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Mainstream media is not willing to reveal that racial hatred is used to divide people and destroy society

By Asokan Nambazhikkad*
The right to dissent is supreme in a democracy. In its essence, democracy exists on the strength of the will of individuals and groups to dissent and disagree. It is this will, which even an individual in the lowest strata of society should be able to exercise, that is being hacked at its roots every day in contemporary India.
The government and the political parties which run them are trying to tame dissenters or to suppress them if they cannot; they will even take their life if these attempts fail. Individual liberty and fearless interventions are obstacles to governments to protect their secret interests and to parties to protect their vested interests.
Thus individuals, media and small groups which intervene independently and fearlessly against injustice and exploitation in society are perceived as threats by the state. The politics of hatred generated by the Sangh Parivar, which controls the Indian state today, divides and destroys society in various ways. The Modi government is implementing policies that render the plight of the lowest strata of society such as peasants, workers, dalits and Adivasis miserable.
The mainstream media and parties are not willing to reveal that racial hatred to divide people is being sponsored by the state to facilitate easy sell out of our resources including forests, hills and farmlands etc to Corporates and business tycoons.
Farmers who commit suicide in utter helplessness in their own land; Moslems and dalits tortured and killed by lynch mobs; students driven to suicide by physical and mental torture in institutions of higher education; babies who die due to lack of facilities in hospitals—all these are burning issues which afflict our nation.
The mainstream political parties are competing among themselves to lend support to sinister moves such as note ban and demonetization. It is in such a deplorable situation that individuals and small groups who dare to expose these miseries and sufferings of people become noticeable. They are active individually in their own fields such as writing, art, research etc.
When these are pursued honestly and fearlessly, society will be forced to notice them. Their interventions grow mature enough to create movements in society. Governments perceive them as threats to their vested interests. Therefore, they initiate actions, conventional as well as new, to oppose and suppress these independent, courageous individuals, institutions and groups.
Those who do not yield to these intimidations are targeted to be dealt with ruthlessly. The latest example for this in India is the fate of Gauri Lankesh. She had to sacrifice her life for exposing the corruption, discrimination based on caste and religion, and corporate hegemony all around, through a magazine, that too, a little magazine, which she inherited from her father and continued to publish.
For the freedom to decide what to eat Pehloo Khan had to give up his life; for the sake of his religious identity, Affrul had lost his life. India’s prime minister, who has ascended to the peak of his power treading the blood- stained path of communal hatred, is trying to retain it by destroying even the last patches of democracy. We cannot afford to be silent any more. Fascism is not just an ordinary wind blowing from north to south; it is a whirlwind that attacks and destroys our sense of freedom and the soil on which we have our foothold.
When the anti-people nature of development is questioned or opposed, fascism manifests through multiple forms of oppression against the dissenters. Puthuvaippin and the anti- GAIL pipe line struggles saw the might of the state’s high handed suppression of peoples’ demand for justice.
Fascism has taken a strong stance against the liberty of individuals to choose their own way of life and of head-covered girls to dance in public place. It is afraid of women’s freedom to move about. When patriarchal power in social, cultural and political spheres is questioned, it appears as mob violence.
Fascism is intolerant to any attempt of individuals for autonomy and freedom. It has demonstrated its orthodox attitudes and intolerance towards protests such as ‘kiss of love’ to flash mobs; towards protests of Adivasi- Dalit groups and the ones like Puthuvaippin against the potential disasters of development. Apart from racism and divisiveness, Fascism is pursuing a policy of exclusion of large chunks of the population from the economy.
Resistance against fascism cannot be sustained, unless the development perspectives which exclude or marginalize dalits, Adivasis, backward communities, sexual minorities, women and so on are challenged. On the one hand, fascist administrations are manufacturing divisive discourses and debates every day in order to create a split among the people; on the other, they are implementing their hidden economic agenda meticulously.
Within a short period the Modi government has already implemented several serious economic ‘reforms’ including currency ban in the Financial and Banking sector. Without any attempt to recover the bad debts of the corporate defaulters, the govt is trying to enact laws to bail out public sector banks from bankruptcy, by looting from the begging bowls of poor ordinary citizens.
State Bank of India, the largest public sector bank in India, has extorted Rs 1774 crores from the accounts of people who do not have even money enough to retain the required minimum balance, penalizing them for not having money! The very same companies which are the biggest defaulters responsible for bad debts, have now been entrusted to bully ordinary citizens in the name of ’Asset Reconstruction’!
By fabricating court cases, conducting raids, and even liquidating people, attempts to mangle the media and personnel who handle this issue in politically honest and straightforward way are being made frequently today. Recent among them are the experiences of Paranjoy Guha Thakurtha, hunted out of “Economic and Political Weekly” for publishing an article on Adani and harassment on the personnel of “The Wire” ,an online publication.
In this dark and sinister scenario, it is our duty to try to protect the right to dissent and democratic freedom .Strong resistance against casteist-religious hatred and developmental fascism will have to be built up. We think it is essential at this juncture to organize meetings and promote interactions and serious discussions among activists of all hues, social, environmental as well as those belonging to alternative media, in order to develop further areas of co-operation and mutual support. 
Without getting entangled in the false discourses thrust on us by Fascists and fringe elements within their hold, we have to recognize that it is time to oppose vehemently the policies including the economic policy which turns the life of ordinary people extremely miserable.
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*This is the concept note of the two-day seminar to be held on February 27 and 28 at Sahithya Akademi Hall, Thrissur, organized by Keraleeyam collective on Right to Dissent. Those who will participate include Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, MK Venu (Fouder Editor, The Wire), Vinod K Jose (Executive Editor, Caravan), Binu Mathew (Counter Currents), Parnab Mukherjee (Kindle), BRP Bhaskar (Veteran Journalist), M Suchithra (Writer, Journalist), and Nachiketa Desai (veteran journalist)

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Mainstream media is not only promoting partisan views but also trying to prove them as correct. This trend is unhealthy because people are led to believe false information without verifying facts and analysing the information

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