Should India be a secular Islamic nation

Nation and nationalism

Hindu nationalism in India has a decades-long political tradition. Long before nationalist and right-wing populist parties and politicians achieved their current importance in Europe and the USA, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, "Indian People's Party") was the government in New Delhi. After being voted out of office in the meantime, she returned to power triumphantly under the controversial party leader Narendra Modi and prepared to change Indian society for the long term. [1]

The origins of modern Hindu nationalism lie in the time of British colonial rule over South Asia. In the 19th century, the British began to criticize Hindu traditions and religious practices. Christian Puritans in particular were appalled by the "idolatry" and polytheism of the Hindus. They pointed increasingly to the grievances of the caste system, to the problematic role of women in Hinduism and to the despicable traditions of child marriage and widow burning (Sati). Some educated, English-speaking Hindus were quite receptive to this criticism. However, they did not react with the conversion to Christianity expected by the British, but tried to bring about improvements within their own faith. In the context of religious reformers, neo-Hindu, purist revival movements arose who tried to renew Hinduism from within. They took over the Christian criticisms, but not Christianity. [2] Instead, the reform forces initiated a cautious modernization of Hinduism. At the same time they attached great importance to social engagement, built hospitals and orphanages and tried to improve the position of women.

The neo-Hindu reform movements in India also included efforts to revive a supposedly previously existing, glorious "Aryan" civilization that had withered over the centuries. [3] Radical forces within this current explicitly turned against British colonial rule. According to their diagnosis, foreign rule by the British and previously by the Muslim Mughal emperors was only possible through the spiritual and cultural degeneration of the Hindus. The Hindus have "lost their faith" and have become "weak". They saw the antidote and the "cure" for this spiritual decline in a rediscovery of their own religious and cultural roots of what they saw as a homogeneous Hinduism based on the Vedic-Brahmanic tradition and in a common struggle against the enemies of India. Politically, the representatives of this point of view organized themselves in the "All-India Hindu Grand Assembly" (Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha) founded in 1915.

The "Hindu Nation"

The progress of this movement and the definition of a national Hindu identity were particularly strongly influenced by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, perhaps the most important ideological thinker of modern Hindu nationalism. With his book "Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?" he created a kind of basic program of political "Hinduism" (Hindutva), which is still valid today. [4] The basics of the "Hindu Nation" (Hindu Rashtra) saw Savarkar in the interplay of three central demands. The Hindus are said to inhabit a common land, which is understood as the geographical unit of the area between the Indus River, the Himalayan mountain range and the Indian Ocean. They must also share a common ancestry, that is, a uniform "Hindu blood" and belong to the "race" of the "Vedic Aryans". After all, a common culture, precisely that "Hinduism", is of extraordinary importance, which is expressly more than the shared religion and also includes a uniform social system and a common language (Sanskrit or today Hindi). [5] The "Hindu nation" is therefore defined and delimited in three ways: geographically, ethnically and religiously-culturally. This Hindu nationalism, which is based on a European understanding of nationality, is very different from the nationalism of the Indian independence movement. Mahatma Gandhi, in particular, refused to equate the Indian nation with a single religion or language. [6] Left-wing intellectuals like Ram Sharan Sharma, who also see themselves as Indian nationalists, have the HindutvaMovement consequently denied the term "nationalism" and instead used the term "conservatism". [7]

With his work Savarkar had nonetheless clearly outlined a truth that is self-evident for Hindu nationalists: "India is the land of the Hindus, the Indian nation is a Hindu nation, to be Indian means to be Hindu." [8] The attempts to enforce this Since then, demands have been repeatedly associated with outbreaks of violence. As early as 1925, allegedly at Savarkar's suggestion, the Hindu nationalist cadre organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, literally "National Volunteer Association") was founded, whose nature is sometimes compared with the Muslim Brotherhood that was formed only a little later in Egypt. The aim of the RSS is to this day to protect young Hindus from the temptations of a secular society, to convey the traditional values ​​of "Hinduism" to them and, not least, to make them defensible against violent confrontation with the enemies of the Hindus. [9] Long-time RSS leader Mahadev Sadashivrao Golwalkar had made it clear in his writing on the Indian nation before the end of British colonial rule that in independent India for non-Hindus only the path of total adjustment and submission remained: "The non-Hindus must adopt the Hindu culture and language, learn to respect and venerate the Hindu religion, and must not adhere to any ideas other than the glorification of the Hindu nation. (...) If not, they can only stay in our country if they adhere to the Subordinate the Hindu nation completely - without claims, without privileges, even without citizenship rights. "[10]

However, this radical vision of Golwalkar did not become the model of independent India. The political influence of the Hindu nationalists was initially limited. In the independence movement they only played a subordinate role in relation to an overpowering Indian National Congress (INC, "Congress Party") and had serious organizational disadvantages compared to the congress machinery that was perfectly established throughout India. After the assassination of Gandhi by the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha member Nathuram Godse in 1948, the RSS was banned. [11] Even if the ban was lifted a short time later, the attack on the Bapu ("Father") of Indian independence, the Hindu nationalists politically delegitimized and made ineligible in large parts of the population. The Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS, "Indian People's Association") founded in 1951, a direct predecessor of today's BJP, remained largely ineffective. The shadow of the ideological responsibility for Gandhi's murder could only be shed more or less with the establishment of the BJP in 1980. With the reorganization, greater successes in democratic elections were now possible under favorable conditions.