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August 14, 2020

Countering Hindutva

Opinion

August 14, 2020

Hindutva has permeated Modi’s India. Politics, medicine, social activities, and media all are deeply infected by a nostalgic need to restore the lost glory of Hindu supremacy through an exclusionist strategy.

Muslims, Christians, and other minorities are being pushed to the margins in the hope that they will ultimately come back to the mainstream as Hindus. This is how Modi’s strategists foresee a “pure and powerful” India in future.

The rising tide of Hindutva is a threat to India’s current social fabric and its secular credentials. India has always presented itself as an inclusive and pluralist society. This projection has been instrumental in making India a strong voice in re-imagining and remaking a humanistic global order. This political arrangement has also saved India from internal fissures leading to its disintegration.

With Modi in power, India has been fast drifting into the Nazi brand of fascism – which is not only dangerous for its minorities but also for its neighbours. Public lynching of Muslims, loot and plunder of properties, and discriminatory laws have all made it clear that India is no longer safe for people with different beliefs. The avowed naturalization (euphemism for forcing minorities to accept Hindu supremacy in all walks of life) is being camouflaged through sabre-rattling tactics with neighbours. It is, in a sense, an externalization of India’s internal predicaments.

Many Hindu politicians and intellectuals in India believe that the rise of Hindutva, although a recipe for disaster in the long term, will continue to define India under the BJP/RSS nexus. They contend that the growing nationalism/populism in India has largely facilitated Modi’s rise and stay in power and that he will never want to be seen as soft on secularism/pluralism.

This rising tide of ultra-nationalism is invariably a gigantic challenge for secular/pluralist voices in India. Currently, both electronic and social media are toeing the BJP’s line in internal politics and external relations. In the rating race, many TV channels prefer jingoism to peace, and fake stories to the truth. This is undoubtedly toxic for social harmony as well as regional peace. Sane voices are systematically stifled through smear campaigns launched from social media outlets.

But the vibrant civil society in India still offers a ray of hope. Mostly educated abroad in liberal milieu, many prominent individuals in civil society keep raising questions about human rights violations, shrinking civil liberties, and the ubiquity of Hindutva in public discourse. They know first-hand how mixing of politics with religion could have far-reaching consequences for mutual coexistence, the secular character of India, and social justice.

Neighbours have high stakes too in what is happening in India. China and Pakistan, in particular, cannot afford indifference to India’s growing ambitions and hegemonic designs.

It is high time India’s neighbours made collective diplomatic efforts to ring the alarm bells against Hindutva and its impact on global peace.

The writer teaches at SZABIST, Islamabad.

Email: [email protected] edu.pk