The age of unreason is upon us. In India it was unleashed in 2014, when a historic election gave us a strong leader and his cohorts. Almost three and half years later, we, the people, are pieces in a petri dish bubbling with hate and ignorance, deluged under the broth of unhistory and pseudoscience. The scientists of Hindutva, high on cow urine, with half knowledge and full conviction have been given the keys to the country. It is theirs to trample; every lynching, every act of violence against the Other is a notch on the saffron scabbard of the righteous.

The descendants of Savarkar and Golwalkar, the followers of Mohan Bhagwat, Amit Shah and Narendra Modi have found the magic to uncork every prejudice, every discontent in the minds of the majority, and through strategies subtle and crass work it to their advantage. The result has been a sharp degradation of the public sphere, a consistent and systematic undermining of institutions, and a constant attack on constitutional freedoms.

The Supreme Court and High Courts—though patchy as their record on rights is—are by default almost the only check on this government’s plans. The nine-judge bench’s unanimous verdict declaring the right to privacy as a fundamental right and something intrinsic to life is a stellar pronouncement. The full impact of the judgment can only be felt on pending cases over time—those on Aadhaar, marital rape, and section 377.

What stands out amid all this are the lies of the government. Cabinet Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in a press conference said the government had always supported the fundamental right to privacy. For added emphasis he also blamed the Congress. That a minister can lie so blatantly to the public is stunning. It is as true as the “fact” that Savarkar never wrote grovelling letters to the British, pledging lifelong servitude for freedom. Prasad’s is just one lie in the long list of lies being sold by the government. Whether it is numbers about demonetisation, tax filings, or lynchings—the Modi government can’t be trusted to tell the truth. It thrives on misinformation; falsehoods fuel its agenda.

The government expected to bulldoze everyone; the court has told it where to get off. It can’t swallow that, so has to blow its hollow trumpet. Ministers like Prasad are only too happy to be of service.

Saurav Kumar

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