Is India doomed to being a soft state, too disinclined to derive lessons from serial blunders committed during the more than 70 years of independence, with eyes wide open? The question keeps popping up time and again to haunt the nation and all right thinking citizens. But the answer is a resounding ‘yes,’ staring us right in the face, given decades of overwhelming evidence on the ground, despite occasional surgical strikes or abrogation of Article 370.
The label of soft state hangs like an albatross around the country’s neck—a curse that weighs heavily on the public conscience.
One of the most conspicuous and shameful examples is when various state governments singularly failed to act against blood thirsty mobs in August 2012, forcing an exodus of innocents from north-eastern states, working in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune, in retaliation for Buddhist monks thrashing Rohingyas in Myanmar who misbehaved with their womenfolk. The victims were singled out just because they resembled the Burmese. In Mumbai, the police compounded its folly by passively watching a violent mob desecrate the Amar Jawan Memorial, doing absolutely nothing to disperse the demonstrators. In 2020 too, the helplessness of a soft state and the complete abdication of responsibility, following the aftermath of alleged ‘suicide’ of celebrities, was never more forcefully demonstrated than in the ‘maximum city.’
Journalists and anchors who placed their loyalty to the nation above everything else and fearlessly questioned the apathy of the system, regarding the alleged suicides and vicious attack on sadhus in Palghar, were hounded and jailed—a severe indictment of the sordid failure of constitutional authorities to protect democratic values. The morbid response to the death of an acclaimed actor, under extremely suspicious circumstances last year—despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, has been hugely disappointing and demoralizing. Moreover, the far from successful year-long attempt of the premier investigating agency to get at the truth, speaks volumes about the efficacy of the state machinery and its passive ways.
The label of soft state hangs like an albatross around the country’s neck—a curse that weighs heavily on the public conscience. It is doubtful whether prolonged anti-CAA protests would have ended without the onset of Covid-19, even as the political dispensation, perhaps out of fear of antagonizing vote banks and succumbing to blatantly motivated criticism, grounded in half truths and even pure fabrications, appeared too paralyzed to act. Protestors feasted and made merry in a carnival like atmosphere. So called celebrities and starlets, driven by a deeply divisive agenda, added to the Babel of noise as if there were no tomorrow, propped up by funds flowing in generously from dubious sources.
The state took a long time to act against the mastermind of the Shaheen Bagh protests, one who incited minority groups to sunder Assam and the North-East from the mainland, in fulfilment of the vicious Tukde-Tukde agenda.
Their vile rants against the idea of India, abusing liberty and free speech, or waving the tricolour in a show of spurious patriotism, made mockery of a constitution they vowed to uphold. Protestors caused immense hardships to hundreds of thousands of daily commuters, throwing life out of gear, even blocking the passage of ambulance conveying critical patients to hospitals. The state took a long time to act against the mastermind of the Shaheen Bagh protests, one who incited minority groups to sunder Assam and the North-East from the mainland, in fulfilment of the vicious Tukde-Tukde agenda. His apologists took over TV debates on a high moral note, shrilly defending his seditious utterances and calls to dismember India.
Barely had the anti-CAA protests fizzled out then another one, more sinister and damaging in intent, took its place, the so called ‘farmers’ protest, which like a malignant growth, still refuses to go away. The widespread dharna, made more conspicuous by the presence of thousands of shiny tractors and hundreds of tents, huge numbers and other signs of prosperity, besides continuous feasting and jollification, had little to do with the interests of the bulk of peasants, who had no complaints and were just too busy with actual agricultural operations to spare time for their agitation. The protesters, like their CAA counterparts, disrupted life and movement in and around Delhi with impunity, including of those who required immediate medical attention, thanks to a wilting administration.
A combo of the Break-India groups, spurious leftists, human rights activists, political parties and so called Bollywood celebrities, allowed a free run for reasons that one fails to fathom, once again jumped into the fray to launch a broadside against our civilizational values and embolden the protestors. Seemingly intimidated by their presence, the government treated the agitators with kid gloves, as the nation watched helplessly. The soft approach became even more pronounced when it asked the Delhi police to permit them to hold a tractor rally on Republic Day this year, based on bogus assurances of maintaining peace and respecting the sanctity of the occasion.
However, what eventually happened on January 26, when protestors ran amuck on the roads of Delhi with their tractors, intimidating policemen and some Khalistanis too, who had infiltrated the ‘farmers’ movement, committed an act of unprecedented infamy, shaming the nation in the eyes of the world, besides showcasing our collective weakness universally. The image of a rowdy element, brazenly climbing the flag pole at Delhi’s Red Fort and stripping it of the national tricolour and replacing it with the Khalistani flag, horrified and shocked the nation. Had a similar act occurred in any other country, it would have invited exemplary, even disproportionate punishment, bereft of sentiments. Unlike the rant of rabble rousers here who can subvert the will of a state at a place of their choosing.
The lack of accountability permeating public, political and administrative domains has weakened the very foundations of nation, victimizing the common man.
One only need recall how these elements, including some aggressive busybodies from Bollywood, prevailed upon the Supreme Court to open its doors well past midnight to save a convicted terrorist from the gallows, not very long ago. Even otherwise they would go to any extremes to support rabid anti-national elements, because of their loathing for Indic values, which has welcomed the persecuted Jews, Christians, Muslims and Zoroastrians with open arms, as a paragon of tolerance, unmatched by any country in the world. Most unfortunately, the political dispensation happens to be too apologetic and defensive to counteract their toxic narratives.
This is a prime instance of carrying a policy of tolerance to other extremes, which has bred a culture of corruption and graft so pervasive and appalling that those who appropriated billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money still continue to be at large on foreign shores. The lack of accountability permeating public, political and administrative domains has weakened the very foundations of nation, victimizing the common man. Most unfortunately, passivity, born out of ahimsa or offering the other cheek, has not only encouraged a barrage of assaults on the state, both in strategic matters and otherwise, but also allowed Hate-India groups and terror organizations to flourish with impunity. Besides, this attitude has emboldened powerful bureaucrats to defy the Centre’s writ, as witnessed in an eastern state.
In another disquieting development, the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan, thanks to US perfidy and the alleged deal over the country’s army capitulating without a fight, leaving tens of thousands of its citizens to the mercies of these ruthless jihadis, many of whom have been done to death. It provides fresh fodder to Islamic supremacists and their sympathizers in the Lutyens media to corner the government, already reeling under multiple political attacks. The outcome in Afghanistan has enormous geo-political implications for India. There are murmurs of Pakistan prevailing on the Taliban to get involved in Kashmir, which is likely to open a third front against India and spell far greater trouble. It is now time for the political dispensation to deal strictly with internal enemies, who by the virtue of sharing similar looks, culture and the same ethnic stock, are potentially more dangerous than external enemies and often side with inimical interests and lately the Taliban.