Something very frightening is going on in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat. The Constitution of India is being systematically and insidiously chipped away. It is being made increasingly apparent that if you are not a Hindu, there is no place for you in that state.
This undeclared policy was illustrated in a news report, some time ago, that “the Modi government has declined to renew the contract of the Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate (SMMI) to run the Narol leprosy hospital.” As a news story this was fairly innocuous and, not surprisingly, buried in the middle pages. But it is one more example of the stealthy manner in which Modi’s minions are achieving their chief’s aspirations. Not for them rabble-rousing cries for a Hindu “jihad.” Not for them old-fashioned pogroms. That would be too blatant and possibly unpalatable to most Gujaratis who, although agreeing with the sentiment expressed by their government, would be embarrassed to participate in such fundamental activities.
In the case of the leprosy hospital, the state government stayed within the limits of the law since, technically, the state government is in charge of the institution. But no explanation has been forthcoming as to why the SMMI, who have successfully run the hospital for the past 57 years are suddenly unfit for the task. No doubt some will raise the hoary bogey of the SMMI luring innocent and gullible Hindu patients to Christianity, even though there is absolutely no evidence of this. Have the Hindu zealots ever considered that the reason many Hindus are being “lured” to Christianity is that they are being treated with benign neglect by their government and their so-called ‘champions’?
The discrimination against Muslims in Gujarat, subsequent to the communal riots in Godhra, has been too well documented to bear repetition. Here again, the strategy is one of benevolent deprivation. The government is not forcibly throwing out any Muslims. That would be too obvious and possibly inspire a backlash. No, it’s much more effective to deny them jobs and make them feel unwelcome – not overtly, of course – so that they migrate to other states “of their own free will.” Modi professes to be an admirer of Adolf Hitler, but I’m beginning to think the German dictator could have learnt a few lessons from the Chief Minister. Being a tyrant is easy; but doing so in the guise of a “savior”: that is brilliant.
It would be ludicrous, of course, to describe what is going on in Gujarat as ethnic cleansing. But one should not forget lessons from history, where great calamities have evolved from small inconveniences. People like Modi are constantly probing to test how much they can get away with. The Second World War did not start with the blitzkrieg on Poland; it started with concessions at Munich and Czechoslovakia. This is the time for secular Indians to stand up and be counted; before we discover that we have a Hindu kingdom in our midst.