Research Journal # 12 (Oh God! Here goes the last one!!)

Final overview of the paper:

My paper provides a brief relationship among democracy, religion, nationalism, Hindu nationalism. While democracy is a continues process to achieve inclusivity at its highest, it sometimes experiences components like religion, nationalism, religious nationalism can in/directly determine the path of democracy. In that context, this paper wanted to find out if Hindu Nationalism in India compatible to democracy or not? If not, then does it pose any threat to democracy?

With the help of a brief discussion of HN and its emergence in India and the case example of the Gujarat pogrom in 2002, this paper showed that HN is not compatible to democracy and possess a substantial threat to democracy. HN is incompatible to democracy as in it fosters some crucial elements like exclusion, hierarchy, oppression of minorities etc. which hindrances the functioning of a democratic system. This is potentially a threat to democracy and can create challenges of democratization in future in India. HN is threating democracy of India in mostly for three ways: A) by fostering a rigid ideology of non-inclusive religious nationalism, B) by creating a systematic elimination of political representations from the minorities, and finally, C) by creating an atmosphere where state institutions are ‘used’ for maintaining the systematic elimination of the minorities.

This paper provides a theoretical extension by exploring that in the advent of HN, lack of effective and strong political representation from the minorities, particularly from Muslim plays an important role. That means, HN and the expansion of it is not only related to Hindutva itself as an internal factor, but also external factor like absence of Muslims from the effective political dialogue contributed. In previous literatures, HN and its expansion has been showed mostly as an internal factor by bypassing the role of Muslims as the largest minority group in it. Hence, this paper calls for further research on dynamics of minority groups with HN and the role of it in addressing the challenges of democratization in India.


Research Journal # 11

Hindu nationalism equals to or not equals to Democracy in India?

            In the paper, for understanding and analyzing the relationship between Hindu Nationalism (HN) and Democracy, I used the example of Gujarat Pogrom, 2002. Based on that, it is high time asked “if HN is compatible to democracy?” Answer: NO! Reasons are several.

  1. As Bhargava (2003) stated HN cannot survive against a real/imagined enemy. Likewise, in the case of Gujarat Pogrom, HN believed Muslim community as its enemy and initiated the ethnic cleansing on the Muslim community. This is nothing but a direct blow to democracy.
  2. In the same event, it is also evident that HN is not willing to incorporate secularistic ideas in it, otherwise it would not be possible for HN to kill more than 2000 man in the name of secularity. If there is secularity, there cannot be any atrocity like this. Though it is true all democracies are not secular, there are some democracies who practice limited secularism etc. but in no democracies a systematic, pre-planned killing against one group is possible.
  3. BJP/VHP was using the religion to serve their political interest. Furthermore, institutions like police and arm force were also used by the state power to commence and maintain the pogrom on Muslim. It was a clear indication that state institutions were used from one group against another group. In a democracy, institutions are part of a process ensuring that everybody will have access to those institutions equally. Academicians often identify democracies as more or less successful on their ability to engage these state institutions more proactively and equally. Opposed to this criteria of democracy, HN in Gujarat Pogrom 2002 abused state institutions against a certain group of people. Hence, HN was not only making direct confrontation with minority, rather engaging state institutions to maintain the confrontation against the minority.
  4. To add with the previous point, state institutions in democracy will be serving to protect the rights of minorities. HN practically influenced state institutions to oppress minorities. This means, HN was responsible for making a “divide” between groups during the pogrom. The impact of the divide can obviously be long lasting, just like it has been observed in the case of post-pogrom Gujarat. Along with the political separation, economical degradation and physical torments, the victims of the pogrom are bearing psychological trauma to date (Ghassem-Fachandi 2012).
  5. It is to be understood that Muslims political representations faced systematic elimination gradually in the political arena of India soon after the British rule started. However, with the passage of time Muslims political representation practically became entirely ineffective in terms of protecting the rights and raising the voices of their people in local-national politics. It was evident, not only for Gujarat incident, but also in other times and places, Muslims in India lack political and cultural entity as opposed to the Hindus. To be more specific, Muslims do not have a strong representation against the HN. Not facing any practical opposition made HN to gain more confidence in terms of the willingness of oppressing the minorities. For instance, no literature provides evidences of an organized protest in Gujarat against the pogrom. Even Muslims all over India did not have at the time of Gujarat pogrom as a single voice/leader/political platform to speak on behalf of the entire community, they still do not have that. This situation has two implications: A) It gives more authority to HN to exercise power over minorities, and B) It makes the democracy in India less democratic as without proper representation there is a limited option for negotiation and renegotiation.

