Sparing a thought for Bharatmata as her people struggle in darkness and adversity
Bharatmata ki jai'. The country is charged up these days. However, in this din, we are trying to be oblivious of the fact that she is bemoaning with shame and acute pain, just like how amidst the irrational chants of 'Satimata ki jai', the woman cries in intense pain as she burns on the pyre. Gone are the days of her past glory.
Physically, she is suffering. Her graceful gait, structured with rationality and humanism of Vedic culture and non-discriminative Constitution, is being crippled. Her body looks mostly emaciated, with starving millions in the failing economy; shapeless and ugly with fatty bulges here and there, with a few, who are pocketing all the wealth of the nation. Her muscles get stiffened as her organs – institutions, are atrophied. She recoils with intense pain as some of her own children are inhumanly killed.
Emotionally, she feels drained. Her elegant kaleidoscopic garb of multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic people is being shredded into pieces. Her pride of bearing great sons in the past – mathematicians, astronomers, philosophers, and others, who had worked for the betterment of humanity, has given place to a state of depression as she is now in the captivity of a few pathological narcissists-and-liars, who are steeped in superstition; whose hearts beat only for fraudsters and super-rich; and for whom authoritarianism has become the means in their quest for power.
The international media is mocking her for shedding her multi-hued garb of 'secularism' and 'unity in diversity', in favour of the 'communal' saffron attire of her captors. They have been attacking her for incidents cow-vigilantism, encounter-killings, Kashmir, CAA, Delhi riots, etc. US Commission on International Religious Freedom, their House Foreign Affairs Committee, and even their External Affairs Ministry have been speaking vocally against these issues while updating their leadership about the recurring instances of religious intolerance and the inaction of the current Indian regime and the patronage extended to extreme Hindu outfits.
Similarly, all 57 members of the Organisation of Islamic Countries have unequivocally condemned the targeting of the lives and properties of Indian Muslims. Even Iran, our traditional friend, that had stoutly defended Bharatmata in International forums in the past, has openly cautioned of she being isolated in the Arab world and that even trade relations might get affected. Indeed, it is a lurking danger, since our business with them is about $260 billion and oil accounts for 62 per cent of it. Further, the fate of 76 lakh Indians working in the Gulf, who are remitting $37 billion annually, would also hang in limbo. It would all impact our crisis-ridden economy.
As such, GDP growth and employment generation are at an all-time low and unemployment is at its peak. NPAs and bank frauds have gone up to a lakh of crores each, Yes Bank is the latest addition after PMC collapse.
Similarly, friends of the ruling party – the Reliance, Vedanta, Essar, Adani, GMR groups, etc., together have defrauded Rs 8.55 crore of public money in banks. Instead of passing the benefit of crash in fuel prices in international markets to people, they raise taxes on these consumables, since they need extra money for their lavish government
expenditure that has gone up four times. The policies at work favour the rich too. Oxfam International's Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index ranks India at a pathetic 147 among 157 countries. Social Mobility Index places us at the bottom of the list.
Bharatmata becomes nostalgic of her Vedic culture that envisages living in harmony with nature, since, now, she is witnessing indiscreet denudation of forests in the name of development; Aarey trees butchered for bullet trains. Namami Ganga has no substance. Sustainable Development goals like air quality, sanitation, drinking water, etc., are priorities only in rhetoric. And she feels shy about standing at 177 among 180 countries in its performance to protect our environment.
Her biggest shame is that she has quickly slid by 50 notches in Democratic Traditions to be at 91 among 180 countries. While there are no debates, there is targeting of opposition and dissent with extensive misuse of central agencies and Pegasus. Every institution, including the SC and the media, has been bridled. If judges do not favour the rulers, they are either denied or delayed of their promotions or are transferred out. Police machinery is being abused blatantly against people who oppose, like in the protests against CAA.
Without any compunction, state violence is unleashed in UP and elsewhere. Unabashedly they display the photos of protesters in hoardings in their 'name and shame' innovation, and defy the order of the Allahabad HC, even after the SC has not stayed it.
Bharatmata is having a nightmarish experience as she is losing her pride as a place of secularism; she is being forcibly moved in reverse gear to the dark days of religious intolerance. However, in spite of their inhuman acts of religious intolerance, the perpetrators are being protected, even in courts.
She is anguished that superstition, legends, and myths have superseded rationality to such an extent that for the die-hard right-wingers, 'Kauravas were test-tube babies,' and 'Ganesha's trunk is plastic surgery.' Priests in Varanasi have even put masks on idols to protect them from coronavirus.
She is also anguished that the values of truthfulness, non-injury, humanism and rationality promoted by her Vedic culture are of no value for the pathological liars, suffering from untreatable narcissism. Lord Ram and Gandhi who stood for truthfulness are only icons for their rituals.
India has become an El Dorado for the rich; a capitalist country in practice but devoid of the values ingrained in the West. It is for this reason that the FIR against Mukesh Ambani for his Rs 50,000 crore fraud has been brushed under the carpet; in spite of Anil Ambani's insolvency of Rs 45,000 crores, he is favoured with the Rafale deal. Political defections through corrupt means have become the order of the day. For these people who have adopted the authoritarian style of governance and desecrated our Constitution, the words of wisdom and advice of intellectuals and experts in several fields are not palatable as often seen by the country.
Bharatmata, who is the collective conscience of the country, is bemoaning her fate. Against her wishes, she is being dressed in saffron, by force, by dubious means. Although our philosophy, Yoga, and Upanishads emphasise well-being and happiness as a state of complete physical, social, mental, and spiritual well-being and harmony with nature, the World Happiness Report of the UN places India at 140 among 156 countries. This is the Ramarajya promised by the liars. Yet, Bharatmata cannot crib, since they decide her fate. They are the rulers and can rewrite the Constitution and laws, even by foul means. It is time people wake up to make Bharatmata happy and contented.
The writer is a retired IPS officer and a former Member of Public Grievances Commission, Delhi. Views expressed are strictly personal