Analysing The Election Podcast –

I woke up this morning to commentary on Episode 38:

We had a bit of a twitter exchange though I find it odd that Aashish zeroed in on V by claiming that she was misinformed.

I do not understand a community where the daughter is called Asifa Bano and the father Muhammad Yusuf are *not* Muslim. People who pray to Sai Baba retain Hindu nomenclature and would be understood to be Hindus.

To somehow *disregard* Asifa’s Muslim identity in an increasingly religiously identified India is irresponsible to say the least and to somehow only raise an ethnic angle is only part of the story.

Nevertheless post-podcast I’m beginning to understand the intricate layers. The new wave of Hindu intellectuals are dissatisfied with the Nehruvian settlement where Western secularism (with Indian characteristics) was imposed on the population.

Instead what they want is an Enlightened Society organised on Dharma and Hindu principles (to what extent is the Enlightenment based on Christian ethics). It’s an admirable position but MJ & Kushal were sort of confronted by Vidhi, who I would classify as a Nehruvian Capitalist.

She likes India fashion, food and culture but when it comes to a value system looks West. So this new India, to her, is something very different to what has come before and what she is familiarised with. Beyond just having a Hindu face/soul the new Hindu intellectual want India to also have a Hindu soul and mind.

This isn’t a necessarily bad thing since the argument also extends that Hinduism is so plural and encompassing (in contrast to stark monotheism) that the definition can be broadened to its original geographic conception as people East of the Indus.

I probably wasn’t qualified to host/moderate since these things are not intuitive to me but I’m learning as I go by.

I do have profound sympathies with what Kushal and MJ want; an Indian Civilisation but I also see they might be squaring a circle. However intellectually is it not important to at least try and see what the end result even if a billion plus lives are in play.

Not to dramatise the worth of this election (but if Modi wins an even stronger result, he will be the most powerful leader since the Nehru-Gandhis) however to some extent Indians are deciding the price of their soul.

This is an existential question that Muslims have been grappling with for the last half-millennia since the ascendancy of the West so once again Iran & Islam casts a shadow on India.

To what extent would this “Hindu identity crisis” manifest itself if Muslims were not 12-14% (or 20-40% as commonly believed) of the population and Islamic Pakistan was not the great enemy and Bangladeshi migrants sinking the Hindu North-East.

India is hemmed by Mountains and Muslims with her only outlet towards the Ocean and intelligent diplomacy would once again tie India to her Oceanic Network but that would reconceptionalising the Nation away from Bombay-Delhi towards Calcutta-Madras. Maybe if Bombay-Delhi win the ideological battle than Calcutta-Madras can steer the future geo-economic course and look South East towards the heart of Asia rather than North West & the lands of Islam.

Asabiyyah (the most overused word) is strongest when there is an imagine threat and Islam provides the immediate threat but it is Western globalification that is most corrosive to Hindu identity (if the castes go how does Hindu identity stand apart from vague spiritualism). Perhaps the BJP voter even as they vent their frustration at Muslims in the ballot box perceive a deeper and more pernicious threat from Western-style prosperity..

As a final thought:


13 thoughts on “Analysing The Election Podcast –”

  1. One aspect is consistently ignored when discussing Indian politics is the idea of consociationalism. While it has empowered the backward castes, it has also created this votebank myopia where every representative solely cares about their limited sway. BJP and Modi are looking to coalesce these groupings into one “nationalist” identity. And that is why they’re getting so much push back, not because the local politicians care about potential fascism but because they and their dynasties will be rendered worthless if a Hindu/Indic/Indian identity coalesces.

  2. I think I was slightly misrepresented there. I would like to see India grow but I do not want an Indian civilization or a Hindutva agenda imposed. Just would not. My idea of Dharma is much more fluid and inherently inclusive. I would go so far as to say that I am hardly religious but extremely spiritual. Also I believe in the multiplicity of identities and voices in the country. That is what makes India truly India, and Dharmic at that!

    Also I do not think India is threatened or intimidated by Western prosperity. Hahaha. It is one of the fastest growing economies today and it has already bypassed the UK in GDP.

    But otherwise it is an admirable defence and piece in that it is nuanced and looks at various aspects of the problem.

    Good job! 🙂

  3. “She likes India fashion, food and culture but when it comes to a value system looks West. So this new India, to her, is something very different to what has come before and what she is familiarised with. ”

    TBF i think Sindhis are perhaps the most secular folks i have met in life after the bengalis and then the punjabis (those who suffered from partition) . Perhaps to do with least suffering (in the very same order) during partition.

  4. Agree it seems very bizarre to deny that Asifa was a Muslim. On Bakarwals in general see Wiki:
    “The Bakarwal (also Gujjar – Bakharwal, Bakrawallah and Bakerwal) are a mostly- Muslim[1] nomadic tribe based in the Pir Panjal and Himalayan mountains of South Asia. ”

    Also, it is false to claim that BJP members were not involved. Two BJP ministers attended rallies in support of the accused (again see Wiki)
    “Right-wing Hindu groups staged protests against the arrests of the accused individuals, who are all Hindus. Two ministers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Forest Minister Lal Singh Chaudhary and Industries Minister Chander Prakash, attended one of the protests”

    Trying to minimize the religious angle seems very disingenuous. Also, this notion that Hindutva is a reaction to Muslims being radicalized is very problematic.

    1. Minimizing the religious angle is an expert technique used by Indian muslims. So is it like a mud slinging match where I get to post links of Muslims crimes on Hindus in India in these last few years? That would be constructive and not “problematic” I suppose.

      1. Whataboutary is not an argument. We are talking about a case in which a little girl was raped and murdered and people supported her rapist simply because he happened to belong to their religious community. And now people on Twitter want to deny that the victim was a Muslim (however ridiculous that is). This type of behavior is indefensible.

        I hope you are proud that a terrorism-accused is going to become a member of your parliament. Must make your day.

  5. Also, this notion that Hindutva is a reaction to Muslims being radicalized is very problematic.

    do you think using the word ‘problematic’ instead of just ‘wrong’ makes you sound smart? cuz it doesn’t.

    1. Online bullying alert!

      Seriously, this constant picking on Kabir for no reasons is getting lame a bit.

  6. I find the use of word ‘problematic’, to say the least, deeply “troublesome” 😛

  7. Can I just say Indian elections are super boring.

    Also just realized this ashish dude has blocked me on twitter (I don’t even know him or know why).

  8. It was commented upon that the BJP units of northeastern states and kerala are ok with beef eating and other practices at variance with the gangetic standard. For now, perhaps, but politics is positional and self-interested. Whether BJP or Congress, with enough hegemony, I don’t think either are really interested in cultural diversity, let alone regional autonomy. You play for what you can win and right now certain things are off the table. The only thing reining in the cultural aggression of hindustanis is their economic dependence on other regions. If the situation were reversed, I wouldn’t put it beyond the possibility that a west pak vs bangladesh type of imposition could have played out.

    The hindu nationalists in all parties (yes, they exist in congress too) are playing the long game. If anything, the BJP are jeopardizing the project by how artless and brazen they are in asserting things, inviting a backlash before the groundwork is complete (they may regret this victory). In their hearts, a lot of congressites know that a soft hindutva is the only workable nationalism. Civic nationalism can’t bridge the cultural differences enough to justify a strong centre, it imputes too much virtue to the intelligentsia who must broker the fusion of a true national interest, and the latter is what fuels so much middle class angst.

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