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Monday, April 14, 2014

Decontextualized Discourse: The Clean Chit

The clean chit in current discourse refers to a unique certificate of accomplishment or rather non-accomplishment of sorts which has a lot of relevance in the political landscape but as a political concept, it belongs far more to the lexicon of  Orwellian dystopia rather than in the cacophony of our chaotic democracy. When common folks are exonerated by a court of law, the act is referred to as acquittal,  however, if the person in the dock happens to be powerful a
nd rich, especially, politicians and businessmen the term then used is clean chit (largely an Indian English word). The clean chit when issued to a person entrusted with constitutional responsibilities, originally meant that the moral and characteral integrity of the person was beyond doubt and the person has fulfilled her/his constitutional and moral obligation. It had very little to do with laws and jurisprudence.  Ordinarily, when a person is not found guilty of having committed the crime he is accused of , s/he is declared "innocent" but in case of high profile politicians and businessmen the term innocent is seldom used by their followers, may be because the word appears more suited to apply to weaker individuals. Interestingly, the term "innocent" is seldom used, most likely because it is loosely associated with weakness.

Now what better example can there be on the question of clean chit, other than that of Narendra Modi, except that the clean chit given to him isn't clean at all! A detailed reading of the SIT report reveals the fact that Modi was left off not because he had acted impartially or according to his constitutional obligation but because of lack of evidence against him. However, the SC appointed amicus curiae in the final report stated that prima facie a case was being made out against Modi for promoting enmity between communities and threat to national integration. Besides, how can a Chief Minister claim to be clean when his Women and Child Development Minister is convicted of massacring innocent women and children, his aide being charged for triple murder and senior IPS officers languishing in jail for fake encounters.

However, I digress,in the original context, taint implied allegations only, it had more to do with morality than legality. When the allegations are proven, they become facts and the person is penalized. However, today "the clean chit" implies immunity from further legal prosecution, moral responsibility is no longer a factor. And worse, it also acts as a gate pass to climb to higher echelons of power using past wrongdoings as stepping stones. Again, Modi's political career encapsulates the essence of this contextualization. What is his claim to fame ? Even if we attribute the so-called "economic and infrastructure development in Gujarat" entirely to his leadership, the fact remains that he is known more for the allegations made against him related to Gujarat  riots of 2002. Ask yourself honestly, when did you first get to know his name ?   The answer most likely would be , in the aftermaths of the riots. By neither apologizing nor shedding his hardcore Hindutva avatar Modi keeps his hardliner support base intact. When talking with others he totally ignores the 2002 riots issue to give out the impression he is completely business oriented,

While it is apparent why he poses as a pan-Indian business friendly leader, Modi 's refusal to apologize for 2002 killings,  fake encounters (of alleged Muslim terrorists), his puppy remark and the like are aimed at ensuring support of ensuring that the traditional Hindutva votes which catapulted him to forefront remained with him. The "clean chit" is only supposed to silence his critics and attempt to get the top job without too many objections being made.

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