AM, Damni and Suchitra
The 21st century has been an eventful century. The past two decades have exposed the world to a number of vulnerabilities. Majoritarianism has seen a steep rise in many countries around the world which has increased the threats to global peace. The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped the demagogues from attempting their fascist misadventures. Of all the tactics used by religious nationalist leaders to crush resistance movements, the use of the majoritarian appeal has been the most unpleasant. With this majoritarian appeal comes the distortion of history and the building of narratives that are aimed at carrying out unimaginable crimes against the oppressed. The defense of an illegal action is sought in majoritarian societal sentiment which also becomes a pretext to crush the just demands of an oppressed population.
The Modi government in India has led to the alienation of several groups of people living in India. While some laws have been passed with an aim to deregulate the already exploitative market, some are aimed at disenfranchising the minorities. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 puts at stake the dignity of a great chunk of the population of India- Indian Muslims. The farm bills bring up the question of development as seen from a capitalist, majoritarian lens. Farmers continue to protest in the face of increasing exploitative regimes of privatisation. In the pandemic, the Modi government resorted to privatise coalmines, an industry that has already led to the displacement and disenfranchisement of Adivasis, the denigration of the environment. In this issue, we have attempted to analyse the corporatism of this regime, although we would encourage more indigenous voices hereon.
The annexation of Indian-administered Kashmir and the siege imposed by the government of India only reflect how far it can go to put the lives of people at a halt. It can crush a populace and enforce a collective punishment on them to satisfy the sadistic pleasures of the fringe who also happen to represent the majoritarian aspirations of the country. The people of Kashmir are living under a brutal military occupation and the pandemic has made their lives even worse, making it resemble a “lockdown within a lockdown” kind of scenario, as people have rightly called it. The internet siege that was recently lifted impacted the economy of Kashmir at a massive level making the local economy crumble under the unjust policies of the government. The governmental setup in Kashmir is nothing short of a colonial arrangement organized to further disenfranchise the people of Kashmir.
The Indian state has attempted to surveil and control activism, dissent and resistance. While the fascist misadventures of the government have not been countered as effectively as they should have been, the situation for a huge majority of people is hopeless. The pandemic has further put a lot of people in a disadvantageous position. People with absolutely no resources find it hard to sustain themselves, marginalized communities fail to access relief due to technological exclusion and inadequate fund releases. To move ahead in life is out of the question. Inequalities are enforced upon people. Deregulation and privatization are forced upon the people. Militarization and occupation are normalized. Hate for particular groups is normalized. People are seen as entities that can be used to define majoritarian narratives. Independent voices are muzzled and journalism is dictated. These are all the features of an authoritarian state run by strongmen.
However, in a country like India, such developments mostly go unnoticed. The liberal media and the liberal democratic institutions only end up sustaining such oppression through their sophisticated propaganda. Their sense of democracy is confined to a “hard shell” which prevents them from seeing the reality. The plain propaganda of the right-wing media does not impair the sense of reality as much as the cosmetic propaganda of the liberal media does.
DeCenter aims to counter the lies of the liberal media and the false promises of centrist politics. The idea is to give space to resistance writings and art coming from the geopolitical margins. In our first issue, we have tried our best to make space for ideas that examine critically the costs of “development” that fascist governments talk about. The government and its liberal allies may obfuscate the real impact of the farm laws but our idea is to highlight the voices of the people affected by such legislation. We do not want to speak for them or discuss who can and apparently cannot speak. We want to listen. As Paulo Freire also warned us: for a truly democratic setup to exist, two groups of people must be situated on the same level. One need only recall the agenda of “development” that was endorsed by India’s liberal media about Kashmir while Kashmiris were disenfranchised and their land was annexed. It was a “masterstroke” to the liberal media, with its heads debating the authenticity of the move with men like themselves while the people of Kashmir suffered alone, as they have been for the past so many decades. Their voices were throttled by the media as the “normal” was sold the world over. The executive government and its ills were exposed as people gasped for breath. While the centrist propaganda found space everywhere, it was the reality and resistance of the people that was crushed. We intend to fill that void. To give people a platform where they can voice their opinion and tell their stories of resistance to the world.
The oppression will not last, but resistance shall live long.