Hindu Nationalism in Theory and Practice
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Nationalism suggests that the majority community gains the upper hand in setting the nationalist and patriotic agenda while expecting compliance from the minority groups. In India, Hindu nationalism, also known as Hindutva, seeks to establish a Hindu India (Hindu Rashtra) that visualizes a Hindu “self” and the minority (Muslim & Christian) ‘‘other.’’ Hindutva is an ideology propagated by the Hindu rightwing elements that aspire to establish India as a Hindu state by uniting the Hindus who are divided along the lines of caste, class, language and other differences. Hindutva is on the ascendance in India in the last 25 years. What strategies and tactics have the adherents of this chauvinistic, sectarian movement employed in order to gain an ideological, cultural, organizational and political foothold in a caste-ridden, multi-religious, multi-linguistic, secular, pluralist and democratic society dependent on coalition politics? This research is an attempt to understand the various facets of Hindutva in India, where violence has become central to India’s socio-political order. It will investigate the multiple ways in which the discourses of nationalism, the self and the other, social unity, insecurity, identity, gender and violence manifest in the society. The origins of Hindu nationalism in the socio-political mainstream can be traced back to the pre-independence era struggle. However, in the last two decades or so, the Hindu nationalist movement in India has become a dominant cultural and political movement that on the surface presents itself as an inclusive and pro-development establishment, but at the core seeks to sustain Hindu upper-class hegemony in a nation with heterogeneous identities not only within the Hindu community but with other minorities such as Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. This project takes the form of an academic essay that relies on secondary sources but also use primary sources. In it, I discuss Hindutva through the various definitions of nationalism and the ways in which majority and minority communities are imagined in a nation-state. This essay assumes a framework in which majoritarian discourse self assigns to one people the authority of the “self” and views minorities as the “other.” I will examine how the national, religious and cultural symbols are used to mobilize the public opinion and consolidate the self behind a certain agenda where myths form an important factor in the theory and practices of Hindutva establishment. Within this framework, any drive to homogenize the society will result in creating a stigmatized other, whose loyalty is always questioned. This research is a qualitative study with historical orientation, complimented by anthropological, sociological and political science dimensions. It is an attempt to understand the ideology, history, discourse, religion, culture and politics in shaping perceptions about the Self and the other. It focuses on the formative assertions, challenges in its imagination of Hindu collective, its discourse on the threatening other and how violence against the other is normalized which requires examining its fascist roots.
DepartmentGraduate Liberal Studies
SubjectHindu Nationalism, Hindutva, BJP, India, RSS, Muslims, Christians
Hinudutva Terrorism, Love Jihad, Beef Ban, Cow, Caste, Dalits
CitationAnsari, Khalid (2016). Hindu Nationalism in Theory and Practice. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12020.
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Rights for Collection: Graduate Liberal Studies