India's Democracy Is Facing an Existential Threat

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1972 ... January 9, 2020

India’s Democracy Is Facing an Existential Threat

Vijay Prashad

India’s Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu made a curious comment on 28 December. "Express dissent in a democratic way," he said. Before he became the Vice President -- a largely symbolic role -- Naidu was the President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the far-right political organization that now governs India. Naidu made his comment in the context of nation-wide protests against an exclusionary set of laws and policies pushed by his party. These laws and policies include the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Population Register (NPR), and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). These laws and policies deeply discriminate against India’s 200 million Muslims.

Peaceful protests have been taking place across the country. Every public event seems to be transformed into a demonstration against not only these laws, but the government itself. In Kolkata -- from where I write these words -- the annual Rainbow Pride Walk combined Gay Pride with opposition to these laws. Signs at the march read, "No CAA" and... "No to Fascism." The Indian flag -- not often seen at these events -- was everywhere, a symbol of the fight over how ‘India’ should be understood.

Street signs indicate widespread opposition to these laws and policies from a range of political parties: everyone, except the BJP, seems to be against them. It has invigorated a serious debate about whether India’s State remains secular, and whether Indian society contains resources for secularism.

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