Skip to main content

Alien to neoliberal Hindutva? Laissez-faire narrative, market, free choice, free individual

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*

Hindutva neoliberalism in India is a specific variant of capitalism that enforces economic and political oligarchy in the name of ethnic and majoritarian nationalism. It liberalises market for few to establish dominant corporate monopoly. It does not allow complete free market competition as a distributive mechanism. It allows few crony corporations to control the production processes, coordinate the distribution mechanisms, and determine the nature of demand and supply in Indian economy.
The laissez-faire led ideological narratives of neoliberalism around ‘free individual’, ‘freedom of choice’ and ‘free market’ are absent within ‘Hindutva neoliberalism’. The liberal ideals of market forces within neoliberalism is completely absent within the Hindutva variant of neoliberalism in India. It does not completely break away from the 19th century capitalism but continues with its old foundations.
It provides a new but robust direction to 21st century capitalism in which Indian state, BJP as a political party and Modi government work together in pursuit of corporate profit. The cultural nationalism of BJP and RSS is a hoax. It marginalises the masses by spreading false sense of nationalist pride with the help of populist electoral democracy shaped by corporate media.
There is a perceived the distinction between Hindutva neoliberalism and worldwide practice of neoliberalism as an ideological project. But there is no contradiction or any confusion between neoliberalism and Hindutva in India. Both the global and national capitalist forces find Hindutva a convenient cannon to capture Indian natural and human resources.
The Hindutva neoliberalism-led by RSS and BJP helps to break away from the ‘Washington consensus’, which advocates the framework of limited ‘capital-labour accord’ for the growth of capitalism. The Hindutva neoliberalism helps in striping away all workers’ rights and all protective measures by reforming labour laws before and during this pandemic.
The limited welfare state has no place within Hindutva neoliberalism. It neither believes in minimum governance nor in maximum governance, as claimed by Narendra Modi; the poster boy of Hindutva neoliberalism. The fascist and authoritarian character of Hindutva neoliberalism is concomitant with the undemocratic tendencies of neoliberalism.
There is absolute corporate consensus between obscurantist Hindutva politics and monopoly capitalism. The Hindutva forces make laws on agriculture, land, labour, water, mineral resources and environment to advance and insulate corporate forces from democratic discontents by declaring all forms of progressive political movements as anti-national.
The Hindutva neoliberalism facilitates capitalism in India by establishing political, social, religious and cultural dominance of Brahminical caste order. The majoritarian social relations controlled by the established caste hierarchy helps neoliberalism to pursue its agendas without any form of political and social barriers. The caste system is not only normalising exploitation but also naturalising all forms of inequalities in India. Such a feudal and authoritarian ideological framework established by caste and its cohesive order provides breathing space to both Hindutva and neoliberalism in India.
Deregulation, privatisation, reduction of corporate tax, dismantling the state command economy, and minimise the roles of government are common features between global neoliberalism and Hindutva neoliberalism. The global neoliberalism believes in trade liberalisation, but Hindutva neoliberalism believes in trade monopoly of few compliant corporations. Both work in unison despite of minor differences between global neoliberalism and Hindutva neoliberalism.
From Hayekians to Keynesians and from the Geneva School of policy making to the Chicago School of economists and policymakers were responsible to shape neoliberalism as an ideological project of capitalist alternative to communism. These ideological adherents have naively believed and afloat the idea that the liberal and welfare path can also defeat fascism and its other authoritarian variants by upholding ‘individual freedom and choice’ as sacrosanct.
These neoliberal ideologues have argued that the combination of individual liberties with desire-based capitalist markets can shape the future of democracy and prosperity in society. Such naïve philosophical formulations, economic myopia and political misunderstandings continue to expose itself and its utopian outlook as global neoliberalism continues to assault democracies across the globe.
The global neoliberalism has formed alliance with the most illiberal forces in politics, culture and society today. The Hindutva neoliberalism paves a new path for global neoliberal capitalism, where democracy, state and governments lost their public legitimacy in popular imagination. This is the best recipe to establish absolute control over people, planet and resources without any form of political resistance.
Limited welfare state has no place in Hindutva neoliberalism. It neither believes in minimum governance nor in maximum governance, as claimed by Modi
The ethnic authoritarianism is an invaluable means for global neoliberal capitalism to survive and expand itself with the growth of ethnic politics like Hindutva forces in India. The ethnic politics of Hindutva is not only destroying the unity of working people but also diminishing citizenship rights by othering religious minorities in India. Such processes weaken the conflicts between labour and capital. 
The Karma theory of reincarnation and salvation provides philosophical foundation to Hindutva neoliberalism by shaping ideals and naturalising it in a way in which individual blame their own Karma for their own miseries. Such processes of individualisation of ‘self’ and demonisation of ‘others’ help both Hindutva and neoliberalism in pursuit of their political and economic projects in India.
The culture of neoliberal fragmentation and project of identity based political mobilisation provide a coherent framework for Hindutva neoliberalism to establish itself as a formidable force in India. Both Hindutva and neoliberalism disciplines citizens and coverts them as mere customers, who are seeking satisfaction, utility and pleasure as mere consumers of commodities.
The wholesale normalisation of culture of consumerism under Hindutva neoliberalism dehumanises and dismantles societies, where unities and solidarities are becoming elusive. Therefore, lynching of Muslims, raping of women, sexual abuse of children, violence against women, Kashmiris, Dalits and tribals are not provoking mass struggles against injustices in India. This callous culture is an outcome of everyday Hindutva neoliberalism, which is practiced and promoted by the Modi led BJP government in India.
The Hindutva neoliberalism marketizes every sphere of life in the name of Hindu cultural nationalism at the cost of India and Indians. Narendra Modi and his party follow market-led media-mediated management of public opinion as human development index falls to the bottom of international development pyramid.
The manipulation of public mind with majoritarian dominance and reactionary values led by Hindutva neoliberalism have failed to obscure the mass miseries and marginalisation in India. The struggles for citizenship rights, the famers struggles against corporate control over agriculture, the resistance movements against privatisation and liberalisation, the struggle for justice led by women, students, Dalits, tribals and workers are hopes to reclaim India from Hindutva neoliberalism and its dehumanising values.
These resistance movements can only help in deepening constitutional democracy. The struggles are the only ways to repair the broken republic shattered by the Hindutva neoliberalism.
---
*University of Glasgow, UK