Democracy is an ongoing, evolving process the path of is determined by negotiation and renegotiation. For the sake of proper negotiation, violence is also oftentimes justified, but oppression is never welcome in a functioning democracy. HN is more willing to adopt measures of violence and oppression to sustain on power, spread Hindutva, create a strong hierarchy of power. Every steps with these elements HN takes is pushing it away from a ‘functioning’ democracy which is supposed to be, as per the given definition in the theoretical section, an inclusive one for all of its citizens. Thus, HN is incompatible to democracy to a great extent as in it lacks common characteristics with democracy. Furthermore, HN also creates/try to create an environment which has exactly opposite components of an inclusive democracy. This is exactly what Chandra argues that over influence of rigid nationalism can create obstacles for minorities and make the democracy disfuntional.

HN does pose a threat to democracy. But, what I would argue keeping the evidence of the Gujarat pogrom in mind, it is not the ideology of HN that possess threat against democracy rather the people who are integrating HN into the “democratic” institutions of India are creating the sense of threat against democracy by HN. As democracy is a process which depends on inclusivity, if majority of India support HN, democracy needs to work out with HN in the process of finding out a middle path for everyone. Democracy needs to negotiate and renegotiate with HN to ensure both the interests of majority and minority are served. But if people who will initiate the conversation remain less willing to negotiate and compromise, when necessary, democracy is bound to fail. Hence, with the processes themselves, people play crucial role in making or breaking of democracy.

Who will come next? (Blog post # 11 on 04.17.17)

One of the fundamental differences between Pepinsky and Snyder is that the degree of authoritarianism involves into the daily lives of the people. In Snyder, I found, the Nazi authoritarianism dealt more with the philosophy of manipulating the mass people. Hitler, followed by his disciples – the Elites – understood that if they need to contribute to/bring the ‘struggle’ they were so enthusiastically talking about, mass people need to be incorporated. For doing so, the only feasible way was to spread the fear. Fear against establishment, fear against the ‘other,’ fear against the possibilities of future. Hence, they were penetrating into the mind set of people for A) to grab the power, B) to hold the power.


With the example of Pepinsky, we did not see the example of Malaysian model authoritarianism to be involved in such a way. We somewhat find similarities of it with the model of Bermeo that if people find security in their day-to-day lives, they become less eager and bothered about the political arena gradually.


If one needs to be fit in the current context of the USA and UK, I would personally like to see the model of Pepinsky. But, surprisingly, the model of Snyder matches the current situation of the USA’s politics. I am not anywhere close to suggest that the USA is going for an authoritarianism, but what I would like to argue that the changed political situation here started with the constant pushing from ‘anti-establishment’ people who were trying to spread the message of fear. Fear amongst the general people. A counter argument can come here that the unprecedented reason of the current political situation in the USA is due to the faulty system of electoral college as the popular vote did not support the ‘anti-establishment’ vive in the politics. I agree, but can anyone disagree, even after the solid difference between two ideologies, the current ‘anti-establishment’ did win? People did go for that, even if 1% or 10% or 30%, people did go for that. This gives goosebumps that the very unlikely, unprecedented, unthought-of idea/ideology is on the rise. Will that pave into anti-democracy, or authoritarianism? Time will say.

Who let the democracy go? Ordinary vs extraordinary. (Blog post # 10, 04.11.17)

Definitely Zakaria did make a very strong argument that total four challenges – demography, globalization, technology and fiscal decisions – created a cultural polarization of contemporary Western societies. People here are not singlehandedly moved by any of the political dimensions, rather shaped and sometimes tormented with everything else going on around. As a matter of fact, political polarization is not beyond the influence of this cultural polarization. However, I still am persuaded more by the argument of Bermeo. With extensive analytical description of Brazil and Uruguay in the twenty-five-year period from 1959-1979, Bermeo showed that ‘ordinary’ people played a very insignificant role in the fall of democracy, if not at all. Be it Brazil in the hand of Goulart or be it Uruguay starting with the economic crisis in the 1960s, political actions guided (sometimes forced) ordinary people to follow a certain path, not the opposite. Interestingly, even if the emergence of extreme violent right wing ‘Tupamaro’ created a sense of uncertainties among the mass people and failed to gain any significant support from them. Presence of the labor union, student unions, people affiliated with the only university in Uruguay during the period of ups-and-downs of the democracy – all indicate that there was a strong presence of the elite class who decided which path to follow, which step to take next. With all the examples we get from Bermeo, it is evidential that neither in the interwar Europe nor in the South America, ordinary people got the mandate to facilitate agendas of the political game. Hence, they remained only as a part of the game of politics, sometimes somewhat profoundly, sometimes insignificantly.

