Since its independence in 1947, India promoted itself as the world’s largest democracy and secular state. However, deep-seated violence, extremism, and fascism have dominated Indian politics since then. Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, one of the RSS’s founders, altered the very nature of Indian polity and statecraft.
However, hatred for minorities in general, and Muslims in particular, was ingrained in Indian politics long before the subcontinent was partitioned. In his many writings, Golwalkar conclusively declared Muslims, Christians, and Communists to be a major internal threat to India. He also introduced the concept of Hindu Rashtra. The RSS inculcated elements of violence and extremism that dominated Indian society to the point where Mahatma Gandhi was brutally assassinated in January 1948 by an RSS-affiliated extremist.
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The decline of secular India after the 1990
Low-intensity firestorms of violence erupted intermittently against Muslims in India between 1947 and 1990, but it was generally not plotted by the government. However, since the 1990s, a major political party has coordinated organized pogroms and attempts to delegitimize the citizenship of Indian Muslims.
With the rise of Hindutva, a term coined originally in the 1920s by Hitler admirer, Savarkar, the scene in India began to change for the worse by the 1990s. L.K. Advani led the revival of Hindutva. Advani was a Karachi-born refugee politician and RSS member.
The demolition of the Babari masjid established a pattern for gaining power: the BJP could gain electoral success by playing an anti-Muslim card, depicting Muslims as anti-nationals who had ravished Hindu glory during 800 years of Muslim rule.
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Vajpayee Period & Gujarat Riots
During Vajpayee’s tenure, the BJP-dominated state of Gujarat held a state election in 2002, in which Modi ran for re-election as Chief Minister. The polls predicted Modi’s defeat. Then, in 2002, Modi, the RSS, and other militant Hindu groups collaborated to orchestrate a major Hindu-Muslim riot in Gujarat.
Following the Gujarat pogrom in 2002, the EU and the US imposed a visa ban on Modi. However, as soon as Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, the Western countries were required to lift the travel ban because he was an elected head of state. Despite his first term’s economic failures, Modi was re-elected with an even larger majority in 2019. This was partly due to a brief cross-border clash with Pakistan that occurred mysteriously just before the 2019 general election.
Citizenship amendment act 2019
The Modi government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in 2019, claiming that it was to provide humanitarian refuge to persecuted minorities from three Muslim countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
This permitted Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Christian refugees from these three countries to apply for citizenship, but it expressly prohibited Muslims from doing so. Citizenship based on selective exclusion was reminiscent of the Nuremberg Race Laws enacted by Nazi Germany.
How India’s survival is at stake?
It remains to be seen how things will turn out for India. Fascism has failed throughout the world, and India is no exception. The case Nazi Germany is a big example when they waged war on Europe and had to be destroyed and rebuilt by the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union. When Serb fascism took hold in Yugoslavia, the country was divided into seven countries.
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To use an Asian example, the RSS-BJP coalition in India would like to replicate Myanmar’s expulsion of Rohingyas or China’s policies toward Uyghurs for Indian Muslims (stamp out Uyghur culture through violence and settling Han Chinese in Xinjiang). Imitating China’s approach to the Uyghurs will not work in India. India will lose its democracy and will not be able to match China’s economic and military power.
Unless Indians gain control of fascism, the result will be similar to that of Yugoslavia. It is feasible that Indians will ultimately launch a Gandhian-style civil disobedience movement to oppose the RSS fascism.
It would be wiser for Indians to look to their own historical figures for inspiration, such as the Mughal Emperor Akbar, who was able to rule successfully because he understood that in order to govern India, its two largest communities, Hindus and Muslims, needed to be carried along. Following the RSS’s Hitler model will only result in India’s destruction, as it did for Germany. The best course of action for India is to negotiate a settlement with Pakistan and the Kashmiris and to work toward the formation of a South Asian confederation modeled after the European Union, with free movement of people.
The writer has done graduation in Strategic & Nuclear Studies from National Defence University, Isd and Post-Grad in International Relations from Istanbul University, Turkey. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.