Long years ago, at the stroke of the midnight hour on 15 August 1947, India achieved independence from British rule. Shortly before India made its “tryst with destiny,” Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said that, for every nation, “a moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” Over the past few months, we have turned such a corner in India’s history, as a long suppressed desire finds utterance, with every Hindu festival taking us closer to an ethnic cleansing.
As Indian diplomats struggle to placate Islamic nations over bigoted remarks against the prophet Muhammad by two senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, what the Indian government tolerates and whom it abhors has come to define our foreign policy. At last count, 18 nations—as well as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Gulf Cooperation Council—have registered their protest. This diplomatic crisis, brewed on television, reveals how dangerous the Indian media landscape has become for Indians everywhere.
The perpetual made-for-television violence reaches every house and every mind in every news cycle. Last month, the lives and livelihoods of Muslim residents across India were bulldozed, as were their constitutional rights. One journalist rode a bulldozer herself, in a perfect visual metaphor for the state of the Indian media. Mobs, aided by the police and hate-news channels—and their corporate sponsors—are now as dangerous as a psychopath in control of their pathology. Under Narendra Modi, India is always an inch from a pogrom.