Causing Fear As Political Weapon of Governance: From Tacit to Open
By Amar Yumnam
Voltaire said long ago: “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” The full title of a 2011 book written by Andrew Napolitano also reads: “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong: the case for personal freedom.” The times are now such that as if a similar kind of feelings is being attempted to get aroused among the general public by the ruling political party in power through the manifested characters of governance.
It was in 1969 that I first learnt of the Magna Carta of 1215 through the lessons in British History. Those days we had British History as a compulsory subject in the terminal classes in the high school stage. I still remember how the History Teacher taught us so enthusiastically the lesson on the background and signing of Magna Carta. Since that time, my personal interest on this historical phenomenon has never declined, but rather has emerged ever robust. In due course, we did explore more about this Great Charter. While overall, as a prelude to the emergence of Parliament, the influence of the barons was being enhanced, in particular the Clause 61 reads: “the barons shall choose any twenty-five barons of the realm they wish, who with all their might are to observe, maintain and cause to be observed the peace and liberties which we have granted and confirmed to them by this our present charter.” If the monarch was felt to be violating the spirit of the charter, the council of the barons had the power to seize castles, churches and possessions “until, in their judgement, amends have been made.” This was the first internationally significant move towards acceptance of diversity and pluralism, and ultimate progression in the direction of inclusive politics. Times are now such that as if a similar kind of attempt like King John made the Pope annul the charter is being attempted. We are now in a situation where the government openly asserts that the citizens do not possess the appropriate capability to understand the intentions and contents of a bill the party in power is hell-bent on adopting rather than introspecting on why the cross-section of citizens are raising voices of objection. In a very worrying way, there are signs of divergence between the democratic value norms the public hold dear by and large on one hand and the political objectives of the government of the day.
The biggest troubling feature of the current issue around which the North East of India is on boil relates to: A. the linkage of migration policy formation with the political designs of the party in power; B. the linking up, in this twenty-first century, of the migration policy formulation with the religious inclinations of the powers that be today; C. an exclusionary approach to the migration policy formulation instead of endeavouring to move towards an inclusive plural society; and D. create an atmosphere of destruction for dominance by a politico-religiously defined group, instead of an atmosphere of creative destruction.
The contemporary global endeavour for change is for capitalising on the strengths of globalisation and deepening of democratic values. In fact, it is undeniable that India’s ability to sustain democracy and continue as a vibrant nations depends on the adoption of pluralism as a First Principle: Unity in Diversity. Now in their eagerness to continue in power and neutralise the possibility of their political opponents to come to power, the powers that be have now aggressively pursued the path of demolition of every institution that has sustained India after independence from the colonial yolk. While evolution is a social norm and disturbances should necessarily be there, the global international lesson emphasises the fundamentality of following the rule of creative destruction.
Globally too, the core foundations inter alia of the Millennium Development Goals 2030 are acceptance of pluralism and inclusiveness irrespective of caste, creed and sex as the guiding principles for development governance. In this even the adoption of tacit violence as a means to achieve an objective of development is disapproved.
The dangers of the migration policy being envisaged through the adoption of the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 are many. A few of these are invariably threatening for the Northeast. First, the manifest behaviour of the party in power displays a feature of caring a hoot for the Northeast. This gets reinforced by continual assertions of illogical and impossible promises of corrections. Second, the approach is one of doing away with all the transition issues of the Northeast through demographic suppression.
Let me end with a quotation from The Governance of Problems: Puzzling, powering, participation of Robert Hoppe: “Governance of problems is not only about problems or topics to be discussed; it also concerns quality controls and the allowance or disallowance of information, procedural and competence rules for who can and cannot participate in the question-and-answer game. In short, rulers and ruled in interaction and political struggle implicitly or explicitly decide on who, on behalf of whom, may question/answer what, when and how. Rulers and ruled make use of an ‘ensemble’ of institutions, beliefs, practices and rules around the question-and-answer game of democratic politics. Jointly, I propose to call their engagement with this ensemble, the way it is used by rulers and ruled, the governance of problems.
The system is democratic and responsive if a majority of citizens feels satisfied with the problem-processing chain’s final link – policy outputs. Or, if they are not happy, at least they can live with them as legitimate outputs of the question and- answer process.”
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