Tag Archives: Hindu Right

Discourse of Hindu Unity and Challenges in the Struggle Against the Right


In a recent book Hindu Ekta Banaam Gyan ki Rajneeti [Hindu Unity versus the Politics of Knowledge] (Vani 2019), my colleague and friend Abhay Kumar Dubey raises some extremely important issues that have now become central to the struggle for a more just and inclusive India. The book is in Hindi and written in the highly provocative and combative style that characterizes most of Abhay’s writings but there is something profundly disturbing – and enlightening – about the key point that  he has to make. In this brief piece I discuss it here for the benefit of the non-Hindi reader (which is not the same as ‘English-speaking’ or ‘English-educated’). However, those who understand Hindi and are interested can watch the 42-minute discussion between Abhay Dubey and myself (recorded in Janaury this year) for the Youtube book discussion channel Parakh run by Kamal Nayan Choubey. The video is embedded this post below.

The central concern of the book is with certain blindspots in what Abhay calls the ‘Centrist discourse’ [madhyamargi vimarsh] or interchangeably, ‘anti-majoritarian discourse’ [bahusankhyakvaad virodhi vimarsh] – which, for some reason, has been rendered as ‘secular ideology’ by Yogendra Yadav in a recent piece in The Print. (Yadav’s piece and Rajmohan Gandhi’s response in defense of ‘secular ideology’ can he read here and here). In keeping with Abhay’s usage, I will use the term ‘anti-majoritarian’ rather than ‘secular’ discourse for this specific configuration that emerges in the the 1990s, for as we will see, this is not a simple continuation of the secular discourse of the 1980s. For the earlier discursive formation, however, I will continue to use the term secular and we will see below how the two differ.

The blindspots that Abhay insistently and relentlessly draws the readers’ attention to, have to do with the very superficial and often hugely misleading understanding of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its deeper connections with the much longer and larger history of the project of forging ‘Hindu unity’.

Continue reading Discourse of Hindu Unity and Challenges in the Struggle Against the Right

Modinama : Issues That Did Not Matter

In May 2019, the party of the Hindu Right, Bharatiya Janata Party, under Narendra Modi, won a spectacular electoral victory.

The victory seemed to defy common sense – why did conversations of life and livelihood not dominate the election? Why did the thuggery of the Hindutva vigilantes seem inconsequential to vast numbers of ordinary, decent people? Why is an aggressive, masculine fundamentalism so normalized in our society today?

In other words, why didn’t the issues that matter, seem to matter? The question goes deeper than electoral arithmetic. It asks if Modi and the BJP have not only changed the electoral map, but also begun to corrode social norms.

This book, based on Modi’s first five years as prime minister, is a warning for the next five.


Subhash Gatade is a left activist and author. He is the author of Charvak ke Vaaris (Hindi, 2018), Ambedkar ani Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (Marathi, 2016), Godse’s Children: Hindutva Terror in India (2011) and The Saffron Condition (2011). His writings for children include Pahad Se Uncha Aadmi (2010).


LeftWord Books, New Delhi, 2019

Language: English

128 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″

Price INR 195.00 Book Club Price INR 137.00



The Limits of Efficient Suasion : Rina Ramdev

This is a guest post by RINA RAMDEV

The Prime Minister’s monogrammed suit and the HRD Minister’s fake degree in the early days of the BJP’s 2014 electoral win were embarrassments dotting the uneasy calm that prevailed over the new digital, development avatar of the nation; even as a sense of the slouching beast waiting to break through the controlled, contained quietism was always there in deferred menace. And thus, when majoritarian sentiment fuelled the ‘Ghar waapsi’ campaign and the ban on cow slaughter found a mainstreaming in minority witch hunting, there was an eerie expectedness to these turns. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’s minatory address, carrying the subtext of a communal cleansing in sinister remand, visibilized itself in the horrific lynching of Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri. Mostly civil voices of protest raged against this as well as against the organised killings of questioning rationalists like Pansare and Kalburgi. Sections of the thinking polity mobilised signature campaigns, petitions and an entire event like the‘Award waapsi’ drew attention to this vitiated political climate. Continue reading The Limits of Efficient Suasion : Rina Ramdev

CPDR Statement on Maharashtra Cow Slaughter Ban

Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai
18 March 2015

As if the 1976 Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act banning the slaughter of cows, including the male and female calf of the cow, enacted by the Shankarrao Chavan-led Congress government during the Emergency was not enough, the Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government is elated that the 1995 Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, enacted by a previous BJP-Sena led by Manohar Joshi, that extends the ban to include slaughter of bulls and bullocks, has now received presidential assent. Despite the BJP’s claims justifying the ban on agro-economic grounds, among others, the driving force behind the prohibition is the ideology of Hindutva, presented as “a way of life” rooted in the central beliefs of neo-Vedantic Hinduism, of which cow slaughter and beef eating are supposedly anathema.

