Rakesh Sharma directed Final Solution, a searing documentary on the 2002 genocide of Muslims in Gujarat. He has continued to go back since then to record the changing face of the state’s right-wing politics. Excerpts from an interview with Namrata Joshi:
How did you start documenting Gujarat?
While working in 1991, on a Channel 4 documentary on the caste-based and centrist polity, I got an inkling of the consolidation of Hindutva forces, of the laboratory of Hindu nationalism. But the genocide came as a big jolt. The scale and nature of the violence and terror were too benumbing. If the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 was a significant marker in the right-wing upsurge, then the 2002 genocide was yet another. It heralded Prakhar Hindutva, the aggressive side of Hindutva, which later turned into Moditva.
And you have kept at it?
I went back to shoot extensively during the 2007 poll process, travelled far and wide and spoke to a diverse audience. I felt the documentation should continue, that this universe should be explored. I was there for the 2008 Ahmedabad bombings and Godhra’s 10-year marker. It’s been a record of carnage, polity and the people. I’ve gone back to the people I encountered 10 years ago to see what has happened to them. This election marks the last chapter of my record of Modi’s decade.
How have things changed?
At the ground level, the polarisation is a grim reality masked by ‘Gujarat Shining’. The ghettoes are worse, the divides are clearer. The Muslim-dominated Juhapura would be bereft of basic amenities, but the adjoining Hindu areas won’t. There’s discrimination on every count, be it to get a BPL card or to ply an auto in a smaller town. It’s not a blatant, but a latent division. The general sentiment is “abhi Hindu ki chalti hai”.
How has Modi adapted?
Modi has been clever in trying to reinvent and reposition himself. He’s had a carefully crafted makeover from the chest-thumping ‘Miya Musharraf’ days. He’s marketed himself very well. But if you look past the development rhetoric at the social markers—malnutrition or crime—it’s a different story.
Why wasn’t Godhra an electoral issue?
There is a deliberate amnesia amongst the urban middle class youth. They want broader roads, malls and the riverfront. They are happily consumerist. Even if you bring up the issue they say, “Bahut purani baat ho gayi”. But it is not so in the minority. They say, “Ek baar to afsos kiya hota”. But Modi has maintained complete silence. It goes well with the core constituency he’s cultivated. If he apologises, it’ll be seen as weakness, a chink in the armour of his projected supreme leader. The whitewash may happen later in 2013-2014 to become more widely acceptable.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Those (including this Mr. Sharma) who still think that Mr. Modi is guilty, are not just against Mr. Modi, they are also against India's judiciary, India's investigating agencies and to be frank, against India's democracy. In fact, they want to be judge, jury and the execusioners. They don't deserve to be a member of any civilized society.
If Modi were even remotely Guilty he would've apologized. Why should he when SC has given him clean-chit and that there are numerous Convictions, with many riot cases well-accounted for.
Congress apologised, despite near-zero Conviction rate, because it was 100% complicit & active player at all levels in 1984.
The Question of apology has already been answered by Modi. "Hang me if I'm Guilty".
These Libtards act like this Platform seller negotiating with a buyer, who remains steadfast and knows the exact price he has to pay.
Look at this guy's face.
All these hardline statists, socialists and anti anti-socialists, look & sound the same!
None of them have a sense of humour or a bar of soap!
The left has always had a sorry sense of humour. They define depression.
Just look at them.
Now look at the right & in Reagan,Churchill & Vajpayee you have the best sense of humour in politics from the last century to now.
Christopher Hitchens is the only exception!
But he wasn't a politician!
Three seats in the Gujarat Assembly will be vacant soon.
Two Congress MPs whom Congress had fielded as contestants in the Gujarat have either to retain their Lok Sabha seats or resign from Gujarat Assembly .Govt is on daily survival mode in Delhi with Maya and Mulayam being tricky supporters who want their pound of Flesh after every pro UPA Voting at Center .Hence Govt will ask its MLAs to resign in Gujarat and retain seats in the Parliament .
The third seat which will be due for Election is where one MLA has won from two constituencies and has to resign now from one Constituency .
Well Modi will surely go for crossing the last Tally of 117 in 2007 .
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