South Asia Solidarity Initiative joins hundreds of millions throughout India and millions in the diaspora that refuse to go along with Modi and his hateful agenda. Modi came to power with support of only 30% of the popular vote. We stand with the other 70% that voted against Modi and his fundamentalist, anti-people ideology.
Modi’s propaganda machine and some sections of the Indian media will have the world believe that the vast majority of Indians and Indian American community support Modi. Some have even asked us why we are dampening the euphoric welcome that some sections of the Indian American community have planned for Modi. “Why are you digging up the decade old issues,” they have asked us. How does one forget the heinous slaughter, rapes and murders of over 1000 minorities in Gujarat in 2002? Authoritative sources agree that Modi clearly had state intelligence about the ensuing violence, and also conspired with extremist vigilantes to plot and allow for the mass murder of minorities. He has played a role in actively derailing the justice and rehabilitation process for victims of the Gujarat pogrom. What are the consequences of letting a man get away with genocide? The denial of truth and justice for the 2002 Gujarat victims and survivors, allowed for the anti-Christian mass violence in Orissa in 2008, and the anti-minority terror in Uttar Pradesh last year. Violence against Dalits and women have also continued, stoked by the political culture of cruelty and disregard.
As South Asians concerned for advancing basic standards of democracy and human rights in India and universally, we believe that it is our moral responsibility to refuse to go along with the Modi euphoria and continue to voice our concerns and criticisms of bigotry and violence. Not doing so not only justifies this bigotry, but normalizes the acceptance of hateful ideologies and future repressive policies. We also condemn the ready forgiveness and apologism handed down to Modi by some Indians in the diaspora. His victory of Prime Minister-ship with a paltry less than one third of the vote, does not wash away his complicity in the killings, rape and displacement of thousands. The rise of Narendra Modi is the result of the anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, casteist, and hateful ideology that propaganda has tried to sanitize with the false rhetoric of development and economic progress, which advances the super-rich while betraying the poor and toiling billion. In fact, under Modi’s authoritarian leadership of the country, his extremist ideology is being infused deeper throughout the government machinery. During Modi’s first hundred days, he has already begun suppressing democracy, and the rights of the media and public to know the workings of government. Widely supported employment and livelihood programs have been gutted; while corrupt deals with the mega-rich have been unleashed. Modi makes casual anti-science comments denying the grave nature of climate change, while expanding fossil-fuel exploitation that destroys livelihoods, and doing nothing as floods and rising sea levels threaten many more. Prices for basic needs are rising all across India; with the promise of new jobs nowhere in sight. These are the consequences of letting a man get away with genocide.
As progressive South Asians, we join in solidarity with other progressive voices to interrupt the emboldened Hindutva extremists and fight fundamentalism everywhere. We will never forget. We will never give up. We celebrate and continue our rich traditions of working towards democracy and social justice for all.
We must be prepared, that Modi may be in power for some time. Some BJP voters are already disillusioned and disappointed. More and more will regret their vote. It is our responsibility — as social activists, journalists, people of conscience — to be vigilant, and shed a bright light on any policies, incidents, or even veiled threats to Christians, Muslims, Dalits, ordinary Bahujan farmers, workers, the poor, critical journalism, human rights and democracy itself. And it is our responsibility to shed a light on journalists, social movements, and ordinary people from the majority who voted against Modi — who speak out and mobilize for better policies, better culture, better India and world for all.