It’s coming, coming, coming, coming.
Take your Cashmere shawls and your long-stemmed champagne glasses and run for the hills. (Or Paris if you have the money). The RSS (yes they have the SS already in there) are coming in their black Shikari Shambhu shorts to pour milk into your Cognac and convert India Habitat Center to India Hindu Center. They will ban your Marxist-feminist tomes, reduce the minorities to dhimmitude, rip the tongues of the free press (Open Magazine tera kar doonga khullam khullah) and put all the dissidents into the Bamboo gulaag with only copies of Bal Narendra for company. And the Chauthi Reich will be established, Devang Patel shall become Wagner, Chetan Bhagat Nietzche (if he isn’t already) and the Brahminical Nazis shall all stretch their hands out and up and say “Kemcho Fuhrer”.
Now I will confess that I am a sucker for doomsday scenarios. That is I believe all of them. Aliens will attack the earth from giant pods and the American president will save us by piloting a plane. Mughalistan shall be established and all women love-Jihaded. The Pope shall rule India through his insidious agents and through Catholic viruses implanted in EVMs. A team easily winning an IPL game in a canter shall lose 6 wickets for 2 runs and contrive to lose. To those who call me paranoid, that last thing did happen to KKR.
But of all these doom-and-gloom-Nazis-are-coming futures, the one that I take most seriously is the one that relates to the ascent of the Saffron Insidious of the Fifty Six Inch, because every respectable media outlet tells me that if he comes to power, the India we know shall cease to exist or to quote Bryan Cranston in Godzilla “You have no idea what’s coming and it will send us back to the Stone Age”.
And if I cannot believe the media, then hell what am I supposed to believe? My own common sense.
So why do I believe that fascism is coming?
Exhibit A. The Modi Vahini on social media. Their concerned “trolling” of any opinion critical of Modi truly portends a bleak Fascist winter, according to the wise media mavens.
I mean come on people. These Modi peepuls, and many of them use the deceptive acronym HDL which stands for High-Density Lipoprotein or good cholesterol, stick out like a sore thumb among the civilized discourse that takes place on social media, like on Rediff message boards where Northies and Southies exchange terms of endearment for each other’s culture and way of life, or on Twitter where SRK and Sallu fans gracefully applaud critical reviews or comments of their chosen heroes in a most civil and polite way, or on Youtube where polite gentlemen put gentle comments like “Asin I luv ur mikly boops” and then plonk their cell-phone numbers right after that, because of a firm belief that the concerned actress will be so seduced by this compliment that she will call them back and continue the conversation. Given therefore as to how distinctive Modi’s social media army is in terms of their online behavior from the general denizen of the online world, it is not alarmist in the least to extrapolate their often juvenile nasty sparring to “future Nazi stormtroopers will drag you to concentration camps”.
If the truth was that trolling in packs and expressing prejudice was a rather universal phenomenon restricted not just to Modi-tards but to AAP-tards, Bhai-tards, Sridevi-tards, CSK-tards, then we shouldn’t have been worried.
But it definitely is not.
Exhibit B. The personality cult surrounding Modi. Most disturbing. Ab ki baar Modi sarkar. Where’s the BJP in all of it I say? Is this a democracy or have we become a tinpot dictatorship?
Be scared democracy-loving gentry, be very scared.
The next thing you know India has become North Korea.
Because personality cults are unprecedented in Indian politics. It’s not as if we ever had “India is Indira”. Or “Ab ki baari Atal Vihari”. It’s not as if we have seen people drawing pictures of chief ministers with their blood or witnessed ministers rolling in the mud in front of a grand supreme leader or have chief ministers loot the exchequer to construct huge statues of themselves. These things might happen in North Korea or some tinpot country in Africa, but that’s never been how we have done business in our country. India has always rejected personalities and bloodlines in favor of thoughts, ideas and policies. Nowhere more is this evident than in Bollywood where movies make upwards of 100 crore purely on the basis of plot, characterization and story and not say, because, of the simple fact that Sir or Bhai is in it.
