How the BJP Became the Bahujan Janata Party

Much of the ire of Indian elites and those left of the Indian political center simply boils down to one thing – the poor and lower-castes aren’t voting the way they want them to. Over decades, an assorted motley crew of political parties has taken the votes of India’s subalterns for granted. Through sops and social engineering, a steady support was built over the years. If you are of X caste, you must vote for Y party. And don’t ask why.

Yet, a party that venerates the idols of old has now become an iconoclast breaking the idea of voting one’s caste rather than casting one’s vote. The BJP, for years known as a “Brahmin-Baniya” party reserved for the privileged and so-called upper-castes, has shattered traditional caste calculus and come up with a new formula making established Indian political equations void. Today’s BJP is one that has been given a brute mandate by India’s Bahujans (the so-called lower-castes of India) along with its old upper-caste base. A united Hindu vote is beginning to coalesce, something that is sending shivers along the spines of the BJP’s political opponents.

But to truly understand the magnitude of these ramifications, we must peer into the past and understand the tradition of caste to grasp the revolution we are witnessing today.

Cast in Stone

For many, caste is a defining feature of Indian society, if not the defining feature. But it obviously is a bit more complex than common stereotypes. First, let’s break down what caste is – varna and jātiVarna finds its roots in the Vedas describing society as a combination of Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (rulers), Vaishyas (merchants), and Shudras (peasants and artisans). Varna possibly had a large degree of fluidity to it early on as ancient scriptural verses point to action and character (guna) as determining factors of one’s varna. This is still debated even today, but we know of Shudra groups becoming ‘Kshatriya’ dynasties across Indian history with the most recent in the reconquistador Shivaji and his Maratha empire.

STATUE OF SHIVAJI MAHARAJ OF THE MARATHA EMPIRE

Jāti functions in a much more horizontal direction. Localized clans seem to have coalesced into castes over time that in function were ethnic groups of the land. Endogamy was calcified 1500 years ago with both varna and jāti being pegged to ancestry as cross-marriage became discouraged. Keep in mind though, that varna and jāti were experienced differently depending on time as well as regional variation. Culture is rarely simple, instead forming as layers of sedimental lore reacting to the ebb and flow of the environment.

Now some may pin caste solely to Hinduism, but this isn’t totally accurate. Caste has penetrated all Indian religions and has even seen some of its staunchest opponents within Hinduism itself. Revisionists point out Buddhism as an early social justice movement, yet this again is not necessarily true. Lord Buddha observed and even endorsed some of the endogamous practices within varnas during the time though did push an emphasis on action with an almost Bhagavad Gita-like emphasisBodhisattvas as well as Buddha himself were said to only incarnate in Brahmin and Kshatriya lineages. In the Dhammapada, a wonderful stream of the Shakyamuni’s mind, an entire chapter is dedicated to extolling the virtues of a true Brahmin (though it is sharply mentioned that action decides Brahminhood). Caste is still a reality amongst Jains and Sikhs today. More whimsically, caste features amongst many Muslims and Christians in the subcontinent with supposed foreign descent being the marker for high caste and continued discrimination against lower-caste Hindus who’ve converted into those faiths.

Of course, nothing lasts forever and reforms seeking to erode caste’s importance would arise within Hinduism and without. The Bhakti movement flowing from Tamil Nadu would be a centerpiece in the erosion of caste discrimination. Pointing to the central and simple Vedic notion of the Ātman or the eternal soul that exists in all living beings, scholars and reformists would cast aside caste as less relevant in spiritual pursuits and devotion towards God. The logic that all souls were of the same essence, the compassion of God to look past caste, and the idea of reincarnation made one’s caste a temporary piece of clothing on the eternal spiritual body. Sounds logical if you ask me.

