Skip to main content

'No contradiction' between Hindutva politics, India's neoliberal economic policies

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Neoliberalism as an ideology emerged in Central Europe during early 20th century in opposition to socialism as an alternative to imperial, colonial and capitalist plunder, war and economic crisis. The Department of Economics at the University of Chicago shaped neoliberalism as a strategy to shift the power from workers to the owners of capital by weakening the state and expanding the ideals of free market.
These strategies were converted into economic policies and projects to undermine the power of labour by marginalising it both in economic and social terms. Neoliberalism today has become a political and economic project of capitalist classes to pursue their economic interests with the help of ruling classes. Such a project encompasses all spheres of social, economic political, cultural and religious lives of people.
The post-colonial economic and development planning helped neoliberalism to integrate itself slowly within Indian context. From 1980s onwards, neoliberal economic policies were pursued as a strategy of economic growth which helped global, national and local capitalist classes. Such a strategy helped to consolidate capitalist classes and marginalised the masses in India.
In the beginning, Hindutva politics used to support nationalistic economic policies and opposed to neoliberal economic policies as part of its populist and so-called nationalist narrative. But from 1990s onward, neoliberalism consolidated its base in India. The national and regional mainstream political parties in India continue to articulate economic interests of the capitalist classes by pursuing neoliberalism as a project of economic growth and development.
The neoliberal economic policies pursued by the Indian National Congress have helped to create the conditions for the growth and consolidation of Hindutva in Indian politics. Hindutva protagonists helped the capitalist classes to consolidate their base in India. The undisputed neoliberal economic paradigm is redrawing the nature of relationship between politics, society, state and individuals as citizens in India.
In such a context, the state has abandoned its own citizens and becoming a security state to protect the interests of the capitalist classes. The citizens are suffering under hunger, homelessness, unemployment, illiteracy, illness, and hopelessness.
The social and economic alienation produces political distrust and historic opportunities for the growth and consolidation of Hindutva politics in India. The abject condition of alienation produced by neoliberalism becomes life and blood of right-wing religious politics of Hindutva forces in India.
Hindutva politics plays two roles in India. The first role is played by the government led by Narendra Modi to pursue economic policies to uphold the interests of global, national and regional capitalist classes. This way, Hindutva politics is constitutive part of neoliberal project.
But at the same time, it would seem to articulate the anger against neoliberalism and its political establishment. It is possible to argue therefore that Hindutva politics has a contradictory relationship with neoliberalism. But in reality, the first role is an integral and organic relationship between Hindutva politics and neoliberalism.
The second role is part of the half-hearted populist narrative to capture the state power by electoral means to pursue the first role. Therefore, Hindutva forces consolidate neoliberalism and neoliberalism consolidates Hindutva forces position in society, politics and economy. Clearly, there is no contradiction between Hindutva politics and neoliberal economic policies in India.
The forward march of neoliberal Hindutva politics seeks to impose Hindutva politics in India. The aim is to convert India’ secular state into a Hindu state. In the process of establishing this dream project of the RSS, the Modi government is destroying institutions established by liberal, democratic and constitutional traditions in India. It is not anarchy of Hindutva politics but a systematic shock doctrine to achieve their goal to establish a theocratic Hindu state.
Neoliberal economic policies pursued by have helped to create the conditions for the growth and consolidation of Hindutva
Neoliberalism and theocratic politics move together as twins. It serves each other’s purpose. The theocratic political culture of Hindutva is established by the RSS which produces prejudice and hate. Such a culture diverts people’s attention from real issues of their lives and livelihoods. The diversionary tactics of Modi government helps both the capitalist classes and fascist RSS to implement their agenda.
There are fundamental similarities between the rise of fascism in Europe and Hindutva politics in India. The growing street violence, lynching and killing of Muslims, Dalits, communists, prejudice against religious minorities, capturing state power by electoral means and infiltration of RSS into judiciary, universities, army, media, police and bureaucracy are some of the similarities between European fascism in early 20th century and Hindutva politics in India today.
There is much resonant here. European fascism took a decade to evolve during 1930s but Hindutva is institutionalised and internalised nearly for a century in India since 1920s. Hindutva is not only populist but also popular beyond the cow belt of Hindi heartland. It has expanded its support base from landed elites and business communities to rural areas of India.
The neoliberal economic policies marked the difference between European fascism and Hindutva in India. The all-out onslaught on labour laws and labour movements are common features between neoliberalism and the Modi-led Hindutva government in India.
Neoliberalism and Hindutva politics is grounded on the twin idea of spreading fear and insecurities, which helps in the re-emergence of different reactionary religious and regional fault lines in the society. This helps Hindutva to consolidate their power by using security infrastructure in the name of unity and integrity of India and Indian nationalism.
Hindutva protagonists are also committed to neoliberalism ideology as an economic policy strategy. Neoliberal and Hindutva forces are suspicious of democracy. Both consider the ideals of debate, disagreements and dissents as existential threats.
Therefore, there is diminishing support for democratic culture, individual dignity, human rights and individual liberty. Such developments are integral part of neoliberal political and economic culture concomitant with the interests of the Hindutva forces in India.
The disaster that is unfolding in India today is a product of arrange cum love marriage between Hindutva politics and neoliberal economic policies. Such an alliance produces deaths and destitutions. 
 Any search for alternatives in India depends on united struggle against Hindutva and neoliberalism. It is a common battle that can pave the path towards sustainable alternatives. The only option is to struggle continuously for alternatives by fighting against neoliberalism and Hindutva.
---
*University of Coventry, UK

Comments

Unknown said…
A complete joke. The RSS labor union (the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh) opposes "neoliberal" policies. Free market capitalism and flexible labor markets are necessary in order for India to become an industrialized, developed nation.
As for Hindutva, it is about protecting the 5,000 year old Indian culture, race, civilization, and religion.
India's civilizational greatness will be restored under BJP-RSS rule for the next one hundred years.

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

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. 

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Mark Lee: A spiritual leader who thought conventional religions are barrier to liberation

  By Harsh Thakor*  The Krishnamurti Foundation of America (KFA) lost Roger Edwin Mark Lee, who was a devoted disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the greatest and most self realised spiritual philosophers of our time. Mark passed away due to pneumonia complications on April 6, 2024, at he Ventura Community Memorial Hospital in California. His exit was an irreparable loss to the spiritual world.

Fossil fuel projects: NGOs ask investors to cut TotalEnergies’ main sources of finance

By Antoine Bouhey, Lara Cuvelier, Helen Burley*  Reclaim Finance has joined 58 NGOs from around the world, including Banktrack, in signing an open letter calling on banks and investors to stop participating in bonds (loans granted by investors and facilitated by banks) issued by TotalEnergies. The 58 NGO signatories include 350.org , Amazon Watch, BankTrack, Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR, Papua New Guinea), Justiça Ambiental (Mozambique) and Friday for Future (Uganda), Oil Change International and Urgewald (Germany).