Seshadri Kumar Profile picture
May 8 35 tweets 11 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Independent India has always been a vibrant democracy, except for the #Emergency years of #IndiraGandhi from 1975-77. That it has taken a decisive turn to religious majoritarianism under the #BJP and under #Modi since 2014 doesn't change that fact. (1/)
Democracy is not necessarily congruent with liberal values or even human rights. #Slavery was legal both in the democracy of Great Britain as well as the USA for almost a hundred years since the US' formation. Even a White woman was not considered equal to a man in America. (2/)
#Blacks in the #US did not have equal rights even after the abolition of slavery for another 100 years under #Lincoln, but we still think of the US in #1960 as a democracy.

What has changed in India in the last 40 years is that a nation that united to defeat the #British has now divided on religious lines. The majority of Hindus can no longer tolerate the presence of Muslims. And this majority is growing in numbers and in proportion daily.

The social fracture is irreparable. Hindus are making clear that Muslims can only live in India henceforth on the terms set by Hindus. Modi and the BJP are popular only because they are decisively fulfilling this aspiration of Hindu supremacy in India.

This is why despite disasters such as #demonetization, #GST, and the government response to the #secondwave of #COVID19 in 2021, Modi and the BJP remain immensely popular among Hindus.

In the 2014 election, the BJP under Modi won 31% of the popular vote.

In 2019, that number was 38%.

Hindus comprise 80% of the population of India. Assuming that, because of the Hindu majoritarian policies of the BJP, other communities do not vote for the BJP, this means that the BJP got 39% of the Hindu vote in 2014 and 48% in 2019.

Modi understands this, and that's why he has been pushing hard on the Hindu agenda. Construction of the grand #RamTemple that is being built on the land acquired by demolishing a 16th century mosque in #Ayodhya is proceeding rapidly and will be completed before 2024.

Modi also presided over the inauguration of the renovated temple complex in #Kashi (Varanasi) in a glittering religious ceremony with much fanfare which was telecast live on national TV.

Many BJP-ruled stated have passed laws banning the slaughter of cows.

These, and many more pro-Hindu as well as anti-Muslim policies have so gladdened the hearts of the Hindu majority that I would not be surprised if Modi gets an overall absolute majority in the 2024 general elections on the strength of Hindu votes alone.

Since Hindus are 80% of India's population, all Modi needs is a 63% majority among Hindus to get a 50% majority among all Indians. Given that he got 48% of the Hindu vote in 2019, this is not inconceivable.

Already, the BJP doesn't have a single Muslim representative from its party in the Indian Parliament.

If what I have sketched here happens in 2024, the consequences will be tragic for India's Muslims.

But India will still be a democratic country.

But unfortunately for the BJP, Hindus are not a monolithic group. They are divided by language and caste. The BJP is driven not only by Hindu religious majoritarianism, but also by Hindi linguistic chauvinism: a key slogan of the BJP is "Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan."

The BJP believes that Hindi should be the national language of India, and that people all over India should speak Hindi. This is not a new idea: in 1947, leaders of the Indian National Congress, the party that brought independence from the British, believed the same.

Like the INC of 1947, the BJP believes that nationwide adoption of Hindi will lead to national unity and the development of an "Indian" identity. Just like France has French, Germany has German, and Japan has Japanese, the BJP would like India to have "Indian" - viz.,Hindi. (15/)
Hindi is the language spoken by the most people in India, but they don't comprise an absolute majority - only 44% of the population. Language is an extremely polarizing topic in India. There have been many riots in India over the question of language imposition. (16/)
The best-known of these are the anti-Hindi agitations in the southern Tamil-speaking state of Tamil Nadu, but these tensions are present all over India. One example is the unresolved issue of the border districts of Belgaum and Dharwad between Maharashtra and Karnataka. (17/)
Maharashtra is a Marathi-speaking state, and Karnataka is a Kannada-speaking state. That Indians are divided by language became clear as early as 1952, when the demand for a state for Telugu speakers caused the formation of the first linguistic state, Andhra Pradesh.

This caused a domino effect. Within a decade, there were linguistic states all over India - Tamil Nadu for Tamil speakers, Kerala for Malayalis, West Bengal for Bengalis, and so on.

Both Karnataka and Maharashtra claim the border districts of Belgaum and Dharwad. (19/)
This is because the two districts have a mixed population of Marathi and Kannada speakers. This is a very emotive issue for both states.

Thus the idea that Hindi can be shoved down the throats of non-Hindi speakers as per the agenda is extremely unrealistic.

But the BJP is completely committed to this ideal.

And soon they will be in a position to bulldoze all opposition to it - thanks to the magic of democracy.

As I explained earlier, democracy has nothing to do with fairness. It has only to do with majorities.

What has happened is that Hindi speakers have multiplied at a faster rate than the rest of the Indian population. In democratic terms, that means Hindi speakers should have more votes.

But delimitation of Parliamentary constituencies has not been carried out since 1971.

Delimitation has been postponed again and again, but now it is sure to be done in 2026. When that happens, Hindi speakers will have so many seats that they need not care what non-Hindi speakers feel.

The figure below shows that Hindi speakers will control 61% of seats. (23/) Image
With such a majority, the BJP can make Hindi compulsory for all Indians after 2026 if they choose to. Union Home Minister #AmitShah has stated publicly several times his view that Hindi should be the language spoken by everyone.

Will such a move work?

This is a matter of opinion and speculation, but I believe it will irreparably fracture the fragile union that is India.

But India will still be a democratic country - until it ceases to exist and breaks into identity-based pieces.

