The Republic of Fear

Is India becoming a Republic of Fear ? The political discourse of the Prime Minister, Modi has stooped a new low during the ongoing election campaign for the Lok Sabha. Fear seems to have become his main weapon to catch votes. This is why maybe it is important for us to try to understand the power of fear in politics. Often politics of fear displays an arrogance of ignorance and construct an escape-goat who is than blamed for most of the ills that threaten the nation. To some extent, politic of fear is a return to pre-enlightenment form of thinking which naturalizes and normalizes some kind of irrational hate ridden social life. We seem to have come to accept a governance through in-security.

It appears that BJP has engineered and designed fear and employed to its advantage. But in the end what we have is a republic of fear where fear of the other/ minorities affect the majority and a kind of state phobia affects the minority. This time it appears that this very state phobia was evoked by PM Modi which indicated that the coming of Congress to power would pose danger to the Hindu community as it will hand over the wealth of the nation to the Muslim community. The rhetoric even shamelessly evoked the possibility of taking away the mangal sutra of the Hindu women and gift it to those who were described as having more children. But this discourse came back to haunt the BJP. The possibility of change of constitution by the ruling BJP if voted back to power produced a reverse fear as it thought that BJP would cancel all reservation which then took the Dalits and other backward castes away from incumbent BJP. Therefore, by understanding the depth and complexities of the power of fear, we might do a good analysis of our present condition.

We literally have nothing to fear but fear itself. There is an accentuation of fear in all forms of politics. This may be because of terror growing around the world. Right from the time of Thomas Hobbes, State power has been theorized and justified on the basis of fear. It is the fear of terror or disaster that led to the construction of the state. This is why, maybe we are afflicted by what we may call animal spirits that trigger both fear and hope in our society. We can find a politics of fear and hope crossing each other. There is ambiguity about this kris-crossing of both fear and hope. We seek hope against what we fear. This is why politics of fear is also a politics of hope at the other end of the spiral.

We seem to be only able to hope. Fear is short lived. It is hope that wins over fear. But what we hope against our worst fears can be disastrous and treacherous. The discourse of totalizing fear like the one unleashed by the BJP in its election campaigns is also an invitation to trust and hope in its promise. Hence, fear does have hope on its other side. The specter of fear triggers a desire in us to hope for a better future. This is here we need to critically scrutinize where we invest as our hope. This is because often the light that we see at the end of the tunnel maybe the head light of an engine that is coming to crush us. This seems to be what is happening to the ruling BJP. Although, it political discourse seems to use fear to infantilize the majority community, we can still see how the same community is refusing to be infantalized and stand firm as adults resisting the politics of fear.

People of our country seem to be moving away from essentialist, centrist and personality cult driven notion of power to a fluid or liquidified idea of power that enables them to access it to seek emancipation. This is why, perhaps, they might be even boycotting elections. The falling decimals of people failing to come to the polling booths is viewed as trouble to the ruling BJP which always boosts of its organizational power with their Panapramuks taking care of every polling booth. It appears that people of India are moving towards more a relational form of power and they are rejecting disciplinary power that uses fear as the chief force of motivation.

This is why suddenly hope seem to have turned into fear. What they hoped in and thought would build their life and destiny seems to have become their biggest fear. Although, it is too early to stick one’s neck and discern the under currents in the present election, there are still some signs that can assists us to see which side the winds are blowing. This task is of course more difficult because the godi media appears to be only backing the ruling benches. Yet what I say in not wishful thinking. It has grounds in the way social media channels are reporting from the ground. Even the slogan is bar chear sov par is gone silent. Perhaps, people have come to fear the fear injected by the BJP.

This does not mean the politics of fear will be banished from India. Fear will continue to be produced to garner votes and notes. It only for the first time people appear to be fearing the fear produced by the BJP. Hope and fear are changing sides. But the psychopolitics of fear will not die soon. It will only change sides. This is so because we can fear the producers of fear. For now, this is what seems to be happening. While we scrutinize our present condition, it is important to be able to see through the politics of fear and be able to find our emancipative response.

We need critical eyes to diagnose how fear, danger, insecurity is mobilized and employed against as people of India. We do have the challenge to continuously refuse to be infantilized and embrace the dignity of being adults and save our country from becoming a Republic of fear. We have the challenge to reject the appropriation of our voice in the name of religion, caste or gender. It is only in this way that we may be able to dismantle the apparatus of fear. We indeed have the imperative not to allow psychopolitics to degenerate into necropolitics that will rule over death and decide who is to live and who will have to die in India. No Indian is disposable. All life is sacred and precious. No one can dispose away any section of our country. If this happens we will be enslaved by a republic of fear .

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao