The opposition party Congress – which is struggling to make its presence felt in the Indian political arena – has compared the authoritative policies of Narendra Modi government with the ultimate dictator Adolf Hitler.
“When Adolf Hitler appointed Joseph Goebbels as Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, a unique position of power, the intention of the Nazi Party was quite evident. They sought to eliminate every alternative source of information,” Congress said in a note released on Tuesday.
It said the “Book Burning” campaign of Nazis in universities gave out a clear message to all young minds, and the rest of Germany: every voice of opposition will be silenced.
“The censorship on every public event held at educational institutions disrupted the liberty for public discourse and exchange of ideas. It worked towards conditioning the young minds on how to think. Those were the dark days of freedom of speech, expression, and conscience,” Congress said.
Nazi Party vs. Bharatiya Janata Party
“The BJP-led Government of India does not, yet (officially, at least) have a Ministry of Propaganda. Nonetheless, we are witnessing increasing government overreach on educational institutions,” Congress said.
In order to substantiate its claims, Congress has given a number of instances where Modi’s BJP has tried to target educational institutions.
One such episode was witnessed in Allahabad University recently when the University withdrew permission from students for hosting a ‘Liberty Festival’ to celebrate the ideals of the Indian Constitution.
The main objective of the festival was to discuss theatre, poetry, and songs that celebrate the Constitution. According to Congress, the Vice-Chancellor told the students that there was pressure from the Ministry of Human Resources Development.
This is not an isolated incident, Congress says. A similar incident occurred in IIT-Madras where an event, on social equity, was cancelled citing reasons that the speakers, who were invited, were “controversial”. In Jamia Milia Islamia University, a public talk event on ‘Shrinking Democratic Spaces in the Universities’ was denied permission.
This does not stop with the prohibition of inviting speakers from outside. In a Government college in Kerala, students were asked to remove “over-politicised references” like ‘Dalit’, ‘Beef’, and ‘Fascism’ from their magazine. “This displays the government’s blatant efforts to establish the narrative of their convenience,” Congress said in its note.
The opposition party explained that the preamble of our Constitution articulates “Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship” to promote “fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.”
Prohibition of general dialogues and art in educational institutions not only violates our Constitution, which has emboldened one’s freedom of speech and expression through Article 19, it also impedes students’ exposure to diverse ideas, Congress said.
“The BJP government’s active role in curbing expressions of students is no less than alarming, to say the least. According to a survey conducted by The Hoot, the loss of freedom of speech in India has lead to small, but rising protests and movements. This illustrates people’s sheer refusal to stay quiet while their rights are snatched,” Congress stated.
It adds that the State overreach comes at a time when India’s position in the list of world university rankings has slipped. “Instead of brushing every bit of criticism under the rather large carpet of nationalism, the Modi government should take cognizance of how its systemic overreach has damaged the reputation of the country all over the world,” Congress suggested.
Photo courtesy: Congress
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