As the 2019 parliamentary election of India is coming near, the idea of India at the same time is becoming more precious. The supposed to be organically antagonistic, oppositional forces – BJP and Congress, the major players of the game of electoral democracy, is coming as it always had been, to a conjectural fusion where all other differences go into oblivion. The upcoming election is neither a battleground of secular and communal ideals, nor it is a struggle between democracy and fascism. On the contrary, as it is on a naked display- the Indian mind, the Indian conscience, the Indian intelligence- are all set in motion to build an Indian empire.
As the perceived mad philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche realized and then asserted with deep anguish and sufficient humour – “And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you” – India, having been gazing long enough into its master, British empire, has turned itself into an empire after the image of the empire it fought so hard against. Whether the BJP or the Congress, whether dead Nehru or dead Savarkar, all their temporary, infantile differences come to abrupt oblivion when it comes to building an indivisible, eternal Indian empire by means of brutal hegemonization, homogenization, interpellation of the mainland population in the name of progress and development. Thence, as the death of democracy comes near as the election wakes up from its every five years’ pretension of sleep, the idea of a harmonious India glitters with promising sparkle, with its brahminical, oppressive creepy smile. And this India smiles on the face of nothingness – the emptiness which occurs in everyday lives of the margins, of frontiers, of ghettoised spaces – in utter humiliation, brutality, and repulsion.
The context of a beginning
The promises, lies, manipulations, unnecessary jokes on which the upcoming election of 2019 is being premised is – the idea of India, a virile Indian empire must flourish. Each and every hegemonic electoral force is attacking, slandering, humiliating, vomiting at each others’ vomit, just to make sure that the process of constructing the Indian empire does not get slower. All the screamings of corruption, unemployment, development are nothing but screams of a brahminical, sophisticated consciousness to make itself be materialized in and through an Indian empire.
Even without going into the minute details of the making of the Indian empire, if one pays enough attention to the happening of the last days of a failed democracy, particularly to three occasions, events, occurrences, one clearly and easily gets to discover and see the glimpses of the making of an empire.
Symptom 1: The Citizenship Amendment Bill
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) is not the brainchild of Hindutva fascist BJP alone, the idea that Indian parliament in Delhi is paramount, Godlike in deciding the fate of human beings in its occupied frontiers is inscribed from the beginning in the consciousness of an independent India. Although India claimed to attain self-determination in 1947, the constitution never thought of the periphery, the frontiers, their concerns, and the Brahmanical core – the over-represented, hegemonic, brutal forces were left alone to themselves to decide for the frontiers – their fate and their past, present, and future. As the British empire crossed all the barriers, hardships and challenges so as to teach a ‘backward, primitive’ India civilization, the forefathers of the Indian empire never hesitated to not feel any different. As a result, when a frontier region becomes naked, burns, suffocates with fear, anxieties, and insecurities because of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the mainland political discourse reaches new heights in the heights of Rafale. Some thousands of crores of rupees of killing machines and their dealings become more important for India than the historical, lived experiences of fear and insecurity of the population of the North East. After all, all empires are like that only. The British were like that only, so why India would be an exception?
Symptom 2: Eliminate the traitors
On February 14, 2019, when more than 40 oppressed bodies were lost, the all-encompassing Indian conscience awakened to screaming rage for vengeance. But vengeance against whom? The Supreme Court of India, the Army, in their invisible collaboration warned with utmost authenticity, to the mothers of Kashmiri youths – ‘make your sons conform to the Indian obsession or obsessed Indian guns will eliminate their obsessed existence’, echoing the reaction of the creepy Indian conscience – eliminate the traitors of the empire. The mature sign of an empire in the making. As the 2019 election comes near, the traitors of Kashmir become more treacherous to India – to Congress, to BJP and to the aam aadmi of the Indian empire.
Symptom 3: The curious case for equality
In the last parliamentary session before the election of 2019 when the bill for 10% reservation for upper castes was being passed, the antagonistic, oppositional forces- BJP and Congress greeted each other in soul piercing silence – for now accomplishing the task of the Indian empire to end inequality by recognizing everyone as unequal becomes a reality. Because the making of an empire not only requires the century-old savage domination, exploitation, manipulation of the oppressed, it also requires to make oppressors feel vulnerable, weak- so that the distinction between the oppressor and oppressed, brahmins and shudras – seems to look like a foggy illusion. Which is why all the differences of the ruling and oppositional regimes fuse with each other’s wild fantasy of annihilating caste inequality, injustice, discrimination by considering, grouping all inequalities, injustices into one identical category of class – that is, the unflinching interest of the Indian empire.
The zero-sum game of the empire
What difference does it make whichever political force wins or loses the upcoming election of 2019? Will the new regime of the empire consider the frontier lands, its people as closer-to-the-soul of the empire or just as mere strategic objects from the vantage point of the interests of the empire? Will the people who aspire to self-determination, dignity and justice be considered as inspirations or as traitors? Will inequality, discrimination be understood and perceived as deliberate, systematic or as accidental or mere economical? Given the current discourse of politics thriving in the empire named India, all answers to these questions belong to the category of the latter part. Which is why it does not matter who wins or loses the 2019 election because whoever wins or loses the election, it is anyway going to be a win for the Indian empire and the making of the uncanny Indian empire will move closer to its uncanny destiny.
Nirban Ray is a PhD scholar at the Centre for Political Studies, JNU.