Saturday, May 17, 2014

“We Have No Orders To Save You"

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won a victory in the Indian parliament election. There was a record turnout in the elections, with 66.38. Turnout in the 2009 elections was 58.13 percent. BJP is set to win in 283 seats, eight more than the required half way mark in 543 member House. With its allies, the tally of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is expected to go up to 335. Narendra Modi, the BJP's leader, will be the next prime minister of India. Narendra Modi is the Chief Minister of Gujarat and a strong proponent of Hindutva, which holds a Hindu supremacist world view.  Modi is alleged to have given free reign to rioters without taking sufficient steps to prevent the massacre.

The Gujarat administration was accused by the opposition of taking insufficient action against the violence, and even condoning it in some cases. According to official estimate, 1044 people were killed in the violence – 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus including those killed in the Godhra train fire. Another 223 people were reported missing, 2,548 injured, 919 women widowed and 606 children orphaned. When missing people were declared dead after 7 years, total deaths went up from 1044 to 1,267. The Human Rights Watch came out with a shocking report “We Have No Orders To Save You."  Modi, in an interview made the comparison of running over a puppy, a regrettably sad event,   in regards to the murder of Muslims. Modi is also alleged to have organised with his loyal officers a series of extra-judicial killings, so-called encounter killings,  by Gujarat Police to boost his political image.

Modi’s new regime is being voted in with huge expectations. The expectations are growth and development, reducing hunger and poverty, fixing a beleaguered economy, improving agriculture policies, ushering transparency in governance, ending corruption, upholding rule of law, peace and tranquility etc. The election euphoria will inevitably wane as the new government fails to live up to expectations. When people are left behind, hopelessness is what comes first. Then the hatred.

Four hundred million Indians live in poverty, a number much greater than the U.S. population, and 217 million of India's poor are children. Forty percent of all the world's impoverished children live in India. The average annual per capita income decreased in recent years. In 2011, the number was $1,410 and in 2013, a Gallup survey reported that the annual median income per capita was $616. An estimated 300 million people are not connected to the national electrical grid. Those who do have access face constant service disruptions. Only 10% of the working-age population has completed secondary education.

BJP’s General Secretary Amit Shah provided a portend of what is perhaps to come when he described the elections as an opportunity to avenge the insult meted out to the people by a handful of those who enjoy the support of the government in the state. "This is not just another election. This is the time to avenge the insult meted out to our community. This election will be a reply to those who have been ill treating our mothers and sisters," a statement that serves its purpose in assuring its own constituency that the BJP has not given up its hindutva agenda.

From the India-based, English-language website Countercurrents

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