Comments

TRENDING

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Giant conglomerates 'favoured': Whither tribal rights for jal-jungle-jameen?

Prafull Samantara By Mohammad Irshad Ansari*  The struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Jameen” has been a long-drawn battle for the tribal communities of India. This tussle was once again in the limelight with the proposed diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh). The only difference in this movement was the massive social media support it gained, which actually seems to tilt the scale for the tribal people in a long time.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Effluent discharge into deep sea? Modi told to 'reconsider' Rs 2275 crore Gujarat project

Counterview Desk  In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, well-known Gujarat-based environmentalist, Mahesh Pandya of the Paryavaran Mitra, has protested against the manner in with the Gujarat government is continuing with its deep sea effluent disposal project despite environmental concerns.

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.

Gujarat govt gender insensitive? Cyclone package for fisherfolk 'ignores' poor women

By Our Representative A memorandum submitted to the Gujarat government by various fisherfolk associations of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat under the leadership of Ahmedabad NGO Centre for Social Justice's senior activist Arvind Khuman, who is based in Amreli, has suggested that the relief package offered to the fishermen affected by the Tauktae cyclone is not only inadequate, it is also gender insensitive.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Govt of India has 'no moral right' to declare national day for Muslim women, Naqvi told

Counterview Desk  In what has been described as a nationwide outpouring of condemnation, following the announcement by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of Minority Affairs, declaring August 1 as ‘Muslim Women’s Rights Day’ to mark the anniversary of the Triple Talaq law, over 650 citizens have said it is nothing but "cynical optics" of using Muslim women’s rights in the face of an "unprecedented" onslaught against the rights of the Muslims in recent years.