Black Friday

I really didn’t want to share any more feelings about the sad, sad day that was 16 May, and I promised myself I wouldn’t discuss this anymore, but when I boarded the flight back to Goa yesterday, and noticed it was 70% filled with BJP party workers something snapped. Again. The entire aircraft was filled with them, noisy, boorish men dressed in saffron scarves, some with lotus badges; and the atmosphere was obviously celebratory. They were loud and uncouth, blatantly filming everything from the overhead baggage space, to the AC vents, fellow passengers and unsuspecting airhostesses too. From time to time they burst into loud guffaws disturbing the remaining passengers who were clearly in a minority, left to the mercy of this rude and overbearing crowd. Quite like the situation after 16 May. A tiny miniscule minority silenced by the chest-thumping, sweeping victory of the saffron brigade.

Clearly they were being flown down (some for the very first time in their lives, as was apparent) for a massive celebratory BJP orgy of some sort. And I couldn’t help but wonder if this whole scenario of chaos at the hands of a noisy majority, while a meek few suffer silently, was a fitting metaphor for the way things might pan out going forward.

And then I asked myself why should we be silenced? Why should I stop showing my discontent? My disappointment? Truth be told, I can’t say I was disappointed at the results, because I didn’t expect anything different. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel massively let down and disappointed that a little glimmer of hope had been shunted out for many years to come. You see what scares me isn’t just that the Human Butcher is now the most powerful man in the country, and that he has shown every sign in the textbook of being the megalomaniac that he is, but the number of people that I regarded as sane, intelligent, sound-thinking individuals have fallen prey to this development hooplah.

What was horrifying, were the staggering figures, the sweeping numbers with which victory went their way. And with every growing number in their favour, I saw the bleak hopes of a coalition (because that was our only hope!) fly away. Have the people of our country just plain forgotten what happened in 2002? And in that context, what happened in 1984 (because this isn’t about choosing the Congress over the BJP)? Have we forgotten what happens when that kind of authority is concentrated in the hands of one power-hungry, crazy autocrat? Our collective memory as a country has always been weak, but I didn’t think so many thousands and hundreds of us could get so desperate, that we convince ourselves that choosing a monster amongst devils is actually good for us. I didn’t expect this widespread, blind sycophancy.

I was 16 when I was exposed to the downside of Modi’s development model. I heard Medha Patkar speak at a Narmada Bachao Andolan march that I participated in, and have never believed that it is the healthy and truly properous kind of development. Where the lowest rung of all social and economic order always stand to lose. Are we so brainwashed by this PR machine that we are willing to shut our eyes to the inherent inequality and disparity that it breeds? Are we going to sit back and be okay with our choice of development over human rights?

Is development (largely designed to benefit big industries and corporations) really all we need? What about corruption? What about poverty? What about taking the Right to Education from a mere bill to reality in every nook and corner of the country? What about organised healthcare? How come we’re okay with not having answers to any of these real issues? The issues that stare us in the face from the moment we step out of home to go to work every day?

How is it okay for us to sit back as a nation and let a fascist who once had a clearly communal agenda, take power just because he replaced the C word with the D work? It’s Development, in case you didn’t guess already? What about the many higher-ups in his party who have been slapped with charges of corruption? What about the stifled mismanaged investigation into his role in the riots? What about the farce that is the clean-chit he has been granted? What about the fact that a single man has the power and machinery to set on a path that wipes out every conceivable piece of media that he is the butcher that he is? There’s a whole documentary about it, including these horrific clips that tell a truth that didn’t make it into the film. As for some of the written evidence, someone was wise enough to dig it up and compile some of it neatly for us to see. Look here. How can we ignore his all-consuming fetish for power that has let him get away with everything from religious pogrom to snooping on women and real-estate scams?

Ab ki baar, we’re so fucked yaar!

In the run up to 16 May, I found hope in the voices on facebook and twitter that echoed my feelings. Every post I read that exposed this, made me feel better. Every tweet about how wrong it would be to bring to power a man responsible for such horror, made me feel like all was not lost. And then he won. With a sweeping majority, at that.

