Let me count the ways.
A commenter from India, an Indian and a Hindu, asked me to define Indian Hindu nationalism and what exactly I found deplorable about it. First of all, it is clearly possible to be an Indian and not be an Indian Hindu nationalist. The Indian Left has clearly rejected this ideology. I know some Indian Christians, one a convert from Hinduism, who also rejects it. The one I am thinking of is a Tamil who supports the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.
I have spoken to many upper middle class to upper class Indians, and almost 100% were Indian nationalists of the very worst kind. There is something really horrible brewing in India. I do not have the faintest idea what middle class, lower middle class, working class and poor Indians think, as I have never met one. But Indian Hindu nationalism of the very worst sort seems to be epidemic in the upper class and upper middle class.
The symptoms are:
Contempt for the West, its medicine, its language and its perceived superiority. In particular, rage towards the US as being the source of much of India’s problems, a notion that is absurd.
Strong feelings of rage over perceived inferiority masked by compensatory feelings of superiority, typically for the most backwards and fucked-up aspects of Indian culture and the Hindu religion, in particular caste. In particular, fury that India is referred to as a 3rd world country and anger that Westerners consider themselves civilized and consider India backwards, etc.
A notion that India is one of the great countries of the world, but India’s enemies have held it back from its greatness and kept it from being the great country it could be. This goes along with some weird notion that India was the wealthiest country on Earth in 1500, but then it declined to one of the poorest. This project was apparently done by outsiders, mostly Westerners.
A lot of anger towards Muslims. In particular, a notion that moderate Muslims simply do not exist. There is also continuing anger over abuses done by Muslims towards Hindus in the region from 500-1000 years ago. There is also the notion that many Muslims in the area are not really Muslims, since their ancestors were Hindus who were “forced to convert.”
Extreme denial about the worst aspects of Indian culture and the Hindu religion, in particular caste.
Extreme defense of the most outrageous differentials in wealth and poverty.
A notion that something called “Bharat India” existed and that much of the land east and west of India is “really India” in some weird way, because they were Indianized or especially Hinduized at some point.
These people lay some sort of claims to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Southern Philippines, Afghanistan, Iran, Azerbaijan and the general region of the Caucasus. Supposedly at some point these countries were all Hindu or Hinduized of some sort.
A denial that there was ever any religion than Hinduism in India, along with the notion that other religions such as Zoroastrianism are just branches of Hinduism. There is also a complete rejection of the Aryan invasion theory along with a lot of contempt for the lower castes, in particular, a curious notion the Dalits now run India and the Brahmins have become the new “niggers.”
Rage towards Christianity for converting low caste Hindus. I would say that contempt for Christianity is typical amongst this type, over and above feelings towards any other religion.
Anger towards the “White man” and a refusal to be lumped in with him in any way. This is apparently all because Whites from England colonized India for some time.
At the same time, while they often defend Hindutvas, they themselves usually get angry if you call them a Hindutva or point out that their Indian-Hindu nationalism does not differ much from the Hindutvas.
Extreme rage and irrationality over the Kashmir issue, on which India is effectively an outlaw state, defying a security council resolution. On the contrary, most Pakistanis seem to be fairly calm about Kashmir. I think Indians are filled with so much rage and fury about Kashmir because deep down inside they must know they are wrong.
In particular, regarding Kashmir, there is a denial that even one native Kashmiri Indian is protesting against or has taken up arms against India. 100% of protesters and armed fighters are actually “Pakistanis”.
The Kashmiris are completely happy in India and all of the problems are caused by Kashmir. In particular, they deny that any Kashmiris want independence. They also deny that there is such a thing as a Kashmiri Indian. They claim the war started when “Pakistan invaded Kashmir and the King appealed to India for help.”
Also, all of these people feel that what occurred after India’s independence was 100% right. Many princely states refused to join India. India attacked many of them and threatened to attack many others. This is the root of the separatist conflicts in India. These people all feel that none of these states had a right to refuse to be part of India since they were all part of “Bharat India.”
India has attacked or threatened to attack most or all of its neighbors since independence. Upon independence, India immediately placed claims on its neighbors’ lands. At the moment, India claims parts of both China and Pakistan.
If you go on Rediff or other forums where many Indian H-1B workers in the US post or if you talk to people working with Indian H-1B workers in the US, you will find that these attitudes are absolutely rife.
Almost all of these folks come from higher castes.
I would like to point out that this general picture is creepily reminiscent of ultranationalisms around the world and in the past. In particular, the Indian Hindu nationalism I describe above has many similarities with German, Italian and Japanese ultranationalism of the 1930’s and 1940’s that caused so many problems. The fact that Indian Hindu nationalism, which seems omnipresent in India, is backed up by a state armed with nuclear weapons is something I find very frightening.
Let me count the ways.