My first reaction on going through the excerpts of talk delivered by Mr.D.Y. Chandrachud and reproduced by TOI in the op-ed page was one of great relieves that providence has not bestowed the political leadership of this country to these legal luminaries.
It may help us to know that Mr. D.Y. Chandrachud was part of the historic verdicts relating to Sabarimala, decriminalization of article 377 and gave dissenting opinion on constitutional validity of Aadhar, Bhima Koregaon arrests, construction of new Goa airport for environmental concerns. This should clearly reveal the liberal streaks in him.
The lecture delivered by Mr. D.Y.C fits to a ‘T’ of a typical intellectual Liberal’s romantic fantasisation of an ideal liberalised democracy. As was to be expected the main theme of the lecture capsulised following principles- Labeling dissent as anti National strikes at the heart of constitutional values, State apparatus should not be used to curb legitimate and peaceful protests, Pluralism is the unique feature of Indian democracy which should be preserved at all cost and therefore dialogues and consensus process should take precedence over Majority mandate supported policies.
Somehow after the advent of BJP regime under Modi suddenly the topics of intolerance, respect for dissent, threat to pluralistic society, etc have been regularly doing rounds in media and liberal lobbies that are unfavorably disposed to the change in the regime. There is a strong prejudice amongst them that a government of the majority community securing majority numbers will necessarily be intolerant. As long as a coalition govt was ruling the roost, such a perception never came up because it was assumed that the intolerance surfaces only if given the right numbers.
With regard to protests in India, there never was any dearth of it. Protest is the standard route for any new political party trying to make a niche place for itself in the political arena and a life-line for political parties relegated by electorates. We even had the astounding spectacle of the entire Delhi govt under Arvind Kejriwal taking to streets on a protest.
Under the NDA regime there have been countless protests and agitations. Aarey colony Bachao protest, stir concerning reservation for Patidar, Jat and Maratha community, agitation seeking woman entry in places of worship, farmers agitation, trade union protests, central govt employees protest, and above all and most shockingly protest against Supreme Court judgments on- SC/ST atrocities act, Ban on Jallikattu festival etc. But not all of them got labeled as anti National protests. However some of them like JNU protests and CAA protests at various places did have a clear cut stamp of anti-national elements masterminding the protest. Under UPA regime too agitation against Kunda Kulam atomic project was perceived by the then govt as being staged by anti national elements at the behest of inimical groups operating against the country. Labeling of a protest as anti National is not a new phenomena.
The govt intelligence agencies armed with better surveillance and intelligence gathering system are in a better position to assess the true character of the protests and agitations, than the media intellectuals and their cronies. For the kind attention of Liberals so much endeared with congress party it needs to be taken note of that when it comes to handling of protests by the Indian govts the NDA fares much better than the UPA regime.
Who can forget the unfortunate scene of a 70 year old Anna Hazare running for cover across the Ramlila ground to escape police Lathi charge under the order of govt which was averse to Anna Hazare staging a peaceful hunger strike (unlike the Biryani glutting current day protestors). In the same protest venue Baba Ramdev who hastily managed to drape himself with ladies attire had to jump from the high rise dais to save himself from the police assault. Police used tear gas shells to drive away peaceful protesters in the ram Lila ground. For the pro congress liberals, who are laboring hard to attach Jalianwala Baug syndrome to Saheen Bagh protest, it would come as a disappointment that Jailan wala Baug was already enacted under Indira Gandhi regime when she gave firing order on the helpless Naga Sadhus who were staging protest to demand cow slaughter ban. As per disclosed reports 10 sadhus died in the firing.
The Liberals believe that “Pluralism” is the quintessential of liberal democracies. Liberals turn a blind eye to the plight of many Nations where the very preoccupation to uphold pluralism has given the incitement for the rise of fundamentalists. Pluralism sure needs to be respected but it cannot be artificially bolstered. The onus of sustaining pluralism does not rest so much with central authorities, as many liberals would like to believe, as it would rest with the individual constituent of the pluralistic society. There is no constitution in the world which stipulates that the political parties vying for political power should not contest more than a limited number of seats to allow equitable representation of the pluralistic society. Therefore the expectation for the maintenance of a pluralistic society, especially when there is reluctance on the part of one of the constituent group to merge with the mainstream and appear supercilious, can at best be described as quixotic.
