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22 Feb, 2014

Modi’s rise a defeat for freedom in India – DAWN.COM

In voting Modi to power, the bargain India’s citizenry and corporate world would probably be making — with what consequences in the long term no one can quite predict — is the privileging of economic growth and “good governance” over intellectual freedom and the long-standing secular consensus of a Hindu-majority but multi-faith country (often denounced as “pseudosecular” by the BJP).

India’s most popular politician has scant respect for religious and intellectual diversity, as his record shows. And there is every reason to believe that while markets may go up when he takes office, an index of freedom would on the whole go downward. Even if Modi now resolutely speaks the language of development and social cohesion, he has never explicitly repudiated his record of provocation with its basis in anti- Muslim prejudice. There’s no doubt that his victory would be a tremendous incentive to Hindu right-wing groups in their campaign to interpret a religious tradition monochromatically and to rewrite history textbooks in Indian schools (well- described in the writer William Dalrymple’s long essay “India: The War Over History”). This would bring about a tremendous constriction of India’s public sphere.

Read the rest: Modi’s rise a defeat for freedom in India – DAWN.COM.