India under the Hindu-Nationalist party BJP is hurtling towards violent saffronization of the country, spelling the death sentence for its battered democratic credentials. Hindutva Politics revolves around the idea that Indian civilization comprises religious nodes instead of cultural pluralism. The exclusionary majoritarian agenda of the Modi regime has wrecked the delicate cosmopolitan of a country once hailed as the melting pot of diverse communal groups. Indian intellectual Shashi Tharoor in his fabulous work ‘The Struggle for India’s Soul’ categorically declared that ‘The renegotiation of the past in the Modi era towards the construction of a Hindu state has reached its zenith’.
In its bid to pander to its orthodox domestic base and distract the public from self-inflicted economic wounds, India’s dangerous turn is threatening the peace of entire South Asia. The nationalist and protectionist political sentiment has already rendered the country a spoiler in regional trade and integration roadmaps. It not only stepped back from signing onto the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement but also attempted to sabotage the multi-billion dollar Chinese flagship project China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Booker-winning author essayist Arundhati Roy prophesized that Hindu nationalism could break India into little pieces, as had happened earlier with Yugoslavia and Russia.
India’s unfair treatment of minorities
The unabashed BJP-RSS Hindu-chauvinist nexus is ‘othering’ Muslims and other minorities under the watch of the international community. This vividly illustrates that India’s demonization of Muslims is a global phenomenon and an extension of the Clash of Civilization rhetoric. Exposing this abject oriental bias, US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar recently lamented that escalating religious fundamentalism is not getting due attention in global corridors of power. She also introduced a resolution, co-sponsored by lawmakers Rashida Talib and Juan Vargas condemning violations of human rights and religious freedom in India.
It’s pertinent to ponder why the ‘free world’ gives wide berth to India, despite its overt autocratic fascist contours? Here resides the simmering Cold War 2.0 and resurgence of bloc-politics that explains Western intransigence to sanction Indian Hindutva tyranny. U.S and India have a common interest in containing the rise of China so Chinese treatment of Uyghur Muslims is gracing top headlines in global mass media. This burnishes the dictum by foreign policy czar Henry Kissinger “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”.
In her book, Fateful Triangle, Tanvi Madan depicts the role of China in shaping US-India relations during the Cold War. She argues that the desire to offset China brought the two countries closer together in the past, and could do so again. Despite the worst excesses of Hindutva grand designs such as disparaging Islamophobic remarks by high-ranking BJP staffers, US State Department and European allies underlined the importance of its bilateral relations with India. This duplicity mercilessly besmirches Western claim of liberal goliath and strategic engagement with India not only lends credence to the neo-imperial gambit of the capitalist world but also highlights the brazen silence of the ‘democratic’ world regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Gregory Stanton, the founder and director of Genocide Watch, said during a US congressional briefing there are early “signs and processes” of genocide in the Indian state of Assam and Indian-administered Kashmir. Instead of terming India as ‘Axis of Evil’ or pariah state, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently made a statement in India that “The Indian people and the American people believe in human dignity, in equality of opportunity, the rule of law, and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion and belief.”
The way forward
The bloody infringement of fundamental tenets of democracy by South Asian nations will not bode well with the principle of peaceful co-existence. As the world’s second-most populous country attempts to render its largest minority electorally and socially irrelevant, modern-day apartheid is violently brewing besides the Israeli apartheid regime. Ironically, the enlightened despot United States is a paramount arms supplier and robust strategic partner of both post-colonial apartheid regimes India and Israel. The parallels between BJP’s Hindu nationalist India and Nazi Germany are so striking that purportedly Hindutva proponents are re-enacting Nazi playbook to purge India of ‘other’ except Hindus.
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The influential fascism scholar Robert Paxton burnished this assertion as ‘For Hindu fundamentalists, their religion is the focus of an intense attachment that the secular and pluralist Indian state does not succeed in the offering. In such communities, religious-based fascism is conceivable.’ This inward-looking political milieu in which India has chosen ethnic nationalism, protectionism and bigotry over liberalism, regionalism and integration has rendered the South Asian country into the sick man of Asia.
The writer is MPhil in international relations from National Defence University Islamabad. She currently works at PTV World, the state broadcaster of Pakistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.