India is facing its worst crisis in its history. The Hindutva forces shaped by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and politically led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are accelerating this crisis to undo liberal constitutional democracy in India.
The political opposition is withering away everyday with the help of media, police, investigative agencies and judiciary. The Hindutva blueprint is to declare India as a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (Hindu nation) by diminishing citizenship rights of religious minorities, most prominently Muslims, and the so-called lower castes.
Hindutva as an upper caste project
The success of RSS and BJP over last three decades is based on slow-poisoning the minds of the higher caste Hindus through deceptive propaganda. Hindutva politics is reactionary identity politics of higher caste Hindus, designed to destroy the unity of the working classes by using the so-called lower castes in their political project. This has weakened the emancipatory politics of Dalit and lower caste politics.
The Hindutva forces have turned mythology into history and deception into an art, diverting people’s focus from the objective reality of their everyday life and material conditions of mass suffering. The Hindutva project is an assault on reason, science and society in India.
Hindutva is a distinctive political project of higher caste Hindus to ensure social, political, cultural and economic control of the masses in India. Every control mechanism of Hindutva is essential to normalise all forms of exploitations and naturalise inequalities in India.
The apartheid ideals of Brahmanical Hindu caste order are not compatible with constitutional democracy in India. Caste inequality is the foundation of the Hindu social order. On the other hand, the deepening of democracy is a threat to the Hindu caste order. Therefore, the Brahmanical forces are united behind Hindutva in the name of Hindu unity to uphold their control over Indian society.
The ideological founding father of Hindutva thought, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, has territorialised the idea of Hindu unity in his book Essentials of Hindutva and given it a cultural outlook, whereas Keshav Hedgewar has shaped the political project of Hindutva by establishing the RSS. The call for ‘Akhand Bharat’ (undivided India), construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, and cow protection not only reflect the political consolidation of Hindutva forces, but also indicates the establishment of a cultural narrative for economic consolidation of the capitalist classes and Brahmanical forces in India.
Hindutva as a pro-corporate project
The fascist character of Hindutva is concomitant with the requirements of the Indian and global capitalist classes. As Indians are sinking in sorrow and suffering from loss of lives and livelihoods in large scale due to the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, the Indian capitalist classes are only expanding their coffers. The regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given them an opportunity to capture all national resources.
The capitalists have always celebrated dictatorships and authoritarian governments, which help in the expansion of their profit and consolidation of their own class. Corporate capital in India gets massive tax concessions, but people face welfare budget cuts. The corporates make money while people suffer in miseries. This is no accident, but a systematic economic strategy of the Modi government. The result is a visible disaster for India and Indians.
India and Indians are collapsing within the bottom of the development pyramid in all development parameters. India is ranked 94 out of 107 in the Global Hunger Index 2020. The rampant growth of inequalities put India in the rank of 147 out of 157 countries in the Oxfam Inequality Index. The Water Quality Index puts India in the rank of 120 out of 122 countries. The national capital of Delhi remains at the top of cities with the most polluted air in the world as measured by IQAir.
Freedom of press is plummeting in India, with the country ranking 142 out of 180 countries in the RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index. The Environmental Performance Index puts India in the rank of 168 out of 180 countries. India is becoming the unhappiness capital of the world, ranking 144 out of 156 in the 2020 UN World Happiness Index. Further, health and educational infrastructures are collapsing every day, and yet, the corporate propaganda machine hides all failures of Hindutva in the name of nationalism.
But Hindutva nationalism is not anti-colonial nationalism. It is based on the idea of higher caste and class unity, which is the other name for fascist bigotry. Hindutva nationalism is narrow chauvinism based on hatred for religious minorities, lower castes and classes.
Hindutva and neoliberal capitalism
The love-cum-arranged marriage between Hindutva and neoliberal capitalism is no accident. Neoliberal capitalism has accelerated Hindutva politics as a dominant class and caste project in India. The RSS in all its political reincarnations from the Jan Sangh to BJP has always been a party of Brahmins and business communities, and appealed to the dominant class and caste interests.
The right-wing political movement led by Hindutva and reactionary economic policies of neoliberal capitalism emerged together in India during 1980s. They have strengthened each other over the last three decades and helped consolidate and expand each other’s social, economic, cultural and political base. Both these forces have used lies and deceptive tactics for their growth.
Thus, it is fair to say that neoliberal capitalism and Hindutva politics are twins. These forces are accumulating profit by both dispossessing and assimilating people based on false narratives of Hindu nationalism. They have a common goal – disciplining labour, diminishing citizenship rights and making people follow orders without questioning power and authority.
Neoliberal Hindutva is a political and economic project of the capitalist classes in India. The institutional alliance between Hindutva politics and capitalist economy is a natural outcome in which capital accumulates with the support of the state and government and minimises capitalist conflicts and risks. Such an alliance and its outcomes are putting millions of Indians and their future in jeopardy. If this alliance between Hindutva and capitalism continues to grow, greater dangers are awaiting India and Indians.
In this context, it is important to develop political alternatives by forging all forces opposed to the troika of caste, capitalism and Hindutva in India. It is impossible to fight Hindutva and capitalism without fighting caste based discriminatory social order in India. All liberal, progressive, democratic and left forces must realise the dangers of Hindutva fascism and its alliance with capitalism in India.
Any compromise or surrender with these forces will breed miseries in large scale for all Indians, irrespective of their caste, class, gender, religious and regional background. Only a united struggle against caste, capitalism and Hindu right-wing forces can save constitutional democracy in India, both in the short and long runs.
No progressive struggles have failed in history and no struggle for alternatives will fail in India. Let us fortify our future by defeating these reactionary forces-led Hindutva politics, neoliberal economics and Brahmanical society in India. It is possible and immanent.
Views expressed are the author’s own.
Featured image by Bharath Joshi from Flickr.