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Thursday, 17 September 2020

The dark but definitive contours of India’s emerging, new republic

The announcement slipped quietly into the Lok Sabha on September 15.

Alongside the fisheries minister’s relief package for fisheries and the health minister’s study on the efficacy of yoga in the recovery of Covid-19 patients, the culture minister declared an expert committee would start a “holistic study of original and evolution of Indian culture to since (sic) 12000 years”. The members included archeologists, a former Supreme Court judge, a Canadian-Indian immunologist and veterinary surgeon and the chairman of the “World Brahmin Federation”.

Do not be surprised if a report emerges some day of Hinduism and the caste system predating the Indus Valley civilisation and finds evidence of ancient flying chariots and nuclear physics. The cue to blurring the boundaries of religious myth and science came six years ago, when, soon after taking office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the elephant-headed god Ganesha as proof of ancient India’s prowess in plastic-surgery.

Farce and falsehood

The transformation of irrational belief, farce and falsehood – manufactured in the Hindutva thought factory – into WhatsApp forward and elevated to party and government policy is largely established. This process will be increasingly deployed in drawing the contours of the new republic, which is here in form, if not in constitutional decree. You can call...

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