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The last of June is generally a pleasant time of the year; summer ends, monsoons begin in several parts of the country and a new parliament session is underway. You realise that this year, like the one before it, goes all too fast. The end of June in India also invites a flurry of writing on the Emergency which some characterise as the most horrific incident in our democratic history.Somasekhar Sundaresan pointed out that over the last few years, irrespective of the ruling party, the accusations of an in place undeclared Emergency by the Indian state are growing louder. And this year follows suit.
Last week, a fifteen year old boy was lynched by a mob on a train, over the rumour of possession of beef. In case you were living under a rock, this Caravan report will leave you with little stomach for political trope. The largest Muslim organisation in the country cancelled its Eid celebration and there weren’t many celebrating in Khandwali either, Sheba Imam wrote. In the last week, dissent mounted as there seemed to be little remorse on behalf of the law and the state.
Lynching is the modern form of tribalism, says Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee, and the recent increase in cow vigilantes and their preferred treatment to the supposed anti nationals is alarming. On the other hand, Tabish Khair invoked racist oppression in America to see how minorities are treated in India. Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes on the difficulty to speak out when everyone is guilty until proven innocent,
This violence is now united by one single thread, of showing minorities their place. All of us are innocent till proven guilty; minorities, whether on a train, driving a truck, transporting cattle, distributing sweets, are guilty until proven innocent. This violence seeks to alter the fundamental moral and constitutional order: The victim of the lynching is presented as the criminal, while the ideologies that justify this killing enjoy the patronage of the state. This is what makes it induce so much fear. A fear exacerbated by the fact that our public conscience seems to have been all but dismantled.
Outrage culminated in the Not In My Name protests which took place in cities across the country 28th June. The protests were aimed at the apathy and the targeting of minorities over the last few years. However, even the protests were riddled by confusions and criticisms. Rohan Venkataramakrishnan writes how some analysts criticised the framing of the debate, others thought that those participating in the protests against lynchings were falling into a Hindutva trap.
A day after the protests, the Prime Minister finally said that it was not acceptable to kill people in the name of ‘gau bhakti’ during a speech at Sabarmati ashram. However, his opposition is not convinced if his clarification is anything more than hogwash.
Unfortunately, this is not the only instance of mob violence this week. A policeman in Srinagar was also lynched this week and outrage grows in Kashmir about the deteriorating state of affairs. Mihir Sharma argues that the state government has lost all credibility while the Union chooses to remain mute.
Before the Prime Minister went to Sabarmati Ashram, he had gone wooing Donald Trump. Some argue that Modi took the right moves to recaliberate the relationship with the United States while others think that repeated hugs do not address India’s primary security concerns. Shashank Joshi argues that India would do well to focus its energies on Afghanistan to shape Trump’s policy in the Indian subcontinent. Now that this government has realized how little importance they occupy in the eyes of some, perhaps, they will start to focus on economic development which is the only way to assure themselves of security.
I want to be able to tell you that all the tumult that we have witnessed over the last two weeks are over. But I can’t.
With the Goods and Services Tax kicking in tonight at midnight, we will only awaken to even more chaos. Lingering imperfects and disregard for economic principles will continue to haunt the GST after implementation. Ajay Shah is more worried if our systems will be able to bear the changes that the GST will bring when he says, “In the Indian GST reform, we have embarked on the highest possible load. At the same time, we lack load-bearing capacity. We run the risk of an organisational rout.”
This week was also the 20 year anniversary of the Harry Potter series. I found solace in the books as a child and go back to them on the bad days. So if you find the next week hard, I’m going to remind you of when Albus Dumbledore once said, “We must try not to sink beneath our anguish . . . but battle on.”
Cheer up! Watch these singing Harry Potter puppets in this timeless pieces.