Follow by Email

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Reply for Mr. Narendra Modi

By Firdaus Ahmed

Dear Mr. Modi,

You begin your letter by conflating the ‘government’ and the ‘state’ of Gujarat with yourself. This is a case of double whammy. You can shield yourself behind Gujaratis. Manipulating them thus also helps consolidate them behind you. The ploy is to deter Modi skeptics from tarring them with the same brush they would use to attack you.

The ploy cannot be allowed to work. Indeed, all three, the state, its government and the chief minister at the helm, are culpable to varying degrees. The government of Gujarat can be indicted for its unwillingness to ignore patently illegitimate directions to ‘look the other way’ as mobs incited by majoritarian extremists went on the rampage. It has taken a decade for policemen to finally start standing up for the truth. Second, interpreting the ‘state’ you refer to include people of Gujarat, they are answerable at the very least to their own conscience, and at a stretch, to their fellow countrymen for being manipulated into enabling your second term.

Your reference to the past decade in Gujarat as one of ‘peace’ misinterprets peace. Peace, as theory would have it, is of three types. ‘Negative peace’ comprises absence of direct violence. This is the peace of the grave or peace brought on by fear that obtains in Gujarat. But that is to discount the happenings in the Dangs district, the several ‘encounters’ and unexplained killings, such as that of no less than the former home minister, Pandya.

The second is ‘positive peace’ or absence of structural violence. This stands negated by Muslim ghettoisation, continued existence of displaced persons in camps and the continuing denial of justice. The third, ‘cultural peace’, is freedom of all to join in an inclusive march towards prosperity. Remembering harmony and unity in diversity ten years since its need was most acute is hardly timely.

The timing of your letter suggests panic as the case is now in court. The bombast is diversionary since surely, even if slowly, justice is set to culminate. Is your orchestration of public opinion a measure to influence the court? But there is hope that the courts in Gujarat may yet prove ‘satyamev jayate’, a hope that has been unfortunately been belied so far.

As for your ‘development’ record, firstly, Gujarat has been uniquely poised to benefit from the liberalization that has been ongoing for two decades now by its location, its entrepreneurial citizenry and its pre-existing economic base. This would have happened despite your presence. Secondly, any cohesion and administrative capacity it reflects owes in part to apprehension in the state apparatus and society. Watching the carnage and the blatant manner you have got away with accountability for it, would no doubt inform the common administrators attitude and output. After all, did not the great JRD Tata once remark that in the Emergency, trains were on time. India does not need and can do without the Chinese authoritarian model of development. Lastly, the record on development is to be judged independently of your record during the carnage. Harnessing it to suggest ‘forgive and forget’ is trifle self-serving.

Development is useful from restorative justice point of view that deals with restitution and reconciliation. However, that still leaves the demands of retributive justice, or punishment for transgressions, unaddressed. The ‘sad bhavna’ on display at government expense on Gujarat university grounds by preaching only to the converted is a patently political act and can hardly be called a compensation for an apology or acknowledgement of deficiency.

Your repeated references to the ‘nation’ betray instead that your act is the first volley of an attempted hat trick in Gujarat to prepare for a shift to New Delhi. Be reminded that the ‘nation’, comprising India’s voters, has proven far more sensible than politicians give it credit for.

Borrowing your salutation, ‘Always at your service’,
Firdaus Ahmed

No comments:

Post a Comment