The normalisation of Modi

Economists make a distinction between 'is' and 'ought'. Things are as they are but they may not be as they ought to be. The reaction of most people to the news that the UK High Commissioner is going to visit Gujarat will be either joyous or scathing. The Indian political establishment cannot speak of Narendra Modi without getting into extremes. Yet Narendra Modi has made a significant move back to normalisation in the international sphere with that move. Whether it ought to be so is another matter.

The Gujarat riots of 2002 were horrible. We have recently had the Naroda Patiya judgement which left no doubt as to how callous some of the killings were. Perfectly responsible, normally quiescent Gujarati Hindus behaved in a bestial manner and have been duly punished. But the political establishment has been focussed on Narendra Modi and his culpability. For ten years there have been many people who have put in a lot of effort to secure a conviction for Narendra Modi for his part in the Gujarat riots.

These efforts have not borne any fruits so far. It may still be that something will turn up which will implicate him (After all, we are still waiting for the conviction of Congressmen, who were guilty of abetting murders in 1984 anti-Sikh riots). He himself seems pretty sanguine as he said in his interview with Nai Duniya. 'Hang me if you find me guilty.' He is defiant and lacks any remorse. I believe and have said so before that he should admit some sadness and some feeling of moral outrage at what happened on his watch. But that seems unlikely to happen. He is happy in his comfort zone where his hardened supporters applaud the massacre. I have met respectable middle class Gujaratis in Ahmedabad who after all these years are unrepentant.

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