In conclusion, I do not want to create a fine line between the argument of Zakaria and Bermeo. With innumerable examples, Bermeo did establish that external factors tend to shape the interest of the elite people. While analyzing both Brazil and Uruguay, the influence of the Cuban revolution should be taken into consideration. Emergence of the right-wing in Uruguay was facilitated by stagnant economy. Both of them can be categorized as challenges under globalization if somebody wants to follow the argument of Zakaria. Polarization of politics is actually an ongoing and complex process, it cannot be decided or determined by any single factor. In cases where there were elites making the breakthrough in democratization, role of ordinary citizens cannot be absolutely eliminated. Likewise, if any political protest/movement is started by the mass people, eventually elites in forms of civil society come into the equation to play a role of mediator. Hence, even if the equation demands two parties, there are, indeed, two parties – elites and ordinary people – both of them are functioning.

Research Journal # 10

After having a fruitful meeting with Dr. Kendhammer last week, now I have structured works to carry on.

  1. To redefine the research question. The research question is: “If the Hindu Nationalism in India is compatible to democracy?” After setting up the research question, I need to lay ground on the important points of the RQ, such as, what is compatibility? What is nationalism? Am I talking about common identity? Is that common identity exclusive or inclusive to the rights of other who do not have that common identity?
  2. In the outline section, I need to give more focus on tailoring both the theoretical section and empirical section according to my research question.
  3. In the theoretical section, the paper also demands an in depth analysis of the relationship between religion and democracy.

The other side of the transition: From Democracy to Authoritarian Regimes (Blog Post # 9, 04/10/17)

When I was asking the question in the class of “Transition from Authoritarian Rule,” that how democracies turn into authoritarian regimes in particular, little did I know that “ordinary people” play a role in that. Interestingly, as Nancy Bermeo has raised the question in the “Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times,” to what extent people play a role? Even if they play a role in it, is it, somehow, time and place bound? This theory can be tested in terms of current United States. Today’s USA does have a polarization model but unlike to the one described by Bermeo. Bermeo, taking the examples of interwar Europe, has showed that in Europe there was a polarization where democracy was in one pole and anti-democracy was in the other. Despite of the general belief that ordinary people did channel the anti-democratic movements, Bermeo with empirical evidences showed ordinary people had little to do with that. Rather, those movements have often been influenced by economic depression, decision of the ruling parties, liaison between the political parties and elitists, international interest groups etc. Unlike those situations, the USA has a polarization within the democracy or the democratic practices: the Republics and the Democrats. Although sometimes the literatures suggest that both of the ideologies are two sides of same coin, there approaches differ. In this interesting game of politics, civil society and sometimes, ordinary people often play a crucial and determining role. To take example from the current time, media as civil society is strongly associated in political conflict. And then again, a part of the media is also engaged in supporting (mostly) all of the political decisions taken by the government. Thus, it this entire situation of democracy is considered one unit, there are bits and pieces in it. And every bits and pieces is characterized by a different type of polarization, sometimes from within.


Now, coming to the role of ordinary people in extraordinary time of the USA in the post-election time. We have experienced the organizations and protestations of “ordinary” people against mostly the Executive Ban signed by President Trump which created a public opinion. I do have my own doubts that those organizing of people influenced judges to rule the Executive Ban, but still it played a role. That was an extraordinary situation. But, the question is, outside of these type of situation, how long and how often do the people of the USA care about fighting for or against democratization? As an international student, I have the feeling that it is somewhat likewise to the situation of CCP in China and its strategy that if there is economic progress, people will care less about democracy (but not entirely the case though). People in the USA do engage in the shifting mass allegiances but not as a polar opposition to the democracy, rather they provide a support system for the democratic movement.

Research Journal # 9


Here goes the bibliography of my research paper.


Assayag, Jackie. 2003. “Spectral Secularism: Religion, Politics and Democracy in India.” Journal of European Social Sciences 325-357.

Banarjee, Sikata. 1998. “Political Secularization and the Future of Secular Democracy in India: The Case of Maharastra.” Asian Survey 907-927.