Most disappointing of it all, as I’ve said here before, is the revelation of several of my own friends being Modi bhakts. I’ll admit there are those who seem to have their own twisted logic (for lack of a better word. It’s illogical every way I look at it) to back it up and then there are those who have made statements like “These Muslims need to be shown their place” and “Christians don’t belong here, they need to be killed” in my presence. It has made me cut them out of my life for sheer inability to deal with such sentiments at face value. Over the last few days I have blocked four people on whatsapp for incessantly spamming me with veiled praises for Modi which actually just amount to communal sentiments.

If anything, this election has set a few facts straight in my head. The huge numbers and giant social media noise we talk about is but a blip in the noise and chaos that is this country. A million retweets of one sensible tweet is no sign that we can fight a force so strong. When I heard Modi’s victory speech in Ahmedabad, it was a cringe-fest in my head. The blatant self-obsession and blowing-of-his-own trumpet, so much so that consistently refers to himself in third person, reminded me of the speeches of Adolf Hitler we watched in my 12th grade history class. It makes me fear what is to come. It makes me afraid of where we are headed. And it makes me feel so helpless, as a tiny smidgen of a minority that feels this way, but cannot do a thing about it.

Now that we are here, and there is no way out, I want to believe the lot that tells me he is a shrewd man not so foolish to become PM and unleash communalism. But really, can we trust the man? Try as I might, the skepticism refuses to wash away and make way for hope. One can only pray that things do not go the Holocaust way. Or the 1984 way. Or the 2002 way, because somehow no amount of development justifies that to my mind. And if by some miracle things don’t pan out that way, I’ll be happy to admit I was wrong. But right now, don’t try and tell me this was the best thing that could have happened to us. Several people, including friends and family, have tried and failed. I cannot get beyond the violence to even consider it. Never before have the words of Yeats been truer,

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Somewhere in that speech he spoke of how reforming the country is a process that he will carry on for the next 10, 15, 20 years. And right then it dawned on me, we really get the kind of leaders we deserve. And now we’re so effing stuck.

We chose the monster. We deserve this monster.

Fellow Indians, what have we done?

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31 Replies to “Black Friday”

  1. “We” chose this “monster”, for better or for worse. Or maybe we didn’t, since we are so few. Our generation of Twitterati, bloggers, Facebook fanatics, anti or pro Modi, counts for very little in the real world.

    They, on the other hand, are in the hundreds of millions. Poor people, with no jobs, no sanitation, no education. And then someone came along and asked them why they didn’t have it, and promised it to them So they voted him in.

    Freedom of religion and speech matter little when your children are half a meal away from starvation. It’s the reason why so many poor Indians work in the Gulf.

    The Gandhis screwed the poor over badly, and the poor, to quote a line, “in their desperation, turned to a man they didn’t fully understand.”

    1. Will definitely read. I want to shed the pessimism but i think theres time for that yet. Unless i really SEE some hope I dont think i do it.

      1. Considering that article was written before 16 May, I am almost tempted to think Gupta had in on the results :P
        But, I have issues with the article. He makes it sound like having a secular outlook is just about being pro-Muslim. What about the rest of this country?

        I dont think “they want to build grand temples, spank the Muslims or banish them to Pakistan” is the only outcome. In my opinion a communal leaning is just a symptom of a conservative state of mind. In 2002 it was the Muslims, who knows what they will go after next? Women, homosexuals, other minorities? Several of his party members whom he seems to have such high regard for have exhibited enough narrow minded conservatism in this regard. Im talking about the Pramod Mutaliks, Pravin Togadias, Baba Bajrangis and Baba Ramdevs of the world. As a woman in a patriarchal country, this makes me especially concerned. I wonder if we’d be able to live with all the electricity, power, water, highways, industry and a booming economy with equal measure moral policing and inequality.

        1. I think I read his article differently.. he doesn’t say secular means being pro-muslim.. he as I read it.. points out that india is today secular because the majority wants it.. regardless of their own choice of faith. and that’s why there is a majority and a plethora of minority communities, and that is why we have a constitution and various other institutions that respect and uphold these values. and yes there are extremist elements in every religion.. and yes they do threaten the moral fabric of the nation and institutions have been challenged.. but I also believe no one can impose their own personal will on the people of this country… the multi-cultural polity of India forces every leader no matter what their personal ideology that when it comes to being India’s leader you have to move toward the centre!!! else, the people will voice their own disappointment through an equally decisive verdict at the next election!!

