Hindutva, a nationalist philosophy with Hindu roots, has grown in popularity, posing difficulties for religious minorities, notably Indian Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs. India has always taken pride in being a secular country that values equality and religious freedom. However, these principles have been increasingly diminished by Hindutva’s growing power. Religious minorities have been marginalized by the promotion of majoritarian politics, efforts to define national identity exclusively in terms of Hinduism, and the growing predominance of Hindu symbols and practices in public settings.
The effect of Hindutva ideology on India’s religious minorities has been the subject of worrisome studies and warnings in recent years. In a study titled “The Nazification of India,” a human rights group ‘Justice For All’ with roots in Chicago compared Hindutva to the persecution strategies used by Nazis and fascists in Europe.
The research draws parallels between the historical processes that led to the Holocaust and the threats posed by the Hindutva ideology and its treatment of the Muslim minority in India. It focuses on how the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the mother organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is pushing India towards a majoritarian state where minorities, notably the country’s more than 200 million Muslims, face an imminent threat of genocide. The report’s accompanying briefing went into further detail on the connection between the gas chambers, prejudice towards Jews, boycotts of them, and the current plight of minorities in India. Additionally, it emphasized how well-liked Hitler was becoming throughout the nation. The study highlights the deterioration of democratic principles in India by referencing the decline in ratings by groups like Freedom House and the Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit. Additionally, it draws attention to the worsening level of press freedom in India, as reported by Reporters Without Borders.
The study urges world leaders to denounce the human rights abuses taking place in the nation and put pressure on the Indian government to preserve its secular constitution as the situation in India reaches levels that are reminiscent of genocide. The urgency with which the international community must deal with the issues that Hindutva raises is further highlighted by these most recent findings. Foreign leaders must condemn India’s erosion of religious freedom and its persecution of minorities with vigor. By raising awareness, exerting diplomatic pressure, and advocating for human rights, the international community may support the defense of the rights and dignity of every Indian citizen, regardless of their affiliation with a particular religion.
Victimized by the Hindutva ideology, Indian Muslims have come under fire. An atmosphere of dread and insecurity has been produced by rising mob violence, hate speech, and discrimination toward Muslims. Muslims have been disproportionately impacted by the divisive Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), leaving them open to exclusion and statelessness.
Hindutva’s effects have also been seen by the Sikh community. When the RSS first began attempting to create a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu country), the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) denounced it for stifling the rights of minorities and other religions. With the backing of the SGPC president and Akal Takht Jathedar (head of Sikhs at one of five Takhts of Sikhism), the SGPC issued a resolution condemning the RSS for the first time, in 2021. The resolution emphasizes the historical sacrifices made by many religions, including Sikhs, for the nation’s freedom and emphasizes how Sikh gurus rejected similar attempts by the Mughals in the 17th century. The resolution further mentions that 80 percent of Sikhs who gave their lives in service to the country were Sikhs.
Whilst Sikhs have historically made significant contributions to India’s social fabric, the emergence of Hindutva has intensified pressure on them to maintain their unique identity. The assimilation of Sikh practices and symbols shows a lack of reverence for their distinctive religious beliefs and cultural heritage. The Sikh community has always struggled with racism and prejudice in addition to religious discrimination and unfair treatment. Anti-Sikh riots broke out in 1984 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed. These incidents illustrate a tragic moment in Indian history and serve as a warning about the potential consequences of unchecked religious animosity.
Adopting inclusive policies that defend the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their religious affiliations, is essential to maintaining India’s diverse character. The Indian government must guarantee the impartial application of the law and pursue those responsible for hate crimes and mob violence in court. In addition, educational changes that place a focus on religious peace and tolerance can help counteract the divisive language espoused by Hindutva. Affirmative action programs should be adopted to improve the socioeconomic position of Indian Muslims and other religious minorities to develop a sense of belonging among marginalized populations.
Lessening the disparities brought up by years of marginalization would need to ensure equitable chances in education, work, and political representation. Hindutva’s effects on India’s religious minorities demand the attention and support of the international world. The international community may play a critical role in defending religious freedom and advancing inclusive communities by increasing awareness, applying diplomatic pressure, and assisting civil society organizations. International organizations should reasonably speak with the Indian government and urge them to respect the values of religious freedom and safeguard the rights of all citizens. Forums on a bilateral or multilateral basis offer chances for substantive talks, diplomatic pressure, and accountability.
It is vital to aid civil society groups and human rights advocates in India. They may be given the tools they need to promote inclusion and defend the rights of religious minorities through financial support, capacity-building initiatives, and partnerships with regional NGOs. Finally, fostering interfaith communication and religious tolerance needs to be a top focus. The international community may help by funding efforts that encourage communication, advance inclusive education, and encourage exchange programs between cultures. The international community can create a world where diversity is celebrated and every person can live with dignity and freedom by addressing the challenges posed by Hindutva and reaffirming its commitment to the core values of religious freedom, human rights, and inclusive societies.