Are part of the country ruled by the rightist BJP governments going back to Nazi Germany of the late 1930s and early 1940s ? It was at that time that the fascist regime of Hitler forcibly introduced the humiliating identifying mark of the Yellow Star – called the Star of David – to be worn by all Jews in its territories. This was not only to humiliate them, to put them down in the society, but was also a prelude to isolate, persecute and finally execute them en mass. And we all know what followed, in the shape of the holocaust and the killing of over 60 lakh European Jews in the gas chambers and concentration camps.
In 21st century India, several BJP-ruled states are showing signs of either introducing humiliating identifying marks, or making religious identifying markers like the skull caps worn by Muslims, for those disliked and hated by the ruling dispensations and their ideological masters. In several BJP ruled states, Muslims wearing skull caps have been attacked and even killed, just because they were identified to be Muslims and perceived to be inferior and deserving hatred for their food preferences. Dalits were also singled out and beaten – sometimes to death, just because they were identified by their traditional occupations, which though beneficial and productive to the society – were identified by these ruling classes as demeaning and worthy of hatred ! Muslims being beaten and killed because they are supposed to be liking some variety of meat, Dalits killed because they work with dead animals – these incidents are fast increasing in the new rightist India under BJP rule. These communities – Muslims and Dalits, have religious and caste identities traditionally hated by the regressive rightists.
Of late, these neo-Nazis have found a new identity to be demeaned and isolated – the all important‘vote bank’ of the poor in India. In BJP ruled Rajasthan, in the Dausa district, over 1.5 lakh poor households have been marked out prominently, with the demeaning sign painted in red over a yellow background – “I am from a poor family, and I take subsidised ration from the provisions of the National Food Security Act”, with the name and number prominently written below this forcible “declaration” !
Though getting subsidised food stuff under the National Food security Act is a right of the poor and providing this is a duty of the government(s), many families were denied this ‘ration’ before these families allowed their houses to be prominently painted with these “yellow badge of dis-honour”. This seems to be a violation of the basic human rights of these people, but that has not deterred the ‘authorities’ from going ahead in mass scale yellow painting of the houses of these ‘new Jews’.
Most such ‘identified and yellow-marked’ families have now become the butt of jokes in their villages, with their self-respect and dignity going for a toss. The more sensitive members of many of these families have gone into depressions. The young ones from these families are particularly badly affected within their peer groups. But the administration justifies this by the strange logic of ‘plugging leakages’! This is indeed a strange and un-justifiable logic, as the receivers of subsidised food-stuff have properly marked ration cards, which they have to produce at the outlets while claiming their ration. They do not get their ration sitting at home, where these yellow badge of dis-honour has been enforced.
If this crude neo-Nazi logic is accepted, then what prevents the senior citizens of the country being forced to wear a badge on their chest, declaring they are old and are getting subsidised rail or even air fare (in Air India) from the government ? Why are not the MLAs, MPs and Ministers forced to wear yellow (or blue or red) badges declaring that they are taking free electricity, free telephone calls, free air and upper-class rail travels at the expense of the public (where else does the so-called govt money comes) ? Why shouldn’t the babus in the govt be forced to wear similar bold declarations, to the effect that they are carried by the publicly subsidised cars, live in public-money supported houses and so on?
The real problem does not lie in some groups receiving public financed facilities. The real problem lies in the fascist, communal and hatred filled world-vie of these neo-Nazis of India, those that are ruling the largest number of states in India through their ideological followers, masquerading as public representatives and moral guides, while they themselves are totally devoid of any morality.
The real problem with these neo-Nazis is also that they are inherently, by their regressive ideology, against the disadvantaged, be they Dalits, Muslims in India or now – the poor. It does not matter that the poor remain poor because of both faulty policies, failure to act on necessary steps to alleviate this, and also due to targeting their natural resources base to be looted and given to the corporates and upper classes. Even though food is a basic need and a basic right now for survival, under the food security act, the food insecure are thus humiliated. Even though getting thousands of public-funded telephone calls and thousands of units per month of free electricity is neither a basic need nor a right, the powerful (and most often rich) MLAs, MPs, Ministers are never made to wear this identifying badges of dis-honour. Even though flying is a high expense, high polluting activity, these same men and women of power and wealth, as well as the well-off richer sections of senior citizens who are taking public subsidy – in full or in part, are never even imagined to wear such declarations. All hell will be let lose if we suggest that they wear similar badges of taking public subsidies.
In reality, it has got nothing to do with stopping leakages, nothing to target distribution. This is coming from the inherent dislike, even hatred of the poor, the minorities and the disadvantaged in general, that the ruling BJP and its ideological masters are built of, it is in their very upbringing. And these trends will lead – are already leading – the country to very dangerous and wide-spread conflicts. The sooner these are challenged and put down, the lesser will be the killings, riots and damages to the very fabric of India.
Soumya Dutta, Beyond Copenhagen Collective, [email protected]