Continue reading CPDR Statement on Maharashtra Cow Slaughter Ban

This is What Frightens Them….

And the struggle continues, image courtesy Manorama online
And the struggle continues…Kochi, image courtesy Manorama online
“If conservative elements can capture our public spaces and impose their diktat on us, we will do the same in retaliation. Our university spaces, parks and roads are not free any more. We are reclaiming them now. We live in an age where a Dalit man is hacked to 40 pieces because he fell in love with a woman from a higher caste. This Kiss of Love campaign is a defiance of moral policing and a struggle to uphold the spirit of love in all its forms and for everyone,” said Zareen, a campaigner.
Kiss of love Delhi, image courtesy, DNA
Kiss of love Delhi, image courtesy, DNA

CHS, JNU Statement on the Wendy Doniger Issue

The following is the text of a statement issued by the Faculty of the CENTRE FOR HISTORICAL STUDIES, Jawaharlal Nehru University, protesting against the recent decision by Penguin India to withdraw and pulp all remaining copies of Wendy Doniger’s Hinduism. An Alternative History

We are outraged by the news that Penguin India has agreed to withdraw Wendy Doniger’s much acclaimed book The Hindus: An Alternative History and pulp all existing copies of the book in stock. Professor Doniger is one of the most respected Indologists in the world. She has spent a lifetime exploring the richness of India’s religious pasts, showcasing the creative interplay between multiple traditions — the Puranic and the Vedantic, the folkloric and the Brahmanic. Innovatively drawing on many disciplines, she has investigated the variegated world of Hindu mythology and theology, to explore what they say about order and chaos, morality and ethics, the good and the evil, the erotic and the non-erotic. Her reading of Hinduism has inevitably disturbed those who wish to sanitize and straitjacket Hinduism, and repress the multiplicity of traditions that constitute it. While welcoming all critical engagements with the book, the faculty of the CHS condemns any attempt to curtail the circulation of this book in any form.

The decision of Penguin India to sign an out-of-court settlement to withdraw Professor Doniger’s book is therefore an act of abandoning the basic ethics of publishing. What is most disturbing is the fact that Penguin Books — which had in the past a sturdy reputation of defending freedom of expression — has agreed to a settlement even without the Indian state or the Indian judiciary taking a position against the book. This decision will affirm the power of the forces of religious intolerance, encourage further attacks on authors who question the fundamentalist interpretation of the past, and subvert the right to freedom of expression. It will undermine further the rapidly eroding public space wherein critical debates and discussions can take place. This is a space that all who believe in democratic values — publishers included — need to preserve and defend.

Please note that individual names are not being listed in this statement as this is emanating from the entire faculty.

Thank you,

Professor Rajat Datta

Statement by Scholars in North American Universities on Withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s book

This statement expresses the views of the individuals listed below and does not represent the views of the University of Chicago or any of its departments.

We, the undersigned, as students of South Asia, strongly condemn the withdrawal by Penguin Press India of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History from distribution in India. We believe that this work has been attacked because it presents a threat to orthodox Brahminical interpretations of Hinduism. We believe that this attack is part of ongoing attempts by upper-caste extremist Hindu forces to stifle any alternative understandings of Hinduism. As students in the United States, we are acutely aware that North American organizations of the Hindu right initiated the protests against Wendy Doniger’s scholarship. Hindu right wing organisations in India have worked in tandem with their North American counterparts to suppress alternative voices in India and too often violently. We are deeply concerned about the alarming increase in attacks on any academic study of Hinduism that does not fit these groups’ narrow and exclusionary vision of Hinduism which is part of their desire to create a Hindu India that excludes the religious minorities of Indian Muslims and Indian Christians. Continue reading Statement by Scholars in North American Universities on Withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s book