Cast Aside

The horrid abuse of caste discrimination seems to have been amplified by the British, though it was present prior. Ajay Verghese, a political science professor from the University of California, found that former British provinces experience significantly more caste and tribal violence in contemporary India versus areas that had a vassal rule. Verghese and his co-author Emmanuel Teitelbaum posit that British rule exacerbated the conditions of lower castes and tribals through 3 main mechanisms paraphrased below:

  1. Firstly, the British heightened land inequality in rural areas by granting land ownership rights to zamindars (landlords) and seizing forest lands upon which tribal populations rely for sustenance.
  2. Secondly, the British state reified social inequalities in tribal and low-caste areas through their systematic categorization and ranking of tribal and caste communities.
  3. Finally, the British enacted a new bureaucratic apparatus that cemented these social inequalities through administrative practice, thereby fostering skepticism of India’s legal system among low-caste and tribal groups.

The legalization and formalization of caste would be a cutting revolution for Indians. This legal cementing of caste paved the way for new societal structures, especially for the untouchable castes as a new notion of unity emerged. And it would be Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar from the land of Shivaji who would hammer this confederation together.

PICTURE OF B.R. AMBEDKAR

B.R. Ambedkar was born in the untouchable caste, a group of Hindus who were said to have been born outside of the varna system. They were later coined as Dalits, a Sanskrit neologism for broken, by social reformer Jyotirao Phule in the 1880s. Ambedkar experienced horrible caste discrimination in his life, leading to him becoming an activist and leader uplifting the lower castes. He would go on to author the Indian Constitution as well as enshrine the reservation system into India. Originally, reservation was only supposed to be temporary, but it has been renewed and expanded to other backward castes and tribals over the decades.

Now, Indians have a tendency to deify or demonize their founding fathers. But as is cliché, the truth is closer to the median. I loathed Mahatma Gandhi at first for what I saw as cowardice and naïveté, but as I learned more about him, I was awestruck by his magnanimity, dedication to his Dharma, and how he left more people awestruck and inspired during his life than any other person in history. On the other hand, I admired Ambedkar greatly for his directness, courage to stand up against injustices, and liberating influence for the lower castes. However, as I delved into his later life, I was off-put by the sheer hatred that flowed from Ambedkar. This hatred, while understandable in its roots, would sow the seeds of failure in later Dalit politics.

Even though Dalit politicians ensured the enshrinement of reservation and other legal protections to Dalits, there never developed Ambedkar’s dream “Grand Dalit Narrative” that translated into a unitary political movement. The reason there hasn’t been a successful pan-Dalit movement across India is the same reason there hasn’t been a pan-Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, or Shudra movement. The deviant tones of jāti and regional ethnic shades would distort the colors of varna. And yet, saffron has found success in a unitary Hindu movement we see today proving that there is some appetite for unity, just on a different plate – religion.

Ambedkar’s understandable antagonism towards this religion, Hinduism, reached searing temperatures towards the end of his life. Such vitriol was aped by his most radical disciples, and this would prove a fatal mistake for Dalit political activism. For Dalits were not looking for a revolution that would smash the idols of their gods in their homes and traditions of their families; they were looking for reform to fully integrate as Hindus and Indians as well as economic and social mobility out of the morass of untouchability. They wanted hope, not hatred.

Some of this hatred came from the incoherence of Ambedkar’s ideology being hijacked by disparate nefarious groups. Ambedkar founded a disjointed sect of Buddhism (Navayāna or the “New Vehicle”) that shunned many of the original tenets of the Buddhist Dharma. He would spuriously claim that Buddhism was a primarily anti-caste social reform movement; as shown earlier, this is simply false. Navayāna also rejected integral pieces such as the 4 Noble Truths, enlightenment, samsara, monk-hood, and even meditation. Such a spurring of integral foundations obviously leads to weak pillars in a movement.

NAVAYĀNA SHRINE FEATURING BUDDHA AND B.R. AMBEDKAR

Abhinav Prakash, a scholar, writer, and Assistant Professor from Delhi University, points out how out Navayāna and Ambedkarite discourse have become a mirror of fanatical Wahabbi ideologies. A zeal of iconoclasm, attacks on “too Hindu” subaltern traditions, and a constant sense of othering are leading to a destructive Dalit discourse that only leads to dead-ends in Dalit politics.

