Watching PM Modi on TV boast about the historical feat he has achieved with demonisation had me feeling déjà vu yesterday.
Of course the first reaction was a half smirk-laugh that maybe we have reserved only for the most repulsive moments; moments which disgust you to a certain level of discomfort when you wish you could wash and clean your mind somehow the way you do your body. But what followed that was déjà vu.
If you watch late night American talk shows like me, or in this case, if you watch news at all, you would've seen a certain Trump conference where he boasts about the how good the Muslim Ban1 has been implemented and how everything is going so smooth at the airports. And because I had seen that clip so many times on so many shows, you can guess how I felt watching that part of PM Modi's speech on TV.
The more you see of these two lately, the more it looks like they are picking ideas and habits from each other. People outside of India even call PM Modi the Trump of India. It is almost as if they were brothers. Even more than brothers, for even brothers can not be so devilishly similar in lack of cognition; level of obliviousness to actual facts and realities on the ground; possession of insane skill in drawing raw, animalistic side of crowds; the artistry of lying in the face of indisputable facts; hate and fear mongering; and when all else fails, the mastery of and consistency in extracting results by playing their best move, nationalism.
But that is just nutty talk you'd say, mentioning a world war, exaggerating beyond levels that suit even me.
Or maybe not so much. It might look like just two cases that make me uncomfortable, no matter how important both the countries are to geopolitics anyway. But that's not it even. For some years now, the extreme right, the fear mongers and ultranationalist politicians have been gaining momentum in the whole of Europe, including, not so Europe-y anymore, Britain. Most European countries, including France, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Hungary, and yes, Germany, have seen rapid increase in populism and support for far-right political parties.2 We have all read about what happens when Europe goes far-right, so I guess it could be termed as a very real problem.
But that's different and unconnected to India and America, right? They just want to protect their culture and economy from the onslaught of immigrants, right? But doesn't that closely link the two regions together, Europe and the Middle East? Doesn't that mean what happens in Middle East has a direct effect on Europe? But wait. Wait. I totally forgot about this. There is the Middle East too. It got left behind.
If you've lost count, or have never paid attention to it, Syria has been in a civil war for 5 years and 10 months now. Refugees because of that war alone number to 48,00,000. To put that into perspective for people around me(north Indian people), that is about 70,000 more people than the entire population of Chandigarh, Gurgaon, Noida and Goa combined. About double the amount of those refugees are displaced inside Syria. That is just about Syria. There is Iraq, with its own evil, ISIL; there is civil war going on in Yemen and Libya, and continuous unrest in many other regions and countries of North Africa, including Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt. Last but not least, the Israeli occupation of Palestine incessantly expands.
On a side-note, since we've never seen a war first hand(thankfully), we've become too accustomed to the word thrown around all the time in things like silly music/dance competitions and talent shows. These wars are as real as the infamous world wars. Actual people die and lose all they have ever known in these wars too, forever.
The reason I came from talking about a politician insulting people's intelligence and hardships by calling it a feat to talking about wars is this – things don't go to such extremes in one day; wars don't happen all of a sudden. People are incredibly patient and optimistic; they always hope that situations, often outside of their personal control will get better eventually. That is what helps us in getting through the hard times and it is great to have that. But at the same time, we must not forget that only hoping never makes a situation get better. A situation, a state, a status quo requires to be changed, demands it. And even a single voice is better than no voice.
Things are changing all around us, and they aren't changing for the better. But to be able to see that, you might have to disaffiliate and detach yourself from franchises which have clear material goals; from a thinking(whatever it may be) that eventually helps one single person more than the thousands it must, should you give it your support. These are not the times when you could say, 'oh but these small issues and interruptions will always be there'. The issue now is not the corruption of someone else's morality which makes him greedy. The issue today is corruption of your own (and my) mind being filled with hate and propaganda.
We indeed can talk about the possibility of an all out bigger war, fuelled by hatred and foolishness.
For those days are actually past when you could treat such mentions as pure conspiracy theories. Today, you've got politicians passing laws to ban people of only a certain faith; to re-introduce torture officially. You've got politicians who brand the press who does its job with derogatory terms and who bully and exploit their power openly and unashamedly. You have politicians who cut spending on and talk of shutting free schools to those who pass regulations that makes the whole country stand still, literally, in lines to banks, anxious how they'll feed their kids that very day; even when they have "money" in their hands. Where a 90yr old village woman who hadn't seen a bank in decades die on the steps in the cold winter morning so huge corporations and rich people could be bailed out and given loans they won't repay.
PM Modi said he has done something which is incomprehensible to the experts because it has never been done in the history of the world. Such is the historical feat. I don't know about feat, but it sure is historical. Both the fiasco and the following insolence. It is going to be included in history books and taught at schools, for sure. Well, if the schools are able to survive that is; or books; or children.
Let's hope for the better.
1. Not called a Muslim Ban officially.