Debashish Roy Chowdhury and John Keane's 'To Kill a Democracy' deals with the question how democracies get killed and dismisses the commonplace perspective of the “breakdowns”.
The title of Debashish Roy Chowdhury and John Keane’s book, To Kill a Democracy: India’s Passage to Despotism, implies that India was a democracy which has been killed and transformed into despotism under Narendra Modi. Not quite; it rather argues that the current state of degeneration, though representing a kink in the slow-paced rhetorical liberalism of plutarchy, is not entirely brought about by the Hindutva dispensation. Its seeds were sown right at the time of independence.
The Modi rule since 2014 has certainly accelerated its degeneration towards despotism on account of its anxiety to accomplish its long cherished dream of the Hindu rashtra in a compressed time frame. The uncomfortable truth propounded by the book has been hitting us off and on – that one may not find a single act of misdemeanour by this dispensation, which did not have precedence in the Congress regime in some form. Undoubtedly, Modi’s creed has been declaredly undemocratic. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), his ideological parent, is too well known for its fascist antecedents to expect him to be democratic. He knows, all the dictators and despots in the world in recent times have grabbed power through democratic means (elections) before they killed democracy. He is marching unmistakably in their footsteps.
The foundation of the post-colonial Indian state has itself been murky. The most precious of its creations that established its democratic credentials, the Preamble of the Constitution, proclaimed that the newly born post-partition India would be a sovereign democratic republic, which would secure to all its citizens justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. However, the Constituent Assembly that birthed it itself had hardly represented one-fourth of people, the people with property and education, even in the expanded suffrage. And therefore ‘we the people of India’ was meant to be an abstraction, a political fiction, divorced from the real people, and destined to grow antithetical to them in the course of time.