In 2019, I was stunned into silence and enclosed myself in walled depression when on social media, some right-wingers called me a few objectionable names that made me understand there were new divisions in India.
Those viperous words struck me like poison in my soul. I closed my newly-made Twitter account. I then made a fresh Twitter account in 2020. I was once again shocked when soon, someone tweeted to me, “Go to Pakistan!”
While I was still wondering why they were sending me to Pakistan, I soon got to understand that anyone who is Muslim, Christian, minority, too secular, or too liberal are marked off as the underprivileged second-class outcastes not worthy of living in India.
It soon became apparent there was an awakening of a nationalist class of Hindu Indians who were evoking Hindutva nationalism, the predominant form of Hindu militant nationalism in India. This political ideology was founded by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923 and championed by the Hindu nationalist volunteer organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with other organizations, collectively called the Sangh Parivar.
On learning this, still stung with hurt rejection drumming in my soul, and trying to recover from recurrent sharp arrows hitting me on Twitter, one day I stumbled across a website link, https://www.hindujagruti.org. As I read it, this actually helped me to understand better the way the Sangh Parivar thinks.
Firstly, Hinduism differs from Hindu Rashtra because “Hindu Rashtra” is a political ideology, which seeks to either make non-Hindus second-class citizens or convert the masses to Hinduism. It is a nationalist, political form of religion with very little roots in spirituality, which is why it has taken violent overtures many times in the past.
Here is a small fragment of the contents I read, “The rulers will abide by Dharma, will be sattvik, virtuous, will look after public welfare, be selfless and shower fatherly love on people. They will make people abide by Dharma, seek guidance from Saints and have transparency in their conduct. Besides, they will also possess some important administrative virtues like love for justice, systematic, disciplined, ability to take decisions, alertness etc. All laws will take care of Hindu interests”
On another part, “Religious conversions will be banned. Therefore, no one will be able to convert people by deceit. Cow slaughter will be banned too. Minorities will not be appeased. There will be a ‘Common Civil Code’ in effect.”
Citizens will not ask for their rights. Instead, they will fulfill their duties towards the Nation. Therefore, there will not be any strikes, protests, rallies, etc.”
“All the components of society, profession, objects will be spiritualized. For example, during the construction of houses and roads, care will be taken to create sattvikta, so much so that even dustbins of a house will also be sattvik.”
While this all looked very noble, it was evident that non-Hindus would be chalked out as inferior citizens, without the privileges of Hindus. It did not seem real in the 21st century and certainly not the way India is, and reflected a Medieval age era.
When I forwarded this website to some of my Hindu friends thinking they could throw more light on the matter, they were blissfully unaware something like this existed. They exclaimed in astonished tones that they could not believe it was for real because it sounded like walking back to the medieval ages.
To put things into perspective, a few weeks after Narendra Modi was sworn in as the prime minister of India in 2014, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat proclaimed India as a Hindu nation saying, “The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva”.
The RSS since its inception in 1925 has been working stealthily to establish India as a Hindu Rashtra. Narendra Modi also declared himself as a “Hindu nationalist,” being trained personally by the RSS since he was 21. The chief minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath openly endorses the plan to make India a Hindu Rashtra. Fueled by their leaders, in June 2017, 150 right-wing Hindu groups came together in Goa to plan to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra.
While the ruling government was setting its gears to position India as a Hindu nation, the climate of India turned stormy in the seven years of Narendra Modi’s reign. The “ghar wapsi” ceremonies to reconvert Christians and Muslims back to Hinduism started getting aggressive. Extreme violent vigilantism against Muslims by the gau rakshaks took place where some were lynched, and the movement against “love-jihad” took mostly in BJP-ruled states.
In some villages and towns, when Christians gathered on Sunday mornings, their church doors were rammed open, pastors and even congregation in the church were thrashed, sometimes so badly that they broke legs, and churches were vandalized. The Hindu fundamentalists made fake reports of forced conversions by the Christians and a few Christians have also been killed over the past few years.
The Hindutva brigade believes that for India’s past glory to return she must be reclaimed as a Hindu nation and they attribute the poverty and crime in India to not being an established Hindu nation.
While the ideology of Hindutva is a visionary dream that needs to materialize, it is also rooted in superstition, coated with the soot of fanaticism. Masses of zealot-like spirits have exploded into hatred and intolerance towards minorities, hurling on new names on them such as “urban Naxals, Jihadis, rice bags, Khalistanis” and a myriad of other taunting names.
The Hindutva far from being religious is political and turning terroristic with very violent colors. While the Hindutva groups will argue that they are not like terrorists but are nationalists, the dictionary definition of a terrorist is “a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” This is exactly what they are doing. While they vandalize, attack, and intimidate ordinary citizens, the government remains silent or promotes the Hindutva workers into political positions.
