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India’s Dark Path To Hindu Nationalism

December 31, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

India is being convulsed by mass demonstrations against a new citizenship law that places special disabilities on Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has responded with force, leading to more deaths in a couple weeks than during months of protests in Hong Kong.

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Some Western policymakers once saw India as the great democratic hope for confronting communist China. Indian economic growth was poised to spurt past that of the PRC. When Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a majority in the 2014 election, he was compared to America’s Ronald Reagan, expected to free India’s hobbled economy and unleash his people’s productivity. Charismatic and determined, Modi seemed destined to turn his nation into a weltmacht whose interests had to be respected.

However, he proved to be more pro-business than pro-market, favoring stronger state control over the economy to support his political objectives. First-term reforms were slow and tentative. He sought to squeeze cash out of the economy, enhancing the government’s power while starving small businesses of liquidity. The result was slower growth—last quarter saw the slowest expansion in six years. Thus, when the BJP sought reelection this year, it talked less about its disappointing economic record than about religious nationalism, especially the continuing conflict with Pakistan over majority-Muslim but India-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

The emphasis on Hindu nationalism should have surprised no one. Modi’s career saw him rise through the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, a paramilitary Hindu nationalist organization that promotes Hindutva, or Hindu supremacy. In 2002, as head of Gujarat State, he presided over—and, some charged, encouraged—riots that led to the deaths of hundreds and even thousands of Muslims. He described his reaction to those killings as similar to witnessing the death of a puppy.

Although Hindu violence and persecution has most often been directed at Muslims, Christians, who make up a much smaller portion of the population, also are frequent targets. Widespread rioting in Orissa (or Odisha) State in August 2008 left scores dead, thousands injured, tens of thousands displaced, hundreds of churches destroyed, and thousands of homes wrecked. Christians, who often minister to Dalits (formerly called “untouchables”), still badly mistreated by traditional Indian Hindu culture, are routinely targeted by anti-conversion laws. And mobs, often at the behest of “cow protection” activists, have increasingly targeted Christians who deal in cattle. Sharad Sharma, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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