Now for Modi to bring in something this foreign to the Indian political ethos, namely an inflated sense of ego, surely does send alarm bells ringing, making me shake my scared bonbon to the tune of “Teri neeyat kharab hai” from “Teen Patti”.
Exhibit C. Modi’s antagonistic relationship with the Indian media, or more specifically certain sections of the media. As the story goes when the Caravan reporter who was snooping around trying to break the story of Modi’s underage marriage, he got a call from Modi and the voice at the other end of the line asked him what his agenda was. I mean, how can anyone whose heart is not blackened by the soot of fascism, ever ask a mediaman “Sir what is your agenda?”
As those who follow Indian media would know, the Indian media has no agenda. And if you don’t believe me, please do hear the Radia tapes.
They carry news without bias, free of financial and political considerations, and the only agenda they have is the one they put on their website of their various “thoughtfests” whose sponsor-list one should go through to understand where the puppet-strings end.
Now one may say, and these “ones” may well be agents of Adnani and Ambani, that since the Indian media never do investigative reporting on the “private” lives of politicians, perhaps because too much snooping around on politicians might uncover facts about themselves they would rather not be bought into public domain (growing up, we used to call it own-goal), that a politician may be in his rights to suspect an agenda behind his own personal life being targeted, given that his chief rival’s illnesses, frequent sojourns to US for medical treatment and details of who exactly pays for this, is fervently kept out of the ambit of news circles because that, according to the media, would be a gross invasion of the person’s privacy. I would have given this line of opinion some serious thought had I not known how unbiased our media is and how they would never ever, never ever, ever never target a particular politician or a particular political belief system just because it did not align with their own.
If you have any doubt as to how tolerant and let’s say “anti-fascist” our media is one need look only at how they conduct themselves. Recently a major, highly respected news outlet was found to have issued a notice to their employees as to not eat non-veg food in their canteens because it offended vegetarians. The term for this is “food fascism” and it was used, I think, by the self-same paper in another context for someone else, because others must be judged by different standards than the ones we apply for ourselves. When questioned, the proprietors of this anti-fascist paper cast the problem in a most logically consistent framework that can be summarized as “Our private property. Our prerogative”. The reason why I use the word “consistent” is because the same newspaper called out “housing apartheid” when owners of apartments refused to rent their premises to people of another faith following the principle of “Our private property. Our prerogative”, a line of reasoning that sounds even more amazingly awesome when you realize that a corporation is not really as “private a place” as one’s house. I mean if the said newspaper was a vegetarian restaurant serving vegetarians one could understand restriction on employees given that employee behavior violates its business policies, but given that it prints papers, how restricting the food choices for their minorities is nothing but heavy handed majoritarianism is something lesser minds, the type of people who read its main rival and know the birthday of Katrina Kaif but not the name of the nation’s Vice President, might struggle to understand.
And it is precisely these vanguards of the war against Fascism whose fate I worry for under the fascist regime of Modi. As I wade through my daily dose of opinion pieces, I see a recurrent theme. Apparently there is much heartburn in media circles that with the likelihood of Modi becoming PM, some of their owners have been asking them to go easy with the anti-Modi ketchup. For there is nothing that big corporations do better than guard their bottom line. And since much revenue comes from the government (those full-page ads with color pictures of leaders and their inspirational lines do cost a pretty penny as well as ads carried by government owned companies), one wants to keep them, just like any other big client, in good humor.
Of course this is where Modi’s fascist chops are mercilessly exposed. Every other Indian politician, through history, has treated media dissent with great maturity and with statesmanlike equanimity. It has never happened, particularly in 1975, that printing presses that printed papers got their power cut by the government or that a certain political party, that is not fascist in the least, censored everything that passed for news. It was never the case that the national broadcaster, the only broadcaster of the country, was a government propaganda machine. (Psst…fascist states historically have only government propaganda and nothing else). It also has never come to pass,before Modi that is, that favored newspapers and reporters got the inside track, were given government honors (like Padmasrees), and provided privileges denied to those that were slightly more skeptical.
