The BJP/RSS's war fetish
Since the start of the Covid pandemic, the Indian government's missives contained a large number of war imagery. Doctors and other essential workers became “Covid warriors” and the Indian government embarked on a War on Covid, vaccines became “weapons to defeat the virus” and the virus itself is an “invisible enemy” which the government is fighting on a “war footing”.
The BJP government's fascination for war and war imagery is well documented, first there was the “war on black money” rhetoric used during the enfeebling demonetization, then came “the surgical strikes”, “war-like fortifications” to protect Delhi against protesting farmers. There is almost a perverse affliction with war with the current regime, as it amplifies the power they have over the people without actually having to do nothing. It also satiates its core voter base and the outliers as it shows that the country is finally doing something, war is not a state of inaction but extreme kinesis, it creates an illusion of progress where no progress exists.
Golwalkar, widely regarded as the ideological architect of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh drew inspiration for the Hindu-state from Italian fascism, specifically Mussolini’s organization of fascist paramilitary forces. In comparing the supremacy of Hindus in India to the supremacy of the Aryan race in Hitler’s Germany, Golwalkar wrote, “To keep up the purity of its race and culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging of the country of the Semitic races— the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here .. a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”
These ideological roots have permeated into the national discourse where war is used as a euphemism to quell any public backlash. Want to question the government over the vaccine policy? We are in an unofficial state of war, we shouldn't expend energy on finger-pointing right now. The state of war is an excuse to collectivize losses while any good news is because and only because of the Dear Leader, whose kindness brings glory to us Indian people. The Dear Leader is at the same time a master strategist, a shrewd politician, and a saintlike figure. Case in point is the length of his beard which seems to exude an idea of statesmanship without anything concrete to show for it.
War imagery also eliminates any nuance that is required in complex problem-solving. It replaces meticulousness with loud bangs, which becomes rhetoric in itself. By playing the “war” card, the BJP further strengthens its brute force persona popularized by the Uri and Balakot attacks in the past years. It is a reflection of the violence-obsessed society we have become, wherein the fight against real violence we infer imagined massacres. The causalities of this war imagery are however real. It is the people of India, whose orphaned bodies burned to ashes in overworked cemeteries and clogged the Ganga. The government's apathy is visible in the statistical PR exercises it does to save face, not to mention its poor war-waging ability as visible from the haircuts it took with the Chinese confrontation in Eastern Ladakh last year.
The war imagery is a distraction from the larger problem facing India, poor public infrastructure, and a middle-class governmental perspective that views and treats its large swathes of poor sections through its elitist lens and religious nationalism. War imagery is a sign of societal decay – one which relegates intellectual operations to a lower class of thought systems, where being loud is smarter than being smart itself.