As time passed on, the notion of being “Dalit” faced headwinds when it hit the ground. Unfortunately, jātis labeled as Dalits would also practice untouchability against other Dalit castes. This impeded not only pan-Indian movements to build Dalit solidarity, but more importantly, it also hurt local missions. Dalit leaders such as Kanshi Ram, Jagjivan Ram, and Mayawati would rise but their movements would fall as splinters over ideology, ethnic variations, and caste split their voting blocs. Mayawati would prove to be the most successful becoming the first Dalit Chief Minister of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, by deftly crafting a coalition even including a sizable chunk of Brahmins, the ideological punching bag of most Dalit politics. But Mayawati’s success would only be temporary and her reach only stayed within her territory.

An Ensemble Cast

In Vinay Sitapati’s book, Jugalbandi, he describes a central tenet of the RSS – unite or die. Drawing upon the countless examples of caste and ethnic tribalism destroying past Hindu polities and potential, the RSS manically obsesses on integrating Hindus into a united consciousness regardless of caste, ethnicity, and other identity markers. The RSS’s political offspring, the BJP, has been tasked with first gaining power and then enacting those unitary ideals on a political level.

One aspect of gaining power is playing caste calculus better than the opposition. During their rise in Gujarat, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah engineered victory in constituencies by uniting runner-up politicians and their supporters against dominant politicians and groups. Silver medals became gold via political alchemy. This blueprint of alchemy has now been scaled to much larger levels. Dominant OBC farming castes who benefited greatly from the agriculturally driven Green Revolution in the 1960s would be usurped by a united spectrum of non-dominant castes galvanized by the BJP. This extends to other castes as well. In the tectonic 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections where a surprise BJP landslide blindsided every Tom, Dick, and Harry, the BJP pitted non-Jatav Dalits versus Jatav Dalits (harken back to the mythic united Dalit identity we spoke of earlier) in addition to having Non-Yadav OBC’s band against Yadavs. This plus their old upper-caste base sealed the deal. The tactics of battle give the BJP their high post but not necessarily a high ground, yet it is through this high post that they can enact their high ground strategy of Hindu unity – by economic development and empowerment.

MODI AND THE BJP HAVE GONE INTO OVERDRIVE IN THEIR EFFORTS TO CO-OPT AMBEDKAR AND APPEAL TO BAHUJANS

With a Prime Minister who wouldn’t hesitate to hammer his poor and lower caste background into the minds of voters, the BJP started their most significant outreach to the Bahujans. Narendra Modi would outflank the INC, left parties, and caste parties via effective “socialist” policies that would make Bernie Sanders blush. A slew of welfare and basic infrastructure schemes were frenetically enacted and then executed amongst the background of a rapidly digitizing India. India Stack, India’s premier FinTech effort, would accelerate the effectiveness of these initiatives as money, material, and megabytes traveled at the speed of Indra’s thunderbolt across this new digital cloud.

India’s subalterns would not only experience first-time basic comforts such as toilets, electricity, healthcare, tampons, roads, etc… but more essentially – they experienced basic human dignity for the first time. The hopeless nightmares of the past gave way to dreams of a brighter future as India’s downtrodden climbed up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. On a cultural cline, the most powerful leader of Hindu politics in the republic’s history was now a Bahujan risen from poverty. Modi donned his caste and poverty like armor on the campaign trail, and in the sheen of this armor would be the light of hope for India’s downtrodden. India’s subalterns saw themselves and their potential in Narendra Modi.

The results were stunning, and the statistics produced are damning for the BJP’s opponents and a godsend for the BJP. The party has now become the first choice of Dalits, Tribals, and other backward castes in addition to keeping its upper caste base intact.

VOTING BREAKDOWN FOR MAY 2019 INDIA WIDE LOK SABHA ELECTIONS. ORANGE IS BJP+, BLUE IS CONGRESS+, GREY IS OTHERS. “+” DENOTES ALLIES INCLUDED.

The BJP won about 12 percent of votes among the Dalits before 2014. It ascended to capture 24% of the Dalit vote in 2014 surpassing the Congress Party. The BJP’s ambitions continued to fly high and 33 percent of Dalits matched it in 2019 according to Lokniti-CSDS data. Add on allies’ tallies, and we reach 41% of all Dalits voting for their first choice, the NDA affiliated parties.

