In little over three months, India has taken three unexpected turns leaving the world stunned and scrambled. The largest democracy, fast opening economy and a secular country; all three claims suffered fatal blows. First, Kashmir and Jammu valley was stripped off by its special constitutional position. Secondly, after seven years of complex negotiations, India stunned the fellow RCEP trade deal member countries by pulling out at eleventh hour. Thirdly, it was the verdict of Babri Mosque case based on faith rather than legal principles.

So much in such a short time of three months that world is facing difficulty in recognizing the new face of India. It looked like it all happened overnight but it was seemingly an outcome of hard work of many decades; similar to what Paulo Coelho once remarked that overnight success takes decades of daily hard work.

Last thing first. Babri Mosque has been a flash point of Indian politics for over almost forty years. The mosque was vandalised in 1992 as a result of a long ignited campaign that claimed that 15th century mosque was built on birthplace of Lord Rama. A precarious balance and an uneasy calm under the umbrella of secularism fast started falling apart more vividly from that point onward. Religious fervor had much stronger appeal than the Nehru’s promoted secularism.

Thanks to uninspiring leadership of its archrival Congress, BJP soon emerged as its only national contender. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a three time Prime Minister of India, was a seasoned and towering politician with a poetic heart which helped him to somewhat keep the hardcore fundamentalists under check. With his departure from the leadership scene, hardcore activists took over. The deadly riots in Gujrat during 2001 ended up with over 2000 of lives; mostly Muslims. Riots ended but the flames of hate refused to be put off. Narendra Modi being the then Chief Minister of the state got the steam for his ambitions from these flames to grasp the center stage in the years ahead.

The Supreme Court (SC) verdict was not only rejected by the Muslim community but largely criticized by all liberal academics and intelligentsia as well. Romila Thapar, a highly acclaimed historian, termed it a decision not based on facts but rather based on faith. It has annulled respect for history and seeks to replace it with religious faith; she wrote soon after the announcement of the verdict.

Another eminent historian D N Jha who pioneered studies on material culture in early Indian history trashes the theory that the Babri mosque in Ayodhya was built by demolishing a Hindu temple. He has scholarly pointed out how Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) shifted its stand on the issue and, thus helped the Sangh parivar ferment a Hindu-Muslim conflict around the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue.

RCEP is a trade deal under negotiation since 2012 amongst ASEAN and six regional economic power houses; namely china, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. It was trumped as biggest ever trade deal covering half of world population and 40% of global GDP. This deal assumed more significance after Donald Trump decided to scrap the TPP agreement. The negotiations have dragged for good seven years; faltered many times during period. When rest of the member countered were expecting to finally announce the successful conclusion of the deal during the Summit last week, India decided to abruptly pull back. This has blown away the face of Opened up economy.

Kashmir is under siege and lock down for almost 100 days without any hint of any let up soon. World media and human rights organizations have been criticizing this human catastrophe but BJP government seems hell bound to continue the use of blatant power to subvert the Jammu and Kashmiri Muslims. Largest democracy of the world is carrying on the biggest bulldozing of the democratic rights of its own people.

The question to ask is: What next with new face of India; more so domestically? Article 370 gone, Ram temple on the way, what could the Modi government have in mind following this? Rohan Venkataramakrishnan, a political commentator put it like this; BJP’s socio-cultural agenda is, to some extent, clear:

A pan-India National Register of Citizens, along with the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which combined would essentially mean state-sanctioned harassment of Muslims.

A Uniform Civil Code: A long-standing right-wing demand that seeks to abolish the personal law of individual religions, essentially forcing minorities to follow the laws of the majority.

An anti-conversion law: Another old demand, in place in a few states, that ties into the Hindu Right’s belief that poor Indians are often converted to Christianity through “bribes”.

With economy already slowing down and few setbacks in recent state elections, will BJP shift its focus towards economy or shall continue to wrap up its unfinished socio religious agenda is no more a mystery now. It needs religious fervor now more than ever it needed in the past!