India votes. My impressions from last year

Written 25.02.2018

How will this end?

The situation here in India has given me a cause for great concern on a number of issues. Freedom is under attack at the universities. Now that I have been able to discuss about the situation with more and more people the message repeats itself. Academic freedom and the voices of criticism are under constant scrutiny from the government. What worries me the most is the expressions of fear that I see lurking under the brave faces of the people who are attempting to fight back.

At different conferences, lectures and talks around dinner tables and even on the street with smart and educated people this message keeps on repeating itself. And we are all thinking how come democracy and freedom is being under attack all across the US, to Europe and even India. Forces that come with solutions that attack core principles of freedom are on the rise across the board.

In Europe, and at least in Finland, we do not seem to be following the developments of India at all in the public debate. We focus more on the situation in the US and the Middle East and North Korea or Turkey. Whereas the deterioration of the situation, when it comes to democratic principles and values, in India has either been underreported or not reported at all. What we can do in Europe or in the United States to help India is limited especially now that we are moving into our own struggles to retain the democratic order. However, the least we can do is to be aware of the situation and to understand that these developments are part of a larger undesired movement.

Here in India I have come to understand that the struggle is no longer in some far-away land somewhere in a different world or in the realm of theories. The struggle for freedom and democracy has come to our streets, homes and institutions back home. And India itself serves a stark reminder of the dangers we face in case authoritarian forces are voted into office. For they will begin to limit our core freedoms and draw us into an abysmal emptiness of authoritarian rule where a narrow-sighted fascism begins to polarize people according to their ethnicities. In Europe Poland and Hungary have already experienced what such rule means in practical terms. Freedoms have been limited and those to be blamed have been conveniently found with disregard to the realities on the ground. Whereas the United States democracy has been unmasked for what it currently is. Authoritarianism with its kleptocratic tentacles that lead to societal corrosion is not well equipped to deal with contemporary societal challenges but will only remove our means to solve issues.

One of the questions that has come to my mind here in India is: Has humanity began its erosion towards civilizational destruction? News from across the board seem bleak from several different dimensions and now the dark clouds before the eruption of the storm are gathering. Our planet is being destroyed whereas economic inequalities keep growing and now freedom itself is under attack in the cradles of democracy. And the only hope that can prevent this development come from the people themselves who need to stand up for their rights and fight for freedom itself.

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