Now we have to acknowledge a fact – the BJP still retains the highest proportion of votes amongst the upper castes. There is nothing wrong with this. But demographics show that the upper castes only form about 20% of India’s population, so while their support is important, it has been the Bahujan conversion that has pushed the BJP to stratospheric heights electorally. The BJP now has to balance inter-caste dynamics in the present but looks to integrate castes in the long term. The BJP will play the ground game of caste in the short term but looks to the shining sun of Hindu unity on the horizon as its next prize.

The Die is Cast

Alea iacta est” or “the die is cast” were the famous words of Julius Caesar as his army crossed the Rubicon river to march on Rome taking on the Senate and the establishment elites. It signaled a point of no return and an incoming battle that would shape and shake the foundations of Rome itself. Today, we see a similar point of no return as the BJP dismantles the old and inept “idea of India” and lays a new ideological infrastructure. Integral to this infrastructure are two-way roads between castes. Integration of castes into a united Hindu consciousness is the Brahmāstra of the BJP’s arsenal.

ADOLPHE YVON’S DEPICTION OF CAESAR CROSSING THE RUBICON (1875)

Why, do you say? Incentives. The BJP’s driving ideology, Hindutva, has extremely large political incentives to erode caste discrimination and encourage equality amongst all castes. Mainly because, as caste erodes “Hindu” becomes an identity that will fill that void. This means that the BJP on a grand scale seeks to eliminate caste conflict. Think of it this way – every time there is a flashpoint of caste conflict or discrimination, a “Hindu” falls back into being a Brahmin, Dalit, Jat, Reddy, etc… Unity breaks down, and that unity is the most potent weapon for Hindutva when the polls arrive. It’s this unity during those polls that give power to the BJP.

Curiously, many of those who claimed to seek the “annihilation of caste” and a ceasing of caste violence are the ones who are the most terrified of this weapon that would achieve many of the goals related to the annihilation of caste. Where does their fear come from? The thing is if caste discrimination greatly diminishes and caste becomes a more periphery identity, the fissures of Hindu society that have been exploited for so long will also diminish, and a more united Hindu vote could reveal itself come election time. Parties that rely on patronizing only certain castes, missionaries who bet on caste discrimination to attract converts, and left parties who outrightly encourage caste divisions as a bulwark against Hindu consolidation will be left eating crow instead of cow.

Now this is a very long-term project. Caste will feature as an Indian aspect of elections and society for generations to come, especially as endogamy still remains strong; but compound interest coupled with demographics and a cultural push is a powerful concoction. Urbanization, education, and wealth-building also serve as the trident to combat caste discrimination, and all 3 are spreading across India.

What the BJP must do now is keep this pressure on. Its leadership is still largely upper-caste but it is now seeking to actively integrate lower castes into leadership roles such as how it has done with a backward caste Narendra Modi as Prime Minister and Dalit President in Ram Nath Kovind. Brute force must eventually be followed with balance even against Pareto forces that naturally push inequalities in non-nefarious ways. As Bahujans gain more education and prominence, they will innately ask for more rights and representation. In the same way, the BJP (and other parties) must also make sure there is no tyranny of the majority against upper castes as the abuse of the dreaded SC/ST Act has given air to.

As the BJP fires saffron arrows from a rainbow of castes, the opposition has also donned the sacred color to adjust to new realities. The RSS and the BJP’s push beyond politics and into societal integration of Dalits by interdining, intermarriage, and being inclusive to lower castes in Hindu rituals and festivals (most recently and prominently shown at the groundbreaking ceremony of Ram Mandir) has now put many parties who banked on Dalit support on the backfoot. Even the grandson of Ambedkar and prominent Dalit leader, Prakash Ambedkar, has called upon the reopening of Hindu temples during Covid lockdowns. At the same time, the BJP has also appropriated Ambedkar amongst its lexicon of ideological heroes as it now seeks deeper inroads amongst the Bahujans, with some hints of an even more massive shift to the BJP appearing in the recent West Bengal elections. While development has been essential in the BJP’s advancement amongst the Bahujans, it is through the diglossia of Ambedkar and the Omkar that has given the final push to the BJP now becoming the Bahujan Janata Party.

