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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 8 New Delhi February 10, 2018

Challenges Confronting Indian Republic

Tuesday 13 February 2018

by D. Raja

India in 2018 confronts mounting challenges of crisis proportions. Such challenges are products of the divide and misrule of the BJP-led NDA regime over a period of three years. Never ever in post-independent India has the country faced such intense and devious polarisation in society the magnitude of which was seen at the time of the partition of India following our independence. The NDA regime is recreating that situation in a calculated manner for political gains and with an understanding that such a strategy brought them to power and yielded handsome electoral dividends.

Twentyfirst century India getting tuned to the mediaeval era in terms of mobilisation of people on religious lines spells the worst danger to the secular fabric of our society, Constitution and nation. All such diabolical steps emanating from the divisive ideology of the BJP and its top leadership constitutes a serious assault on our unity and integrity. The divisive ideology inherent to their worldview was best reflected by the statement of the Union Minister who scornfully called secularists as people not knowing their parentage and ancestry and said that people instead of describing themselves as secular should define themselves as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Brahmins, Rajputs, etc. to stress their primordial identity. He even had the audacity to say that secularism is mentioned in the Constitution and the government headed by Prime Minister Modi is there to change it.

By reducing people to their immediate identities he went against the very essence of the Constitution which recognises the individual citizen regardless of religious, caste or linguistic affiliation. Strangely, the top leadership of the BJP and NDA Government did not utter a word censuring the Minister for his disparaging remarks on the Constitution and secularism. It is only when the matter was aggressively raised in Parliament by the Opposition strongly disapproving his assault on the Constitution that he expressed regret and the government made a remark dissociating itself from his unfortunate statement. The fact that the government on its own did not come forward to defend the Constitution and had to make a statement rejecting the attack on the Constitution by its own Minister speaks volumes of the approach it adopts to the ideals of our nation at the root of which remains the Constitution of India. The assault on the Constitution by the Union Minister is indicative of the gathering crisis confronted by our nation as we welcome and celebrate Republic Day on January 26.

Let us not forget that earlier during the NDA regime, headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when attempts were made to review the Constitution it was late K. R. Narayanan as the President of India educated the nation by pointedly declaring: “Let us examine if the Constitution has failed us or we have failed the Constitution” and it forced the then NDA regime to abandon the idea and instead appointed a Commission to review the working of the Constitution. We need to fall back on such a rich legacy which inspires us to defend the Constitution often endangered by the diabolical forces masquerading as nationalists.

Dr Ambedkar in his historic speech in the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949 has said that “however good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happened to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it happened to be a good lot.” By this time, it has become clear that the Constitution is in the hands of a bad lot. They are imposing on the people to choose a Constitution based on Manusmriti in place of the present Constitution which is a republican one.

Apart from the Constitution the very institution of Parliament is being undermined and the challenge being faced by Parliament is enormous and worrisome. The law-making process and the democratic method of governance based on deliberation, dialogue and consultation has been badly and irreversibly compromised by declaring many Bills as money bills and, thereby, depriving the Rajya Sabha to scrutinise them and discuss threadbare those legislative proposals. Never ever did we witness such a situation after the commencement of the functioning of Parliament in 1952 when the money bill route was taken to bypass deliberation, consultation, dialogue and better scrutiny. Dr Ambedkar famously said that Parliament belonged to the Opposition. But unfortunately the space for the Opposition to debate and discuss legislative proposals is getting shrunk by the calculated measures to follow the money bill route. Besides, the well-established convention of referring Bills to the Department related to the Parliamentary Standing Committees for examination and scrutiny is being dispensed with with the objective of diluting the critical examination through deliberation and discussion. In undermining Parliament the present leadership of the government is negating the people’s will and mandate. In other words, it is an assault on democracy itself. Thus the assault on the Constitution combined with the assault on democracy constitutes a serious challenge which is getting intensified on a day-to-day basis. India, known for million mutinies, would explode if such challenges are not mitigated by the full flowering of democracy. What we need is more democracy and more freedom and less of restrictions and denial of freedom.

Already the country is suffering from convulsions because of cow vigilantism, the so called love-jihad and profiling of people primarily based on religion. History is being distorted to promote such divisive agenda. The Mumbai High Court, in one its judgements of early 1960s, had observed that when the ruling class uses history as its handmaiden, it would spell undesirable consequences for society as a whole. Let us be mindful of such observations of our higher judiciary not to distort history.

The way social obscurantism is spread questioning Newton for his theory of Gravity and Darwin for his Evolution theory is part of the sinister design of the RSS- BJP combine to promote their communal fascist agenda.

The alarming consequences of neoliberalism, followed for almost three decades, are now getting manifested in growing income inequality, rising levels of corruption in the corporate sector and monopolisation of quality education by a few because of availability of such education to rich and upper-caste people in educational institutions run on commercial lines. This is a serious challenge to India— the Constitution of which celebrates liberty, equality, fraternity and secularism.

The growing disaffection of the people against the present regime is unmistakable. Let us follow the method of Education, Organisation and Agitation to deepen public reasoning to address the mounting challenges faced by India today.

The author, a Member of Parliament, is the National Secretary CPI.

ISSN : 0542-1462 / RNI No. : 7064/62