International

Hindu extremists lash out at women in Bangalore

The Washington Post reports from India’s IT capital, Bangalore, about the sometimes-violent reaction by Hindu extremists to young women who drink in pubs and refuse to dress traditionally.

The attacks are part of what many see as rising Hindu extremism in much of the country over the past few years, especially in places such as Bangalore, precisely because it is a bastion of India’s fast-changing culture. Bangalore is home to an explosion of software companies, a lively heavy-metal rock music scene and burgeoning gay rights and environmental movements.

There’s a class element to the anger– which, like so much class anger, is misdirected:

In this fast-changing society, long-held religious sentiments about public behavior are still being negotiated in Indian homes and on the streets. The discussion is complicated by the fact that India’s economic growth has been lopsided: Well-paid urban youth tend to embrace Western values, while the country’s poor appear more eager than ever to stick to traditions that have been shaped by Hindu religious teachings.

“Before the IT culture, things were very peaceful. Our youth enjoyed their own Indian culture,” said Vasanth Kumar Bhavani, 32, president of Bangalore’s branch of Sri Ram Sene, a right-wing Hindu group involved in a string of attacks on women. “Now it’s been spoiled by all these outsiders flowing in, and it’s all because of this IT sector. They need to be taught a lesson.”

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