Reposted from The Emissary. Follow me on Twitter!

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34 Replies to “How the BJP Became the Bahujan Janata Party”

  1. https://www.epw.in/engage/article/emergence-bjps-dominance-and-its-durability

    “The third reason for BJP’s dominance is its innovative political strategy and ability to adapt itself to the changing times and the changing Indian voter. It could sense the political vacuum in the wake of Congress decay and the disintegration of the third front. But ‘mandalisation’ of politics and the emergence of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) as principal contenders for power in UP and Bihar made the BJP leadership to recognise that in order to come to power, the party has to secure the support of the members of the numerically large lower strata of the Hindu social order, namely the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). This new political strategy, known as social engineering, contributed to the electoral success of the BJP in the late 1990s. There was a temporary lull in social engineering during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s rule, but got a fillip once again under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, with Modi himself becoming a shining star of the disadvantaged and backward strata of the “Hindu society.”

    In 2014 and 2019, we see a massive surge in the percentage of people from these social groups voting for the BJP— from 19% in 1996 to 44% in 2019 among the OBCs, from 14% to 34% among the SCs; and from 21% to 44% among the STs (Suri 2019: 236). The political strategy of the BJP under Modi’s leadership synchronised well with the structural transformation of the Indian society and the dynamics of democratic politics. The new social coalition of the upper castes, OBCs, SCs and STs that the BJP could forge altered the internal composition of the BJP’s electoral support and, hence, the BJP’s social character. This massive change in its support base pushed the party to the centre stage. “

  2. Nice Summary !
    Not many are brave enough to call out Ambedkar.

    Though as I have alluded to on twitter – there r more strands in Hindutva Dalit conflicts – real and perceived with doses of multi caste conflicts.

    BJP has also played OBC BC Dalit conflicts very smartly. And one thing which cannot be understated is the opposition to Muslims/ polarization which has resulted in this hindu consolidation.

    Btw readers should also Google Ambedkar’s twelve vows – as Abhinav says it’s Intolerant ( in ambedkars case it was disappointed and angry )
    There remains traction for that ideology on the left though to diminishing returns.

    Also Mahatma Phules criticisms are equally if not more hardhitting

  3. The whole Bahujan coalition was only possible because Mandal/Dalit forces failed in their bridge building with other segments of Indian society.

    Which brings us to the question – did Independent India’s thinkers exaggerate the separateness/viability of a Jati? There was a period when political analysts would cook caste coalitions like KHAM, MY to suggest that a tipping point existed in society to capture electoral power come whatever may.

    But actually long term trends (over 50 years) indicate the opposite. Society has blurred the political advantage of a single Jati or coalition.

    Rather than saying that BJP has engineered a dynamic shift, it would be more appropriate to say that the BJP is the receiver of a long trend’s munificence. They came to this position because they did not get identified explicitly with a Jati. Varna, yes. Jati, no.

    To go one level deeper, the Jati coalitions did not pursue a vehicle to evangelize socially. BJP pursued sanskritisation – what should have been the counter – anglicisation? BJP is weak where the opponent’s have pursued long term goals like Dravidisation in TN. Or in Assam, where Sanskritisation seems to have broken Ahomisation. Jagan in Andhra is pursuing Christianisation of the SC/ST segments explicitly.

    Bottom line – BJP got in sync with a societal urge to bypass Jati at a national level. Other similar forces – Ahomisation, Dravidisation, Christianisation – do not have a pan India appeal. Remains to be seen if this trend will flourish.

    1. “BJP pursued sanskritisation – what should have been the counter – anglicisation? BJP is weak where the opponent’s have pursued long term goals like Dravidisation in TN. Or in Assam, where Sanskritisation seems to have broken Ahomisation. Jagan in Andhra is pursuing Christianisation of the SC/ST segments explicitly.”

      What u mean by anglicisation is non-Hinduization.

      Less Hindu areas more prone to Dravidiazation, Christinisation, Communism, Regionlism etc.

