Patwardhan raises red flag against Modi’s development model

Anand Patwardhan (left), Indian documentary filmmaker addressing Rajendra Mathur Memorial lecture and N. Ravi, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu and senior journalist Seema Mustafa (right) are also seen, organised by Editors Guild, in New Delhi. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty  

Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the culmination of the twin trajectories of liberalization and Hindutva, avant-garde film-maker Anand Patwardhan said “the development model that Modi follows can only speed us along our way, over the edge.”

He added: “Paid advertising has taken to new heights. For weeks before the elections, right up to polling day, full blown Narendra Modi ads were on front pages. If funds available seem inexhaustible, so do the acolytes. Even with an X-ray machine it is hard to spot a backbone.”

Mr. Patwardhan was speaking during the Rajendra Mathur Lecture in the Capital on Monday, organised by the Editors Guild of India.

The session was moderated by The Hindu’s Editor-in-Chief N. Ravi and The Citizen Editor-in-Chief Seema Mustafa. The film-maker’s lecture was titled “We or Our Nationhood Re-Defined?”— a title inspired by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader M.S. Golwalkar’s book “We or Our Nationhood Defined”.

Mr. Patwardhan said: “The RSS and other allies of Hindutva like Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray have also declared their preference for dictatorship over democracy, and openly expressed admiration for Hitler. Small wonder that Mein Kampf is a runaway bestseller in this country.”

“For two decades after the Gandhi murder, the RSS remained abhorred by the mainstream. But away from scrutiny, it continued to organize local centres called shakhas, recruiting children from the ages of six to 18… instilling in them loyalty, discipline and a brand of ‘patriotism’ that included inevitable dose of anti-minority hatred. One such child, recruited from the age of eight from a relatively poor family, is Prime Minister Modi. Another is BJP chief Amit Shah,” the film-maker added.

Recounting his own experience during Jayaprakash Narayan’s student movement, Mr. Patwardhan said, “After decades of unpopularity, the rehabilitation of the RSS came from an unlikely source, the Gandhian Socialist JP. During the Bihar famine in the 1960s, JP encountered RSS cadre doing relief work. Impressed by their dedication, JP began to see them as potential allies in nation building.”

He also said that the Congress-led government and the BJP were no different.

“For every A. Raja, Ashok Chavan, Ajit and Sharad Pawar in one, there is a Yeddyurappa, Nitin Gadkari and Shivraj Chouhan in the other. Indeed, the real high-level corruption is not even called corruption because it involves changing the law,” he explained.

Mr. Ravi commented that Mr. Patwardhan’s field was far more restrictive than journalism, as he faces pre-censorship, which he has routinely challenged.

“The law can be invoked against freedom of expression by someone who claims to be offended and the harassment of a slow legal process is enough of a deterrent to the rigorous exercise of freedom of expression,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 7:18:59 AM |

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