Thursday, February 22, 2024

Under the shadow of majoritarianism

India is the largest democracy in the world but over the decades, the ordinary understanding of the word ‘democracy’ has been undergoing significant shifts from pluralism to communalism. The basic concept of democracy says that it is the right guaranteed to every citizen(whole population) of the state to choose the government(or elect representative) they want to fulfil their demand and needs. Democracy is the power of the people as it gives them the ability to overthrow any government if it is not working properly or according to set standards or goals set by the citizens of the state. Though use of religion for political purposes was almost nonexistent at the time of independence; communal politics gained strength after about 40 years of national government. If it was entirely due to the forces of traditionalism, it should have appeared at the time when forces of modernity had gained traction in Indian society and economy. Indian elections have pre and post the Ram Mandir movement under the watch of the Congress, saw politics moving towards majoritarianism. Then RSS and BJP then decided they were the genuine proponents of majoritarianism and not Congress. Under such a situation, could elections then be described as being about electing leaders based on their past records or socio-economic vision or simply being overwhelmed by communal sentiments? The use of religion and caste systems is increasing day by day in our democratic country. However, do liberals notice what are the reasons for it being used during elections or what are the reasons that politicians fill the mind of voters based on religion and caste? One of the main reasons is illiteracy, the major population of the country is literate but is still influenced by the promises made by the parties on the base of religion. India’s total literacy rate is 77.70% ( as per 2021-22 census). The difference to understand is there is a vast difference between literate and knowledgeable people. According to Dr.Rajkumar Singh, a professor at Bhupendra Narayan Mandal University, West Campus, PG Centre, Bihar; both religious revivalist forces earlier and then modernising reformists later, equated the Hindu community with Indianism and patriotism. He said this found the need to deliberately create a Sanskrit-based Hindu language, Hindi, as against the earlier composite language. In this regard, what emerged are two variants of Indianness. One is the overt religious concept of Hindutva; and the other is the “secular” expression of Indianness as based on ancient Indian culture. The first is a religious concept, the second a cultural one; but both together relate Indianness to the tradition of what is now identified as Hindu civilisation. According to the lines drawn above, the political parties of India may be grouped as religion-leaning and secularism-leaning. However, with Congress, the self-acclaimed champion and proponent of ‘secularism’ embracing ‘soft Hindutva’ as in Madhya Pradesh, later on there won’t be much to differentiate between the two as leaders of both parties, make it a point to visit mandirs and perform pujas in order to prove their ‘Hindu-ness’. Thus, secularism in India is beginning to face turbulent weather with the revival and strengthening of religion-leaning political parties in the country.

More articles