Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why Modi’s ‘Hindu Nationalism’ Cannot Accommodate Many Hindus

Because someone is born in a Hindu family, he is a Hindu Nationalist. It must mean that if someone is born into a Muslim family, he must become a Muslim nationalist. It must imply to Sikh Nationalism as well. Narendra Modi’s statement given in an interview to Reuters does not come as a surprise. It was surprising that it made a national headline. We all know what the ideology of Modi says. We must take this opportunity to deconstruct the notion of nationalism and try to understand what this kind of nationalism means.

Most of the Hindu politicians, I assume, do believe in the existence of Hindu Gods. At least Digvijay Singh does. He says that he worship Gods of the religion he belongs to. But he never claims to be a Hindu leader. Why Modi or for that matter any Hindutva politician needs to talk about nationalism of‘Hindu’? Because it is the politics he is engaged in. But the problematic part comes when it starts looking at the other nationalism with a particular lens. Modi, when he says that he is a Hindu Nationalist, knowingly distances himself from ‘others’ in the nation.

Hindutva is not be confused with Hinduism. Savarkar himself was an atheist. The idea of Hindutva was essentially a political idea, and is not more than 100 years old. The problem with the idea is the same which the Lebensraum of Hitler had: Non-Inclusive. This idea essentially comes from the Manuvaadi thought and caters to the upper class Hindus. If this was not true then there would have been no rise of Bahujan Samajwaadi Party and Kanshi Ram. The lower caste Hindus and the tribal Hindus do not even want to associate themselves to the idea of Hindutva. At the same time there is a certain sect in RSS which wants to include this section of the society to the larger family of Hindutva. The Adivasi Sena faction in RSS is an attempt for that. Even then BJP is considered to be a party of Upper Caste Hindus.

When Modi says he is a Hindu Nationalist, it comes as a problem, because we have a very large section of society who looks up to him as an alternative to the corrupt UPA government. The fabricated facts of development have been acting as a veil for the communal ideology of NaMo and associates. Another very large segment of society sees the machismo in Modi which is problematic at various levels. The Hindu youth sees him as ultimate saviour of Hinduism.

Mohandas Gandhi was a Hindu, and a devoted Hindu. But his idea of Hindu could never be accommodated by RSS and Jan Sangh. That is why one of the RSS workers killed him in cold blood. Sadly he called it ‘Gandhi Vadh’. What I am trying to say is that Modi’s Hindu Nationalism can accommodate only a certain kind of Hindu. It cannot accommodate me, certainly not, even though technically I was born in a Hindu Brahmin family.

It amuses me to see everything which Modi says grab national attention. But it is important that we indulge in these debates and discussion so that we understand our times in a better manner. Thank you Modi for giving us reasons to understand our polity a bit better!

This article was first published in Youth Ki Awaaz on July 17, 2013

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