Barro, Robert J. 1999. “Determinants of Democracy.” Journal of Political Economy S158-S183.

Betancourt, Roger and Gleason, Suzanne. 2000. “The Allocation of Publicly-Provided Goods to Rural Households in India: On Some Consequences of Caste, Religion and Democracy.” World Development 2169-2182.

Bhalotra, Sonia, Irma Clots-Figueras, and Iyer, Lakshmi Cassanm Guilhem. 2012. “Religion, Politician Identity and Development Outcomes: Evidence from India.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 4-17.

Bhargava, Rajib. 2003. “The Cultural Nationalism of the New HIndu.” Politics Abroad 11-17.

Bhattacharjee, Malini. 2016. “Seva, Hindutva, and the Politics of Post-Earthuake Relief and Reconstruction in Rural Kutch.” Asian Ethnology 75-104.

Cesari, Jocelyne. 2016. “Religion and Democratisation: When and How it matters.” Journal of Religious and Political Practices 131-134.

Coleman, Jennifer. 2008. “Authoring (In)Authenticity, Regulating Religious Tolerance.” Cultural Dynamics 245-277.

Cossman, Brenda and Kapur, Ratna. 1997. “Secularism’s Last Sigh?: The Hindu Right, the Courts, and India’s Struggle for Democracy.” Harverd International Law Journal 113-170.

Elshtain, Jean Bethke. 2009. “Religion and Democracy.” Journal of Democracy 5-17.

Ganguly, Sumit. 2003. “The Crisis of Indian Secularism.” Journal of Democracy 11-25.

Kaviraj, Sudipta. 2000. “Modernity and Politics in India.” American Academy of Arts and Sciences (The MIT Press) 137-162.

Kaviraj, Sudipta. 1997. “Religion and Identity in India.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 325-244.

Lijphart, Arend. 1996. “The Puzzle of Indian Democracy: A Consociational Interpretation.” Americal Political Science Association 258-268.

Mahajan, Gurpreet, and Surinder S. Jodha. 2009. Religions, Democrary, and Governance: Spaces for the Marginalized in Contemporary India. Working Paper , New Delhi: Religions and Development Research Programme.

Mitra, Subrata K. 2013. “The Ambivalent Moderation of Hindu Nationalism in India.” Australian Journal of Political Science 269-285.

Nussbaum, Martha. 2008. “The Clash Within: Democracy and the Hindu Right.” Journal of Human Development 357-375.

Ogden, Chris. 2012. “A Lasting Legacy: The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and India’s Politics.” Journal of Contemporary Asia.

Perrett, Roy W. 1997. “Teligion and Politics in India: Some Philosophical Perspectives.” Religious Studies 1-14.

Rudolph, Susanne H., and Rudoplph, Lioyd I. 2002. “New Dimensions in Indian Democracy.” Journal of Democeacy 52-66.

Shandel, William Van. 2009. A History of Bangladesh. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Stepan, Alfred C. 2000. “Religion, Democracy, and the “Twin Tolerations.” Journal of Democracy 37-57.

Suri, K.C. 2004. “Democracy, Economic Reforms and Election Results in India.” Economic and Political Weekly 5404-5411.

Varshney, Ashutosh. 2014. “Hindu Nationalism in Power?” Journal of Democracy 34-45.

Research Journal # 8

Brief History of Hindu Nationalism: So, when did the Hindu nationalism start? What was the purpose of it? Literatures suggest that it was during the British period when the “Hindu nationalism” started to rise on popularity. Before the British period, there was the presence of religious rigidity and exclusion based on Hindu philosophy, but the political movement can only be dated back to the British period. With the hand of British philosophical expansion and educational system in late 19th and early 20th Century, the first phase of Hindu nationalism started to spread. Interestingly, in this first phase the definition of Hindu nationalism was given by the British themselves instead of the Indian. To elaborate, when the British needed to have a “deeper understanding of India” (Bhargava 2003, 11), the associated some (political) characteristics to the theology and philosophy of Hinduism. It was done for their purpose only. But that idea started to spread among the Indians when the politicized idea (definition and characteristics) was taught to Indians, particularly the young generation of Indians who were attending ‘modern’ educational institutions of British India. Thus, those young Indians embraced the idea of Hindu nationalism which was articulated by the British. Later, the different independence movements of India against the British Empire were developed based on the politicized idea of Hindu nationalism.

