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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 35 August 17, 2019

Grim Scenario on I-Day 2019

Monday 19 August 2019, by SC

Editorial

Once again we are approaching another Independence Day, our seventythird. But it will be observed under conditions that are qualitatively different from the ones in the past.

Only recently this month, on August 5, the ruling party of the country by dint of the brute majority it enjoys in Parliament (reinforced as it is by its stupendous victory at the hustings barely three months ago thereby recording its second stint in power) carried out a coup of sorts—revoking Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution that served as a bridge between India and J&K. This, according to the BJP stalwarts in power, would be the first decisive step to ensure the State’s “real integration” with India. They are totally oblivious of the resultant huge distance that has been caused between the peoples of India and J&K, what with the latter already in the grip of considerable alienation, highlighted by the growing antics of the BJP in power across the country since the summer of 2014.

Against this sombre backdrop (with the strength of the States in the country reduced from 29 to 28 while the number of Union Territories has gone up by two in view of the division of the J&K State into two Union Territories—J&K and Ladakh), we are observing our 73rd Independence Day. True, as far as the measure taken in J&K is concerned, the parliamentary Opposition stands divided. Large sections of the intelligentsia, who are standard-bearers of the democratic traditions set by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, stand by the side of the J&K public and oppose the government’s move that has its origins in the days of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. But it is a fact that due to a conspiracy of circumstances some Opposition leaders and parties have extended support to the Union Government on this issue under the false impression that it would strengthen national unity. This is most regrettable and unfortunate. Doubly regrettable is the division that has come about in the Congress on this subject. While those of its leaders, who are well aware of the J&K situation, fully oppose the revocation of the afore-mentioned Articles, the others have a different view. Most noteworthy is the position taken by all sections of the Left regardless of the differences among them on other questions. This is principled and bold without any trace of vacillation and/or ambivalence.

Reviewing the overall national situation prevailing today, one is reminded of the words our first PM articulated in a message on August 15, 1947, our first Independence Day. According to Jawaharlal Nehru,

“We are citizens of a great country on the verge of bold advance... All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.”

These words are of exceptional significance today when those in power are hell-bent on weakening the foundations of our secular democracy, one of our most precious possessions, a product of our independence. On this auspicious occasion we need to renew our pledge to defend the very same secular democracy that is under constant threat from those in power. The latest move in J&K is a clear manifestation of that danger. It must be resisted with all the strength at our command.

August 11 S.C.

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