      1. Don’t plug that bullshit. Dravidisation is linguistic plank – not religious. Do you even test your own theories? Highest opposition to BJP happened in UP – where a Sindhi took on the MY coalition and Mulayam had Karsevaks shot. Know your place in history, Mughal Cuckold 🙂
        Highest amount of Arabisation happened between the Ganga and the Yamuna regions.

        1. LOL, S-Indians and their fantasies.

          I am yet to see any other ethncity which has negligible contribution to a relegion , hold forth on it. I mean apart from Iranians on Islam, of course.

          1. Dude, South Indians have contributed to the Vedas too. Furthermore, who can forget the contributions of Adi Shankaracharya or Vijaynagar Empire? Your hatred of anyone other than your own ethnic group shows.

          2. Wont put it as hate. The only people i hate (though that’s still a strong word) are commies.

            The lands of Adi Shankara and Vijayanagar empire have forgotten them already. Though in VJ case u can say they are redeeming it somewhat. Plus Kannadigas are my 2nd fav folks. Chill people.

        2. “Highest amount of Arabisation happened between the Ganga and the Yamuna regions”
          That seems like a throwaway statement. But there is something to this. Here is something that I once noticed quite by accident and is easy to corroborate by anyone – just zoom into any random stretch of UP on Google maps to the village level, and by a (very rough) estimate upto a third of the village and town names are quite obviously of muslim origin. This seems much higher than most other places in India, higher even than Bangladesh or West Punjab. That’s some ethno-geographic research for you!

  4. Anglicisation – is a vehicle that a few Dalit ideologues like Chandra Bhan Prasad (also Kancha Illaiah) tried to popularize with his “English Goddess” concept. It didn’t pick up – Mayawati and the Yadav parties have been lukewarm to these ideas. It could have been a good non-Jati vehicle to organize segments of society.

    The only guy who caught on to this is Jagan who has now implemented English medium as the state policy instead of Telugu. I don’t know how this will pan out – it could result in quicker deracination at the village level, but could also lead to loss of traditional knowledge and an adverse economic outcome.

    Ironically – the biggest opposition to a Anglicization wave has been the elites – they would lose their own competitive advantage if villagers started speaking in that tongue. So the whole ecosystem of English in India is priced out of bounds artificially. The New Brahmins and their exclusionary antics!!

    Parties will come and go, what matters is the underlying wave. The Sanskritic high culture will continue to manifest it’s resurgence. Only Jagan has started something that will outlast his own reign – nobody knows where is that leading to. Arabisation suffers from a dipole moment – it is accelerating within the Muslim community even as it is killing off the Persian remnants (Khuda Hafiz/Allah Hafiz catfight). But it has almost no takers even within the so-called Meem-Bheem solidarity group. So in this sense it is like Dravidisation – no cultural expansion but only trying to stay alive in their own core.

  5. This thread illustrates typical disunity seen among Hindus that groups in the modern era like leftists exploit.

  6. Saurav’s less hindu more hindu trolling was bound to get a reaction.

    Saurav Bro – i have never thought u r serious about ur assertions – are you serious or merely trolling our fellow Southies?
    In my eyes – South of Deccan remains the most *Hindu* region of them !

    1. Saurav is an excitable guy who takes political froth very seriously and can’t see beyond last election. Wholly in love with the froth and heat of the day

  7. @Gaurav

    Sometimes i troll, but most times i am serious. I rate Hindu-ness (for that matter any religion) on 2 parameters

    1) Any region/ethnicity contribution to the initial foundation of the religion.
    2) Pops and Politics of the region

    You might have differing parameters than me. BTW South of Deccan is ruled by a Dravidian , Commie and a Christian party. Signs of great *Hindu* region.

    @thewarlock

    What matters is do you want ‘greater’ and in return looser Hindu Asabiyah which is the reason of current lax and weak Hindu-dom. Or one wants a more compact and stronger Asabiyah, which will be genesis of the siege mentality to fight back. I prefer the latter.

