Hindu nationalists in India use hate politics to scapegoat religious minorities

TEHRAN, Jun. 28 (MNA) – Indian analyst Prof. Dibyesh Anand says that Hindu nationalists in India use hate politics to scapegoat religious minorities, especially Muslims, so that majority of Hindus would think if India had a strong Hindu leader, things would get better.

Prof. Dibyesh Anand is an Indian analyst, author and academic, based in the UK. He teaches at the University of Westminster, London. He is the author of book ‘Hindu Nationalism in India and the Politics of Fear’.

The following is the text of an interview with him:

Under the Narendra Modi government in India, the incidents of communal violence, mob vigilantism and hate crimes have alarmingly increased. What are the factors responsible for it?

While violence against religious minorities, marginalized castes, tribals, economically poor, and women in general have marked the society in India for decades, there has been a conspicuous increase in mob violence against Muslims and Christians since Modi government has come to power in 2014. This should not be seen as exceptional for the BJP is ideologically Hindu chauvinist and believes that India should shift away from being a secular republic to a Hindu nation and the religious minorities should accept this. When Hindu chauvinists commit violence against minorities and the ruling party politicians justify that violence and the Prime Minister maintains selective silence around it, it becomes clear that there is a state and societal impunity that the violent actors enjoy.

What is the condition of religious and ethnic minorities like Muslims, Christians and Dalits in India? Is government doing enough to protect their interests?

While by law the religious minorities enjoy equal rights to the Hindu majority and India is a secular democracy, in practice, there is a rapid growth of majoritarianism. This leads to a denial of minority rights. While the minorities retain the right to vote, de facto, they get disenfranchised as the BJP has been successful in consolidating the diverse Hindu communities into one and winning elections without having to have a single Muslim elected Member of Parliament. Dalits, who are economically and socially marginalised, are politically stronger than religious minorities but the violence against them continues as the BJP makes every effort to prevent any Dalit-Muslim alliance.

India is being hailed as a great success story of globalization, an economic power, and an important player in the region. But there are still millions of people living below the poverty line. How would you explain this dichotomy?

India, like the other Asian giant China, has witnessed an economic and geopolitical emergence using market principles that are inherently exclusionary. The prosperity of the few is dependent on the impoverishment of the many. Behind the success story of India or China is the exploitation of the large unorganized labour and displacement of millions of indigenous people from their land because the big companies want to exploit the land. Hindu nationalists in India use hate politics to scapegoat religious minorities, especially Muslims, and thus seek to distract majority of Hindus who have not benefited from the so-called development into believing that if only India had a strong Hindu leader, things will get better.

The peace dialogue between India and Pakistan remains stalled. How important is it to resurrect the dialogue to end the impasse over Kashmir, and what's your take on the recent UN report on Kashmir?

Kashmir has been a pawn in the jostling for geopolitical power between India and Pakistan; India's record has been abysmal when it comes to using extra-ordinary brutality in crushing both violent and non-violent resistance by Kashmiris. BJP partnered with a regional pro-India party in Jammu and Kashmir, destroyed whatever limited credibility that party had locally, and then abandoned it on the grounds that only a muscular approach will be able to deal with Kashmiris who want separation from India.

The UN Report is very important and well received by Kashmiris and all those who believe in human rights, justice and freedom. However, the Indian government has rejected it with vengeance and Indian rightwing as well as liberal elite have joined their government in this rejection. Pakistan has played no less dubious role as it says it will welcome UN monitors in territories controlled by it but only if India allows the same. Practically, this implies that both the states are ignoring UN recommendations for the territories they occupy.

Your work also focuses on China. What are the underlying issues affecting the dispute between Beijing and Tibet?

In addition to being an expert on Hindu nationalism in India and having an interest in the colonial practices of postcolonial state of India in Kashmir, my primary work is around China and Tibet. China claims total sovereignty over Xinjiang and Tibet while many Tibetans and Uyghurs reject the Chinese rule as occupation. Given the might of China, no foreign power dares to speak against human rights abuses committed there. While the struggle is over different interpretations of history, sovereignty, rule, development and rights, at its heart, the biggest problem is one of total denial of human rights and self-determination by China.

As an expert on international affairs, what do you think about America's unilateral decision to quit Iran nuclear deal despite Iran fulfilling all conditions of the deal? Is Trump a man to be trusted?

While critiquing politics in India, China or Pakistan, we have to bear in mind that the situation in the West is not that much better. Trump with his white nationalism domestically and erratic foreign policy overseas makes the world a more dangerous place. The unilateral decision to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal is no different from similar withdrawal from Paris climate deal or imposition of tariffs. How can any state strike a deal with the USA and know with confidence that the next President will not unilaterally withdraw. While this will create significant challenges for Iran economically, especially given the fact that some Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia are already working hard to weaken Iran, geopolitically, it is the USA that is losing its credibility. Trump has destroyed USA's soft power and credibility the way no other President has done in recent times.

Interview by: Syed Zafar Mehdi

News Code 135211

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