Resisting Culinary Fascism: Nabanipa Bhattacharjee


At the end of last month (March 2012) students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi under the banner of a recently formed group called the New Materialists (NM) organized a public meeting to debate the issue of (dis)allowing certain kinds of food – beef and pork in particular – on the campus. The group, as one of its members Suraj Beri said, intended to petition the university administration to allow the sale of beef and pork in the canteen(s), and fight for inclusion of the same in the hostels’ menus; it was a struggle, as the NM declared, against the Brahmanical dietary impositions on Dalits and other minority community students of JNU. In fact, Francis (JNU students of the 1990’s would remember the man from Kerala) who ran a canteen at the basement of the School of Social Sciences II did serve beef curry on Saturdays, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that there would be more than a mad rush for that. However, he was pressurised – by Hindu right wing groups and other similar forces – to stop the sale of the “forbidden” food, and the canteen was eventually closed down.

Continue reading Resisting Culinary Fascism: Nabanipa Bhattacharjee

NWMI Condemns The Violent Abuse Of Meena Kandasamy

[We at Kafila are absolutely horrified at the abuse directed at poet and activist Meena Kandasamy for expressing her views on twitter regarding the beef-eating festival at Osmania University. That supposedly ‘neutral’ educational institutions replicate upper-caste Hindu dietary taboos, is no surprise, nor that the ABVP reacted with its customary violence to that questions upper caste privilege. What is shocking is the attitude of the Vice Chancellor and the sexist, misogynist, violent speech directed at her on the web. It is telling that those who take such umbrage at the eating of cows, think nothing of advocating the public rape of women. Below is a statement issued by the The Network of Women in Media condemning the hate speech directed at her. We stand in solidarity with Meena Kandasamy.]

The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI), strongly condemns the violent and sexist abuse unleashed on poet, writer, activist and translator Meena Kandasamy, presumably in response to her posts on Twitter about the beef-eating festival at Osmania University, Hyderabad, on 15 April 2012 and the ensuing clashes between groups of students. Continue reading NWMI Condemns The Violent Abuse Of Meena Kandasamy

My Abu Talha Moment: Sanjay Kak

Guest post by SANJAY KAK

Last week was my Abu Talha moment. That’s when dubious honours rain on you, unsolicited, undeserved. There I was, charged with wrecking a literary festival in Kashmir; links to the Parliament attack case; racism against Kashmiri pandits; scuttling a film screening in a women’s college in Delhi… And if that doesn’t create a frisson, I was also said to be on the radar of Mumbai’s Anti Terrorist Squad.

Unable to make the Abu Talha connection? Many in Kashmir know the name as a talisman, the kind that security forces brandish when they periodically feel its time to square their books. It doesn’t take much; they just have to produce a fresh corpse before a pliant media, although one with long hair and a beard, fatigues and an AK47, does make things easier. As Abu Talha, this all-purpose corpse can then be held responsible for fidayeen attacks, the murder of innocent civilians, the assassination of political workers, massacres, and explosions, whatever. Crucially, even as Abu Talha is lowered into the ground, all further investigations into those events can be safely laid to rest.

End of story: tamam shudh? Well, only sort of. Because Abu Talha will be called upon to perform again, dusted up and presented afresh to the world. Again. He’s not alone, for with so much happening in Kashmir, Abu Talha is part of a frequent fighters club: Abu Hamza, Abu Shakir, Abu Waqas, Ghazi Baba… The other day a friend from Kashmir invented one to cheer me up: Abu Tamam, he offered, Father of it All.

Continue reading My Abu Talha Moment: Sanjay Kak

Savarkar’s Phoney Followers

(Politics is a game of the impossible. The Sangh Parivar, which never enjoyed a smooth relationship with Vinayak Damodar Savarkar when alive, now wants us to believe that it is the true and the only heir to his legacy. It is a different matter that even Savarkar’s diehard followers do not seem amused with all their rope-tricks. The manner in which RSS-BJP handled the issue of memorial for Savarkar in faraway France indicates once again the floundering of their strategy.)


Gopinath Munde, senior leader of BJP, was in for a great shock the other day when he realised that his move to corner the ruling dispensation at the centre on the issue of Savarkar memorial had boomranged on himself and the party as well. In fact he had discussed the issue with his close associates and had informed senior leaders of the party about his plans. He had expected that by raising an emotive issue around ‘Swatantryaveer’ Savarkar on the eve of elections to the Maharashtra assembly, he would be able to score a point vis-a-vis the Cong-NCP coalition. Continue reading Savarkar’s Phoney Followers