The Resurgence of `EthnoHinduism' - a Theoretical Perspective

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The resurgence of communalism (Hindu-Muslim antagonism) in India since the 1980s presents a serious challenge to secular Indian democracy and to the stability of the subcontinent. The striking feature of this phenomenon is not only the prominence, growth and popularity of informal, militant, extremist Hindu organizations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal,1 but also the rise to power of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist party, at the center of national politics.2 In the main, it defines itself as in opposition to Islam and Muslims, attacks `the government policy of appeasing the Muslim minority', and seeks to establish India as a primarily Hindu country. This rhetoric has also been associated with an increasing degree of violence. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, severe communal riots took place all over the country, in which at least 10 000 people lost their lives. This chapter attempts to set out an outline for an analysis that would trace the origins of the rise of Hindu nationalism in this period, in order to understand why it became so important, popular and persuasive, and, in particular, to find out why it developed when it did.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthnic Challenges to the Modern Nation State
EditorsShlomo Ben-Ami, Yoav Peled, Alberto Spektorowski
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)978-0-333-97730-9
StatePublished - 2000


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