Starting from the late 19th century when the British Empire was introducing and implementing separate “laws and electorates” (Bhargava 2003, 12) which this took momentum in the early 20th Century created the second phase for the development of Hindu nationalism. These segregation policies were successfully creating division and compartmentalization between Hindus and Muslims. In the 1930s and 1940s, it was evidential that based on these separation laws and electorates, Hindus were enjoying more benefits in comparison to the Muslims. This realization in conjunction with numerous other economic and social reasons created a stiff division between Hindus and Muslims. It also resulted into an increased self-satisfaction among Hindus.

Both of the above mentioned phases contributed in the development of the third phase which was directly a political one at the end of the British Empire. This has a direct correlation with political democratization in the Indian subcontinent. Based on the sharpened Hindu nationalism and deteriorated relationship between Hindus and Muslims, finally the Indian subcontinent was divided into two separate countries: India (based on Hindu nationalism) and Pakistan (based on Islamic nationalism). Definitely, there was an enormous stake in it for the Muslims as well who proactively advocated the separation between two countries based on religious nationalism, however, it was an outcome of a process initiated by the British Empire years ago. Both of the parties, for the unique example of nation creation, were simultaneously received great loss in lives, economy, and so on. Nevertheless, the new journey was more critical for Pakistan, particularly East Pakistan. Interestingly, with the popular leader Pandit Jawaharalal Naheru, India tried to diffuse the stiff presence and impacts of Hindu nationalism in Indian politics. But, his untimely death resulted into an incomplete attempt of transforming India into a true secular democracy.

Research Journal # 7

What is Hindu Nationalism? Hinduism and Hindu Nationalism are two associated but separate things. One is a religious understanding and the other one is a political (Kaviraj 2000)(Kaviraj, Religion and Identity in India 1997) Hinduism is the religion which is the major religion in India in terms of populations. It does not have any (direct) political behavior rather maintains theological guidelines for different spheres of lives. Hindu nationalism, although based on the fundamentals of Hindu religion, has taken a more structured, often a very conservative approach to address different political issues in India. From definitional perspective: Hindu nationalism is a political understanding and movement which incorporates fundamentalists, traditionalists, anti-modernists, and right wing conservatives. They essentially take approaches different from the modernists and liberal approaches (Bhargava 2003, 11). Under this political movement, a very rigid presence of hierarchical caste is observed. Not necessarily the parties/political movements will be conducted by only high casts Hindus, but the mind set it has is strictly pro-hierarchical caste based.

The political movement is also supported by the cultural movement of Hindu nationalism. All of these movements have its own organization (they will be discussed in the section: Brief history of Hindu nationalism in India) and they work separately but in collaboration. The cultural Hindu nationalism aims to spread the “message” of Hinduism whereas the political movement focuses to keep hold onto power in the Indian politics. Altogether the Hindu nationalistic movement has four components in it, in words of Bhargava (11):

“First, an abiding and pervasive anti-liberalism; second, a repugnance for the socialist left of for anything that is remotely like it; third, a belief in a distinctive and exclusivist variant of nationalism that aims to reinstate a strong, disciplined, and united Hindu nation, the Rashtra; fourth, and above all, a relentless antipathy to Muslims and, to a lesser extent, to Christians – and also to secularists who desire equal citizenship for all Indians.”

This implies, the Hindu nationalism is actually very authoritarian movement which wants to establish a Hindu superiority in India. Along with the Hindu superiority, this movement also denies the importance of advancement in various ways. Rather it focuses more on holding onto the traditions. Hindu nationalism also is not a supporter of an equal society and highly regards excluding the ideas of social and religious equality. These components are demonstrating Hindu nationalism has extensive elements like exclusion, fundamentalism, close minded ness to other religion etc. If these characteristics are parallel to democracy or not, that will be discussed in the section of democracy: Determinants of democracy and Twin Tolerance.

Research Journal # 6

So, here goes my outline with an updated title for the term paper.

New Title: Hindu Nationalism equals or not equals to democracy? Understanding the role of Hindu Nationalism in Democratization in India




Hindu Nationalism and Democracy in India

  • What is Hindu nationalism?
  • A brief history of Hindu nationalism
  • Present context of Hindu nationalism in India

Secularism and Democracy in India

  • Constitutional aspect of Secularism in India


  • Determinants of Democracy
  • Twin tolerations and Democracy

Hindu nationalism = or ¹ Democracy in India