Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

Hindu Nationalism: From Ethnic Identity to Authoritarian Repression

Mehta, Pratap Bhanu
Studies in Indian Politics

This article reflects on the relationship between Hindu nationalism and democracy and how the former emerges from within democracy only to subvert it. The essay outlines important conceptual issues in the relationship between Hindu nationalism and democracy, discusses the relationship between the idea of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and ‘Hindu Rajya’, and delves into the complex interplay between Hindu nationalism and caste. This article ultimately argues that Hindu nationalism’s alignment with authoritarianism in a political style does not simply corrode democracy, but it also undermines all values. The objective of this analysis is not to provide a comprehensive explanation of the rise of Hindu nationalism, as much as to reflect on the ways in which its ideology operates at multiple levels.