    Unity, but not at the cost of discipline

    1. As Amey said in one of his Twitter rants, this is the galaxy brain thinking that led gangetic elites to rebel against the British under the Mughal flag😀. We wuz kings vibes to it😀. Personally as a kannadiga, I feel we have been taken advantage by both northies and fellow southies.

      1. “….this is the galaxy brain thinking that led gangetic elites to rebel against the British under the Mughal flag😀. We wuz kings vibes to it😀…”

        Bekku kanmuchkondu halkudithanthe!!

      2. “I feel we have been taken advantage by both northies and fellow southies.”

        Thats’ every ethnicity rant in India. Especially during elections. For example, currently Bengal
        feels that fate of India depends on it

  8. Funny thing I noticed is that in real life, South Indians are not anti-Muslim and don’t usually wear their religion on their sleeves. But online, the most vitrolic anti Muslim Indians are the Southies (outside Youtube comments section) and they act like they are the biggest protectors of Hinduism. Seems to be a very prevalent thing I have noticed in last 20 years online, but this happens only online, haven’t encountered this practically.. why is it like this, I wonder. Perhaps its survivorship bias.

    1. There’s quit a bit of selection to even be aware of these forums, let alone participate, keep in mind. If a south indian is a nationalist, then he’ll be a zealous one. For those that aren’t, they may not necessarily have affection for muslims, but its also not the defining struggle of their people (probably the inverse with NW indians). Two things I’ve seen correlate to a south indian become an ardent nationalist, being brahmin and studying engineering outside of one’s home state.

    2. “don’t usually wear their religion on their sleeves”

      Well if you literally meant anything that visually displays they’re Hindu, then yeah. They’re extremely religious though (at least here in TN), compared to the average north/central Indian.

      They’re also very religious about their meat-eating (which usually ends up causing arguments online, especially beef). They only eat on certain days of the week and don’t eat meat at all during the Purattasi month. Sabarimala devotees are also extremely sincere about their pilgrimage.

      Somewhat funny dynamics, I guess. I’m barely religious irl, but I talk a lot of shit online involving religion. On the other hand, all my Tamil friends are extremely religious, but don’t talk about religion extensively, online or offline.

      As for Hindu-Muslim friction here, Muslims only make up 5% of TN’s population (I still somehow managed to meet 4 bigots), well below the national average. Seen some odd cases of violence here and there, but not really a huge deal compared to the friction up north. Language is still the hottest topic.

      I’m guessing by south Indians you mainly meant AP or Karnataka.

    3. Diaspora is not the real measure of any community. If one needs to really wants to know any community, needs to check the politics in their home-land.

  9. I’m guessing by south Indians you mainly meant AP or Karnataka.

    ayyo devare!!,
    kannadigas especially south karnataka guys are the meekest in this solar system. they will listen to what ever you say, nod their head and do their own thing!!.

    1. @brown
      do you see the alliance of vokkaligas/kurubas with muslims in south karnataka as being one of meekness? If anything they’ve played their hand wisely and don’t seem to back down from their core interests, like water politics.

    2. I’ve only ever met a handful of Kannadigans (a close friend happens to be from Mangalore though). Lots of Telugus and Mallus in TN, very few Kannadigans, at least in Chennai.

      Karnataka does seem like a potential hotbed for religious friction, if it isn’t already. Read about the Bangalore riot last year over an FB post. And a few months ago, at one point, I’m pretty sure I was seeing reports every other day about some idol/temple being damaged in Karnataka.

  10. @girmit,
    i see no alliance between muslims and vokkaligas/kurubas for the following reasons:
    1. muslim presence in south karnataka is mainly urban or semi urban. they are not farmers ( as probably in some parts of north/central karnataka), as such they have no say in the water politics. i am yet to see a muslim paddy farmer in south karnataka. there are a few mango orchid owners.
    2. in general politics, there are certain constituencies where they stand on their feet ( chamarajapet, n.r.mohalla, shivaji nagar. ullal etc). in other places where their presence matters, they vote they vote with cong or jds against bjp.
    3. in all other places they are a protectorate of one of the dominant communities. there is very less social interaction. it is all transactional.
    4. mangalore and bhatkal are a different picture.

