Vijay Prasad in CounterPunch:
Indian political culture sits atop a fine edged blade. Pushing down on it is the Extreme Right, whose political wing – the BJP – is currently in power. Intolerance is the order of the day. India’s celebrated Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen recently said, “India is being turned intolerant. We have been too tolerant with the intolerance. This has to end.”
In the marrow of the Extreme Right is a demand for discipline enforced by violence. Anyone who strays from the authority of its world-view – Hindutva – is either anti-national or a terrorist. Political murders of well-regarded intellectuals and activists, such as Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, and MM Kalburgi, put the nation on alert.
The death of a young student – Rohit Vemula – of the University of Hyderabad sent all kinds of people onto the streets. Rohit had been hit hard by social discrimination, which manifests itself as a political assault on socially oppressed communities. “From shadows to the stars,” wrote this young man who was fascinated by astronomy. It was an indictment of the social disorder. “Mother India lost a son,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I felt the pain.” He had waited five days to react, and reacted only after mass demonstrations of great feeling across the country. Rohit Vemula’s family rejected the Prime Minister’s remorse. They want to know why their son died. The answers lie firmly in the tentacles of the Extreme Right. It is where blame will eventually rest.
When Richa Singh, the new student leader at Allahabad University, invited senior journalist Siddharth Varadarajan to campus to talk about free speech, the Extreme Rights’s students’ group (the ABVP) blocked him. They called Varadarajan, who had been the editor of The Hindu, a “Naxalite” (Maoist) and “anti-national.” This is the chosen vocabulary. Singh later said, “There is a surge in intolerance in this country. The ABVP leaders are not willing to listen to anyone who contradicts their ideology.”