India’s Slide Into Wonderland: Hindutva’s Theatre of the Absurd

Meha Dhondiyal

But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)

Haruki Murakami, the very popular Japanese novelist in his curious book IQ84 talks of a parallel world to ours where one can slip into without knowing.Strange and improbable things happened in the unreal world which had 2 moons. And the only way to figure out whether you were in the real world or the parallel world was the see the sky and see whether there were one moon or two. During the past few weeks, I’ve often had the urge to peer up at the sky convinced that I would see two moons instead of one. Because what’s happening in India right now couldn’t be real.

Muslims warnedSince February 9th, India has seen rampaging looting mobs next to Delhi, destroying property worth thousands of crores and allegedly gang raping women travelling in cars, even as the police allegedly told them to hush up and go home. India has seen lawyers assaulting accused and journalists inside court premises despite orders from the Supreme Court. India has seen the Bar Council tut tutting at the violent lawyers calling the assault ‘a reaction’. India has seen a film actors referring to the people as ‘keeda makoda’ or vermin and rooting for their extermination. Of course India has also watched fascinatedly and with hate filled eyes as a group of college students are hauled of to jail for sedition for shouting 29 slogans inside their campus. In between there were doctored tapes, and policemen with no evidence, and ministers calling for terrorist connections based on fake accounts. And amongst all this madness it’s only the slogan-shouting students who are rotting in jail. If you were prescient about this then you have grasped the essence of Murakami’s unreal world.

However the worse is yet to come. The most shocking has been the news of the Union Minister of State for HRD, the deputy of Ms. Smriti Irani, Ram Shankar Katheria attending a meeting at Agra where honorable Sri Ram Shankar Katheria said “if the cow murderers were not brought under the thumb of law, it was certain that every locality of the city will be holding such condolence meetings soon…” (Ref India Today). Katheria added that his ministership wouldn’t deter him. “The administration might think that main to mantri ho gaya, haath bandh gaye (that because I’m a minister, my hands are tied).”

The honorable MP from Agra Mr. Babulal, went a step further and “said that the Hindus were ready to fight the decisive battle with Muslims in the interest of the community.”

The fact that a minister of the Central Cabinet, a member of Parliament invoked in a public meeting tried to provoke an entire community to violence is unbelieveable even in the banana republic that India is becoming. However not a single member of the bjp, including the PM whose cabinet he graces, has expressed shock or anger or started an inquiry about how upholders of law can give calls to provoke violence in community. Whispers say that its because the hatred and division of communities will reap a great harvest in the upcoming state elections.

As we write the minister has said that the front page report splashed in the newspapers was completely untrue. Three people have been named by the police for the inciting speeches, but neither the minister nor the MP or the MLAs are named. While the students of JNU are trying to figure out why inciting people to violence and killing is not a sedition and why arent these ministers and elected representative in jail, instead of their fellow students?

What is the point to all this you say? Well the only point to this is to tell you dear readers, that on 9th february 2016, India slipped from the real world into the parallel world of Murakami. We don’t know we’re there, but we are there. Where starnge unbelieveable things happen and two moons hang in the sky. If you peer out of your window right now, you will see both the moons.

“Well, in our country,” said Alice “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

(Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass)

Meha Khanduri is an alum from Columbia University, New York and works on issues of human rights and conflict in India.