Skip to main content

How disaffection caused by 1991 neoliberal reforms 'emboldened' Hindutva politics

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani created the foundation for Hindutva forces to access power by forming BJP-led coalition governments in New Delhi. This duo experimented with the troika of liberal, moderate and hard-line Hindutva slogans during the Babri Mosque-Ram Janmabhoomi movement to mobilise and expand their electoral base among the masses.
They happily compromised their so-called RSS ideology of Hindutva as a short-term electoral strategy to gain state power. On such a foundation, Narendra Modi launched his electoral campaign by combining reactionary politics of Hindutva, neoliberal development and so-called nationalism of BJP and RSS.
When Narendra Modi-led BJP came to power in New Delhi with absolute electoral majority, RSS started implementing its long-cherished Hindutva ideology of hate towards Indian Muslims. The Modi government is a mute spectator of every day lynching, violence and vicious attacks on Muslims in India.
Union ministers in the Modi government are openly garlanding Hindutva vigilante groups and perpetrators of violent crime. There is growing attack on artists, activists, academicians, journalists, intellectuals and rationalists. Modi government arrests leaders of various social, political and human rights movements on false and fabricated charges under draconian laws and puts them in prison. 
Any opposition to Hindutva forces and policies of Modi-led government is branded as anti-nationals.
Common Indians are reacting to these horrifying events, depressing and distressful developments with utter silence, shock and incredulity. Indian urban elites look at such intolerant and hateful climate as dispersed events and have no impact on their tinsel lives.
While most of Indian Muslims are reacting to this hateful climate with anxiety, anger, fear, deep dismay and disbelief having assumed their nationalist integrity and embeddedness with Indian way of life. Then the Modi government launched the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Register of Citizens, and the National Population Register. These are steps in a direction to disenfranchise citizenship rights of Muslim population in India.
The idea of India looks gloomy and the future of Indians looks uncertain if Hindutva forces continue to govern India for few more years. It is time to decode and defeat the ideology of Hindutva as a political and social practice.
The Hindutva forces and their ideological genealogy reveal the dangers of Hindutva politics in India. Hindutva political theology is no longer an imagined and isolated cluster of normative ideas about ‘Hindu way of life’ as defined by the Supreme Court of India. It is a pragmatic and exclusionary political practice carrying false claims to marginalisation of Hindus and their representation in history, culture and politics in mainstream India.
Historically speaking, upper caste Bengali spiritual leaders and intellectuals created the philosophical foundation on which Marathi political activists shaped the ideological and political narratives of Hindutva forces. Bhakti movements in north India gave the mass base to Hindutva politics.
The colonisers were patrons of Hindutva politics. So, Hindutva forces did not fight British colonialism. They did not participate in the anti-colonial nationalist struggle in India. These Hindutva forces formed partnership with the British to create Hindu Rashtra in India. Such is the character of Hindutva forces in Indian history, yet they create havocs in contemporary India in the name of nationalism.
From 1920s to 2020, Hindutva forces managed to spread uncontaminated bigotry, violence and extremism in social, political and cultural life. In economy, Hindutva forces follow neoliberal economic policies to uphold and pursue interests of the capitalism class. There is absolute solidarity and harmony in the arranged cum love marriage between Hindutva and neoliberal capitalism.
Such a combination marginalizes rural and urban poor, religious minorities, women, farmers, Dalits and tribal population in India. It spreads prosperity for few rich and miseries for many. The growth of poverty, unemployment, hunger and homelessness are products of economic policies pursued by the Modi government. India’s external reputation is tattered by the Hindutva forces.
India is facing many challenges and dangers imposed by Hindutva forces led by Modi. The democratic rise of Hindutva forces by electoral means created a political culture of democratic deficit with the concentration of power in the hands of Narendra Modi. It is an organic outcome of fascist ideology of RSS which is opposed to the ideals of democratic decentralisation of power and empowerment of the masses based on citizenship rights.
Representative and distributive function of Indian democracy diminished with the rise of Hindutva politics in India
The representative and distributive function of Indian democracy has diminished further with the rise of Hindutva politics in India. It destroys the idea of India as a civilizational country within all its limitations. It destroys liberal, secular and constitutional democracy in India. 
The idea of India is meaningless without Muslims as they contributed immensely in shaping of the history and culture of India. The Hindutva forces want to destroy such a diverse and multicultural mosaic of India.
The Hindutva assault on secularism, liberal culture, democratic tradition, reason, science, history and everyday lives in India has started in an aggressive manner which was unseen and unheard in last seven decades of democratic experimentation in India with all its limitations. These dangers are no more early signs but at a maturing stage for the establishment of Hindutva fascism in India.
The combination of neoliberal economy, reactionary politics and authoritarian culture is growing. It is going to destabilise constitutional state in India and destroy Indian way of multicultural traditions and life.
The political stability of Hindutva breeds social disharmony and economic marginalisation with a false sense of history and nationalist hallucination. The reversal of such a dangerous environment is only possible with collective struggles to expose the toxicity of Hindutva and its ideological practice.
Hindutva politics has captured the space created by economic disillusionments after the 1991 neoliberal economic reforms which led to the concentration of wealth in the hands of few Indians. The neoliberal development dissatisfaction has accelerated the forward march of Hindutva politics in India.
Five decades of Hindutva politics has become integral part of the neoliberal economic development model that it seeks to oppose in its earlier avatar. Hindutva is a democratic and development malaise that falters the secular, liberal and multicultural mosaic of India.
Hindutva is an opportunist Pan-Indian alliance of perverted upper castes and propertied classes in India. Hindutva forces are working to establish social and religious hegemony of propertied and Brahmanical upper caste people and consolidate wealth of higher classes. Therefore, the successful opposition to halt of the forward march of Hindutva depends on decoding and understanding the conceptual core in its ideological praxis.
The opposition to Hindutva forces can never be successful with a series of contested dialogues during periodic electoral interventions. It only offers limited alternatives within the binary of electoral victory and loss. It is important to understand the social, cultural and economic base of Hindutva politics to fight and defeat it. The impending mass movement against Hindutva is a compelling need and crucial for the survival of the idea of India and Indians.
---
*Coventry University, UK

Comments

TRENDING

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

'These people shouldn't be in jail': UN official seeks release of 16 human rights defenders

By Our Representative A United Nations human rights official has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to “immediately release" 16 human rights defenders who have been imprisoned on charges of terrorism in the Bhima-Koregaon Case, insisting, “These people should not be in jail. They are our modern-day heroes and we should all be looking to them and supporting them and demanding their release.”  

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).