Powerful Anti-Fascist Resistance

The arrival of a new year is generally a time for setting new goals and making new resolutions. For the Modi government this of course means dumping of old promises and the launch of a new narrative with new goalposts.

The 2014 promises of Modi's victorious poll campaign were soon abandoned as joomla. Those were rather pecuniary promises woven around the BJP's anti-UPA campaign theme of repatriation of black money, cheapening of petrol and essential items of mass consumption and strengthening of the rupee vis-a-vis the US dollar. Even as India started waking up to episodes of mob lynching and other definitive symptoms of the fascist design of the Sangh-BJP establishment, the regime projected a grand vision of a New India under the stewardship of Narendra Modi, scheduled for inauguration in 2022, the 75th anniversary year of India's independence. In New India, every Indian was assured of a roof over her head and every house was promised a toilet and 24x7 supply of electricity and piped water. In a 5 trillion dollar economy farmers were assured of doubling of their income.

2022 is now over. India, we are told, has indeed been transformed into New India with Narendra Modi as the New Father of New India. And the government narrative has now moved on to new parameters and a new time table. For instance, India is still way behind becoming a 5 trillion dollar economy, but Adani and Ambani are busy telling us that India would be a 30 or 40 trillion dollar economy by 2050! Income has not been doubled for India's aggrieved farmers who are still fighting for their guaranteed right to secure a fair price for their crops while the regime goes on reducing the agriculture budget and increasing fertiliser prices. The much trumpeted housing scheme has been all but forgotten in real life while rampaging bulldozers go on demolishing houses and evicting people.

Bullet trains are yet to make their long promised appearance, but Vande Bharat trains are being rolled out amidst great fanfare and political mobilisation. In terms of speed and service, these new trains often do not match even the Shatabdi trains introduced way back in 1988, and the trains are already more in the news for frequent mishaps. Meanwhile, the focus has shifted from affordable and secure rail travel for the common people to joy rides for the affluent, with greater emphasis on serving metropolitan regions and tourist destinations than connecting backward regions and remote areas. From education and healthcare to housing and transport, government policies on almost all key fronts are being driven by elitist priorities while the common people are being humiliated and deprived as undeserving beneficiaries of so-called freebies culture.

In the new narrative, the goalpost is being systematically shifted to 2047, the centenary year of India's independence. The quarter century linking us to that centenary year has been designated as 'Amrit Kaal' and Narendra Modi wants 'kartavya' or duties to be the central theme for this entire period. The five pledges mentioned in his August 15 speech in 2022 revolved around national pride, unity, loyalty and duty. Conspicuously missing in this narrative is any notion of people's rights and the accountability of the government. The concept of a government bound by the constitution and accountable to the people is being replaced with the notion of an electoral autocracy ruled by a supreme leader whose will is law. The 'validation' of demonetisation by the Supreme Court after six years of the traumatic blow and its glaring failure in meeting any of its stated objectives will only embolden this autocracy to unleash more assaults on the Constitution and on the rights of the citizens in the coming days.

For the Modi government, 2023 is going to be the launching pad for the all important battle of 2024. As many as nine states will be going to the polls this year, four in the North-East (Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram), two in the southern region (Karnataka and Telangana) and three in central and north-western India (Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan). For the Modi regime every occasion is an election propaganda event and with 2024 getting closer, we are in for a year of loud propaganda and intense hate campaign. With the G20 presidency passing from Indonesia to India, there will also be loud self-congratulatory propaganda about the so-called rise in India's international stature under Modi. The G20 summit scheduled to be held in Delhi (9-10 September, 2023), will be the culmination of over 200 preparatory and complementary meetings spread over 56 locations across the country and it will mean a year of global jamborees.

G20 summits have always been marked by anti-globalisation protests. The G20 meetings in India are not platforms to display national pride, let alone claim partisan benefits for the ruling party, for the awakened public opinion of India this will be an occasion to assert the rights of people over the corporate greed and plunder for profit and amplify global solidarity for public health, environmental protection and climate justice. We, the people of India, will have to be ready to make the fullest use of 2023 to advance the battle for democracy and foil the fascist design on every front.