India is in the grip of the ‘Blind Bhakti’ Syndrome, which is quite different from one’s devotion to God. This blind bhakti is towards the political hierarchy; a phenomenon that becomes stronger whenever a majority political party rules India, be it Congress or BJP. The simple explanation is that majority party governments tend to become autocratic, one example being when even mainstream media is scared to point out what is going wrong.
We have been witnessing rigid battle lines drawn. Electronic, print and social media are afire with heated exchanges about political parties and leaders. We tend to lose some good friends and even fight close relatives. Either you band with blind ‘bhakts’ or you are an outcast; can even be branded ‘sickular’. Any logical questioning is taken as personal affront and anti national by those incapable of independent / logical thinking. For some scholars and authors, sadly even veterans, writing is straight jacketed; inherent with automated reasoning. The ‘three bags full’ approach forgets that no individual or organization, leave aside a political party, is perfect. Pointing out the faults actually amounts to helping individuals / organizations / political parties. But recipients must take criticism in the right spirit, which sadly lacks in most cases.
Witness the manner in which Kashmir Valley has radicalized past few years. Separatists were given a free hand to spread the message of jihad coming from Pakistan, and their writ ran in regional newspapers and discourses. Educational institutions continue to preach hatred but this is ignored because education is ‘state’ subject. That radicalizing children leads to more terrorism is ignored. The YouTube clip in circulation showing national anthem being played in University of Kashmir with only one student standing would probably be termed fake. Clerics with Sufi culture in the Valley have been systematically replaced by hardcore wahabis. True this didn’t happen only in last five years but have we taken any action to deal with the situation?
Yet, write ups continued to propagate government could do no wrong. At best all the blame was dumped on the Congress, which to an extent is true, but the rapidly upward spiral of violent incidents, terror attacks, casualty figures amongst security forces over last five years in the Valley, point to something gone very wrong. The ‘three bags full’ brigade didn’t realize they were indirectly assisting the violence, terror and radicalization grow. Napoleon had once wisely said, “The world suffers a lot, not because of the violence of bad people but because of the silence of good people”. But the good people apparently are busy eyeing candies.
Political parties and governments also have their own band of blind bhakts; the ‘coterie’, who wouldn’t let their own hierarchy know the true ground picture. No one will tell Congress hierarchy that their pro Pakistan uttering and comedian Navjot Singh Sidhu’s pronouncements are recipe for disaster. As for BJP, the loan waivers, plan of developing ponds and putting Rs 2000 in bank accounts of 25 cr farmers close to elections are attractive but what about the havoc caused by the cattle let loose destroying crops of the poor farmers? Is the hierarchy aware these poor farmers cannot sleep successive nights to guard their crops from marauding cattle? Media propaganda and sops don’t address their misery, which is different from the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary invaded by stray cattle. Media reports of March 9, 2019 reveal 200 cows died in a NOIDA shelter because of overcrowding within two months, which indicates magnitude of the problem.
Take the case of Haryana – 2% cow tax charged for years but cows are roaming the roads in Gurugram. Encroachment of Aravalis begins with a cowshed, followed by a jeep track, until the builder mafia arrives. The State Government was all set to convert the Biodiversity Park, the lungs of Gurugram, to a Science City despite protests. That may or may not have been pended but a highway is now planned on the “periphery” of the Biodiversity Park. What that ‘periphery’ will translate into is not known but the politico-builder mafia brazenly moved to take-over the total Aravali land in Haryana till mercifully the Supreme Court stepped in and blocked the move. That this mafia will still resort to ‘salami-slicing’ Aravalis may be quite certain. And, why not when 16,000 trees were brazenly chopped off in Delhi recently to make way for VVIP colony with the charade of planting equal numbers?
Ground indications from Rajasthan in January 2018 were clear that if the incumbent chief minister is put up as candidate for next election, BJP would lose. There were posts to this effect on Facebook but the ‘coterie’ advised otherwise. Naturally BJP lost. Same thing had happened earlier during the plus 44 mission of BJP in J&K, with veterans and serving military personnel given the short shrift. BJP also did the mistake of sending comedian Navjot Singh Sidhu to Jammu last minute whose convoy was promptly stoned by Akalis. As a result BJP lost two traditional seats in Jammu.
Finally, it is the blind bhakti of political leaders in themselves – increasing sycophancy leading to new heights of self aggrandizement on tax payer money. Millions of rupees are being spent on advertisement – case of overkill or sense of insecurity, or both? Presently, the government is riding high on the armed forces, politicizing the ‘surgical strikes; and air strikes to the hilt. The National War Memorial is an excellent edition. But nothing has been done to compensate for the degradation and down gradation of military soldiers below that of police forces, starving the military of modernization, and to assuage the hurt by twice attacking peacefully protesting veterans with brute police force using batons.
The quality of our political class, political parties vying with each other to put up maximum candidates with criminal charges (winability factor due goon following), and practice of opportunistic party switching for the ‘bonanza’, leaves much to desire. Entry into politics itself assures riches for next few generations. A Member Parliament can attend Parliament just for one day (paid attendance allowance for it) and secure pension for the rest of his / her life. Hence, the blind bhakti syndrome will likely continue in the foreseeable future. As for the next government, whether majority rule or coalition, India will get what it deserves. The shape of military will continue to be what the political hierarchy mandates – never mind the looming threats.