When the world’s biggest democracy drifts away from the path of Constitutional democracy to majoritarianism, it becomes important to understand the nuances that make it so dangerous.
India in the past few months, has been nothing less than a caged reign of terror and a saffron surge. The country has been riddled with internet shutdowns and police brutality; it becomes hard to compare it to any other democracy in the contemporary World. The ambiance has become one of fear, terror, and rampant Islamophobia. This Government-funded state of terror is evidently a result of a systematic shift in the country’s democratic structure which unfortunately for the Government in power, at this point, has become hard to miss.
Majoritarianism is a traditional political philosophy or agenda that asserts that a majority (sometimes categorised by religion, language, social class, or some other identifying factor) of the population is entitled to a certain degree of primacy in society, and has the right to make decisions that affect the society. On the contrary, India as a National State was made to be built on a constitutional democratic model- a democracy that takes into account the sentiments of not just the majority, but also of the minority.
Plato, when discussing democracy, asked the question of who should rule-that person being the wisest. But Karl Popper questioned that idea and talked of how this rule could turn into absolutism, where vested power turns tyrannical. It is then that popular vote becomes dangerous- after all, Perón and Hitler were voted into power democratically. Thus, democracy cannot imply that the vote of the majority is “an authoritative expression of what is right.”
A democratically elected Government of a secular state introduced a Bill that discriminated on the basis of religion, and endangered tribal cultural identity. A democratically elected Government of a Republic State gave national orders to oppress its citizens, took away the rights of citizens’ connectivity, and condoned police brutality. A democratically elected State is responsible for widespread Islamophobia throughout the nation, through a systematic way that it has managed to convince its citizens that it is in fact, not with an ideology of “eating the educated” and silencing its dissenters. It is this democratically elected Government that introduced a law comparable to Nazi Germany, where Nuremberg Laws and Reich Citizenship Laws declared who were eligible to be Reich citizens-with Jews being excluded.
It was a unanimous decision to make India a Secular, Socialist, Republic State, after the 42nd Amendment. The world’s longest written Constitution had days and months of discussion to safeguard its minorities. The National Government has passed several laws in recent years that have made life more difficult for religious minorities. India was never meant to be a Hindu homeland, they argue that it sits well with India’s ‘Humanitarian Values’. They argue that it helps safeguard minorities in Muslim majority countries but ignore India’s chequered history of refugee protection, and fail to recognise that the discriminatory nature of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and the crackdown on dissent are signs of in-built minority persecution.
Already, countries like Canada and Australia are experiencing refugees from the ‘Hindu Rashtra’. International Law recognised persecution as a benchmark for asylum, and acceptance of these refugees from India should be a warning concern for us all. It is our duty and responsibility to safeguard the country’s minority- a country full of diversity and rich history. It is important to understand that the nation and the government are not synonymous, and to internalise it when Mark Twain said, “Loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it.”
Featured Image Credits: Al Jazeera