The Indian State is authoritarian, and there’s nothing ‘right’ about it

By Aakar Patel – When people around the world say they are troubled by the rise of the ‘right’, they mean in essence two things. The first is majoritarianism, which privileges one group of people and gives them primacy. In such places the minority lives on sufferance. Meaning that diversity is tolerated rather than approved or celebrated. A group of citizens can be excluded totally from politics (for example through denial of representation or tickets) and this will be acceptable.

It is clear that majoritarianism is happening in India because Hindutva itself advertises it, and proudly. But to what extent can we attribute authoritarianism to the current government? We cannot. The Indian state is and has always been deeply authoritarian. The suspicion of the citizen demanding civil liberties was something felt by Nehru as much as it is felt by more recent leaders.

We can see evidence of this in many places but let us look at one in particular: our laws. The criminal justice system is actually about the rights of the accused (something that will surprise most Indians). In civilised societies, miscarriage of justice occurs even if the accused is not informed — in a language of their understanding — of their rights. We know this through Hollywood.

In primitive societies, fairness and process are not important. There is marginal or no difference between accused and convict. The focus, in these societies which stress ‘law and order’, is on prevention. This is done not through deterrence, which requires a properly functioning justice system, but detention.

Indians suspected of future mischief can be held without trial or conviction and this is something all governments in India endorse. more>

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