Citizenship and compassion

Can India manage with a certain amount of disorder to sustain a plural vision of democracy?
The current situation in Assam seems like a nightmare, a warning about the internal contradictions of democracy. It is a warning that the 19th century ideas of democracy as electoral-ism and the notion of the nation-state as a fetishism of borders may be inappropriate as imaginations for the 21st century. It is a caution that governance and politics are full of ironies and paradoxes and that the best of intentions might lead to the worst consequences. Inherent in it is the banalisation of evil that can take place when suffering on a large scale gets reduced to a cost-benefit scenario. Democratic India rarely had experiences of detention camps, except during the India-Pakistan wars, and in 1962 when Indians of Chinese origin were unfairly detained in camps. The last episode, a stain on the Indian conscience, is forgotten or swept aside. Today, the statistic of four million names off the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) is reduced to an everyday problem of management. This routinisation of violence is deeply worrying.
Surveillance state

There is another piece of cynicism that one needs to be cautious of. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is adept at projecting a mastery of electoral frames and governance to maximise electoral output. It took the normalcy of a governance project and turned it into a panopticon, classifying citizens through a system of surveillance, creating a sense of sovereignty where the bureaucrat plays god, deciding who is in and who is out. With 40 lakh names off the final draft of the NRC, it has made a play for the majoritarian vote. The party will dwell on the claim that it took the bull by the horns, updating the citizens’ register, a challenge the Congress was not up to.
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