McCarthys of Contemporary India

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If the United States is given a chance to erase some past events from everyone’s mind, it would be the three decades from 1950s to 1970s, particularly Vietnam War, communist witch-hunt and other cold war ‘games’. The ‘Red Scare’ during the Cold War, fueled with exaggerated anti-communist campaign, ensued what was come to known as ‘McCarthyism’. Hundreds of civilians were targeted by the state, which accused them as ‘Communist’ or ‘Soviet spy’, and were inculpated for disloyalty, treason and subversion. As part of a deliberate drive to eliminate communism, the suspects were subject to forceful investigation and questioning by state. Democratic freedom was infringed and what followed was widespread political repression. “Joseph McCarthy, the Junior Republican Senator from Wisconsin, ruled America like devil king for four years”, acclaimed journalist Martha Gellhorn remarked.

“If you hung modern art on your walls, had a multiracial social circle, or signed petition against nuclear weapons, you might just have been a Communist”, Ellen Schrecker explains the times when your basic liberty to speak against something you oppose was questioned and clubbing you with the ‘conspiracy team’ who wants to topple the government. There are significant analogues between the America of 1950s and post-2014 India. The recent arrest of prominent activists and intellectuals, who raised their voice against the ruling government, underscores the aforesaid statement. Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Naulakha, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao were arrested by the police alleging maoist links. The incident is the latest among the big ‘project’, silencing critics of right-wing government or hindutva politics, steered by the State. M M Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar, Ranjan Rajdeo, Gauri Lankesh, Sai Reddy and Jagendra Singh were murdered by the same forces that are part of the so called ‘project’.

The ruling party at center needs treatment for a conspicuous malady that is ‘fascism’. Upholding the cultural nationalism backed with hindutva ideology, mob lynching, cow vigilantism, suppressing the minority people, sectarian violence, NRC and the sins goes on. Every injustice done to the poor people and minorities are justified and whenever there arise a dissent, it is ‘legitimately’ dealt through arrests or murders or giving them different tags. If someone is an outspoken critic of the government he is anti-national. Now, if you align with the minority rights movements you are ‘urban naxals’. The government’s propaganda and actions points to the elections and all these present drama is used as an instrument to secure the vote bank. The woeful side to this political palaver is the intended deceit done by democratically elected government to people.

Once Da Vinci famously said, “Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence”. Now, more than ever, we need to protest, if you have enough reasons to believe that your basic rights are trampled. If you are hunted for the reason that you belong to certain community or some place, or if you support the opposite party, then we should fight back against those anti-democratic fascist waves. The silence we trust, anticipating threat against us, will only craft a depraved state. The leaders, including our PM, fabricate stories to earn votes and in many instances they are nothing short of perjurers. We don’t need an authoritarian government or a totalitarian rule in our country. The freedom we enjoy is hardly earned by some brave legends. Quoting Einstein, “blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth”, it is up to us the people of this nation to choose who to govern us and we must do it wisely.

In her book ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’, Hannah Arendt writes, “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it”. No wonder we have plenty of such distortion of history and fabricated narratives which are propagated by Mr. Prime Minister himself during the election campaign and his fellow party members. The arrest of activists is a reminder for us to sense the undeclared emergency that exists now. Don’t let the McCarthys to conquer us and don’t embrace the venomous right wing serpent.

Gokul K.S is a Post Graduate Student in International Relations and Politics at SIRP, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam and also writes articles in )


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