So while the RSS, BJP, VHP, and other right-wingers are working hard to build a Hindu Rashtra perhaps surmising it worked well for Nepal or Muslim countries like Saudi, it is practically impossible to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra.
Here are some of the reasons why India can never become a Hindu Rashtra:
Demography, Ethnicity, and Religiosity: Unlike Nepal known as a Hindu nation or the Saudi Muslim nations, the demography of India is stupendous and mind-blowing. India has more than two thousand ethnic groups, and four major families of languages, namely Indo-European, Dravidian, Austroasiatic, and Sino-Tibetan languages.
The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Under the Hindu population are the Brahmins, Thakurs, Dalits, Kshatriyas and caste differences with greater veneration to different gods arise, such as Lord Ram may be worshipped more by a section, and Lord Krishna or Lord Vishnu or Goddess Kali or Goddess Lakshmi or Lord Ganesha by other. Then others in India practice Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism. Zoroastrianism, Yungdrung Bon, the Baháʼí Faith, Sanamahism, and Judaism also have a history in India, and each has at least several thousand adherents in India.
Christianity has existed in India for over 2000 years, and Islam actually came to India via Arabian traders in the 6th century and they used to frequent the western coast of India. The first mosque was built in Kerala in 629 AD whereas Mughals came to India around 1526 AD
With such rich ethnicity and many religious conglomerates which existed for centuries, living peacefully over thousands of years, can it be so easy to break it up in the 21st century with militant forceful declarations of ‘a Hindutva” nation?
There are 1,000,000 people in India who are Anglo-Indians, and 700,000 Westerners from the United States are living in India. They represent over 0.1% of the total population of India.
The ethos of India over centuries has been tolerant and secular and to suddenly stifle millions of Indians to shuttered silence would be criminal and face resistance. Incidentally, India’s population is 1.38 billion people, second to China, which consists of the largest population. With such staggering belief systems, perhaps the Hindutva movement has miscalculated the ramifications of their enforced execution to convert Indians to one major religion or push the others as second-class citizens.
Throughout history, the bloodiest wars in the world were fought over religion and in the 21st century, it would be wisest to leave people’s faith and religion to the pure sanctity of their souls. The highest form of religion would be tolerance and humanity, and God the Divine Creator would favor such efforts with most crown blessings.
The unique aroma of India unlike any other nation in the world releases a beautiful blend of its unique cultural mix.
A group of us recently had the privilege to meet with Sam Pitroda, over a video call. He is the Indian telecom engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur popularly known as the Father of India’s Computer and IT Revolution as he helped Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in bringing computerization as an advisor to the PM. He told us that once a foreigner asked him in wonder, “How do you people manage to keep India together without guns?”
Sam Pitroda later realized that many other nations’ governments have to use force to keep their masses under control but even with India’s diverse ethnicity, over the centuries, we have just learned to accept our differences and live today in a magnificent symphony. That is until politicians came along to ignite religious fires and stir fear in the religious population to fight each other. Polarizing the masses for Hindu votes does work successfully for these politicians and the masses like fools fall for it.
History of Invaders and Traders Made Indian Tapestry More Complex: In 180 BC, the Indo-Greeks, invaded parts of northwest and northern India and ruled in the Punjab region. Intermarriages took place with new emerging mindsets and cultures. The Achaemenid conquest from Iran of the Indus Valley and governance of the territories of the North-western regions of the Indian subcontinent took place from the 6th to 4th centuries BC. The British ruled India for nearly 200 years.
Christianity came to India 2000 years ago through travelers to India from the Middle East and Syria.
There was the era of Portuguese autocratic rule from 1510–1961 where the Portuguese invaded Goa in 1510, defeating the Bijapur Sultanate. The Portuguese rule lasted for about 450 years, and heavily influenced Goan culture, cuisine, and architecture. In 1961, the Indian Army invaded and annexed Goa after a 36-hour battle and in 1987, Goa was granted statehood.
Islam actually came to India via Arabian traders who used to frequent the western cost of India and the first mosque was built in Kerala in 629 AD.
The Mughal empire was founded by Babur, the first Mughal emperor, was born in present-day Uzbekistan, and became ruler of Kabul in Afghanistan. From there, he invaded the kingdom of the Lodi Afghans in northern India in 1526 and established a dynasty that was to rule for three centuries.
While the Adivasis, Scheduled Tribes, were the original inhabitants of India, Dravidians invaded India from central Asia around 1500 BCE.
The Indo-Aryan (North Indians) migrations started in approximately 2000 BCE, presumably coming from the regions of Iran.
