Sunday, December 4, 2022

Bridling the winged horse

“On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up,” said Baba Saheb Ambedkar on 25 November 1949 in his last speech in the Constituent Assembly.

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Hundreds of important persons monitored

We are forced to remind ourselves of the comment made by the Father of Indian Constitution seventy years ago. It is believed that mobiles of hundreds of important individuals in the country have been tapped with the help of Pegasus, an Israeli spyware. As a matter of fact, this is more dangerous than COVID disease. This is one hundred percent against democracy. Then, why this government is using Pegasus spyware to deny individual freedom? This is connected not only to the political democracy. Economic monopoly, social discrimination and suppression have been rising in this country taking an ugly manifestation by the day. There is an attempt to extoll the caste system that has been responsible for the brutal inequality among the people for thousands of years. The campaign required to establish the hegemony of Hinduism which has caste system as its foundation. They are also putting forth the arguments to inculcate the impression that other religions and cultures are anti-people. Which means instead of removing the social inequalities, an attempt is being made to increase and perpetuate them. Moreover, the government is giving opportunities only to certain castes and classes to empower themselves economically. Those who speak against these trends are being considered by the government as enemies. Pegasus, the winged horse, has been let lose as a weapon to silence the critics.

The winged horse

Secondly, they would create an enemy, even if there is none, to justify the illegal spying on individuals. This could be terrorism, extremism or any other violent excuse. The political rivals are drawn into the cesspool to showcase them as dangerous people.  Even before introducing Pegasus spyware this government had brought in a lot of autocratic measures. Forgetting democratic ways in the governance is one of them. Diluting the judiciary is another. The institutions which are supposed to protect the interests of the people are being disabled.

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Exaggerating contradictions

In order to keep the majority classes with the party, the leaders are exaggerating the contradictions and hatred that are there among communities. The leaders do not hesitate to make any comment. It has become common to demean a caste and a religion. They are prepared to go to any extent to make the majority happy. Some national symbols and great leaders like Gandhi and Nehru are being denigrated. The leaders are exhibiting their sadism by attacking weaker sections like Dalits and Muslims and filming them to publicise their heinous crimes. The effort was to win over the majority people who are opposed to the weaker sections.

The ruling party leaders are trying to introduce new citizenship bill in order to achieve oneness in place of much celebrated cultural diversity. The aim is to achieve by coercion the nationhood of their choice based on discrimination. Pegasus is part of the denial of political rights. Making use of Pegasus is not the new attack that was started today. This is not going to be the last either. As long as the economic disparities, inequalities and discrimination continue even small hiccups would make the democracy shiver like ruffled leaves in a storm. That is why today instead of taking the society towards the real democracy, the anti-people laws and winged horses like Pegasus continue to ride roughshod over people.

Liberty, equality depend on fraternity

We have to remind ourselves of what Ambedkar said about democracy. “Democracy does not come from government policy or governance. What is being implemented through parliamentary system is not full-fledged democracy. The relationship between different sections of the people mirror the true values of democracy,” said Ambedkar. Liberty, equality and fraternity are the key features of democracy. According to Ambdekar, liberty and equality depend on fraternity. As far as there is no feeling of fraternity (brotherhood) among the people and discrimination continues, liberty and equality also are not implemented fully. This is the reality of India today. As long as the caste system is alive and kicking in the society the political effort to implement fraternity would not give good results. That is why the political parties effectively make use of the differences that are there among the people.  

The changes that are coming in the economic sector increasing the economic disparities would throw the society into turmoil. The parties that have been ruling this country are promoting the interests of some corporate companies. They are giving them the lands and natural resources that belong to the people. Those who are waging battles against these tendencies are perceived by the government as anti-nationals. This is not only with the present government, even the earlier governments threw the people out in the name of economic development. The Adivasis, sons of the forests, are dubbed as seditious when they oppose corporate companies and the government that is defending them and they are kept in jails without trial for any number of years for no fault of theirs.

Fighting for democracy is the only way out

The truth of the matter is that the attempt by the government to handover agriculture to the corporate sector has resulted in the unprecedented farmers’ protest. Farmer who keeps the land green by raising crops is forced to face the conspiracies of the government. Anyone who is opposing the conspiracies in the economic sector is treated as enemy of the government. That is why the winged horses, Pegasus, are being let loose against them. Those writers, journalists, social workers and politicians who are writing, talking and working against the conspiracies are being spied by Pegasus. Pegasus is only a winged horse. It is only the disease. The root cause of the problem is the widening economic disparities, growing discrimination and plunder. All of us who are protesting against the use of Pegasus have, as Ambedkar said, got to fight for democracy in economic and social sectors. There is no other go.  

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Laxmaiah Mallepalli
Laxmaiah Mallepalli
Mallepalli Lakshmaiah is a special officer of Buddhavanam project and founder chairman, Centre for Dalit Studies. He writes a weekly column for Sakshi, a Telugu daily. He is a Dalit intellectual, Ambedkarite and a Buddhist.

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