Now I have already written a lot and this is dangerously close to becoming an article in the Caravan (lengthwise that is). And yet I have not introduced the personal story. So without much ado, let me.
You see, dear madams and sirs, the reason why fascism so bothers me is because I have never experienced it in my personal life. I grew up in the state of Bengal when it was ruled by the Communist Party of India which stressed its Marxist antecedents by putting an M at the end. They abhorred fascism and would never let any bit of it creep into the life of its subjects. Come election day, voters would be intimidated through guns or through threats or by the simple expedient of dropping a few country-made bombs near polling stations. Professors, factory-workers and farmers who did not belong to the party were democratically excluded, humiliated, victimized and sometimes subject to violence. There was effectively no opposition, since anyone that stood against the Party was co-opted through inducements or silenced through initimidation.
Now someone might say “Hey that sounds like fascism to me”. But I will tell you why it wasn’t. Because the same intellectuals who are turning blue at the prospect of Modi-fascism, were quite happy with the Communists under the stewardship of the great and glorious Jyoti Basu because of his brave opposition to the imperial fascist pig (aka USA) and Hindu fascism.
I am also proud to say that under the glorious leadership of Ms. Mamata Banerjee, the Renaissance Woman of Bengal, poet par excellence and artist la supreme whose artistic and literary outpourings I am sure would make Tagore sing “Hare re re amaye chere dere dere” (English translation: Please please let me go), Bengal has remained as democratic as before. Very un-fascist-like, her world are divided into two categories—Ma Mati Manush (Mamata supporters) and Maoists (those that are not). If you forward a cartoon with her in it, you are thrown in jail. If you ask a question directed at her, you are dubbed a Maoist. I am sorry.
Not convinced? Here are two examples of how non-fascist the Trinamool government is.
In this video, Mr. Pal (Bollywood trivia: He was Madhuri Dixit’s first hero), who is also a TMC MP, exhorts his supporters “jara CPM kore taader mere soja kore dite” which translates to “thrash CPM supporters black and blue” . Needless to say, there is no exhortation to violence here for that would be most fascist.
And in this video, Shatabdi Roy, also an ex Bangla cine star and TMC MP (one necessarily follows from the other) tells her voters that those villages that vote for her will get “unnayan” (i.e. development) first and those that do not will get it later. Again nothing remotely fascist in threatening those that do not vote the party with delayed or no development.
Now I do know that some ignoramuses say that what is going on in Bengal and in UP (under both Mulayam and Mayawati) and in many other states is fascism. They say that fascism has existed in Indian politics for years and that intellectuals have been absolutely fine with the concept as long as they benefit from such a system. For instance, they point how the “buddhijibis” of Calcutta fulminate over the impending fascism of Modi while carelessly ignoring the fascism that already exists in their state. Not just ignore, they dance in lock-step with Didi, singing praises in her name, purely because of the scraps of privilege she throws their way.
And that suddenly this supreme concern of impending fascism is more to do with uncertainty about the fate of their privileges and general “My side lost” sore-loser angst than a genuine concern about freedom and democracy. For if they were really concerned about democracy, they would have fought the battle a long time ago, in their own states and in their own backyards. And if our media mavens had been such crusaders against fascism, they would not have advocated monitoring of social media speech (except they have called it netiquette) and media-censorship (except they have called it “responsible content”). Nor would they themselves have used our draconian free speech laws themselves to silence critics nor acted as PR agents of fundamentally fascist regimes, families and political structures.
And that Modi, should he come to power, will at worst be exactly like the others that have come before and exist alongside with him.
Again the people say this are ignoramuses. (I think I already used that word).
Because fascism has never existed in India.
But it might. It very well might come May 16.
And that scares me.