Well this party’s on Democracy and Populists aren’t invited!

Recent constitutional fulminations across the world have ravaged populist political notions and challenged strongmen leaders.

Photo : The Atlantic

The tenuous political romance between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to resolve the electoral kerfuffle that has been looming over Israel for the last few months; The authoritarian connivance between The Republic of China and Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam to subvert democracy and dissent in the Special Administrative Region; The unparalleled and rambunctious ‘Great Indian Citizenship’ project in India which is nevertheless, a flagrant disregard for her complex constitution; Consistent derangement of Muslim minorities and even the House of Lords by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have one thing in common – the citizens have responded with zealous protests and exercised their democratic rights to do so!

Photo : Wall Street Journal | Incumbent Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has struck an unruly government coalition with the opposition in a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Israel‘s citizens voted for her Prime Minister for the third time, this year on March 2nd, 2020. In a “same shit, different day” aftermath, none of the political parties won enough seats to establish a majority in 120 members strong Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party had won 36 seats while his rival, Gantz’s Blue & White party secured a narrow count of 32 and yet again, the elections were inconsequential with none of the leaders winning a majority. The ravenous electoral campaigns were riven with political aspersions, a coalition governance seemed like an impossible option between the two leaders on the opposite sides of ideological axels. In a cinematic turnaround, a coalition was forged that left the propaganda machinery on both sides absolutely flummoxed. With Netanyahu’s judicial trial for ‘corruption charges’ due in May and his political capabilities flouted by Benny Gantz during election campaigns, the announcement for a partnership didn’t resonate well with the Israeli people. Where will this concoction take Israel is left to be seen. In the meantime, protests have erupted in the West Asian country over this “arrangement of insensitivity” and the future of Palestinian annexation policy facilitated by President Donald Trump looks murkier than ever before.

Photo : TIME | Citizens in Hong Kong get back on the streets amidst the coronavirus threat, this time against a NATIONAL SECURITY LAW that gives PRC exceptional controls over the ‘Special Administrative Region’

In a wild “Good Riddance” moment, HongKongers have taken to the streets again! Mired by the coronavirus pandemic and a plummeting economy, the citizens of the Special Administrative Region are back on the streets, this time against a controversial ‘National Security law’ purported by Beijing to exercise greater control over the former British colony. The law gives The Republic of China an exclusive power to deploy Chinese intelligence officials and along with the Hong Kong police, oppress dissent and demands for democracy. Advocated by Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam, the draft law has surpassed the legislative council of the city and the guns of authoritarianism have begun to shoot on sight. The relentless pursuit of contestations by an authoritarian China has pushed the city to her limits and it seems like there’s no going back any more. With the U.S. threatening sanctions on PRC, and European Union vying for diplomatic actions against her, Hong Kong is making her case strong and has the much required backing. Will Xi give up or the “umbrellas” ricochet another attack on human rights? The answer doesn’t seem far away.

Photo : New York Times | Indian citizens protesting in December against the Citizenship Amendment Law or CAA, 2019. Abnegated for being passed surreptitiously in the ‘Lok Sabha’ strongly controlled by Narendra Modi, the citizens have been on the move relentlessly.

In December 2019, the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janta Party opened a nasty can of worms in the world’s largest democracy. India, a deeply religious country never faced such scathing attacks on her secular constitution, until Prime Minster Narendra Modi returned to power with a landslide victory in the general elections held earlier that year. A miasmic Citizenship amendment law that entitles citizenship rights to non-muslim refugees who have fled (religious) persecution from India’s neighbouring nations traversed by a national register of citizens (NRC) hasn’t resonated well with minorities in the country. The Indian Supreme Court has been irresponsive at best and ignoramus at worst towards this incisive harassment of minorities and refugees. Though a signatory to the international legal policy of non-refoulement, the ravaging Home Minister has overlooked these obligations and has pushed the law in a boxer rebellion style. Censured by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Michelle Bachelet, she has moved the Indian Supreme Court to serve as an “amicus curiae” in the petitions involving the constitutional challenges against the law. The country has witnessed virulent public protests and student arrests in recent times. Police brutality and propagandist adventurism was in full swing until the nation was severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic. India, a country of more than a billion people with a fragile health infrastructure has so far put up a tough fight against the virus. Will the pandemic provide a majoritarian government with a macabre opportunity to push its notorious agendas even further without civic resistance or will The Republic get back on the streets with the same charisma? Recent tussles of migrant workers with the Indian police in Gujarat and Maharashtra hint that the resistance to Modi’s fallacies prevails safe & sound.

Photo : Financial Times | Europhiles celebrate on the streets of Westminster as Lady Hale, the president of U.K. Supreme Court renounced U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend the parliament in a bid to avoid deliberations of the Tory’s Brexit deal with the opposition, Labour Party.

