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How Hindu nationalism is changing India


Well-known member
Over the past five years, India has moved further away from the multicultural model set forth in its secular constitution. While its prescriptions have never been followed to the letter, as seen in the underrepresentation of minorities—Muslims in particular—in the administration, the police and the military, as of 2014, Muslims also began to vanish from elected assemblies, where this minority is hardly represented anymore.

Not only are Muslims marginalised in major institutions and the public sphere, but they are targeted by Hindu nationalist militias as well. These groups are trying to rid the public space of this minority by (re)converting its members to the dominant religion, preventing them from praying in the open and prohibiting them from acquiring real estate in mixed residential areas. They are also trying to cut the majority community off from the Muslim minority by preventing interfaith marriages. Over and beyond this, the vigilantes attack Muslims, accusing them of eating beef or taking cows to slaughter, which is against the law. Not only do these accusations sometimes result in perfectly illegal lynchings, but in many cases vigilantes also enjoy police protection.

The fact that vigilantes and police work hand in glove has several explanations. Firstly, not only is Muslim presence in the police very weak, but also, Hindu nationalists endeavour to infiltrate this pillar of law enforcement. A BJP Member of the Legislative Council (upper house of a state legislature) from Karnataka interviewed by Cobrapost and Gulail.com journalists at party headquarters in Mangalore thus explained, ‘We have tried to send some of our boys into police. When I talk to students I tell them to join the police. So, when we need help there are a lot of karyakartas [militants of the] [RSS]. Sixty percent of the young constables are our students.’ Secondly, while the conduct of Hindu militias is illegal, they enjoy a degree of legitimacy in the eyes of the majority because they claim that they are acting in defence of the dominant religion. Thirdly, and correlatively, vigilantes enjoy popular support and neutralise opponents, not only because they promote Hinduism, but also because of their sense of organisation, their penetration of society and the weapons they carry. Sangeet Som, mentioned above, thus explains:

This is Hindustan and it does not matter which party is running the government. In a democratic country like this, there are many other ways to get things done. The police know it well that we will do picketing, hold demonstration and all this will lead to rioting. So, they perforce co-operate with us.

This ability to enforce its version of the law no matter what party is in power, and thus independently from the state, demonstrates the success of the RSS project, which since 1925, has endeavoured to win Hindu society over to its cause rather than to conquer political power directly. The attitude of those in government is of course important, but more than anything else, the RSS expects them not to interfere with its work and even to facilitate it. It does not expect the state to operate in its stead, as no state can transform minds from above. That is a long-term task that can only be accomplished through action at the grassroots level—and which is compatible with a certain form of democracy.

This divide is real and can be seen in another thread:

Just because of an accused wears Saffron Robe, people are supporting an accused criminal. These people would be screaming bloody murder in other cases.
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