Hindutva in India, seeks to establish India as a Hindu Rashtra (nation), emphasizing Hindu culture, and traditions. Hindutva proponents advocate a Hindu identity which promotes Hindu interests, in politics, education, and law, organizations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which have been at the forefront of promoting Hindutva ideology. Hindutva proponents have implemented policies that align with their ultra-nationalist agenda, reshaping the socio-political landscape of India.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have been fuelled by the nationalist rhetoric and aggressive actions of Hindutva proponents. The disputed territory of Kashmir remains a major point of contention, with Hindutva policies shaping India’s approach to the region.
The rise of Hindutva has led to increased communal tensions within India. Incidents of religious violence, hate crimes, and discrimination against religious minorities have been reported. Hindutva’s influence extends beyond India’s borders, impacting the regional dynamics of the Indo-Pak region. Tensions between India and Pakistan have been fuelled by the nationalist rhetoric and aggressive actions of Hindutva proponents. The disputed territory of Kashmir remains a major point of contention, with Hindutva policies shaping India’s approach to the region. Hindutva ideology in India has sparked concerns about its growing internal and regional destructive politics in the Indo-Pak region. Hindutva, promoting Hindu nationalism, has been imposing an authoritarian agenda and fuelling communal tensions. This article explores the concept of Nazification and the emergence of Hindutva as the fourth Reich in the context of India and discusses the implications of Hindutva’s influence on regional dynamics.
To have an apt understanding of reasons behind the Hindutva mind-set and actions, it is necessary to look the causes of its origin. The Hindu’s link their kinship to the “Aryawarta” (of the Aryans) which considered itself as the master race, through a process of expansion, it evolved and cohabited to form “Bharatkhanda” or Akhand Bharat or the Hindu Rashtra, or “Hindu nation-state”. Hindutva has developed “us Vs. they” ideology which associates it back to its founder Savarkar, who demarcated the residents, i.e. on the basis of race; and on the basis of religion. His exclusion of Muslims and Christians – on the basis that they owe their spiritual allegiance elsewhere. Savarkar’s thoughts hold ominous, toxic, borderline-pornographic portents for Akhand Bharat; portrayed it as the original nation-state of the Hindu race; and how “she” was been systematically raped and pillaged by invaders and the ‘impure.’ How Muslims and Christians are such invaders; and will never be true to Akhand Bharat, which gives justification for Hindutva’s actions. Savarkar also implies that “Hindustan” is national or racial entity, rather than a religious one stating in how this “Hindu state” must continuously strive to achieve the original contours of Akhand Bharat. Strange, there’s that word. ‘Race’ and still, the adherents of Hindutva would have us believe that it is a ‘belief system’ of sorts that enshrines virtues and values. Oxford English Dictionary disagrees with them, and tells it how it is as: a hegemonic blueprint, an ideology, and a doctrine for racial profiling, exclusivism, and discrimination. This serves to fuel the exclusionary ideology of the Fourth Reich. Hindutva thus can best be defined as an irredentist concept of a Hindu nation-state; defined by socio-cultural, religious and racial borders.
The Hindu’s link their kinship to the “Aryawarta” (of the Aryans) which considered itself as the master race, through a process of expansion, it evolved and cohabited to form “Bharatkhanda” or Akhand Bharat or the Hindu Rashtra, or “Hindu nation-state”. Hindutva has developed “us Vs. they” ideology which associates it back to its founder Savarkar, who demarcated the residents, i.e. on the basis of race; and on the basis of religion.
In a nutshell, Hindutva wants none of the non-Hindus that may be present in India. And to this end, it seems that nothing is too far-fetched or outrageous. If this involves re-writing history; so be it. Even if it involves the growing creep of fascism to exclude Muslims and Christians and other religions from the country they have been part of for decades; because according to Hindutva, they were hostile invaders to begin with anyways. Specifically, within India, for the millions of Muslims and Christians living there; for anyone who is not a Hindu must not be there. And this is precisely why the analogy between the Third and Fourth Reich’s – Nazism and Hindutva is so important from an intellectual standpoint. Fascism, extremism intolerance in a society pervades through India today as it did in Nazi Germany, The Third Reich built to the zenith its exclusionary agenda. The meteoric rise to this ignominious peak was preceded by years of hate-filled speeches and incendiary-inflammatory rhetoric against the target demographic Jews, and “others”- culminating in the sort of mass extermination on an unprecedented scale. The slide into the abyss was slow, visible, and at later stages – predictable.
