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The Rise of the Rightwing

by Newsweek Pakistan

Sanjay Kanojia—AFP

Could a firebrand Hindu cleric’s appointment to Uttar Pradesh’s head office spell the end of a secular India?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appointed Hindu priest Yogi Adityanath as the new chief minister of his nation’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, and everybody in the country seems to know what this means. Adityanath is not your everyday yogi, embracing all spiritual brands and spreading universal benediction. He is from the extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which persecutes Muslims and untouchable Dalits in an attempt to create the dreaded Hindu Rashtra (nation), in defiance of India’s secular constitution, which was penned by Dalit politician Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.

Could India morph into a religious state like Pakistan, which often comes under fire for maltreating its minorities? If the BJP has its way: probably. Under the Modi regime, Muslims in India have been lynched on the mere suspicion of eating beef, and many others have been beaten by “cow vigilantes.” As composed by Ambedkar, the constitution of India was secular in its content without using the word “secular” because in 1951—when it was completed—secularism was not acceptable to the conservative sections of the All-India Congress. In fact it did not became secular until 1976, when Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was in power.

“The Constitution 42nd Amendment Act,” passed by the Indian parliament in 1976, changed the preamble of the country’s constitution by inserting the words “socialist secular” between the words “sovereign” and “democratic republic,” which “the people of India solemnly resolved to constitute India into.” Today India is hardly “socialist” as it was under Nehru; and it is fast losing the secularism that the world has long admired it for. In fact, the BJP-led government used last year’s Republic Day to issue an advertisement in local newspapers that pointedly reprinted the Preamble to the constitution without the words “socialist secular.”

Under Modi, as many feared, India appears to be slowly transforming into a Hindu state that ignores its minorities in a bid to prop up Hindu nationalism. Pakistan has flirted with similar initiatives in the past, leaving it at the mercy of foreign-funded warriors of jihad, which continue to plague its citizenry. It isn’t too late for India—it can still course-correct. But does it, and its Hindu rulers, want to?

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Srinath March 21, 2017 - 10:17 pm

Secular India’s obituary is premature. The civil society and and the survival instinct of those at the grass-root level have tamed bigger dictators in the past. Have faith in the Indian electorate.

Observer March 25, 2017 - 11:49 pm

Muslims should not be surprised. Until now they had cake & eat it too. They kicked out indigenous Hindus in Sindh & Punjab to make room for Muslims coming from UP, the Mojahirs. Hindu & Sikh population reduced from 30% at the time of partition to less than 1% today, while Muslims increased their numbers in ROI from less than 10% to 19%..

Hindus were served poorly by Nehru & other so called secularists. Hindus have finally come out of amnesia created by Nehru & Jinnah which made them lose in South Asia. y Pashtuns & Baloch are other losers due to treachery of Nehru.


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