Mapping 2020 Politics: A Recap of the Year

2020 was a tough year, especially in terms of politics not just near home but across the world. This piece identifies the common sentiments that bound the politics of 2020 in India.

2020 was indeed quite significant as far as current politics of our country is concerned. This article is an attempt to cover the most crucial events that marked our nation’s atmosphere and to find out a line of thought that was common to all events.

Anti-CAA Protests 

Anti-CAA Protests
Anti-CAA Protests (credits: The Wire) 

We started the very “damned” year of 2020 on a rather tumultuous note. The protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) were on full fledged high note. They started from December 2019 onwards and went on till March 2020. What really grabbed every Indian’s attention at that moment was the scale of solidarity that was visible, not just among Muslims and the communities affected but the entire “woke” community, so as to say. This included people from academia and most importantly students. More than that, CAA protests gave us a glimpse of the Civil Disobedience Movement that Gandhiji initiated, because of two reasons. First of all, the protests clearly rejected the laws passed by the incumbent. And secondly, we saw a large-scale participation by women – the Shaheen Bagh women precisely. Thus, 2020 started on the very note of dissent which went on till the end of the year.

Students and Politics 

students and politics
Credits: Al Jazeera

The politics of 2020 thus became crucial because it gave us a flashback of what America in 1960s experienced. It was the time of Civil Rights Movement then and a new experimentation model was being followed. This experimentation was in terms of drugs, substances, sexuality etc. If I draw a juxtaposition between the two, then students in India here took the center stage of politics for most part of the year. It all started from the attack on Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on 5th January 2020 wherein it became clear to us that the latter part of the year would see such attacks on intelligentsia. This attack also laid the foundation stone for Modi government to perhaps give us “trailer” of the further repression and atrocities their regime would bring in.

Students were targeted in other ways too, yet the most significant “state driven” mechanism was via immediate arrests. This included protestors like Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, Safoora Zargar and human rights activists like Sharjeel Imam. 

students and politics
Safoora Zargar (Credits: BBC)  

Academicians and Attacks

The most significant political event was an intersection of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and academia. Hany Babu, an English professor of the University of Delhi, was given the most shocking treatment, as he was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the charge of UAPA. On similar lines, Professor PK Vijayan from Hindu College was interrogated by NIA. 

acamadicians and politics
Professor Hany Babu Credits: The Wire 

Both these cases including arrests of around 12 people under UAPA created a lot of furore in the Academia family, and more so in the general political climate of the country. It became clear to a lot of people that the repressive state apparatus was using full power to curb all dissent, questioning and opposition. Combined with it was the ideological state apparatus , specifically the mainstream media of our country which aligned all its interests with incumbent and lost respect and shame.

Religion and Politics

religion and politics
North East Delhi riots (Credits: The Wire)

Well, I wouldn’t consider it wrong if one labels that religion, caste and faith became the most crucial elements of the incumbent in driving the nation in 2020. Yet the usage of such elements was well planned and done at the cost of minorities, and mostly violently. It all began with the bloody riots in North East Delhi in which there were reports of men having been asked to remove their pants to prove their religion. 

Another instance of the supposed usage of religion was in the case of laying down the foundation of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. A lot of political analysts then remarked that the inauguration ceremony was a significant gesture of the incumbent strengthening its Hindutva Policy.

love jihad
Credits: BBC

Towards the end of the year we saw Uttar Pradesh grappling with the Anti-Jihad law which again, in my opinion, is a clever tactic employed to invade the private rooms and marriage beds of consenting individuals. Thus, religion became a guiding principle as far as 2020 was concerned. It formed the basis of communal riots and a way to form Love Jihad laws.


farmers' protest
Farmers’ Protest (Credits: BBC )

The year seemingly ended on the note of another protest which is definitely much larger in scale than the foremost CAA protest. The reason for it is definitely the privileged position in which many of the farmers are. Yet one needs to look at the beautiful pattern that 2020 carved. The year began with protests and the same legacy of protests is being carried by farmers. It started on the note of communalisation of politics and the Anti-Jihad law is carrying the communal legacy further. While the success of the law is debatable, one needs to look how privacy became a mockery in 2020. Invasion of classrooms, universities, private institutions like marriage, being few of those instances.

Hatred was at its height, all thanks to a chain of events starting from CAA protests and Delhi riots. Thus, while we saw the right wing in the USA stepping down from power, an antithetical situation was observed in India. Radicalisation, extremism, curbing of dissent, and right-wing dominance became visible in clear manifestation.

The only good thing which I feel 2020 brought in the political climate was a sense of consciousness and anger. This anger, which hopefully is still intact in most people, would, in my opinion, become the guiding force in 2021. It would be beautiful to look how other citizens would channelise their anger apart from the regular form of protests. Let us hope that 2021 comes up with such “revolutionary” innovative ideas to reform politics.

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Featured Image Credits: Economics and Political Weekly

Navneet Kaur