Road From Democracy to Fascism

The recent storm cre­at­ed by the Shiv Sena in Maha­rash­tra is indica­tive of a resur­gent Fas­cism as cor­rect­ly not­ed by Soli Sorab­jee. This rot in Maha­rash­tra is elo­quent­ly ana­lyzed by Prat­ap Bhanu Mehta, which you must read to get a grasp of the sit­u­a­tion.

What dis­tress­es me to a cer­tain extent is the debate I observe on social net­works among the Indi­an youth frames it as a two-sided issue: either you agree with SRK’s opin­ion that Pak­istani play­ers should be invit­ed to play in India, or you dis­agree with him and back the Shiv Sena.

The cur­rent storm of con­tro­ver­sy will abate quick­ly, but what real­ly mat­ters in the long run is how the debate is being framed.

Whether you agree or dis­agree with SRK is imma­te­r­i­al and incon­se­quen­tial.

The Shiv Sena appears to have achieved its goal. From being rel­e­gat­ed to anonymi­ty after the humil­i­at­ing deba­cle in the elec­tions, they are back in the spot­light.

Their intim­i­da­tion and utter dis­re­spect of demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples has gained a cer­tain legit­i­ma­cy by being con­sid­ered wor­thy of debate. That is the real wor­ri­some trend that mat­ters and has dis­as­trous con­se­quences.

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  • This seems to be the trend. Any­one and every­one who wants to launch them­selves be it Ram Muthalik’s ill-intend­ed par­ty or the ice cream Hagen darz, they do an intend­ed mis­deed. The ensu­ing pub­lic­i­ty even in form of protest estab­lish­es their exis­tence. I can bet many peo­ple heard of Hagen Draz that day for the first time when it trend­ed on twit­ter.

    So it has served for SS. Also for SRK. In addi­tion, I hate being told by all politi­cians who all Bom­bay is meant for. Also I won­der if upcom­ing Bihar provin­cial elec­tions is one of the rea­sons why we are hear­ing this Gandhi/BJP Bom­bay-is-for-all rhetoric (to appease North-Indi­an­s/Bi­haris)? It is shame that this is even a debat­able issue.

    • Yes, upcom­ing elec­tions is nat­u­ral­ly a rea­son these voic­es are shout­ing. Even Mum­bai munic­i­pal elec­tions are upcom­ing, I hear.

  • For­got to add, in case of SS and SRK, they have this neces­si­ty to launch and relaunch them­selves again and again. Hence, all the crap.

  • the shiv sena is lurch­ing from top­ic to top­ic — to try and catch the pop­u­lar imag­i­na­tion. it was the aus­tralian crick­et team, then SRK, then Pak, then marathi boli .….
    very stu­pid and very scary ! this seems like their death rat­tle .….

    • Des­per­a­tion of the worst kind…

  • This has also turned out to be good pub­lic­i­ty for SRK’s new film, whether he intend­ed it to be or not.

  • It may sound utter­ly stu­pid, and half of me thinks so too; I think this was staged to ensure appro­pri­ate pub­lic­i­ty for MNIK. Every­thing hap­pens when he is in the US — and as soon as he returns — every­thing just goes peace­ful­ly qui­et.

    It is dif­fi­cult to build a cred­i­ble con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry! I agree with Nita’s com­ment above.

    How much did 3 Idiots gross?

    🙂

  • Nita, Atul: I’m not both­ered or con­cerned about the pub­lic­i­ty for SRK/MNIK. I think its a triv­ial issue in the long run, even if it was staged.

    The veiled threat to Rahul vis­it­ing Mum­bai was a first of sorts in my life­time in Maha­rash­tra. That, also point­ing to the fas­cist resur­gence, is what is wor­ri­some.

    Appre­ci­ate your com­ments!

    • It felt as if all this was expect­ed from the polit­i­cal groups and ppl from Bol­ly­wood. What would have been inter­estin is to see no reac­tions at all; from pub­lic i mean.. no tweets, no blog posts,no debates„,Now ‘that’ would be inter­est­ing 🙂

  • I saw this debate on NDTV host­ed by Vikram Chan­dra on the SS, SRK issue. one very per­ti­nent ques­tion raised was if the media is fuelling this unrest by dis­cussing it so often and in such detail.

    stop giv­ing these hooli­gans the lime­light, they are not worth prime­time dis­cus­sions. stop men­tion­ing them in print and TV and they will have less rea­sons to get vio­lent and bull­ish on cam­era.

    I wrote this post ‘How marathi is marathi’ almost exact­ly a year back. would like you to read and com­ment:

    http://gaurigharpure.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-marathi-is-marathi.html

    • Gau­ri, while I have also some­times felt that the media should give the hooli­gans less expo­sure, there is also a flip side to it.

      1. The vote bank that is the tar­get of the Sena does not watch the same shows or read the same news­pa­pers as we do. That vote bank con­sumes pro­pa­gan­da pub­lished by the Sena itself.
      2. Addi­tion­al expo­sure pro­vid­ed by main­stream media hurts the Sena’s image more than ben­e­fits it.
      3. For these rea­sons, I am not sure if less­er expo­sure will result in less­er aggres­sion. In fact, des­per­a­tion may increase result­ing in high­er aggres­sion.
      4. With this doubt, would we rather pre­fer these unlaw­ful acts go unre­port­ed or undis­cussed in main­stream media? I am inclined to think that in the longer term, this neg­a­tive expo­sure is bet­ter since it per­ma­nent­ly tar­nish­es the party’s image in the eyes of the nation­al pub­lic.

  • I asked this on twit­ter:

    May I abuse you, insti­gate against you, destroy your house & pre­vent access if I do not like you? If no, why Shiv Sena gets away with it?

    Didn’t get an answer as to why peo­ple are not revolt­ing against the Shiv Sena and its off­shoots.

    I also asked if the the lim­it on the free­dom of speech is that it shouldn’t result in loss of free­doms of oth­ers, why Maha­rash­tra and Union Gov­ern­ments not act­ing against the Shiv Sena and its off­shoots.

    Again, no answer.

    • Nisha,

      Peo­ple are not revolt­ing because the play­ing field is uneven. Indi­vid­u­als are no match against orga­nized crime.

      Your sec­ond ques­tion is pre­cise­ly an impor­tant dri­ving force behind my post. Today, the Maha­rash­tra Govt’s inac­tion is wor­ri­some. In a pub­lic func­tion, the CM Ashok Chavhan tried to make a case for stronger laws to tack­le the Sena. He was inter­rupt­ed and cut off by the Home Min­is­ter PC, who point­ed out that exist­ing laws are suf­fi­cient to take ade­quate legal action against the Sena.

      What is appar­ent is that the Govt weighs the pros and cons of such legal action. Would the law and order sit­u­a­tion be more con­trol­lable with­out arrest­ing the Sena lead­ers? The answer, unfor­tu­nate­ly, is yes, which is why they remain free to spout their ven­om in pub­lic.

  • Chanced upon your blog. Very nice posts. I com­plete­ly agree with you on Sena attempt­ing a come­back over non-issues

  • Then again which polit­i­cal par­ty doesn’t have its hooli­gans? which par­ty doesn’t intim­i­date or utter­ly dis­re­spect democ­ra­cy?

    The way the CBI is being used these days, and the way tax cas­es and raids are being done is rather amus­ing and reminds me of the good old days of the emer­gency.

    Just that we the bhadralok get more scan­dal­ized by the meth­ods used