India Republic Day: Modi's Hindutva Threatens Secular Constitution and National Unity

India's secular constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, a day that is celebrated as Republic Day. Today, the national integrity and the secular foundations of the Republic of India are under threat from its current Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi whose leader Madhav Golwalkar wrote: “The non-Hindu peoples in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion” or “may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less preferential treatment—not even citizen’s rights.” Recently enacted laws like Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Registration of Citizens (NRC), beef ban and Love Jihad are translating Golwalkar's vision of Hindu Rashtra into reality. 

War on Indian Muslims: 

In a prescient remark back in 1940s, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the framer of India's constitution, warned that “…if war comes in this country and if that war has any relation to the issue with which we are confronted today, it will not be a war on the British. It will be a war on the Muslims”. Rising daily violence against Indian Muslims and recently enacted laws like Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Registration of Citizens (NRC), beef ban and Love Jihad confirm what Dr. Ambedkar feared. 

India Leads the World in Internet Shutdowns

Ex PM Manmohan Singh's Fears:

Former India Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh's fears of India's disintegration are much more tangible now than ever before. In an interview on BBC's Hard Talk with Indian journalist Karan Thapar in 1999, Mr. Singh: "Great Nations like the Soviet Union have perished. If we continue to mis-manage our economy and continue to divide our country on the basis of religion, caste or other sectarian issues there is a danger of that sort of thing happening".  

Today, the rise of Hindutva forces is tearing India apart along caste and religious lines as the country celebrates its Republic Day.  Hindu mobs are lynching Muslims and Dalits. A  Pew Research report confirms that the level of hostility against religious minorities in India is "very high", giving India a score of 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh's is 7.5.

Chart Courtesy of Bloomberg

Will India Break Up? 

In a book entitled "The Raisina Model",  British-Indian author Lord Meghnad Desai asks: "A country of many nations, will India break up?" The Hindu Nationalists who are blamed for deepening divisions are themselves divided on the key questions of caste, religion and trade.  Professor Walter Anderson, co-author of "The RSS: The View to the Inside" raises the specter of "a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism".




The Raisina Model:

In "The Raisina Model", Lord Meghand Desai says that India's breakup can not be ruled out. Specifically, he points to three issues that could lead to it:

1.  Cow protection squads are killing Muslims and jeopardizing their livelihoods.  The current agitation about beef eating and gau raksha is in the Hindi belt just an excuse for attacking Muslims blatantly. As most slaughterhouses in UP are Muslim-owned, owners and employees of these places are prime targets.

2. India has still not fashioned a narrative about its nationhood which can satisfy all. The two rival narratives—secular and Hindu nation—are both centred in the Hindi belt extending to Gujarat and Maharashtra at the most. This area comprises 51% of the total population and around 45% of the Muslims in India.

3. India has avoided equal treatment of unequal units. Representation in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) is proportional to population size. If anything, it is the smaller states that may complain about being marginalized, though so far none has. The larger states thus dominate both Houses of Parliament. It would be difficult for small states to object, much less initiate reform. In future, small states could unite to present their case for better treatment. Except for Punjab and Nagaland, there has been no attempt to challenge the status quo.

Map of India(s) on the eve of British conquest in 1764

Hindutva vs Hinduism:

In  "The RSS: The View to the Inside", the author Walter Anderson brings out several areas which could lead to a split within the Hindu Nationalists. These disagreements have to do with low caste Hindus, Muslims and  foreign trade and investment policies.

1. The leadership of the the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is drawn entirely from the upper caste Brahmins. The RSS founder Golwalkar never spoke against the caste system. The RSS opposes affirmative action, called reservations, to benefit low caste Hindus. At the same time, they want to integrate Dalits and OBCs (Other backward classes of which Prime Minister Modi is a member) into the organization to promote Hindu unity.

Anderson believes that it will be extremely difficult to reconcile Hindutva embrace of lower castes with the entrenched Hindu caste system. He says the following:

"..there will eventually be a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism. Hindutva emphasizes the oneness of Hindus, whereas ground realities are very different. Let me give an example. Following the egalitarian ideology, Tarun Vijay, an RSS ideologue and former editor of Panchjanya and Organiser, once led some Dalits into a temple in central India, where they had not been before. He was beaten up, but few in the RSS family vocally supported him. They kept mostly quiet. As one important RSS functionary put it to me, the key question is: how do we keep our organisation intact if we do move towards an egalitarian Hindu society?"