    1. @brown
      I accept your socio-poltical description. And by alliance, I include whatever arrangement exists til now, the sharing of a political tent under JDS and Congress. Question was, how is a dominant communtiy like the vokkaliga being meek, vis a vis the muslims? I see them less animated by islamoskepticism as are lingayats, bunts and brahmins. Vokkaligas are much more like marathas and reddys in this regard, and it seems like a positiion of strength if anything.

  11. @girmit,
    1. by meek i was referring to the general scene in bangalore’s private sector offices( software etc)
    2. yes, certainly, vokkaligas are in a postion of strength vis-a-vis muslims. but there is hardly any social intercourse. on the other hand, most vokkaligas also carry the type of distrust and dislike against muslims as all normal hindus do!!.
    3. till last elections jds was bit partial to muslims, but since they did not get that many muslim votes they are also sort of cold on that front.
    4. the challenge for jds is to retain its vokkaliga base outside mandya and hassan districts. this is being taken away by bjp.
    5. constant undermining of d.k.shi. by siddaramiah, might see this vokkaliga vote go away from congress, unless d.k.shi. wins in that internal struggle.

    1. @brown
      I should hope basic decorum is maintained in private sector offices wrt to enmity between social groups. Regarding point #3, indeed vokkaligas are quite socially distant from muslims, which i think allows them to be indifferent. I don’t think the odd uncharitable comment is the same level of loathing you might see among other hindu communities. Muslims embody a lot of opposite tendencies like living in congested dense neighbourhoods, whereas vokkaligas will get a patch of land even if it means their commute is doubled. I think they know the difference between not caring or respecting something too much and being manipulated into fighting it. Vokkaligas will say a lot of remarkably direspectful things about brahmins too. The biggest challenge for muslims in south karnataka keeping them out of the mainstream is their loyalty to urdu (regardless of whether they speak it properly). Second would be the burqa issue. Most non-brahmin kannadigas critique muslims on these two matters and religious doctrinal never really comes into play. Personally, we had a few muslim families from our village (in north KA) who we were close to, but unfortunately in my generation our culture has drifted too far apart. We could look over all the religious stuff, but the burqa thing just makes familial relations impossible. The women folk will never relate to each other, and muslim men are always sheepish about being judged for how they keep their women.

      1. [email protected],
        Looks like we have a similar background 🙂 Glad people from our area are becoming more visible.
        As a kid I remember summer vacations in native villages (mom and dad) where muslims participated actively in basav jayanti celebrations. Barring odd beard, they hardly stood out. Now our village with less than 1 dozen families has mosque blaring azaan a few times a day, not to mention the sartorial changes. Feels like a rupture in scene and ambience. There is a section of muslims who have a native kannadiga background. The ones with turkic background mostly stick to cities with medieval muslim history like vijaypura and kalburgi.
        In a previous thread, you had a theory on why muslims in deccan/south wear the burqa more than the gangetic belt. In NW, and Gangetic plains, the central asian sartorial influence is among both muslims and hindus. In deccan/south, muslims are differentiating themselves by looking to arabian costumes. Not much arab influence in south indian hindus.

        1. @bhumiputra
          Yes, i did infer that we likely share a lot of heritage from past posts..😊.
          Most people of the older generation have seen the transition within many muslim families from kannada to urdu. This will be a liability in the long run. The irony is that, by being quasi-native hindi speakers, karnataka muslims once had a greater pan-indian consciousness than the rest of us, but due to their religious alienation, our “parochial” kannada politics is their last resort to counter threats from the centre. I don’t know if you’ve noticed on social media, but muslims are up-playing their regionalist credentials as a poltical redoubt. I don’t blame them, and if they can create an islam with a karnataka ethos (unlikely, but its their choice), more power to them. In fact, our muslims have doubly alienated themselves, exogenous holy land and language. Lord knows who they take their cues from.

  12. This thread turned into a Kannadiga love-fest, but can i just say Banglore traffic is hideous.

    1. Haha. I love Kannada folks as well. Most chill and naturally cosmopolitan people in the country.

    2. What would you do if white converted en masse to hinduism? What about the African hindus?

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