Why Modi’s legacy will not disappear with a hug and a wink

24 July 2018
During the no-confidence motion, Rahul Gandhi claimed that the BJP has taught him what it is to be a Hindu. If he could only commit more to constitutionalism and less to Hinduism, we would be better off.
During the no-confidence motion, Rahul Gandhi claimed that the BJP has taught him what it is to be a Hindu. If he could only commit more to constitutionalism and less to Hinduism, we would be better off.

What Narendra Modi has done to the country is evident. It has nothing to do with demonetisation, the goods and services tax, the faltering economy, our dithering foreign policy, or the mess in Kashmir. But it is evident in drawing-room conversations, on the streets, in our popular culture, and most visibly, on social media.

Certainly, a great number of people have always been bigoted in this country, but there was always a sense of shame. If you had a pretense to civility, to an education (not just in classrooms but even from religious texts), you concealed your bigotry. The removal of this sense of shame and pretense to civility cannot be welcomed as ushering in a new honesty in society. Modern societies impose a minimum set of common values, as laid down in a constitution, which are maintained through the rule of law. But much of what passes for civility is constrained not by the law, but by what is publicly acceptable.

Modi has made sure the sense of shame at bigotry has disappeared. The worst offenders today come endorsed with a “Followed by Narendra Modi” stamp. This lack of shame routinely leads to acts that violate values set down in the Constitution, but the institutions meant to check such violations have been compromised and are in no position to act. It is only this combination, of the end of shame and the collapse of institutions, which explains the mobs lynching Muslims under the pretext of cow protection. People lynch because they know the law will do nothing to them, they shoot videos of themselves doing so because they feel no shame about their acts of murder.

Hartosh Singh Bal is the political editor at The Caravan.

Keywords: Rahul Gandhi media Congress Narendra Modi communal violence institutions Hindutva academia lynchings Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
COMMENT