2. When RSS leader MD Deoras invited Indian Muslims to join the RSS, he argued that Muslims were mostly India-born, and therefore Indian. But he made the Muslim entry into the RSS conditional upon accepting India’s “historic culture”.  RSS leaders argue that South Indian Muslims, or Indonesian Muslims are ideal Muslims. South Indian Muslims speak the regional languages; and Indonesia, a primarily Muslim country, has the Ramayana as its national epic.

3. Many RSS ideologues oppose Prime Minister Modi's policies of promoting foreign trade and investment. They view Modi's economic policies with great skepticism.



Summary:

 Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's fears of War on Indian Muslims are becoming reality. Former India PM Manmohan Singh has warned: "Great Nations like the Soviet Union have perished. If we continue to mis-manage our economy and continue to divide our country on the basis of religion, caste or other sectarian issues there is a danger of that sort of thing happening". The rise of RSS and its affiliates in India is deepening divisions in the country along multiple fault lines, the most important being caste and religion. The RSS leadership itself is not unified on how to deal with the divisions they have created and promoted. This situation has raised the social hostilities in India to very high levels. Pew scores social hostilities against minorities in India at 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10.  Professor Walter Anderson, co-author of "The RSS: The View to the Inside" has raised the specter of "a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism". And it has caused Lord Meghnad Desai, author of The Raisina Model, to ask the question: Will India break up?

Here's ex PM Manmohan Singh on Hard Talk with Karan Thapar: 

Views: 80

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 30, 2021 at 8:50pm

What the data were showing us was that the genetic distinctions among jati groups within India were in many cases real, thanks to the long-standing history of endogamy in the subcontinent. People tend to think of India, with its more than 1.3 billion people, as having a tremendously large population, and indeed many Indians as well as foreigners see it this way. But genetically, this is an incorrect way to view the situation. The Han Chinese are truly a large population. They have been mixing freely for thousands of years. In contrast, there are few if any Indian groups that are demographically very large, and the degree of genetic differentiation among Indian jati groups living side by side in the same village is typically two to three times higher than the genetic differentiation between northern and southern Europeans.39 The truth is that India is composed of a large number of small populations.

Reich, David. Who We Are and How We Got Here (p. 170). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 31, 2021 at 7:01am

The discrepancy between the Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA patterns (in India) initially confused historians.26 But a possible explanation is that most of the ANI *ancestral north India) genetic input into India came from males. This pattern of sex-asymmetric population mixture is disturbingly familiar. Consider African Americans. The approximately 20 percent of ancestry that comes from Europeans derives in an almost four-to-one ratio from the male side.27 Consider Latinos from Colombia. The approximately 80 percent of ancestry that comes from Europeans is derived in an even more unbalanced way from males (a fifty-to-one ratio).28 I explore in part III what this means for the relationships among populations, and between males and females, but the common thread is that males from populations with more power tend to pair with females from populations with less. It is amazing that genetic data can reveal such profound information about the social nature of past events.

Reich, David. Who We Are and How We Got Here (p. 162). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 7, 2021 at 6:29pm

Is #Biden backing away from #Trump policy of confrontation with #China? Where does that leave #Modi's #India? #US President hints at "extreme competition'" with China, says there's no need for conflict. Biden said he and Xi had "a lot to talk about." https://www.newsweek.com/biden-hints-extreme-competition-china-says...

resident Joe Biden is aware of the significance of the U.S. relationship with China, but his administration is going to navigate foreign policy on its own terms.

"We need not have a conflict, but there's going to be extreme competition," Biden said to anchor Norah O'Donnell in an interview to air in full Sunday evening on CBS Evening News. Referring to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, he said, "I'm not going to do it the way that he knows. And that's because he's sending signals as well. I'm not going to do it the way Trump did."

China's relationship with America "is probably one of the most important in the entire world," O'Donnell said. Xi's growing power will be extremely important to Biden's foreign policy agenda. Most Europeans believe China will surpass the U.S. as the most powerful nation in 10 years. Last year, EU-China trade from January to September surpassed $516 billion, far more than that between Europe and the U.S. during the same period.

When O'Donnell asked why Biden has not yet spoken with Xi since taking office last month, he told the anchor about his past experiences engaging with China's leader during his visits to China in 2011 and 2013, and later when Xi came to Iowa in 2015.

"We haven't had occasion to talk to him yet," Biden said. "There's no reason not to call him. I probably spent more time with Xi Jinping, I'm told, than any world leader has, because I had 24, 25 hours of private meetings with him when I was vice president. Traveled 17,000 miles with him. I know him pretty well."

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