Failure of the Indian Government to address the root causes could lead to a Domino effect in South Asia

Hindutva – The Hindu Political Philosophy Seeped in Prejudice

The so called nationalist philosophy – Hindutva, is actually a euphemistic effort to conceal communal beliefs and practices. Many Indian Marxist sociologues describe the Hindutva movement as fascist in classical sense, in its ideology and class support, methods and programs, specially targeting the concept of homogenized majority and cultural hegemony. Others raise issues with regards to sometimes-vacillating attitudes of its adherents towards non-Hindus and secularism.

Defining Hindutva, “The struggle for India’s Soul” (World Policy Journal, fall 2002) states that India is “not only the [Hindu] fatherland but also …. their punyabhumi, their holy land”. To Hindu extremists all others on this land are viewed as “aliens” who do not belong there.

Hindutva is identified as the guiding ideology of the Sangh Parivar, a family of Hindu nationalist organizations of which Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bajrang Dal and Vishva Hindu Parishad are part. Not part of Sangh Parivar, but closely associated with it, is Shiv Sena, a highly controversial political party of Maharashtra. The record of all these right wing radical parties in pursuing discriminatory policies towards minorities, particularly the Muslims, and engaging in their frequent massacres is no secret. This record alone is enough to show the true colors of Hindutvavadis (followers of Hindutva) and what Hindutva stands for.

Explaining the mindset of Shiv Sena, sociologist Dipankar Gupta says: “A good Hindu for the Shiv Sena is not necessarily a person well versed in Hindu scriptures, but one who is ready and willing to go out and attack Muslims … To be a good Hindu is to hate Muslims and nothing else.” This is borne out by the 2002 indiscriminate killings of Muslims in Gujarat for which Shiv Sena was held responsible.

Sociologist Dipankar Gupta clearly explains the mindset of  the Shiv Sena when he says:
“A good Hindu for the Shiv Sena is not necessarily a person well versed in Hindu scriptures, but one who is ready and willing to go out and attack Muslims … To be a good Hindu is to hate Muslims and nothing else.”

The adherents of Hindutva demonise those who do not subscribe to that philosophy or are opposed to its pre-eminence and dub them anti-state or terrorists just as the Hindu scriptures in earlier times branded such people as rakshasas. As always, these groups have been ‘red in tooth and claw’ in violently resolving all their social, religious and political differences and killing, raping, burning and lynching those who show the audacity to stand up to them for their rights.

In 1947, these groups preferred violent upheaval and vivisection of India to sharing power with the Muslims and killed more people in communal violence, including Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and dalits than ever before in recent history. Citing ‘ekta and akhandata’ (unity and integrity) of India, they have refused to allow self rule to Sikhs (86%) in the Punjab, to Muslims (80%) in Kashmir, to Buddhists (90%) in Laddakh, to Christians in the North East of India and to the tribal population of central India.

It is this intolerance and bigotry that has generated alienation and hate among minorities, dalits and people of other faiths – Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists. It lays the ground for angry and rebellious reaction among those who are targeted.

Insurgent Movements

Naxalites or Maoists: The Maoist Movement of Nepal, supported ironically by the Indian Government, came home to roost. Inspired by the Nepalese Maoist forest dwellers who took over and ruled their forests, the lowest of Indian forest dwellers of Naxalbari (West Bengal) – the ‘adivasis’, launched their own Maoist movement and took control of their forests too.

According to one of the legends that support India’s diabolical caste system, the adivasis were punished by the gods for killing a Brahmin (member of the highest caste – the 5% which more or less rules and controls India). As a punishment, the adivasis were expelled to live like animals in the forest and, like them, survive by preying on the weaker, owning nothing.

When huge mineral deposits were discovered in some of the forested areas, the authorities decided to relocate the adivasis in 1967. They refused. Having no title, they did not want to give up what they held and this set in motion a cycle of resistance and reprisals, including rapes and murders by the powerful vested interests.

It is now recognized that exploitation of billions of dollars’ worth of mineral wealth of the central and eastern Indian tribal area by the capitalists without giving a share to the poorest of the poor forest dwellers whose home it has been for ages, lay at the root of the Maoist insurgency, modeled after the teachings of the great Chinese revolutionary leader.

These Maoists now inhabit an area known as the ‘Red Corridor’ that stretches from West Bengal to Karnataka state in the southwest. They are active across 220 districts in 20 states – about 40% of India’s geographical area. They also threaten action in major urban centers, including New Delhi. Indian intelligence reports say that insurgents include 20,000 armed men and 50,000 regular or fulltime organizers and mobilizers, with the numbers growing. In 2007 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged the growing influence of Maoist insurgency as “the most serious internal threat to India’s national security.”

The Seven Sisters: The seven states of northeastern India called the Seven Sisters are significantly different, ethnically and linguistically, from the rest of the country. These states are rocked by a large number of armed and violent rebellions — some seeking separate states, some fighting for autonomy and others demanding complete independence — keeping the entire region is a state of turmoil. These states include Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.

These states accuse New Delhi of apathy towards their issues. Illiteracy, poverty and lack of economic opportunities have fueled the natives’ demand for autonomy and independence. There also exist territorial disputes among states and tensions between natives and immigrants from other states which the governments have not attended to, accentuating the problems.  

The Assam state has been the hotbed of active militancy for many years, ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) has been in the forefront of a liberation struggle since 1979, along with two dozen other militant groups, on the grounds of neglect and economic disparity. Over 10,000 people have lost their lives and thousand have been displaced during the last 25 years. The army has been unable to subdue the insurgents.

The divide between the tribal and non-tribal settlers is the cause of the trouble in Meghalaya. Absence of effective governance gives rise to identity issues, mismanagement and growing corruption. Like other states in the region there is a demand for independence along tribal lines. The Achik National Volunteer Council has pursued since 1995 the formation of an Achik Land in the Caro Hills, whereas the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council seeks to free the state from Garo domination.