ucanews.com reporter, New Delhi
Updated: December 13, 2018 08:29 AM GMT
Indian writers, activists and opposition political leaders hold a report published on July 14 in New Delhi marking the four years of BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo by Bijay Kumar Minj/ucanews.com)
The four years of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reign have been marked by violence, hate and destruction of institutions across the board, prominent social activists and intellectuals have claimed.
About 250 people gathered in New Delhi on July 14 to release a report, "Dismantling India — A Four-Year Report," which carries essays analyzing the performance of the federal government run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since it come to power in May 2014.
The report said "anti-national" is the most heard word in India as federal ministers and BJP leaders use it liberally to describe "members of the parliamentary opposition" as well as trade unions, students and "the few who dare write and speak in the media" criticizing the BJP and the government.
India has become a "republic of lies" as Modi "does not hesitate in peddling whole sets of untruths day after day and seems to be getting away with it," said Harsh Mander, a retired civil servant turned social activist.
Activists have accused the BJP and its supportive Hindu groups of the "saffronization" of India — a term used to denote the agenda of making the country a Hindu state.
Activists also accuse the government of being biased against religious minorities such as Muslims and Christians.
"It is important to see the process of saffronization of education, not just as a matter of changes in textbooks and syllabi ... it is about producing students who are receptive to being saffronized even outside the walls of the school or college or university," the report said.
The report warns that "shrinking democratic and civil spaces" and the new trend of silence and acceptance directly and indirectly "injected by the state" pose a danger which has implications not for India alone.
It referred to mob lynchings by vigilantes to protect Hindus' revered cows and said such activities triggered the alienation of religious minorities and helped spread a campaign of hate using the internet and smartphones.
The report had data and tables showing targeted violence against religious minorities that had not been released by the National Commission for Minorities or National Crime Research Bureau.
A press release said official agencies seemed to be reluctant to document many hate crimes, especially lynchings fueled by hate campaigns over social media.
Mander said it "is this rising tide of hate that I think is the most dominant motive of today's times," adding that history will remember the India of this period as "a republic of hate." This is the most significant contribution of Modi, he said.
Syeeda Hamid, a former member of the now-defunct Planning Commission of India, said that as a woman and a Muslim she faces an identity crisis these days.
Referring to her social work among the poor over decades, she said "my chief concern was gender ... I worked for women. But now it's as if somebody has written on my forehead that I am a Muslim."
Hamid said religion-based divisions began to spread in India in 1992 when the BJP spearheaded the movement to build a temple for Hindu lord Ram in his birthplace in Ayodhya and demolished a controversial mosque there. It sparked a nationwide riot that helped the BJP broaden its political base.
Two other Hindu-Muslim riots — in 2002 in Gujarat and in 2014 in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh state — widened the religious divide.
Hamid accused Hindu groups of being behind the riots and said the BJP thrives on such violence.
The BJP counters the allegations outright.
Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, a BJP lawmaker and chairman of the state-run Indian Council for Cultural Relations, told ucanews.com that opposition parties are leading a campaign against the government because they are frustrated with the success of the Modi government.
"The opposition is likely to fight the next elections more fiercely as they are at the height of frustration. On the other hand, purity of purpose, emphasis on innovation and resoluteness in implementation are the hallmarks of Modi governance," he said.