They may call it anti-national

But some questions, on issues ranging from demonetisation to national security, must be asked

July 04, 2017 12:05 am | Updated 12:26 am IST

Getty images/istockphoto

Getty images/istockphoto

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to his bhakt s, alone represents the India of the future: muscular, bold, uncompromising. Those who don’t cheer are anti-national. Bhakt s present demonetisation as a panacea to root out black money. The rich suffer and the poor are happy that the ‘haves’ have been targeted. Gains, they say, will be long-term. Bhakt s used the electronic media with sound bites to support these perceptions. A foray across the Line of Control is presented as a bold, audacious venture never attempted before. They call it a surgical strike . India’s past is an embarrassment, its icons inglorious and their policies the root cause of conflicts today.

Internally, Hindutva and its mindset must prevail. Gau mata must be protected at any cost. Those trading in animals are suspects, and are on occasions, without proof, lynched or killed . Ironically, victims become the accused and the aggressors the aggrieved. The police, when and if present at the time of the onslaught by vigilantes, look on nonchalantly.

Externally, they challenge fossilised foreign policy positions. Show the Dragon its place and extol the virtues of Mr. Modi’s Pakistan policy. Praise Mr. Modi for his warm bear hugs and laud him when he refuses to have a dialogue. Either way Mr. Modi is right. Pathankot , Gurdaspur and Uri were the result of Pakistan’s villainy. Those asking questions on security lapses support Pakistan.

Bhakt s troll you till kingdom come, the moment you seek legitimate answers. That is my Bharat in which I feel like an alien because I do not conform to official policy prescriptions and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s spin on them.

Tragedy of demonetisation

Demonetisation is perhaps the most shameful scandal in independent India: ill-conceived and anti-people. The rich got away and the poor stood in queues. A freeze on 86% of cash flows paralysed the economy. Those needing cash for their daily spend were left stranded. Around a hundred died. Most ATMs were not calibrated to receive the new currency. Clearly, inadequate thought and preparations went into this knee-jerk decision. The Reserve Bank of India also did not distinguish itself: frequently changing both the milestones and the rules. Its deathly blow to agriculture, employment, trade and business slowed the economy. Millions lost jobs since cash flows reduced to a trickle.

Demonetisation clearly failed to realise the threefold objective that Mr. Modi pitched. Terrorism has not waned. Fake currency continues to circulate. Black money, though not in full flow, is picking up. For the bhakt s, criticising demonetisation is akin to supporting the black economy. A fortiori, he who is a critic of demonetisation is anti-national. I am a critic. If that is being anti-national, so be it.


Surgical interventions, being invasive, if successful, decisively deal with the ailment. If not, there is no real reason for self-praise. While the effort at surgical intervention must be applauded, its impact must be objectively assessed. According to Lt. General Ranbir Singh (DGMO), terrorists had gathered in large numbers across the LoC ready to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir. That provided the rationale for the surgical strikes of late September 2016.

The attack in November by a group of heavily armed militants , killing seven Army personnel, including a Major, at the 16 Corps headquarters at Nagrota was a chilling reminder of the continuing threat of militancy.

Killing of Dalits, Muslims

Massive escalation of tensions and consequent targeting of soldiers along the LoC has also left dozens of civilians dead after the surgical strikes. That they did not act as a deterrent to infiltration is clear. But any analysis of their efficacy will be seen by the bhakt s as supporting Pakistan and they will brand me as anti-national. So be it.

The lynching of Dalits and Muslims, allegedly to protect the cow, is a national shame. These vigilantes are the self-appointed ambassadors of the Hindu Right, silently supported by the establishment. Mr. Modi admonished the vigilantes last August but nothing changed.


The protests across cities have coerced the Prime Minister to speak again . His words sound hollow. It is he who, during election rallies, eloquently spoke of protecting the cow and putting an end to the ‘pink revolution’. Despite his words, in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district, Alimuddin Ansari, suspected of carrying “cattle meat” in his van which was set on fire , was beaten to death. Mr. Modi is aware that it is the politics of hate, which won him Uttar Pradesh, that is the root cause of such vigilantism. Action, not words alone, will stop this madness. Yet those who criticise will be condemned for supporting the killing of cows and being anti-Hindu, thus anti-national. So be it.

Consistency is a casualty in Mr. Modi’s Pakistan policy, from a warm handshake, a stopover at Lahore to cold shouldering Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.


Our foreign policy mandarins are struggling to come to terms with this ambivalence. Pakistan’s hatred for India runs deep. For the Army, this is a necessary imperative for the perpetuation of its military-industrial complex. But any criticism of Mr. Modi’s policy initiatives towards Pakistan invites the wrath of his bhakt s. So also when explanations are sought for the security lapses for infiltrations across the border and the consequent loss of lives in Pathankot and Uri. What happened in Gurdaspur is shrouded in mystery. The attempt to storm the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, kilometres from the international border with Pakistan, raises legitimate questions relating to the security of our sensitive establishments.

The parliamentary panel said that “...terrorists might have taken help of channels or networks used by smugglers to infiltrate the border, shelter and carry out terror attack”. Though National Investigation Agency has filed a chargesheet, many questions remain to be answered. Why was our counter-terror establishment caught napping? Why did the forces take three days to secure the airbase? Why was the Joint Investigation Team, with five Pakistani officials, including one from the ISI, allowed to visit the Air Force base, without ensuring reciprocity? At Uri, 19 soldiers were killed by Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives. The public is entitled to know the extent of the security lapses at Pathankot and Uri. But it is anti-national to ask and if we do, the bhakt s accuse us of being pro-Pakistan.

As a citizen of India, I will continue to question whenever my government needs to justify both its policy prescriptions and their implementation. If for that, I am accused of being anti-national, so be it.


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