We have to pause and wonder: How does one save India from the Indians?

Saswat Pattanayak

How does one save the world’s largest democracy from its democratically-elected? Its constitutional provisions from the legislators? Its justice system from the Supreme Court? Its religions from the religious? Its lands from the propertied? Before the CAA, there was Kashmir. How does one save a colonial power from the curse of colonialism?

And even before Kashmir, there was Gujarat, despite (and, because of) which, this fascist party was duly legitimized. While its pawns were jailed, the kingpin has since been endorsed as country’s unbeatable leader. After coming to power, his party has systematically oppressed every dissenting section of the society. Openly labeled anyone who opposed them as anti-national. Killed people based on what they ate. Jailed students who went to certain universities. Devastated the economy during their first term itself. Most of the popular culture, stand-up comic acts, award-winning journalists predicted their fall. And yet, they won their second term handily, handsomely.

As soon as this party entered its second term and they declared recolonization of Kashmir, it flouted constitutional norms and yet no nationwide protest lingered. Recently, when the demolished site of a constitutionally protected monument was given away by the highest court to the majority hooligans, it was painted as justice-at-last. Student unrests, farmers suicides, vulgar display of wealth disparities, attacks on women and lgbtq rights, an unceasing rape culture, a media that infamously crawls when asked to bend – almost every facet of this diseased society has been normalized in the name of country-comes-first. Given these circumstances, what is it about its citizenship that even needs to be craved for, to begin with?

A country is after all, not a static construct. It’s a living entity, evolving every moment. Filled with people of changing priorities and values. While the protests are wonderful and welcome tools of venting frustrations and anger in a peaceful manner, they would mean nothing if parallel – individual and collective – introspections do not continue without a pause. We have seen massive (and way bigger) protests against corruption, against rape culture, against caste oppression, against hijacking of academia in India in recent years. And they have all faded away leaving behind the need for constant dialogues around all of these critical issues.

The current protests will also end. Sensational media headlines like “Modi’s war against Indian democracy” will also end. One day, Modi too will end. That won’t automatically end all the assaults on the core values of social justice. Let’s hope these movements go beyond party-bashing. Let’s not give Modi-Shah all the credits for what is ongoing. They couldn’t have traversed so far without our active cooperation and our sordid hope for something better from them. They couldn’t have tapped into our nationalistic consciousness with their brand of nationalism alone. Somewhere we have to pause and wonder about the venn diagram and “our” intersection with “them”. Are we still fighting those people or also accounting for our values?

If we are not yet ready to fight the toxic values of sacrosanct national boundaries, we will forever be wondering about one more question: how does one save India from the Indians? Instead of declaring India as a great secular country that needs to be saved, maybe its time to declare that this brutally militant colonizing force, this Republic of India simply needs to wither away, for the sake of the values we are hoping to keep alive. Its way too late now to protest the parties and to defend the constitution. Maybe its just the time to mourn.

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