The core ethos of Hindutva has been built, on a distinct “Us vs. Them” premise, Hindutva tends to accentuate the differences on the basis of religion, ethno-linguistic and cultural origins. India today is deeply-divided, has clearly-demarcated classes of “haves” and “have-nots”; a re-categorisation that mirrors Hinduism’s foundational caste system of high-born, low-born, and “untouchables”. The divide between “haves”, and “have nots”; will widen, and push towards the fringes, thus, making these classes more polarised. For the adherents of Hindutva, they feel more and more empowered, and validated leading to a sense of impunity. Under the Fourth Reich, where re-appropriation of the space required breathing life into the pipedream of “Akhand Bharat”, is a basic facet of its existence.
Adherents of the Hindutva ideology seem to be replicating the path traversed by Nazism, decades later. Under the so-called ‘secular’ Hindu Congress – over 76,000 Muslims, Sikhs and Dalits were arrested under India’s infamous TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985)” for purported ‘terrorist acts in Indian Punjab province; thereby setting the stage for large-scale exclusion of these segments of the Indian populace. By the turn of the century, this had worsened to the point where Hindutva adherents within the Armed Forces, the intelligence services, and media in India, had managed to successfully peddle the propaganda that Muslims, Sikhs, and others, were behind all incidents of terrorism that might take place in India. This propaganda has exponentially increased when an actual Hindutva-centric regime of Narendra Modi’s BJP came into power in 2014. With the stage already set, by way of indifference to the propaganda being sold, the march forward has been ominous and relentless.
India today is deeply-divided, has clearly-demarcated classes of “haves” and “have-nots”; a re-categorisation that mirrors Hinduism’s foundational caste system of high-born, low-born, and “untouchables”. The divide between “haves”, and “have nots”; will widen, and push towards the fringes
India today, is one of the most dangerous places in the world when it comes to stifling dissent, in the name of religion. Let it be said with clarity, it is one of the worst countries in the world for minorities. And like its predecessor, the Third Reich, the Fourth Reich that has grown all-powerful in India. Establishing a certain narrative against a target demographic, and expanding that into polemical propaganda and hateful rhetoric serves the purpose of building the grounds for violence. And like the Nazi Third Reich – that serves as not just inspiration, but as a blueprint of action for it Hindutva and the Fourth Reich which must work their way towards the violence that they have envisaged, all along.
Hindutva has made such deep, inroads into everyday life in India, that already, it is something that is easily exercised. Not just politically, but societally, Hindutva has proven that it pays to be “saffron”. Modi’s meteoric return to Parliament in the past two elections effectively decimating the left-leaning, secular opposition – is a testament to this. It is thus, quite possible that this might become the “new normal” across the Indian political spectrum. We may be seeing a complete shift of political thought move right-of-centre in India to only accept something that embodies widespread support of Hindutva and “Hinduness” only. Indian internal politics as a whole, is veering towards Hindutva’s divisive-exclusionary philosophy, and embracing it firmly.
Police, law enforcement, Intelligence agencies, judicial organs, academia and the intelligentsia, state owned enterprises, the electronic and print media, and grassroots-level providers of governance; in short, the entire apparatus of the state and its functionaries see a growing affinity for ultra- nationalistic radicalised thought.
This slow-gradual process of unravelling of Hindutva’s “creep” into the daily affairs in Indian life. It is becoming more and more felt in its Armed Forces and their dealings with the multitude of problems – internal as well as external that they’re repeatedly called upon to address by their Hindutva-steered political paymasters. Police, law enforcement, Intelligence agencies, judicial organs, academia and the intelligentsia, state owned enterprises, the electronic and print media, and grassroots-level providers of governance; in short, the entire apparatus of the state and its functionaries see a growing affinity for ultra- nationalistic radicalised thought. Dissent, if any, is muted and forcibly hushed. Opposition, if any, is stifled, worn down, and inevitably crushed. The Hindutva behemoth – having found traction and political momentum through the present political dispensation in India – will strive to deny breathing space to naysayers and critics. “Traitor- shamed” into silence and if not then complicity, thus; we are likely to see opposition to Hindutva, atrophy. What happens in India, resonates and has knock-on effects in the region of its immediate vicinity. Hindutva’s stranglehold is having a serious impact on Indi
Asma Khan Durrani is an Islamabad-based expert in Strategic Affairs. She is a student of Defence and Strategic Studies. She has done M.Phil. from SPIR Quaid-I-Azam University Islamabad. She has also been published internationally. She tweets @AsmaKhan_47 Mailed @ firstname.lastname@example.org