With countless invasions, and cultures and religions intermingling, the multifariousness of India is unsurpassed by any other country in the world.
India has a Strong Secular Climate: Because of India’s heterogeneity, unlike many other nations, the foundation of India is very strongly democratic even before the Constitution of India was founded on 26 January 1950. This enabled India to thrive far ahead of its neighbors in inventions, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing industries, the movie industries, and many other supersonic developments.
Studies reveal that secular nations over the globe are doing better than dictatorships and are safer and healthier. On the contrary, it has a better possibility of being safe and healthy in the 21st century. A report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2014 shows the top five countries with the highest quality of life in the world are the secular countries, Australia, Norway, Canada, Sweden, and United States.
Thus trying to break down the secular spirit in India will decrease the quality of life and happiness.
While the Hindutva feel that India will do better under a Hindu Rashtra, we do not have to look very far when we look at Uttar Pradesh and other BJP ruled states. There are enough examples to see it is not working. Not only are the crime rates the highest, but minorities such as the Dalits, Muslims, and Christians are severely crushed, muffled, and treated brutally, which never was the case before. Children at schools are facing racism and hatred and their parents are left struggling to help them with problems that they never faced when growing up. This is insidiously building a more intolerant India than ever before.
Due to the caste system, Hindus themselves will resist the Hindu Rashtra: Even Hindus will face discrimination due to the caste system. Dalit Hindus bear the biggest backlash of the caste system. Under a reign of Hindu Brahmin supremacy, they would be made the underdogs and they are already resisting the idea of Hindutva. Already, inequality is seeping through the strong democratic walls of India like an angry flood, threatening to demolish the democratic pillars of India.
A Hindu Rashtra will go against Dharma: Unfortunately, in order to establish a Hindu Rashtra, the present “nationalists” have taken the path of violence. Its very purpose is defeated at the onset. Religion has to be embraced by human will and not forced in order to succeed. The bullying modes of the Hindu “nationalists” have caused the new generation of youth to resist their movement, driving them deeper into secularism, and they say, “We want no part of a communal India.” The youth are suddenly aware of the importance of tolerance and love, and a new movement is resonating to counter the Hindutva “hate.”
Spiritualism will be manipulated for personal gain: There will be no Supreme Court or edicts of the law, as we formally know. Humans easily gravitate to their baser selves and while “saints” who rule will claim a form of spiritualism to manipulate their narrative to achieve their goals.
There will be no boundaries, no checks or balances, no absolutes, black or white, wrong or right. Humans left without boundaries will destroy each other. We will hold faith in a system of law and Constitution to administer justice, but if left to the mercy of “saintly” people who do as they think is right, dangerous unsteady events will occur and people will be manipulated. The world has become more complex than a few centuries ago, with the Internet, cross-cultural businesses, and mixes, so to function as a medieval theocracy would not work practically as people’s mindsets have changed completely.
A Hindu Rashtra will witness the return of separatist insurgencies and weaken India from external threats: This will only push Kashmir into deeper levels of conflict, Punjab, and the northeastern states are also most likely to witness the return of separatist insurgencies. New groups will arise as people will fight back for freedom of expression of their religion. Perhaps the rulers of the Hindu Rashtra may think they could shoot down all the resisting people, but such drastic acts will have serious consequences.
Trade will be destroyed: With internal peace and stability fragmented, a Hindu Rashtra will be busy fighting internal problems with no time to deal with outside threats. With insurgencies and instability rising, India’s trade will be curbed as no nation wants to open fresh business deals with an unstable nation. All the war-torn nations over the globe are financially ruined. Our neighbors will delight in our downfalls and vex our borders with more threats.
The Army will be weakened: While the Indian Army is one of the most diverse and secular institutions in the country with a large force of minorities serving in the Army, this will also break the harmony of the armed forces and bring in divisions and remove the effectiveness and powerful unity the Army once had.
Conclusion: Prosperity and development transpire in an atmosphere where freedom of thought and expression is abundant, and religious freedom is treasured, held within the secret chambers of the soul as sacred and no one should meddle with it.
The expression of freedom runs in the natural course of nature and synchronous with life, the very gift of the Universe to us. If we take it away, we are fighting with the natural design of living. Great reverence and sensitivity to others stem out of our freedom of expression and speech. With greater responsibility comes greater accountability and with that freedom, one should make the choice to do right and never harm or hurt others. If people are crushed, anarchy is birthed because the natural course of nature is suppressed and crushed.
This is when dictatorship takes over. If Hindutva is forced upon people, it will never reach a divine destination and only bring destruction, bloodshed, tears, and smoke, mingled in ashes.