The feudal character of Indian society and Brahmanical Hindu religious order based on caste has become a fertile ground for the growth of Hindutva fascism in India. The seed of Hindutva fascism was germinated with the establishment of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the “National Volunteers Organisation” in 1925 by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. Mr Hedgewar’s mentor Dr B.S. Moonje was fascinated and inspired by European Nazism and fascist ideology, which has become the organising principle of the RSS and its affiliated organisations. He has replicated it by establishing the Bhonsala Military School in India with an objective of militarising the minds of Hindu majority. The diversity within Hindu religion and diverse linguistic, cultural and social practices were the biggest challenges for Moonje and Hedgewar to replicate Hindutva fascism during its inception. These challenges were addressed by Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, who has shaped the ideological foundation of Hindutva fascism in India in his two books; ‘We, or, Our Nationhood Defined’ and ‘Bunch of Thoughts’.
According to Golwalkar, it is important to transform India into a racially pure Hindu nation with uniform Hindu culture and language. The religious domination and cultural assimilation were two strategies adopted and prescribed by Golwalkar to achieve the objective of establishing India as a Hindu nation. Mr Golwalkar was also an adherent follower of European Nazism and fascism. His ultimate vision was to organise and produce ideally militarised Hindu manhood with a corporate personality. He found that caste is the only common organising principle among Hindus in India. Therefore, Golwalkar was a vehement supporter of hierarchical and discriminatory caste based Hindu social order in the name of preserving unity in Indian society. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Deendayal Upadhyaya have played a major role in mainstreaming Hindutva politics in India. The ideals of Moonje, Hedgewar, Golwalkar, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Deendayal Upadhyaya continue to inspire Hindutva politics led by RSS in India. The idea of one nation-one language, one religion (Hindi, Hindu and Hindustan) by the BJP today derives its philosophical and political outlook from these fascist ideologues.
In the name of establishing Hindu nation, the Hindutva fascists forces were allies of British colonialism and opposed Indian freedom struggle. The Hindutva fascists were the original anti nationals of India. These forces were politically marginalised and did not appeal to Indian masses. The horrors of partition of India and its memories gave Hindutva fascists some breathing space in India. After killing Mahatma Gandhi, these forces were further marginalised in Indian politics and society. The rise of coalition politics and joint trade union movements based on concerns for working classes helped Hindutva politics to rise again within mainstream political culture in India. The Brahmanical caste mobilisation in northern India for the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the demolition of Babri Masjid has helped BJP to get electoral dividends in both regional and national politics in India. The marginalisation of the masses by the neoliberal economic policies pursued by the Congress Party has created mass discontent in India; which gave the much-needed political space to the BJP and RSS to pursue their Hindutva fascist politics led by Mr Narendra Modi.
The bourgeois Indian media and reactionary regional politics as helped Modi to control the national narrative in the name of national, economic and cultural revival of India. Woe betide anything that stands in the way of Modi led BJP, be it the youths, students, professors, lawyers, social and political activists and media; all are branded and demonised as anti-nationals. The Hindutva fascists (who were opposed to Indian freedom struggle) are distributing the certificates of patriotism but hiding their dubious educational degree certificates, much like their role in Indian freedom struggle.
India is ruled today by the so called ‘strong man’ Mr Narendra Modi with a 56-inch chest, who believed to make India great again. The border disputes with neighbours, internal social strife, economic crisis and the global health crisis led by coronavirus pandemic is giving escaping route to the Hindu fascists in one hand and strengthening their political power on the other. The rise of Islamophobia, anti-Muslim riots and lynching, killing of rationalists, imprisoning human rights activists and political opposition, privatisation of national resources and diverting public money for temple construction are some of the achievements of the Modi led BJP government. The vulnerable social groups, religious minorities and working people are living in poverty and bear the brunt of Hindutva fascism in India. The constitutional, liberal and secular democracy and independent judiciary is ruined to a point of no return. But the Hindutva fascists pretend as if everything is normal in India. The disquiet transition in India today is moving into the absolute control of Hindutva fascism.
The is growth of mass unemployment and mass alienation in India. The detached masses look for messiah in so called strong men, who exploit them and marginalise them every day with the help of state power. Such a transition of Indian society is a breeding ground for Hindutva fascism. The growing inequality is no accident in India. It is a direct product of Hindutva political economy of deceptive development promise of Modi led BJP. The Hindutva fascists take about the welfare of Hindus but in reality, they protect the interests of capitalist classes in India. Any secular political opposition to such a project is branded as traitors and parasites in the name of shared feelings of Hindutva culture of victimhood, bigoted patriotism, false pride, and fake nationalism based on mindless but shrewd propaganda.
The assault on reason, liberal, secular and constitutional democracy in India is a part of the Hindutva agenda. The democratic institutions and constitutional practices are opposed to the fascist politics of Hindutva. So, the anti-democratic strategies are helpful for Hindutva politics to consolidate power and legitimise its authoritarianism via electoral means of majoritarianism with a hope that Modi can solve all problems. The reality reveals the fairy tale of Hindutva politics in which the BJP rules and others are either silent or in prison. Hindutva fascist like their European brethren do not like dissent and democracy. They detest rule of law, transparency and accountability. These characters are visible in the political praxis of Mr Narendra Modi shaped by the RSS and BJP. The dismantling of constitutional democracy is a priority of Hindutva fascists in India.
The social media and communication technologies are helping the Hindutva fascists to spread their bigoted fake news and scandalous stories on political opponents to discredit them in public eye. The online media platforms are also helping the Modi government to hide all its failures from foreign policy, national security to economic development. The inclusive political and social struggles are imperative for Indian democracy to survive and work for the people by defeating Hindutva fascism. The defeat of Hindutva fascism and its ideological foundation is the only way to revive the present and future of India and Indian from this ruinous path. The peace and prosperity in India depend on the defeat of Hindutva fascism.
*Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Coventry University, UK