          1. With over 50% of the country under the poverty line and extremely vulnerable to any kind of politically/religiously heated sentiments, leading to mass following, Im not sure about this majority is secular line of thinking. Just today I read this article: http://m.timesofindia.com/home/lok-sabha-elections-2014/news/BJPs-31-lowest-vote-share-of-any-party-to-win-majority/articleshow/35315930.cms
            which tells me that just 30% of people actually actively CHOSE the BJP, which makes me believe that only 30% are actively fully on board with all their ideologies, where as the rest probably chose them because there is little choice.

            As for the threat of extremist elements, Id feel safer if the man in whos hands we have placed the security of this country wasnt a bit extremist himself :) Im not anti BJP, I just wish they had put forth a better, more well-rounded candidate that didnt leave so much room for doubt. Again, I want to say I will be happy to admit my skepticism was misguided and I was wrong to fear and doubt so much, but only time will tell which way this will swing.

  2. What timing! I was just finishing my own post on the election results when I came across yours. I’m not happy with the results….I knew it would be a BJP/NDA government but I always argued that a coalition government would keep Modi in check. Now even that has been ruled out. Ah well, I’m an optimist by nature so I am hoping that long term political considerations (because Modi isn’t going to be content to be PM for just one term) will ensure that religious fanaticism is kept at bay. After all, Rajiv Gandhi rode to power on the back of the 1984 riots but didn’t screw us over ….so one can hope

  3. Not sure my previous comment made it:

  4. Hailing from kerala …a completely anti Modi state for the reasons you mentioned above!
    I guess keralites could better understand him with their political awareness and hence was able to keep him away..But how did they do it when the entire country went for the saffron tag…Its the Education factor that helped..We read,analyse and discuss politics like our life depends on it….Our development parameter was far better than Gujarat but the PR did a great job there for Modi. Moreover they claimed that Kerala is historically developed..But How?–Education..Thats the answer..When you are able to read and write you know when you are exploited and will have the courage to question the authorities!!

    1. Not to take any credit away form the achievements of Kerala, but I dont know if its as simple as “when you are able to read and write.” As my friend Akshay has said above, for a majority of this country it came down to the basics like hunger, sanitation, health, and who promised to pull them out of the hole the last 10 years have pushed them into.

      You’re right, though. I know there are states in the south that have fared better on these parameters, but they havent gone about hooting this development trumpet, the way Modis PR machine did. Also, I have read pieces in the news that prove that Modis term in Gujarat hasnt been entirely successful on all parameters, including things like health and education.

  5. “We chose the monster. We deserve this monster.

    Fellow Indians, what have we done?

    Echoes my thoughts unfortunately :\ I have been asking people is economy the only thing that matters to a country ? The response I get more often than not is We are done with congress and we need a change, the change unfortunately is a monster :\

    1. I get that a large part of this massive majority is the lack of a better option. Its true, we’ve had enough over the last 10 years, and this is being made to look like the only way up. Sad, but true.

  6. I can understand where your thoughts come from. Yes, I did vote for Modi because I believe that as of now, he is the best option we have. Something on account of the lesser evil, or the known devils, (if that makes sense). Had there been another leader who would have been better, I would have voted for him/her.

    I believe that the toughest task Modi has right now, is not all the things that he has spoken of in his addresses/speeches and agenda, but to reign in and control the people in the lower strata of the party and associated groups, people like the ones you saw in the flight. .People how get drunk on the fact that their leader is now in power and go on to do horrible things to others who don’t agree with them.

    I understand many pro-bjp people celebrating. THey have all the cause for that.. But to become so lost in the celebrations that they cause problems to others around them, is not acceptable.

    There is a reason why I didn’t post updates on FB/blog about these elections because I saw way too many people taking part in unnecessary name calling and such.

  7. 1. “Exchange the C word for D word” is a good way of putting it.
    2. I’m figuring out how to manage my feelings for people who celebrate this man. There are too many to banish all of them. But I feel like I can never see them quite the same again.

    1. Im in the same boat. Especially the people who I know are otherwise balanced, sensible folk. I want to believe there is something to their logic. Maybe in time, depending on how this tenure pans out I will see it.

