Karan Thapar in conversation with Romila Thapar
April 20, 2019
The last five years have been about everything besides the issues on which the BJP campaigned and came to power in 2014: employment, corruption, economic growth, and development. The country has seen a steady worsening of the economy because of demonetisation, anti-people policies of the government, and the agrarian crisis. Romila Thapar talks about the attempts to transform the country into a Hindu Rashtra as per the vision of the present government in the absence of a strong opposition. Thapar argues that this vision reiterates the colonial view, rooted in the two nation-theory, which saw only Hindus as legitimate citizens and cultural representatives of the country, as against Muslims and other members of Indian society. It is this that explains the fanatical attack on public discourse, the onslaught on the autonomy of academic institutions, and the alienation and victimisation of Muslims and other minorities. All of these are strategies in pursuit of the Hindu Rashtra. The RSS, of which the BJP is the political arm, have declared their inspiration to be Mussolini and other Italian fascist leaders and have used their principles to structure and orient their own organisation. The systematic attack on free speech and free thinking, and the undermining of academic institutions – particularly universities teaching social sciences, are examples of the dictatorial and authoritarian essence of their politics. This politics is antithetical to what the social sciences attempt to teach. The critical questioning of present social, political and economic realities would pose a direct threat to their communal agenda.