Mixing 2 wrong chemicals in an equation can cause destruction. Moral of the story? Always strike a correct balance when mixing 2 things. It seems our government can benefit the most from this moral as they not only want to control their own field, which is politics but wants to dominate and control others (judiciary, education, universities) as well. By doing so, they can ensure that they have a say in things for which they do not have the credentials nor the expertise.
The government, by planting their fellowmen and counterparts in different committees, boards and universities can impact the decisions and policies in their favor. When seen in the long run, this means, suppressing the independence and integrity of bodies, dictating and delivering decisions in their favor by shooting the gun from someone’s shoulder. For instance, if a committee has a pro-right wing member, his presence can slant the entire committee’s decision towards that party.
Here are examples of how the government tries to mix up things and try to suppress anything and everything which is against their ideology:
The National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) was a body which was proposed to replace the currently operating Collegium System which was termed as ‘illegal’ by the Centre. While the Collegium system mainly involves judges appointing judges, the NJAC included non-judicial members as well including the Law Minister.
Well, involving government to appoint judges to higher court could pose a threat to the independence of the judiciary. Partiality and bias could easily seep into the verdicts and judgments. For instance, having a Law Minster as a member of the commission could mean that the judgment would be partial towards any cases which are against the government. Sensing this, Justice J.S. Khehar stated that the expectation from the judiciary can only be ensured by keeping it independent from other organs of governance and political executive.
Had the SC not declared the NJAC unconstitutional and void it would mean politicians having control of which judge to appoint, his/her opinion in the verdicts passed- which is highly likely to be vested by their own political agenda. As said by the former CJI VN Khare, the government is usually the main opponent of the public. A politician’s say in the appointment of judges could lead to abuse of executive power and could be used by the government in appointing the judges of their choice. A commission like this would mean suppressing justice regarding any cases which go against the government.
In the year 2015, Gajendra Chauhan – an actor turned politician – was appointed as the chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Unhappy with this decision, the students sparked a protest questioning his artistic abilities and creative credentials. Many saw this appointment as an attempt made by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government spread its right-wing agenda upon the institute. After all, the best way to curb an institution’s autonomy is by putting your own people inside. These people make sure that the right-wing ideology prevails and anything deemed not suitable by the party is suppressed. For instance, the president of the BJP student wing thrashed an FTII student for organising a cultural event for a group which they suspected had Maoist links. Further, he even forced him to say ‘Jai Narendra Modi’. His refusal attracted more activists who assaulted him and called him an anti-national. More and more appointments are based on political affiliations than merit-based. Well, Chauhan was made to resign, but, Anupam Kher, whose wife is a BJP MLA was then appointed.
With such appointment are we producing an entire generation of film-makers, producers and artists who, instead of being liberal and free thinkers, are slanted to a political ideology. Little to our knowledge, these political appointments will, in the long run, have its impacts felt in the entire film and entertainment industry and end of imagination and creativity. The similar has been the case with the JNU, with the Modi government trying to get leaders of their choices to head the university. That’s exactly why he recommended Jagadesh Kumar, a BJP leader, as the vice chancellor. His appointment was to instill nationalism among the students and his idea of education is oppressed pedagogy and not liberal education. During his time as a VC, there was a regular entry of police forces and Hindutva thugs, who arrested students from the campus. As a result, due to this Hindutva agenda on the campus, the university has experienced dropouts and intakes have been drastically cut down.
RELIGION WITH EDUCATION
While we went to school we all remember learning about the Mughals and their history in India. Thus we know about the various wars which involved them, what all they conquered in India, etc. However, don’t be shocked if your little sibling looks at you blankly and asks you, ‘Who is Akhbar?’. Slowly and gradually, the government has assumed the roles of being school textbooks authors and erasing and suppressing chapters which involve the Mughals (mainly Muslims). For instance, in the year 2014, the Gujarat government introduced 9 books from classes 1-12, which were written by Hindu nationalist ideologues. In fact, they also forced the Penguin India Publishers to withdraw books that deemed ‘hurtful’ to the Hindu religion. School books are published as per the guidelines specified by the National Council of Education Research and Technology. However, the 9 books published clearly deter the mentioned guidelines. As per a professor in the Gujarat University, the BJP and RSS are trying to infuse right-wing ideology in the school curriculum by printing books with a religious bias in them.
Such forced inclusion of Hindutva in the curriculum for the students would mean an entire generation equating India to Hindus, which is wrong. This will keep them grossly unaware of other religions like Muslims, Christians or Sikhs. As rightly said by a scholar at the Gujarat Institute of Development Research– if children are taught from a young age about Hindu supremacy and glory, they will not question it at a later stage in their life.
Until the year 2016, never did the National Human Right Commission included an active politician as a member of the committee. Avinash Khanna, who was a former BJP vice-president and in charge of the party’s J&K unit, will now be a member of the commission. However, this was not seen as a welcome decision by the human rights groups. They are of the opinion that human right institutions are supposed to serve citizens, and not become subservient to political masters. This move is seen as an attempt by the current ruling party to reward its members with crucial posts as largesse.
Although the BJP has justified this move by stating that he has resigned from the earlier post, but, does it guarantee that a person, who has been an active member of the RSS during his youth or a leader for the ruling party, will be independent and objective in cases against human right violation done – directly or indirectly by the party. For example, the NHCR had played a crucial role in after the mass attacks on Muslims in Gujarat during the 2002 riots. It had also recommended a probe into allegations made by Tehelka tapes on the post-Godhra human right violations. The party then had slammed the commission’s decision as uncalled for and stated that the NHCR was biased against the party. Now, by having a member of their choice in the commission might help them get an upper hand against any future allegations like these. That’s the reason independence in the commission is so important. According to Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asian director of Human Rights Watch, if a member of the ruling party was to be appointed to the commission, that person should be able to criticise the government.