Size of Indian economy and promise it shows has earned it respect
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s condemnation of the murders committed in the garb of cow protection has not come a day too soon. Runaway nationalism that gets manifested in violence has no place in a society that aspires to be ‘vishwa guru’. Modi’s words are also an acknowledgement that the unabated killings by the so-called ‘gau rakshaks’ had reached a stage where the prime minister, who is careful to pick the issues to which he will react in public, decided he must speak. That became apparent in the incident in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Jharkhand, where a man died of his injuries after the carcass of a cow was found in his house – the police have, however, claimed that the incident is a fallout from old enmity.
Now that he has spoken, it would serve little purpose to quibble over whether the statement has come late in the day, or whether he was forced to issue a public condemnation of the lynchings over purported cow protection because of the widespread protests against them. The important thing is as Prime Minister, who is without doubt the most popular politician, his words carry weight. The events at Hyderabad University last year, following the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula will illustrate the point. Student protests, in which Vemula’s mother participated, had paralysed university functioning. News of the events on travelled across the country. It was then that Modi – like now, following the murderous assaults by self-styled cow protection fanatics – decided to speak on the issue, saying he understood the pain of a mother. That had the immediate effect of acting as a balm and cooled temperatures at the university.
Polarisation is often used as a legitimate weapon in politics and there is no denying that it has worked in India. The history of communal polarisation is a long and well-established one. However, it needs also to be acknowledged that India is at the cusp of great things and the time to realise its potential as a global power is getting shorter. India has to do much more to measure up to China in the neighbourhood, for instance, but also to be taken more seriously by the leading nations of the world. No more is India’s name taken in a hyphenated context along with Pakistan, as had been the case earlier. The size of the Indian economy and the promise it shows has earned it respect around the world. The GST launch, an event referred by US President Donald Trump during the joint press conference with the Prime Minister in Washington earlier this week, will test India’s ability to rollout tax reforms on a scale that is mind boggling. To have sundry ‘gau rakshaks’ spoil that narrative with their acts of mindless violence is a shame.