabal of ‘eminent historians’ for the greater good of the nation, namely, the vindication of every detail of India’s Islamic past and fabrications about its earlier history.
One of them has now penned a tome on the splendid merits of Mahmud of Ghazni, an iconoclastic destroyer with few equals. They ought to be reassure themselves that assertions about the veracity of India’s epics are, at worst, a harmless diversion, though they may yet turn out to be vindicated in the future as partly of historical origin, like Troy was in 1870.
In the meantime, Professor Shireen Moosvi’s forensic skills as a historian might be deployed to investigate more contemporary events like the twenty year long series of communications of the Almighty with a seventh century Arab trader that a vast swathe of humanity regard as inviolably true.
Professor Shireen Moosvi’s earnest researches and that of her thoughtful colleagues are well-placed to demonstrate the implausibility of such asserted musings, directly responsible for inspiring horrific criminality, as we speak, which includes genocide, mass rape, slavery and terrifying beheadings.
It would be dignified to leave long suffering Hindus to their frenetic research into the historicity of their epics and their religious texts since neither enjoins horrendous crimes that are rocking humanity to its core and threatening worse.
And leave the prime minister to get on with the job that he earnestly wishes to do, of bringing prosperity, creating jobs establishing security and cultural renewal to the nation, saddled too long with vacuous promises and failure.
Dr. Gautam Sen taught international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science for over two decades.