Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi has returned to power with a thumping majority for his second term in office, a concerted global media-driven campaign has been launched not just against him, but also against the majority community of the country. The landslide victory of 23 May 2019 has been followed by a stream of articles in the international press about how Modi’s victory proves that India’s majority community is extremist, regressive and intolerant of the country’s minorities, about how Muslims in particular are under threat and fear for their lives, how law and order has broken down and lynching of minorities is the norm, and so on and so forth. One renowned magazine on foreign affairs has gone to the extent of claiming that by electing Joko Widodo, Indonesia—the hotbed of Wahhabi fundamentalism—has proved to be tolerant, while India, by electing Modi, has proved to be just the opposite. Attempts are being made to box in the Indian Prime Minister with the likes of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President best known for his overt support to Wahhabi extremists and clamping down on human rights. Even the 2019 report by United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) makes outrageous claims such as Jains and Sikhs, apart from Muslims, are in danger in the country. The situation seems to be headed in the direction of the “perception poll” conducted by an international news agency last year, which came to the conclusion that India was the most unsafe country in the world for women—and this not based on any data, but on the “perception” of women’s rights activists. But then the problem with perception is, more often than not, it is far removed from reality. Similar is the case with the narrative being spun about “regressive Indians”. Such atrocious claims show a complete misreading of the situation, a lack of understanding—often borne out of laziness—and respect for Indian realities, a search for false equivalences and in certain cases, a deliberate obfuscation and misinterpretation of facts. Sadly, in this attempt it is often Indians themselves, both resident and non resident, who are in the forefront, feeding this narrative under the garb of “anti establishment” voices. The truth is that their voices are often driven by hatred for the Prime Minister, who has disrupted, to a certain extent, their ecosystem, which fed off on earlier more-compliant dispensations. And it is because this section lives in its own echo-chamber, listening to each other’s voices, it failed to see the surge for PM Modi on the ground. Now that the tsunami has hit them, destroying the cleverly constructed narrative that they thought they had built over the last five years to woo away Indians from the “Modi phenomenon”, their reaction is vicious hatred not just for the man himself, but also for the men and women who voted for him. Obviously, it may never occur to this section that there is something terribly anti-people about berating the voters for the choices they have made democratically. But then it was never about democracy, was it? It has always been about politics. And since it’s all about politics, the “political activism” has been taken to the next level—global shaming of the “boorish” members of the Indian majority community, who have shown their true colours by deviating from the path of secularism of the last 70 years.
The truth is that India is as secular as it was in the last 70 years, in terms of amity and harmony on the ground; both the majority and minority communities are as tolerant or intolerant of each other as they were earlier. If this was not the case, there would have been large-scale riots all across the country every day. In fact, the maximum number of major communal riots took place under previous dispensations and not under Narendra Modi’s watch. The only difference between the past and the present is that Indians have realised how secularism, in practice, has degenerated into a situation where the minority is appeased often at the cost of the majority; also the majority community is no longer afraid to recognise its needs and assert its identity. However, it must also be mentioned that identity politics was one of the many reasons that the majority community voted for Modi. In fact, a large section of Muslims also voted for him this time because of his work. The rest about India turning intolerant and minorities being under threat is all noise—where lynching and other cases are highlighted selectively according to the religion of the victims; while cases of victims belonging to a different religion are deliberately ignored. All these are criminal incidents and must be tackled with the heavy hand of law. As for the so-called thought leaders, both Indian and western, they will increase their irrelevance if they continue to brand millions and millions of Indians as the “heart of darkness”. For, a campaign of calumny cannot stop an irresistible force whose time has come.