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

Lip-service on World Environment Day vs 'watered-down' eco-safeguards

By Shankar Sharma*  Just a few days ago, the world remembered the routinely forgotten global environment on the occasion of World Environment Day, briefly though, maybe just for the day. There were reports of a few high profile ceremonies in different parts of the country, including a few in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly asked the people of our country to plant one tree per each person as a mark of respect/ gratitude for our mothers.

'Attack on free expression': ABVP 'insults' Udaipur professor for FB post

Counterview Desk   People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan, condemning what it called "insult of Professor Himanshu Pandya" by students affiliated with with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarti Parishad (ABVP) in Udaipur, has said he was evicted from the class where he was teaching after raising "ugly slogans", forcing him to "leave the university".

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Pellet gun fire severely injures Dalit worker off Bangladesh border

By Kirity Roy*  This is regarding an incident of firing pellets by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel attached with Panchadoji Border Outpost of ‘E’ Company of 90 BSF Battalion on a Schedule Caste youth of village Parmananda under Dinhata Police Station of Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. The victim was severely injured and one portion of his face became disfigured due to pellet firing by the BSF.

Moving towards sustainable development? Social, environmental implications of HCES data

By Dr Vandana Sehgal, Dr Amandeep Kaur*  Sustainable development, the high time agenda, encompasses economic, social, and environmental dimensions, aiming for a balance between all these aspects to ensure long-term well-being and prosperity for all. One of the crucial aspects of sustainable development is consumption patterns. Consumption patterns refer to the way individuals, households, and societies use resources and goods. Sustainable consumption patterns entail using resources efficiently, minimizing waste, and considering the environmental and social impacts of consumption choices.

Sanction to persecute Arundhati Roy under UAPA politically motivated: PUCL

Counterview Network  Top human rights group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, has demanded that the authorities should immediately withdraw the prosecution against top author Arundhati Roy and Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a Kashmir academic, under the " unconstitutional"  Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act  (UAPA), calling the Delhi  Lieutenant-Governor nod for the Delhi police move "politically motivated".

Heatwave in Bundelkhand: 'Inadequate attention' on impact on birds, animals

By Bharat Dogra, Reena Yadav*  While the heat wave and its many-sided adverse impacts have been widely discussed in recent times, one important aspect of heat waves has not received adequate attention and this relates to the impact on birds and animals.