  8. I have stopped talking about the elections and the results with most people, because it ends up in frustration, inane arguments, and helplessness. Guess all we can do is hope for the best. And pray that the checks and balances in the Indian constitution and government model will not allow the worst from happening.

  9. Haathi, you’ve read that 30% statistic wrong. It means he has a 30% share of the vote or that 3 out of every 10 voters voted for him. That means that 7 out of 10 DID NOT Modi, and yet he became PM. That is the telling fault of the system most democracies follow.

    And about Kerala, I’m not sure what development indicators are being used, but from a purely economic or business standpoint, Kerala is extremely unpleasant to do business in. All those years of Communist rule have led to a sad slowdown, from what I can see. And this is coming from a Malayali who does (or did) business in Kerala.

    1. No I understood it as that, probably havent articulated it well. I suck at math, and even more at statistics. I think theres hope in that 7 people who didn’t actively choose BJP means there is room for change.

      It seems a hugely disproportionate and unfair number game. And then I saw this status message shared on fb:
      The total population of this country is 1.27 billion people. The total electoral is 810,000,000 people out of which total polling percentage was 66.3% which brings the number of people who voted to roughly 541,000,000 people. BJP vote share and has been consistent through the day is 31%.

      That is roughly votes from 173,120,000 people, and officially on the ECI website as of 18:56pm, it is 165,480,309 people.

      If you add the rest of the NDA, with voteshares of TDP 2.0%, Shiv Sena 1.9% and SAD 0.7%, and you add their tally to BJP’s 165-173 million people, you still don’t even come close to a real numerical majority.

      In brief, a billion people, counting your kids, and quite a few adivasis who the census of India doesn’t even know exist, did not vote for Modi.

      But alright, out of 810,000,000 people, the electorate, some who couldn’t vote because they were beaten away, many whose names were missing, others aware of this sham of elections, come to roughly 600,000,000 million people, who also did not vote for Modi. So if someone says, ‘India’ has spoken, ask them to shut the fuck up, and start talking about Proportional Representation.

  10. It’s been a week now and my heart is still located somewhere in my stomach. His recent teary oration has done nothing to dull my skepticism and sense of dread. For me, it has been hard to discover that friends and family who I had respected thus far also support this man. It has forever changed the way I view them.

    You got it right in your first paragraph too. His followers are as much to be feared. They seem beyond his control even – asking people to leave and go to Pakistan, vandalising mosques as a part of the post-vistory celebrations, threatening well-known personalities who have been vocal against their beloved leader – they are a rioting mob waiting for a switch to be flicked. The thought makes me shudder.

    Like you said, I was resigned to an NDA-led coalition. But this kind of unmitigated power is scary, especially in the hands of a man I don’t trust to use it responsibly.

    1. The extreme concentration of that kind of power with the ability to bully (as had been amply displayed) is what scares me. The hoards of aimless supporters, rebels without a cause, only makes it worse. Heart in stomach is right. Iv been obsessed and driving myself to depression over this.

      1. I must say I disagree. I thought Modi was the best candidate for prime minister and the only one who could really lead India. I did fall for his talk of development and jobs: the food security bill is all very well, but where are the jobs going to come from? Did you really expect Indians to vote the Congress in again after the complete debacle they made of the past few years? With soaring inflation, the rupee falling to new lows, and policy paralysis?Rahul Gandhi looks completely incompetent. And I am glad that Modi has a clear mandate.
        Having said that, I dislike the BJP’s Hindutva ideology. And I do agree that he has to pay for the hand he had in the Gujarat riots…but now I don’t know how that’s going to work out.
        I feel like you’re worrying yourself over this too much. India is a democracy. If this government doesn’t do a good job, they’ll vote another in in the next election. Simple! :P

        1. Youre not the first to disagree, but I think we should just agree to disagree :) theres a lot of others with my line of thinking and worrying too, and at this point I dont think there can be too much worrying about this at all.

          The hope is things work out and the shit doesnt hit the fan, but from where I am and the way things are already panning out, the future does look grim. We may have plenty jobs, highways, hydro power plants, industry, yada yada — and it STILL looks grim to me.

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