As the government's recent moves such as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens stoked controversy and sparked widespread protests across India, the international media has also taken note of these developments. In its latest piece, The Economist, criticised PM Modi’s new citizenship law and termed the scheme a “decades-long project of incitement.”
"Students, secularists, even the largely fawning media have begun to speak out against Narendra Modi, the prime minister, for his apparent determination to transform India from a tolerant, multi-religious place into a chauvinist Hindu state. In fact, the scheme looks like the most ambitious step yet in a decades-long project of incitement," The Economist's piece said in a strongly-worded article.
Editor-in-Chief, Zanny Minton Beddoes, in her article "Intolerant India - How Modi is endangering the world's largest democracy," writes about what she describes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's “lack of compunction towards the minorities, and the ones speaking in their support.”
The article, which begins with a brief on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), says that the BJP-led government wants to compile a register of the 1.3 billion citizens of India, which can render over 200 million Indian Muslims stateless.
Further, she details key instances like the Babri Masjid demolition and the 2002 Gujarat riots, when Modi was the Chief Minister of the state . The article describes the events as “the two instances from where the BJP rose to national prominence.”
"By undermining the secular principles of the constitution, Mr Modi’s latest initiatives threaten to do damage to India’s democracy that could last for decades. They are also likely to lead to bloodshed," the article says.
It also terms these these laws as a “distraction from the more awkward failure of the current government like the economy, which has struggled ever since the party won the Lok Sabha polls last year.”
Importantly, PM Modi seems to calculate that a sizeable portion of Indian voters are sympathetic towards his insinuation that Muslims are dangerous fifth-columnists, always scheming to do Hindus down and sell out their country to Pakistan, The Economist article also says. It adds that this is enough to keep PM Modi in office.
The article says that the Citizenship ruckus appeals to the right-wing party for the same reason – it has prompted inflaming passion.
"This imperils the inspiring idea of India as the world’s largest democracy," The Economist piece said. It went to say that the PM Modi's policies 'blatantly' discriminate against the Muslims of India.
"Why should a secular state's government shelter persecuted Hindus from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, but explicitly vow not to take a single downtrodden Muslim?" Beddoes asks.
On Kashmir Situation and Lynchings
The piece also delves into the situation in Kashmir and mob lynchings. It says that the new Citizenship Act is only the latest in “a series of affronts - from the BJP's lionising of vigilantes to the clampdown in Kashmir.”
"“The deliberate deliberate and sustained persecution of one of them (minorities) constitutes an implicit threat against all—and so puts the political system at risk.” " - The Economist article
The piece also asks people to look back and see how BJP's policies have been unfair to the minorities.
‘Modi Tarnishing Gandhi’s Memory?’
The magazine, in its article, also raises questions about PM Modi tarnishing the legacy of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. "As it is, many Muslims have been lynched or beaten to death for supposed slights to Hinduism. By perpetually firing up Hindus and infuriating Muslims, the BJP makes fresh bloodshed more likely," it says.
"“Many in the Hindu nationalist rank-and-file are true believers of PM Modi’s divisive and communal policies.”" - The Economist article
The piece also talks about the hope that has emerged from the recent protests across the nation. "Happily, many Indians have already had enough, as the recent protests show."
The article, towards the end, says that PM Modi should look at other ways into a voters' heart instead of “stoking hostility between the two greatest religions in the world”.
(With inputs from The Economist)
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