Ban, mandatory, compulsory: Three vile words increasingly define the modus operandi of India’s ruling politicians

By Ravi Shanker Kapoor – Something is rotten in the statecraft of India. Nothing else explains why three words – ‘ban,’ ‘mandatory,’ and ‘compulsory’ – are most widely used in not only governance and politics but also in public discourse. And not just the words; bans and mandatory requirements are also increasingly becoming a reality in what is supposedly the biggest democracy of the world.

The formulaic, quintessential Left-liberal explanation for this is simple: under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the fascist proclivities of Hindutva are asserting themselves; hence the increasing use of coercive measures. QED.

But Modi didn’t invent coercion, mandatory measures and other illiberal practices. For instance, the draconian Section 66A was added to the Information Technology Act by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government; the incumbent regime supported it in the court, though.

BJP’s ideology and agenda are different from those of the grand old party. But its methodology is still defined by the three obnoxious words: ban beef, make Sanskrit and Vande Mataram compulsory in Rajasthan schools, make it mandatory for people to stand up while the national anthem is played, etc. Any resistance to and criticism of such measures is dismissed with disdain.

Persuasion, discussion, debate and compromise are and should be the hallmarks of a liberal democracy.

Why is it so? The primary reason is that governance, which is essentially a process involving a great deal of assiduity and patience, has been reduced to a hodgepodge of events, rhetoric, and clever messaging. more>

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