Skip to main content

Like Pakistan, Israel, India today is as polarized as during Independence: "The Economist"

Modi with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat
By Our Representative
Influential British weekly “The Economist”, in an unsigned analysis, has regretted that, as India approaches the general elections, the country today is “looking as polarised as at any time since Independence”. Pointing out that the “visions confronting India’s 900 million voters have rarely been so sharply defined”, the paper, in its print edition dated March 2, insists, “Hindu nationalists regard India as a nation defined by its majority faith, much like Israel or indeed Pakistan.”
Noting that while one observe in India today “extraordinary diversity as a source of strength”, a legacy that has prevailed for the last seven decades of “multi-coloured, secular vision”, the weekly, in its article “Orange evolution: Narendra Modi and the struggle for India’s soul – How India’s prime minister uses Hindu nationalism”, insists, under Modi, “the orange-clad Hindutva strain has grown ever bolder.”
“The Economist” states, “Modi’s strident brand of Hindu nationalism, which pictures Pakistan less as a strategic opponent than a threat to civilisation, puts him at the fringe even of his own Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)”, even as contending, “Under Modi, the project to convert India into a fully-fledged Hindu nation has moved ahead smartly.”
Predicting that “the pace would undoubtedly accelerate if, carried on a surge of patriotism brought by the clash with Pakistan, he sweeps into another term”, the weekly wonders, “But given that in 2014, the BJP grabbed its big majority with just 31% of the popular vote, how far would Modi be able to push the Hindutva project, even if he does get a new mandate? And if he loses, can a secular India be rebuilt?”
Seeking to measure the “Hindu nationalist movement” under Modi, “The Economist” says, RSS’ claim of being “the world’s largest volunteer organization” is to be seen against the backdrop of its “all-male membership of around 5 million” with “60,000-odd self-financing cells, or shakhas, which meet daily for communal exercises and discussion, typically on a patriotic theme”, with harder core of the RSS consisting of “some 6,000 full-time apostles known as pracharaks.”
Further pointing towards RSS having the “largest trade union as well as unions for farmers, students, teachers, doctors, lawyers, women, small businesses and so on”, the weekly reports, “RSS progeny run India’s two largest private school networks, educating some 5 million children”, with one of these, Ekal Vidyalaya, having “grown by targeting remote regions where Christian missionaries have made inroads.”
All of this has led to “some RSS groups exercise quiet influence, lobbying for more ‘nationalist’ economic policy”, the weekly says, adding, this is backed up by “the 2 million-member Bajrang Dal, a youth branch of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an RSS offshoot”, which has a “reputation for beating up Muslim boys who dare to flirt with Hindu girls.”
Calling BJP “a loose affiliate of the RSS”, “The Economist” underlines, “Under Modi, who served as an RSS pracharak before being assigned to the party, ties have been tighter. The RSS has thrown its full organisational weight behind his campaigns. In return, Modi has inserted RSS men – or like-minded ones – into every part of Indian politics.” It adds, “RSS influence also extends to university deans, heads of research institutes, members of the board of state-owned firms and banks.., the police, army and courts.”
According to the weekly, efforts by Modi to push through RSS agenda has made Muslims – accounting for 14% of the population – suffer. Thus, his Hindu nationalist approach “has alienated Kashmiris and also tempted meddling by Pakistan”, it says, adding, “After the longest lull in three decades of violence, it has spiralled again under Modi.” Further, there has been a running “campaign in BJP-run states to apply stringent laws against the slaughter of cows, sacred beasts to Hindus”, leading to killing of “44 people, 36 of them Muslim, by cow vigilantes.”
The weekly thinks, “There seems limited conviction among Indian liberals that the Hindutva tide can be stemmed. Outside big cities, the roots of secular, inclusive India remain shallow. This lack of a strong and attractive liberal alternative matters more in the long term than the coming vote.”

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Dalits rights meet planned on how citizenship law 'negates' Ambedkar's equality focus

By Our Representative
A Dalit rights meet has been planned at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), Sanand, Ahmedabad district, to discuss implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament on December 10-11, for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections. Announcing the decision, DSK director Martin Macwan said, the meet would take place on December 25, 2019, at 11.00 am, to commemorate the anniversary of burning of copies of Manusmriti by Dr BR Ambedkar.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.