Justice Markandey Katju-
Something has happened in India which reminds me of what happened in Germany during the Nazi era.
After Hitler took power in January 1933 almost the whole of Germany went mad, people shouting ‘ Heil Hitler ‘, ‘ Sieg Heil ‘, ‘ Juden Verecke ‘, and adoring that madman like hypnotised zombies.
One can see it all on YouTube.
Germans are such highly cultured people, who produced great scientists like Max Planck and Einstein, great writers like Goethe and Schiller, great poets like Heine, great musicians like Mozart, Bach and Beethoven, great reformers like Martin Luther, great philosophers like Kant, Nietzsche, Hegel and Marx, great mathematicians like Leibnitz, Gauss and Riemann, and great statesmen like Frederick the Great and Bismarck. I found every German I met to be a fine person.
Nevertheless, when Hitler came on the scene and said Germans were Herrenvolk ( master race ) and Jews were responsible for all their ills, they stupidly swallowed this nonsense, and did little against atrocities on Jews, which led to the Holocaust ( many even supported it ).
How did this happen? Surely Germans are not stupid people, nor are they inherently evil. I have always maintained that 99% people of all countries, religions, races, etc are good. Then how could Germans send 6 million Jews to gas chambers?
In my opinion it happened because modern propaganda is such a powerful thing that minds of even the most cultured and intelligent people can be poisoned by it. This is what happened to most Germans of that time. The distress of Germans after their defeat in the First World War and the massive unemployment, inflation and economic crisis following the Great Depression of 1929 was easy fodder for a rascal like Hitler for his evil propaganda, which most Germans swallowed lock, stock and barrel.
The same has happened now to most Indians. Ever since the BJP, which is a right wing Hindu neo-fascist party come to power in 2014, a huge communal propaganda has been unleashed in India against the Indian minorities ( particularly the Muslims ) by hate speeches, accusing them of killing cows, seducing Hindu girls ( love jihad ) etc thus poisoning the minds of most Hindus, who are the majority in India. Demand for building Ram temple and lynching of Muslims was a regular feature in the last few years. The air attack on Balakot in Pakistan, and the war hysteria whipped up by the pliant Indian media was part of this campaign, and all this has paid rich dividends in the form of a landslide spectacular victory for BJP in the recent Parliamentary elections. The abolition of Article 370, which to my mind is just a gimmick ( since it will not solve any real problem of India ), has resulted in most Hindus becoming jingoistic ( as was even witnessed in the Howdy Modi rally in Houston recently ), celebrating a great ‘victory’ over that devil Pakistan.
The real problems in India–record unemployment ( as revealed by National Sample Survey, a Government of India organisation ), appalling child malnourishment ( every second child in India is malnourished ), huge number of farmers suicides ( over 300,000 ), almost total lack of proper healthcare and good education for the masses, widening gap between rich and poor ( 7 Indians own more wealth than the bottom half of India’s 1350 million population )–were all non issues in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
Secularism is a feature of industrial society, like those in North America and Europe. It is not a feature of feudal or semi feudal societies, as in most Asian countries. Merely mentionining secularism in our Constitution does not make the country secular. India is still semi-feudal, as is evident from the rampant casteism and communalism prevalent here. Most Indians are deeply religious, and since about 80% Indians are Hindus, they are easy prey for communal propaganda.
My own understanding is that most Hindus, as well as most Muslims in India are communal. When I am among my Hindu relatives and friends most spout venom against Muslims ( after making sure there is no Muslim present ). When a Muslim is lynched most Hindus are indifferent, some even happy. One terrorist less !
Communalism ( hatred of minorities, particularly Muslims ) was always latent among most Hindus, only waiting for a spark from somewhere to turn the powder keg into an explosion. Between 2014 and 2019 the communal fire was kept stoked up by the BJP, which is dominated by the RSS, a rabidly anti-Muslim and anti-Christian organisation.
Now that the BJP and its leader Modi have won an astounding victory, there will be great pressure on them from the people to deliver, that is, create jobs, alleviate farmers distress, reduce child malnourishment, provide proper healthcare and good education etc. But this they have no idea how to do. And instead what has happened of late in India is that the economic situation has taken a sharp nose dive, with GDP dropping down sharply to 5%, steep decline in manufacturing ( e.g. the auto sector ), real estate, power, etc and record and mounting unemployment.
So to divert the attention of the people from these real problems, which are unsolvable within the present dispensation, and in fact worsening, a scapegoat has to be found, just as Hitler found in the Jews. In India this scapegoat will be our Muslims, and I fear that now there will be recurrent atrocities on them ( and to a lesser extent on Christians ).
Just as science in Germany was perverted in the Nazi era into a racial mumbo jumbo, so was science in India after 2014, and just as history was perverted in Nazi Germany, so was it in post 2014 India. And just as Goebbels took over the German media, the Indian media has largely caved in, and is saluting our master ‘Ave Caesar Imperator’.
Dark days are ahead for India.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own].