The Hindutva Threat Outside India

December 9, 2022

Paul Marshall, Director of RFI’s South and Southeast Asia Action Team, and Lidia Papa, Research Fellow with RFI, recently co-authored a piece for European Eye on Radicalization on the threats posed by “Hindutva,” an ideology espoused by leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India that is often referred to as “Hindu nationalism,” and its potential spread beyond India’s borders. They write:

There have been Hindutva attacks on Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs. The most horrific instance was the 2002 killing of some two thousand Muslims in Gujarat after Muslim mobs were accused of having set fire to a train carrying Hindu nationalists, killing 58 people. Attacks against Christians are widespread and escalating.

Hindutva ideology can be distinguished from Hinduism itself. It demands neither a theocratic state nor Hinduism as a state ‘religion’. It is national-cultural project, rather than ‘religious’ in the strictly doctrinal sense used in the West, and self-identifies as the soul of India itself. Sangh Parivar militants maintain that religious minorities, including Muslims and secularists, could support Hindutva—and therefore if they do not, they are betraying the nation.

The mainstreaming of Hindutva politics, especially since the BJP returned to power in 2014 under Prime Minister Modi, has led to a widespread narrative that Hindus in India are in danger from Muslims as a result of population changes, interfaith marriage, and illegal Muslim immigration. This has led to discriminatory laws on citizenship and marriage.

The potential impact of Hindutva does not necessarily end at India’s borders. Some Hindu nationalists believe that an accurate map of India should include Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and have campaigned to rewrite Indian textbooks to reflect this. If this sentiment grows and results in a future expansionist foreign policy, India will be more likely to clash again with Pakistan and other neighbors, including China.

Read the full article: “The Hindutva Threat Outside India.”