Ian Shapiro and Casiano Hacker-Cordon in their jointly edited book, ‘Democracy’s Edges’ (1999), wrote that “democracy is a flawed hegemon.” The two scholars also articulated that democracy is “all too easily held hostage by powerful interests; often fails to protect the vulnerable or otherwise to advance social justice.”
In the context of prevailing situation in India, we need to see beyond the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in order to find out what danger lurks out there - that danger whether the liberal order has been dismantled completely and democracy “held hostage”?
According to Marxist thinker Aijaz Ahmad, “the state is taken over from within” (in the context of today’s India).
Sometimes back last year, in one of his articles, senior journalist Pradip Phanjoubam succinctly commented that “history is proof that it has always been the intent of authoritarian states to prohibit dissent and in the process monopolise the definition of truth.” Phanjoubam then asked, “Should we also then be content with resigning to the complacent thought that fate will ultimately take care of the problems of our present?”
Another cogent comment was echoed during the commemoration of the 70th International Human Rights Day at the Tahamzam (Senapati) on December 10 last year. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Gina Shangkham, former Secretary General of the Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), said that “new forms of rights violation are now being witnessed with development aggression, land alienation and economic policies that further marginalizes, excludes and disenfranchises those already in the fringes”.
It has extremely become important today for our society to identify ‘that’ osmosis of the ideology (ies), policies of certain sections of people and the subsequent general administrative measures enabling such processes. It is said that an alert and conscious society suffers less and this needs constant reminder.
We may also need to note that there has been much derision, and in the same time, apprehensions in many parts of India after the scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A in Jammu and Kashmir by the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. The fear is also drawn more from the manner how the people at the helm exhibit their machismo in recent times.
Surprisingly, we failed to see all about the increasingly centralised state.
One also needs to view things in so many different other frames when it comes to something like the prevailing situation.
Those competing ideas about India are one aspect to be taken into account while dissecting to assess the situation. In doing this, one may also note that the spirit of the Indian Constitution is federal in structure and “unitary in spirit.” However, it appears that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government is working to have “unitary in structure,” too. In order to get the clearer pictures of the current repression, one may also go back to the ‘One nation, one law’ and ‘Uniform Civil Code’ expressions.
With this, we need to ask as to where does our story stand amid this disquieting and intense restructuring of the state.