Even religion and language are not enough to define a unified identity among Indians. Perhaps the best example of this is the partition of the first linguistic state of India, Andhra Pradesh, into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

And we cannot forget that the #Punjabi speaking state of #Punjab was in the grip of a two-decade insurgency when separatists wanted to create an independent #Khalistan in the 1980s. Hindi imposition might rekindle such movements.

India is a very fragile union of very different cultures. It can only remain united with a spirit of accommodation, of give-and-take. The founding fathers of India understood this and so created a federal secular state. (28/)
The BJP's attempt to change this tolerant and diverse culture of India by force, using the tools of democracy, appears likely to lead India into an irreparable, Balkanized future. It is an open question if India will remain in 20 years. (29/)
India is not France, Germany, Japan, China, or Russia. It is a unique social experiment. And history shows that the Hindu religion was never sufficient to unite the people of this land.

Of course, delimitation must be carried out if we are to remain democratic, because today the people of the Hindi Belt are being massively underrepresented in Parliament. One member of Parliament (MP) represents many fold as many citizens as an MP from, say, Tamil Nadu. (31/)
The question is what the MPs of the Hindi belt will do when they have this majority in Parliament and, with that majority, the power they will control.

Will they be magnanimous and share that power freely with the states of the minority languages, such as #Tamil / Bengali? (32/)
The BJP already seems to have answered that question by the way they have treated Muslims. Before the BJP under Modi came to power, political parties needed the support of Muslims. So there were many Muslim Maps, both in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

But under Modi, the ruling BJP does not have a single MP, either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. They don't need them.

Muslims are irrelevant in India today.

Will Tamils, Malayalis, Bengalis, Odias, Telugus, Kannadigas, Marathis be irrelevant in India after 2026?


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More from @KumarSeshadri

May 10
This tweet by a retired wealthy industrialist with too much time on his hands and no idea what to do with it illustrates what is wrong with India.

He extols the virtues of a clay water storage unit, the surahi, from the mid-20th century.


Of course, while he lives in unimaginable luxury, the likes of which we can't dream of.

It's a foolish comparison, because the surahi can only store and cool water by a few degrees, whereas the fridge can cool anything, preserve food, and make ice (needed for his scotch).

But that didn't stop Indian twitterati from going ga-ga over his tweet. Why?

Because if there's one thing guaranteed to give you applause in India today, it is hearkening to the past.
Our grandparents had the most wonderful life. Our country was great in the good old days.
Read 26 tweets
Apr 30
Mukul Kesavan writes in the Telegraph:

"It (Ed: the #WrestlersProtest) is made easier by the socially mainstream identities of the protesting wrestlers...they aren’t guilty of being Muslim..."

Kesavan doesn't get it. It's not Hindu/Muslim. It's pro/anti BJP/Modi. (1/)
Those are the only identities that matter in today's India. Are you with Modi or against him? And it doesn't matter how much you supported his actions in the past. One strike, and you are out. You have to show unwavering loyalty. (2/)
And it's not the government or the party that is expecting this. It is the people of the country.

And if they think you are an "anti-national" (if you have ever criticized Modi's government) they will stop buying the products you endorse or watch your films. (3/)
Read 6 tweets
Apr 24
In five years, #JoeBiden will likely get the #NobelPeacePrize. But not because he did anything proactively for peace.

It is because a #Multipolar World will be more peaceful than a unipolar one, and Biden has done more than anyone else (albeit unwittingly) to further that. (1/n)
The US-led #sanctions against #Russia in response to the #UkraineRussiaWar have forced countries around the world to abandon the US dollar as a medium of trade. This is forcing the rest of the world (non-West) together. Banning Russia from #swift was most important in this. (2/n)
#India and #China desperately need oil. Because of sanctions, Russia is providing oil at cheap rates to both. Russia has now become India's largest source of oil, displacing Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Chinese imports of Russian oil have also zoomed upwards. (3/n)
Read 18 tweets
Apr 16
There are many liberals who were first shocked about the encounter killing of #AsadAhmed and then horrified by the killings of #AtiqAhmed and #AshrafAhmed in custody. I count myself as a liberal, too, but I find these criticisms bereft of logic.

A 🧵 to explain why.

We would all like our justice system to operate with full due process. But that it doesn't is shown best by the fact that the term "encounter killing" is unique to India. You don't hear this term in Western countries. Outside India, these are known as #extrajudicialkillings (2/n)
Liberal commentators have denounced the killings of these three gangsters without due process as the complete failure of the law and order system. They are right. But this failure is not new. The first encounter killing in Mumbai happened in 1982 in Wadala.

Read 11 tweets
Apr 14
There has been a lot of outrage about the scrubbing of #MaulanaAzad from the history textbooks in India by the BJP, and justifiably so.

A thread 🧵. (1/n)
But for the last 75 years, nobody seems to have been outraged by the fact that the greatest Indian public intellectual of the 21st century, Dr. BR #Ambedkar, was practically scrubbed from history textbooks by Congress governments and BJP governments alike.

Sure, when I studied about Ambedkar in Maharashtra State Board textbooks, they told me that he was the author of the #indianconstitution and had grown up enduring great #castediscrimination. But THAT WAS ALL.

Read 17 tweets
Apr 6
Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) is an index that measures if the economy is growing or shrinking. It measures the economic activity each month and compares it with the previous month.

A value below 50 indicates that the economy is shrinking. Above 50 indicates that the economy is growing.

Current PMI values for March 2023.


China, 50.0
US, 46.3
UK, 47.9
EU, 47.3
Russia, 53.2

Services :

China: 57.8
US: 51.2
UK: 52.9
EU: 55.0
Russia, 58.1

China has been growing robustly since it ended the zero Covid policy. Russia is doing fine despite Western sanctions. The West is in recession.

Read 14 tweets

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