The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has had a rough ride with the coronavirus. Abjuring scientific findings on the disease and advocating for ‘Herd Immunity’ hasn’t earned him Churchill’s debauchery and unsurprisingly, has not turned out to be in the best interests of the English. His political acumen to deal with coronavirus went downhill when he tested positive for the virus himself. The Brexit chaos, a riveting confrontation with the Labour party and a suave suspension of the House of Lords to avoid any opportunity for discussions with the opposition before the “European exit” has dented the conservative Odyssey’s political career more than ever before. An impulsive yet a hardliner Tory who has been vying for power ever since David Cameron stepped down as the British top political figure, he did so by devouring every British Muslim in sight with xenophobic attacks and as it turned out, the wave of populism set things in motion. But as he fixed his date with the royalty, the country has resisted any further attacks on democracy, with the British Supreme Court terming Boris’ suspension of the U.K. parliament a serious stain on freedom of speech in the English country. While speculations for a second Scottish independence referendum are looming large, What is the future from here for the British? Britain clearly can’t afford another year of failed transitional diplomacy after all, so will the hypernationalist English glory be back home? So far, it seems as impossible as Boris ever combing his hair!

Four sovereign nations, thousands of demonstrations and millions of people. A drink of free will, a glass of rights and few populists on acid. The psychedelia has just begun to kick in. Hasn’t it?

A politics of glass.

Fake news, hypernationalism and Maverick political leaders have institutionalised authoritarianism in the world we live in today.

Photo : Vox Media

Kashmir, Xinjiang, Jaffna, São Polo, Minneapolis, Hong Kong, Moscow & Caracas; once exuberant and passionate cities of the world have now dissipated to political revanchism and ignominious abstrusity. A world connected ‘online’ more than ever before has begun to witness populism on its smartphone screens and the cascading impact that it has on Human Rights, Humanitarian Equality and the mere ability of a voter to think. What’s rudimentary to this modern-day farrago is a political will to desecrate institutions, foment fake news on social media and well, nationalist leaders endorsing the same ambiguous information.

The laxity in leadership in some of the most promising nations during the Coronavirus pandemic is appalling. The world has begun to witness the indifference of political leaders towards poor people and immigrants. Migrant labourers in India, favelas in Brazil, Pro-democracy protestors and Human Rights Activists in Hong Kong or black “thugs” in U.S.A., people after people have been subjected to government backed violence, police brutality and fake News. President Donald Trump’s provocateur references for criticising media and science have often been corroborated as fake news. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaigns for disinformation on economics, poverty and his prolonged silence on murkiest undermining of secular ethos of the world’s biggest democracy are unnerving. President Jair Bolsonaro’s consistent abjuring of science has enervated Brazil’s healthcare system and has affected slum dwellers, the lower middle class and small business owners. All of this is easily overlooked by political supporters by either subversion of critical media or a tweet that, “everything is okay, and it’s probably the lame stream media or political opponents.”

Photo: Reuters | Migrant Workers in India have been subjected to police brutality and are forced to walk thousand of miles to reach home amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

This proliferation of Fake News has facilitated hyper-nationalism in unbedevilling ways! Few incendiary Facebook posts and Tweets are just about enough to redux ultranationalists and “inadvertently” begin an episode of oppression, racism and killings without a denouement in sight. Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Minority Muslims in New Delhi and African-Americans in Minnesota have witnessed some of the worst riots of the 21st century. The provenance of Fake News is near impossible to articulate, but the impact it has on communities can be. Facebook Inc. and Twitter have to, nevertheless come to the frontline and devise mechanisms to control Fake News, but much more than that, it requires political will and that’s exactly what the world lacks right now. Fake News and Propaganda is the “get-rich-quick” scheme of the conservatives and nationalist leaders. The emasculation of a voter’s ability to make thoughtful political decisions catalyses the Fake yet nationalistic narrative even further and makes it much easier for politicians to “connect” with their support base. This political finesse impacts democracy and constitutional mechanisms everywhere.

Photo: CNN | President Jair Bolsonaro rejects the coronavirus pandemic and holds a public rally in Rio. As of June 2nd, 2020, Brazil is the second worst affected country in the world by the COVID-19 pandemic after U.S.

Photo : NYT | President Donald Trump has often been accused of intolerance in White House news conferences, has rejected the coronavirus pandemic & discouraged wearing of masks. As of June 2nd, 2020, U.S. is the worst affected country by the pandemic. Further, he has endorsed Fake reports on effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquine on his Twitter account and berated The Lancet for rejecting his claims on the drug.
Subversion of human rights and arousal of chasms in communities doesn’t always happen by spreading propaganda and Fake News or “using the Internet selectively”, the political class has mastered the art of restricting disagreement and constructive criticism by internet shutdowns all over the world. Media has been subjected to impetuous harassment and even blatant accusations of sedition & perfidy if it disagrees to agree with the point of view in “vogue”. China’s denialism of allowing New York Times reporters in their “mainland”, consistent harassment of “Fake-CNN” by the U.S. and India’s flagrant renouncing of press conferences with media houses on the other side of the ideological spectrum is one of the biggest challenge of our times. Democracy’s foundation lies in the potential to ask questions, and that is exactly what’s threatened today. The dogma of the biggest leaders of the world armed with the capabilities to change the planet’s future and their unadorned denial of responding to criticism is as dangerous as it sounds like.

The 21st century has come with her own complex issues. How are we going to solve them and Can there be catharsis if we do not? In a world where the political leaders try to reflect us in them, are we fit enough to comprehend whether it’s for the better or is it just a glass that reflects back tyranny and fallible socio-economic & geo-political insecurities in the facade of nationalism? The choice is up to us, it always has.