In Indian context the pseudo secular policy practiced by the past regimes at the expense of majority community to give an illusion of a pluralistic society existing in harmony was an aberration and not the real norm. The majority were silently fuming waiting for an opportunity to explode. Now when these aberrations gets corrected people start cringing about the new norm, which in fact is the more true representation of the ground realities. Unless the trunk of the tree grows strong the various branches cannot be sustained. In the name of pluralism if the trunk is sacrificed the very tree will collapse.
There is a sudden awakening and realization in many liberalized democracies of the world about the futility of unequivocal adherence to the pluralism and the danger posed by this to the very existence of the Nation. Today every govt is under pressure to review its immigrant policy. Why has the pluralism the idolized theme of liberal champions come under critical review. The answer is that the growing threat of religious fundamentalism spreading far and wide has put paid to the idea of a pluralistic society. Every country is vying for a course correction to arrive at a controlled pluralism from the chaos of liberalized pluralism.
The stereotypical Liberals come with this inexplicable obsession for inclusivity and dialogue process as the mandatory requirements for a healthy democracy. For every policy and every govt initiative if protest take place to paralyze the govt and public life then what about the grievances of the people who have elected the govt. If electoral democracy has to be sacrificed to uphold inclusivity at all cost then someone has to invent a new format for democracy because sometimes it may not be feasible to retrofit new add-ons to old versions.
The success of dialogue process depends on the willingness of the parties concerned to participate with genuine intention. Where the intention of the participant is to deliberately derail the dialogue process (the posture adopted by Indian opposition parties) is it really possible to have an all round consensus on every policy through so called dialogue process. Even if it is granted that it is indeed possible then in such a case what will be the time frame for such consensus? What will happen to the pace of development and progress of a country if it is constantly locked in dialogue processes. Is there any worthwhile purpose of having an elected govt with majority mandate if everything has to be decided by the consensus through dialogue process. Should the greatest advantage of a single party majority be sacrificed for this so called consensus though dialogue process which the coalition govts are plagued with.
We do not have to go further looking for the consequences for a country choosing to govern by the consensus through dialogue mode. If we consider hypothetically United nations as a single country and the 193 member states as representing the wide diversified pluralistic society then can we imagine what will be the consequences when a country runs replicating UN governance mode. The united Nations has just not been able to address many of the critical issues that has plagued the world for decades- Nuclear proliferation, human rights, border disputes, refugee crisis, terrorism etc. For every issue it has earmarked a special body to address it. How effectively it has been addressed is there for everybody to see .
Here again few strong members like USA could get away with a war on a country for alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction and after that create total mess in the world peace order by leaving back a disturbed middle eastern region as a perennial source of problem. China could get away with gunning down students protesting in Tiananmen square with army tanks and Chinese ugyr Muslims could forcibly be sent to de indoctrination camp, without even a whimper of protest from human rights council. Russia could get away with annexation of crime peninsula and united nations at best could bring in an ineffective sanction against Russia. There are many more such examples where the United Nations has come across as an impotent body. This is exactly how a country like India would come to be if it has to model its governance based on dialogue and consensus mode and this would in turn definitely ensure that India stays put as a developing country for an eternity .
All this bootless errand to uphold that elusive utopian ideals of a pluralistic society, is it really worth the while? It is something that the future generation need to ponder over seriously. Strangely when after few decades the pan Islamisation takes full control of the polity taking advantage of this obligation of many countries to sustain a pluralistic society, there will not be any print media available to carry such articles nor there will be any intelligentsia left to articulate their critical view.
Tail piece– Perhaps the judicial luminaries need to take note of the shocking public celebration of Hyderabad rapists killed under police encounter and also seriously ponder over the preference of the dissenters to take to streets than approach Judiciary. It would serve India better if they address their own short comings instead of giving sermons on how to govern the country.