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‘Hindutva-led hyper-nationalism in India brought Modi back’


May 26, 2019

Islamabad : Declaring the persistent Hindutva-led anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan rhetoric a catalyst for Indian Premier Narendra Modi’s electoral win, panellists at a roundtable session expressed grave concerns about the growing isolation of minorities in India fearing that if not addressed, their insecurity could result in serious social crisis in the Hindu-majority country.

The session titled ‘The Outcome of Indian Elections: Implications for the Region’, was organised by the Institute of Policy Studies.

Among speakers were Dr Mujeeb Afzal, assistant professor. School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Sultan M. Hali, senior analyst and the author of Rising Hindutva, Khalid Rahman, director general, IPS, former ambassador Tajammul Altaf, senior research fellow at IPS, Dr Syed Mohammed Anwer, former deputy attorney general of Pakistan, member Islamic Nazriati Council and member IPS National Academic Council, Farzana Yaqoob, former minister, Social Welfare and Women Development, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Asghar Ali Shaad, Islamabad Policy Research Institute, Jawwad Falak, research officer, Maritime Study Forum, and Waqarun Nisa, a research officer at IPS.

Dr Afzal, in the opening speech, opined that it was Modi’s Hindutva narrative that had clicked for the successive time. He said Modi replaced Indian nationalism with Hindutva nationalism, projected it as an identity of his larger than life brand, created a wave with it as a majoritarian underdog, and cashed it by attaining a sweeping victory. The expert was concerned about the overwhelming majority obtained by the ruling BJP. “While Modi's party has succeeded in unifying the Hindu vote, it is also a sign of isolation of the country’s minorities, particularly Muslims, whose insecurity could cause a social mess,” he said.

Hali said Modi started replacing Indian secularism with Hindutva ideology since the start of his first tenure and kept working on the agenda throughout. He revived old Hindi terms in the language, replaced Muslim names of places and made things difficult for the Muslims of the country. "Though the economic and social conditions of India deteriorated in Modi's tenure, the supporters of Hindutva still back his ideology and has kept targeting minorities across the country," he said.

He said the increasing infiltration of Hindutva ideology was even visible in Indian armed forces and other government institutions, whose many important personnel were directly or indirectly associated with RSS in the past.

Altaf looked at BJP’s win in a broader frame, terming it the rise of right-far politics in India through which a particular group of hardliners had found a platform to channel their emotions. He said that though the economic and social conditions of India deteriorated considerably in his first tenure, Modi played with the sentiments of people successfully by building his narrative around the issues of Balakot, Kashmir and Ghar Wapsi programme.

Syed M. Anwar said as India was divided in classes, it was difficult to engage various Hindu casts unanimously. He said Indian Muslims were projected as a class even lower than the lowest Hindu caste not alleviating them to an improved level but attempting to give them something even insignificant to compare with.

Yaqoob highlighted at the significance of voter’s psychology and the differences between electoral and administrative politics, maintaining that the electoral politics is always jingoistic and is dominated by rhetorical tactics of appeasing the voters.

She added that Muslims were never comfortable citizens of Indian society but the now under Modi’s leadership, they are being openly marginalized.

Shad called for understanding difference nuances prevalent in Indian domestic politics, highlighting the trends of Pakistan bashing has always been used as a tool in India for achieving the political gains.

Falak pointed that the right wing Hindutva politics had now deeply penetrated in the Indian society. He said that the Indian media, their big corporations, and even Indian state institutions have now become highly political. “Such trends indicate the establishment of a dangerous scenario not only for India but for the whole region,” he said.

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