What are we, upright citizens, to do in this context? Gauri Lankesh did her bit and left. Others have to pick up from where she left. I see hope in persons like Kamal Haasan, sections of the communists, and sections of the media like The Wire.
I remember the days when veiled threats were sent to me through telegrams, emails, and even phone calls. That was the time when I used to write for The Hindu – from 1991 to 2004. In one case, the director of the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS) took a telegram addressed to me too seriously and, being worried about my and my family’s safety, wanted to lodge a police complaint. I stopped him, and said that I would send the telegram to Malini Parthasarathy, which I did. As it turned out, Malini also took the telegram seriously, and called me on phone (after a meeting with her editorial team) asking for my consent to send chief reporter of The Hindu to the commissioner of police. I stopped her too, saying that she could act the next time if anything like that happened. Even then, she insisted that since the piece appeared in the newspaper, we have a moral responsibility – which was nice of her.
If nothing happened to me despite my brutal frankness and strong language, it was mainly because of The Hindu’s credibility, the fact that Modi’s Goebbelsian technology did not exist then, and that the RSS was still hesitant to flex its muscles for want of support and a strong nationwide political base. More importantly, I did not have the stature of Gauri Lankesh. Even when a piece “Rama on Trial” appeared in The Hindu, there was hardly any protest.
To conclude – as the political context has become grotesque and unscrupulous over the years and since the BJP somehow wants to realise its long cherished goal of Hindutva (still a pipe-dream) through hegemonic homogenisation, cow-nationalism, Hindu nationalism, ‘flag nationalism’, ‘anthem nationalism’, pseudo-patriotism, and so on and so forth – it is not just the narrative that has changed (confounded as it is by conjured myths and compelling lies). The ‘new-fangled’ media technology is also in full control of the BJP and the RSS.
In a context like this, millennials who mostly live ‘in the present’, presumably without much knowledge of the past, ought to be educated and enlightened about the dangers of the ‘second coming’ of Hitler and Goebbels recklessly going ahead with the confidence that the party cannot be toppled like Humpty Dumpty, as there is hardly any opposition. If they do not rise up, they will be fouling their own nest and ruining the future of India as a secular and diverse nation. The task is Sisyphean.
That is why I still pin my hopes on persons like Kejriwal, who is still an icon for the youth, and Kamal Haasan, who is still youthful, clear-headed and has a clear secular agenda to stifle the saffron brigade and its fascist regime.
P Radhakrishnan was a professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies.
Orginally published in Youth Ki Awaaz