Hindu nationalism: A step forward or multiple regressive steps to the past?

Since the 1989 election, Hindu nationalism has made huge inroads into Indian society: to the extent that it has radically changed, for the worse, the perception of India as a heterogeneous mix of people co-existing in peace.Such parochial, marginalising nationalism is a far cry from the founding principles that guided the formation of India as a secular, democratic nation that assured all its citizens equal rights and representaion.
The founding principles of India, set forth in the 1940s by Gandhi and his liberal, socialist outlook, are very similar to those envisioned for the Jewish state as it came into violent existence in the forties. In this regard, Pankaj Mishra has written a wonderful article in the National newspaper, of the UAE, comparing the simlar paths – from initial socialist, liberal initiatives to present-day narrow definitions of nationality – taken by both the nations as they reached their present state of unicultural domination and idolization of demagogues like Modi and Lieberman in their respective national consciousness and popularity. He goes on to examine, in some detail, Gandhi’s reactions to the formation of the Jewish state and the violent means to achieve it; his interactions with Jewish philosophers like Martin Buber; Gandhi’s aversion to a centralised nation-state as opposed to a self-sufficient network of small, rural communities and the myopia of Indian leaders in the first few decades after independence as they sowed the seeds of separatism, through autorcratic, violent imposition of the State’s will.
This was quite a revealing read and, more and more, as I grow to understand Gandhi the man and his philosophies – especially his desire to establish a state based on a higher morality of justice and compassion, I have come to admire and respect this wonderful human being.
In recent conversations with friends from Gujarat, I have found a cult-like belief in Modi and a fervent belief in the patently false “facts” that were being spread by him about Muslims and minorities.Its such a pity that Gandhi’s own home state is now paying homage to the hate speeches of demagogues like Modi and more so because it seems to be the so-called educated middle-class supporting such hate movements.
Hopefully, light will shine through and good sense will prevail. I hold out very little hope for this in the near future, though, and can only hope that, unlike Israel, such demagoguery and marginalising politics do not spread to the entire nation.

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