Four years of NDA’s governance with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister has been reviewed and compiled in a report called ‘Dismantling India’. This report was launched on 14 July 2018 at Constitution Club, New Delhi. In this detailed report, there are 24 articles by eminent writers critiquing this government’s actions, policies and directives. Some of the writers came together with the editors of the book to discuss and speak on these issues, which has and will change the picture of the nation if this government continues to remain in power. The report is supported by a series of tables which has recorded four years of mis-rule by the Modi government, including a list of hate speeches he and his party members delivered in these four years.
The first session, “Rising Hate and Irrationalism”, had four speakers—Gauhar Raza, Souradeep Roy, Subhash Gatade and V.B. Rawat. Gauhar Raza said that this government is attacking scientific institutions in a way which will be irreversible, and the country will be taken back many years. This government not only propagates unscientific and irrational views, but in these four years has slowly reduced the publication of scientific journals. Souradeep Roy, speaking on ‘Unmaking Indian Culture’, said that the attack on culture is not only on artists and writers but on the common man of India. Talking about the rise of Hindutva in these years, Subhash Gatade said that the right-wing which used to work covertly has now started working openly and defiantly. The trishuls have changed into swords. The hatred seeded deep inside the common man is at its height. Having failed to fulfill their promises, the RSS is now working on strategies to polarise communities to win the 2019 elections, he said. Vidya Bhushan Rawat talked about cow-politics, which has created a huge problem for the small and medium farmers; this fear of cows and its protectors is ruining the village economy.
The second session, “Dispossessed India & Fading Rights”, had four speakers—Karen Gabriel, Kavita Krishnan, Usha Ramanathan and Vijoo Krishnan. Prof. Karen Gabriel showed how this government has silently introduced many things in higher education. For instance, it has introduced four modern Indian languages as well as Sanskrit. But there are no teachers for four languages, while they have teachers for Sanskrit. So students have no option but to opt for Sanskrit. The Sanskrit department has been asked to teach the distorted Hindutva version of history. Speaking on Aadhaar, Usha Ramanthan said that this ruling party when in opposition had strongly opposed Aadhaar, but when it came into power it not only took a U-turn but implemented ADHAAR in such a way that it has created havoc in the country. Vijoo Krishnan said that the BJP had promised that farmers’ lands will be protected, but within 6 months they brought in the Land Ordinance. Massive protests were organised across the country, forcing the government to withdraw the ordinance. Now the BJP is implementing these land acquisition bills in the States where it is in power. It had made several other promises to the farmers during the 2014 elections, but when it came to power it declared that these were only chunavi jumla. Kavita Krishnan said that the worst kind of attacks on women’s autonomy and rights have taken place under the present government. This government has diluted many laws related to women. On the issue of triple talaq, women rights group fought and won a favourable order from the Supreme Court. But this government is now bringing a law which will give powers to the police and the state to criminalise Muslim men.
The third session, which gave an overview of 4 years, saw speeches by Prof Arun Kumar, Ashok Vajpeyi, Harsh Mander, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Dr. Syeda Hameed. Prof Arun Kumar spoke on the impact of the two attacks on the informal economy by this present government, demonetisation and the GST. Harsh Mander gave first hand account on the horror of the numerous incidents of mob lynching across India, several of which he visited during Caravan-e-Mohabbat. He also talked about the great examples of communal harmony shown by fathers of two boys, one in Delhi and another in Asansol. In both the cases they appealed to the political leaders and the masses to shed communal hatred and preserve harmony. Mani Shankar Aiyar spoke on policies of the present government with regards to our neighbouring countries, and how India’s relations with its neighbours have deteriorated under this regime.
Dr Sayeeda Hamid highlighted the issue of being a Muslim under this present political and social scenario. She said that it was only during this government that she came to realise that she was a Muslim woman. Ashok Vajpeyi spoke on the onslaught on the cultural institutes launched by the present government by appointing such people as their heads who don’t have any knowledge of culture. Ashokji said that Hindutva is nothing but a big threat to Hinduism, and if the leaders of Hindus have to protect their religion then they will have to fight the Hindutva forces.
All the writers and editors released the report in the afternoon, which was followed by comments on the book by the editors. Dr John Dayal thanked all the writers and the publication house for getting this book printed and published on time. He spoke of the challenges faced in getting the book published, and said it was difficult to even decide the name of the book. One prominent lawyer advised them to keep a neutral sounding title for the book, or there could be criminal action. It was fortunate that Media House came forward to publish the book. Leena Dabiru spoke on the tables and how the web links were removed from the internet. She said that it is important that this book reaches distant corners of the country. She also thanked the interns who helped in collecting the data. Shabnam Hashmi spoke on the need to have such a document. The difference between earlier governments and the present government is that they have reached the 50% mark on the 14 points that define fascism, and if they win power again, then fascism will be at its peak. She said at the present time where the spaces of dissent are receding, it is important that we keep doing such programs and to preserve the democratic spaces.