India has gained the G20 presidency by rotation. The BJP-RSS, though, has tried to project this as an achievement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, not as respect for and responsibility on India. There is publicity in the name of PM Modi that “India’s G20 agenda will be inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented and decisive. Let’s work together to shape a new paradigm- of human-centric globalisation”.
This is noble preaching to the international community. But one should know what India is today. In 2022, India has been ranked at 107 in the Global Hunger Index, 150 in the Press Freedom Index, 136 in the World Happiness Index, was at 85th position in the Corruption Perception Index, 71 on the Global Food Security Index, at 77 on Rule of Law Index and at 46 in Democracy Index. Neoliberal policies aggressively pursued by the present regime have led to this disaster.
The Modi regime is pursuing a divisive, sectarian, communal agenda. The conditions of socially-discriminated sections and minorities in India are before the international community. B R Ambedkar’s prescient warnings are significant in this regard.
“Minority communities may be crushed. If not crushed they may be tyrannised and oppressed. They are sure to be discriminated against and denied equality before the law and equal opportunity in public life.” These lines create an impression that a sensitive commentator on contemporary politics has written on the plight of minorities in Modi-ruled India. But they were written by Ambedkar in a chapter devoted to majorities and minorities in Thoughts on Linguistic States. On the occasion of the anniversary of his parinirvan on December 6, it is clear his words have come true. He also warned that minorities would feel insecure and get excluded from all spheres including politics because of the communally-charged electoral process.
Shockingly, a communally-charged electoral process has become a determining factor for electoral outcomes in favour of the BJP, whose leaders target minorities in the name of their faith, dress, food and their choices for love and marriage. Ambedkar’s idea of minorities included not only Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities but also Dalits and weaker sections of society.
Some BJP legislators have openly called for social and economic boycott of Muslims who constitute 12 to 14 per cent of the population. Ambedkar could foresee this possibility. Therefore, in his draft Constitution for the United States of India, which he prepared in 1945, he put the issue of the boycott of minorities in the chapter on Fundamental Rights. He prescribed that any measure, in the form of word or deed, for boycotting minorities would be dealt with a deterrent penalty and the future legislature of India would enact legislation with provisions for exemplary punishments against the guilty. In fact, Ambedkar submitted a memorandum to the Constituent Assembly in March 1947 and it contained the above-mentioned issue.
Why is it that Modi and his ministerial colleagues, who are desperately trying to appropriate Ambedkar, are silent when BJP legislators brazenly call for the boycott of minorities? The PM’s silence indicates that he is not in tune with Ambedkar’s vision.
Ambedkar underlined the point that the cultivation of constitutional morality by every citizen is a categorical imperative to uphold the constitutional vision of India. The PM blows the “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas” trumpet but in practice, he and his party target minorities and remain silent calls for genocide and boycott are made.
India’s image is getting badly tarnished at the global level because of such sinister developments. Tragically, our country has been described as an “elected autocracy” and “partially-free”. Ambedkar would have been shocked and shaken beyond measure by the deliberate denigration of the Constitution, constitutional morality and the legislative intent of the Constituent Assembly by those controlling the state apparatus today.
Ambedkar called for the adoption of the constitutional route to achieve social and political goals and cautioned that any other method would spell the grammar of anarchy. The calls for the exclusion of Muslims, and violence against them spell out the grammar of anarchy. This threatens to create permanent social and economic turmoil, which may well go to a level that is beyond the control of any power. Therefore, those ruling India should be mindful of the issues raised by Ambedkar and adopt the constitutional method to save it from calamity.
The writer is general secretary, CPI