Aam Admi Party (AAP) supremo and incumbent Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s demand for printing pictures of the Hindu deities on Indian currency notes not only marks another low in Indian politics but also sheds light on the ongoing transitioning process in India. It manifests that even non-BJP parties are gradually embracing Hindutva ideology for political mileage due to its traction among the Hindu masses. Nonetheless, it should not come as a surprise in a country where Hindutva ideology is the order of the day. Its adherents are rapidly tarnishing India’s secular image, turning Nehru’s secular India into Savarkar’s Hindu Rashtra; a dangerous proposition though, not only for India’s harmony but for the world alike.
To understand the concept of Hindu Rashtra, one will have to make sense of Hindutva ideology, being its driving force. It is basically an exclusivist and extremist Hindu nationalist ideology spearheaded by the Upper Caste Brahmin Hindus. It saw the light of day in 1923 when V.D. Savarkar, a staunch Hindu nationalist deeply influenced by Hitler’s Nazism, coined this term in his book “Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?”. For Savarkar only those people were Indians who considered the area between Indus river and the Indian Ocean as their ancestral birthplace (pitrabhumi) and holy land (puniyabhumi).
Understanding the matter better
By default, his criteria of nationhood were fulfilled only by the Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. Conversely, he termed Indian Muslims and Christians as the “Internal Others”; discounted from the Indian nation for their religious affiliations with the Makkah and the Vatican. In this way, by placing religion at the centre of nationhood, Savarkar envisioned a Hindu Rashtra; a country exclusively for the followers of Hinduism and associated religions. Hindutva lies at the core of Hindu nationalism and serves as its software in the creation of Hindu Rashtra.
Influenced by Savarkar’s ideas, right-wing Hindu nationalist K.B. Hedgewar formed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925 for Hindutva’s practical implementation. Over the period of time, other organizations kept on joining RSS which is now collectively called “Sangh Parivar”. At present, Sangh Parivar is a family of over sixty organizations such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Durgha Vahini; all devoted to the creation of a Hindu Rashtra. The political front of RSS is the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) which has given a free ride to Sangh Parivar after coming to power. A report by “The Print” claimed that 71 percent of PM Modi’s cabinet has a Sangh background. This institutional penetration has allowed RSS to influence Indian policies on everything ranging from education to national security.
The underlying motive of creating a Hindu Rashtra is to ensure Brahminical hegemony. Although current Indian President Draupadi Murmu and PM Modi belong to marginalized Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) respectively, they merely serve as showmen. The Sangh Parivar controls the power strings behind them which has always been headed by a Brahmin Hindu. For Sangh, elevating lower caste Hindus to top echelons serve three purposes.
First, it acts as a political tool to appease OBCs and STs as they collectively constitute over 48 percent of the Indian population whereas the Brahmans just makeup 4 percent. Secondly, it helps BJP project itself as a party of common men and allows it to attack Congress, its key challenger in Indian politics, for being a dynastic party of Gandhi’s family. Lastly, it improves the soft image of Sangh Parivar which pitches itself as the guardian of lower-caste Hindus.
The process of creating a Hindu Rashtra has entered its final stages and one would not be entirely wrong in calling present-day India an “Undeclared Hindu Rashtra”. Capitalizing upon the majority of BJP in parliament, the architects of Hindu Rashtra are altering the secular character of the Indian constitution. The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, Cow Protection Laws and abrogation of IIOJK’s Article 370 are its glaring examples. Regrettably, Indian judiciary has also succumbed to Hindutva as manifested by recent anti-Muslim verdicts on critical issues such as Babri Mosque and Hijab Ban.
Furthermore, India’s Muslim legacy is being eradicated by twisting the subcontinent’s history to vilify Muslim heroes through the Saffronization of school syllabi and Bollywood movies. Another dangerous aspect of Hindu Rashtra is the penetration of right-wing Hindu extremists into Indian security apparatus. The accidental firing of the Brahmos missile into Pakistan on March 9, 2022 reflects how perilous the radical take-over of India could be for regional security. Moreover, it is also widely believed that Indian military’s “Agnipath Scheme” would also end up benefitting Sangh Parivar by catering its need of a trained militia.
The perils of India becoming a Hindu Rashtra have already started showing colours. The rise of Hindu vigilantism and discrimination towards minorities especially Indian Muslims have skyrocketed with public calls for their genocide. It could also create breeding space for transnational terrorist outfits such as AQ and ISKP. While the saner voices within India are being suppressed, it is high time for the global community to take cognizance of the prevailing situation. If remaining unchecked, the world will be witnessing mass genocide of the Indian Muslims and perhaps Indian Christians at later stages.
The Sangh Parivar will certainly expedite its efforts for the creation of a Hindu Rashtra, keeping in mind its centenary celebrations in 2025! The world must act before it is too late.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.