Where Nationalism Has No Answers – By Yasmeen Serhan
Narendra Modi is no stranger to protests. Since his reelection last year, the Indian prime minister’s policies, including his decision to revoke the constitutional autonomy of Kashmir, India’s sole Muslim-majority state, and last year’s contentious move to establish a religious test for people from neighboring countries seeking citizenship that excludes Muslims, have triggered a number of mass demonstrations.
In both instances, Modi was largely able to overcome the unrest with the help of heavy-handed crackdowns and nationalist appeals. Those opposed to the stripping of Kashmir’s protected status were accused of instigation and sedition, while peaceful protests against the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act were branded as the work of “anti-nationals” swayed by “jihadists, Maoists, and separatists.”
But recent demonstrations by tens of thousands of farmers opposed to new agricultural reforms won’t be so easily subdued. The scale of the protests, paired with the widespread public support for the farmers, has put Modi in the unusual position of negotiating with his own detractors. Efforts to undermine the protesters as a distrusted “other” have fallen flat….