Even when India was an economic basket case of the world, it was a political and spiritual bright spot that guaranteed basic freedoms to its people and offered a refuge to Westerners seeking peace and spiritual wisdom. But under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is going backwards on every front: Its economy is in a free-fall (with growth at a six-year low and unemployment at a 45-year high); its polity is becoming authoritarian; and its dominant religion, Hinduism, is growing intolerant.
But what’s even more depressing is that the country seems to have lost its will to fight this descent into darkness. Nothing speaks to that more poignantly than its muted reaction to two developments in just the last few weeks. One concerns the exiling of a journalist. The other is the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 27-year-old Babri mosque case involving land that both Muslims and Hindus claim as their own.
In a raw exertion of authoritarianism, the Modi government moved to strip journalist Aatish Taseer of his Overseas Citizen of India status, akin to a Green Card, essentially banishing him from the country where he grew up. The official line is that Taseer, who was born in England to an Indian mother and a Pakistani father, committed fraud by failing to reveal his father’s heritage on his OCI application. This accusation is beyond absurd given that Taseer comes from an extremely prominent family whose history has been public knowledge for decades.