With the veneer of Gandhi’s non-violence and Nehru’s secularism cast aside, the current trajectory of the Indian leadership will have ominous geopolitical implications, particularly for Pakistan. It is ironic that western powers, who have promoted the Indian narrative of an extremist threat to nuclear weapons in Pakistan, are shying away from indicating the dangerous trend of Hindutva in India.
Recently launched book “Rising Hindutva & its Impact on the Region” authored by Group Captain (Retd.) S. M. Hali and provides an insight into the Hindutva Hindus as well as non-Hindutva Hindus. It is a recommended read for policymakers in Pakistan especially given the current Indian government’s belief in Hindutva philosophy. It is extremely clear that the Pulwama attack was a pre-meditated attack to draw attention away from the Indian atrocities happening in Kashmir.
Recently launched book “Rising Hindutva & its Impact on the Region” is a very useful historical and contemporary political record and analysis of Hindu chauvinism evolving from the margins of Indian politics to its mainstream, from being an Indian aberration in response to Muslim and colonial rule, it has now become the Indian norm and India’s main vehicle for the realization of its great power aspirations.
Moreover, the book sheds light on the beginning naturally enough from the early 20th century origin of the concept of Hindutva as part of the emergence of Indian nationalism, the desire for independence, and the political belief that only a Hindu with an extreme sense of his or her unique identity could be an Indian nationalist and freedom-fighter. The book also discusses the decade by decade development of Hindutva under various leaders from a political-cultural ideology to an outright fascist ideology influenced by European fascism and Nazism.
The book shows in detail how political history or history written with a political agenda in mind distorts objective history, creates self-satisfying myths, and erects enemies and dangers with which to whip up a macho emotional frenzy against vulnerable targets to avenge centuries of imagined and real humiliations against outsiders, especially those who have long settled and become fellow-Indians but who have clung to the faith their ancestors brought to India, or to which they were later converted.
According to the writer, during writing the book, he made it a point to include the Indian opinions, to showcase that there are sane Indian scholars and critics who recognise the threat emanating from the Hindutva philosophy. Sideways, during the course of writing, he has tried to disprove many of the myths regarding Hindutva.
Hali highlights the bitter state of animosity in bilateral relations between India and Pakistan from Kashmir to Mumbai to the accession of Modi to power. It has resulted in four wars, both countries becoming nuclear weapons countries, and how it might yet trigger an ultimate disaster unless better sense prevails. The author elaborates aptly that Indian foreign policy not just towards Pakistan but with its other neighbours is influenced by Hindutva aspirations and its belief that India is destined to regain all the territories it believes it once ruled which of course includes the entire South Asian subcontinent and beyond.
The book also pinpoints some of the details of brave Indians who have stood up to the RSS and the BJP to challenge the authenticity of Hindutva as opposed to India’s self-image of being a land in which some of the world’s deepest philosophies took shape and where great thinkers left a moral legacy that the world to this day acknowledges and appreciates. The author expresses the wish that a new generation of Indians takes their inspiration from these traditions that bind people in mutual understanding and love rather than the divisive, violent and repressive ideologies that polarize and render the prospect of peace impossible.
The book presents an informed narrative from the Pakistani point of view regarding specific issues and developments in India-Pakistan relations. It also recognizes the existence of more realistic and balanced narratives in both countries which given the challenges facing both countries should provide a basis for hope in a sustainable working relationship even if core issues may take longer to resolve to mutual satisfaction.