chapter  Chapter 9
17 Pages

Saffron Fascism

The Conflux of Hindutva Ultra-Nationalism, Neoliberal Extractivism, and the Rise of Authoritarian Populism in Modi’s India
WithAshok Kumbamu

India is commonly referred to as the most populous democracy in the world. This chapter argues, however, that since Narendra Modi became the prime minister of India in 2014, the politics of hate and revulsion, the culture of violence, and fearmongering have masqueraded as “democracy.” All democratic institutions, including the judiciary, education, and the media have systematically been targeted and crippled. Hindutva vigilante groups have placed many prominent rationalists, secularists, and civil rights activists on the hit list, and many have been killed or imprisoned. In reaction to the crisis of neoliberalism in India, the ultra-nationalist ideology of Hindutva has been constructed as the nation’s pride, and it has been projected as a yardstick to ascertain one’s patriotism. Crude binary oppositions or homogenized polarizations, such as nationalist or anti-nationalist, have become the mundane vocabulary of everyday politics. And the once-celebrated notion of secularism has become a taboo or a fear factor. Although Hindutva politics has blatantly appeared since the 1990s, the chapter argues that it has deep roots in Indian society and politics for many decades in the form of Brahmanical ideology. Given this background to Indian politics, the chapter examines how Hindutva colludes with neoliberalism and produces a fascist political environment and how Hindutva politics penetrates into everyday life and acquires a normality and acceptability among the Hindu majority.