Sunday, May 13, 2018

Rapes and Riots: Controlled Violence in post Gujarat India

There are two different patterns of riots in India. The one that attempts to divide the country into two. There is a second that attempts to translate riots to electoral dividend. The first is wide spread, with high death toll and often political consequences often with a degraded political images that take years to recover from. If we look at the consequences of Gujarat 2002, even after the Supreme Court of India monitored Special Investigative Team (SIT) gives clan cheat to the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi (see livemint), there are confusions continuing (see India Resists) regarding whether it can be considered as a clean chit or not.

The dilemma:

Why should there be riots being linked to the politics with communal fault-line? There are two related and known reasons, first, religious fault-line helps propagation of particular forms of ideologies, such as those who wish to see India in a particular form of religious state in opposition to Islamic Pakistan. Second, religious fault-line often prioritizes issues which has no link to the deliverables of the state, such as the people's protections from 'others' - for so long, its the Muslim others. Meanwhile an Yale University study done by three Political Scientists have shown clear association of BJP's electoral gain from riots (click here). The second most effective method followed by BJP to gain electoral win is through coalition. BJP happens to be an expert coalition maker (Sudha Pai 2013 and Sridharan 2013 click here). Hence, there happens to be a double edged sword with which BJP has to move. First, it cannot afford to take part in a full fledged riots which can only make subsequent coalition building process difficult. Second, as I have already discussed with evidence, it is quite difficult to erase public memory, especially about the person held responsible in the public image.

How can one leave such a tested political game plan ever?

Smaller incidents and newer strategies:

What instead we are seeing in practice is smaller incidents of 'riot-like' situations, such as those in West Bengal and disturbing trends of rapes in Kathua on a Muslim girl and in Unnao on a Dalit girl. Both the cases represents classic examples of women seen as non-human objects to be marked, used and so on. Rape happens to be the instruments to humiliate men by assulting 'their' women. Both of these are representations of masculinity, political and sexual identity as I have already discussed in my previous post (see Rapes as Instruments: India's Chances of Survival). 

Presently, India is witnessing what may be termed as "controlled violence" and not a full fledged genocide as was evident in Gujarat 2002. 

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1 comment:

  1. Rightly said, this is the new model. Controlled violence and a lot of creation of threat perception in the public sphere