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Fickle Politics and the Fear of a Hindutva Planet

This is a cross post by harith

Consider an hypothetical scenario analogous to the situation with Islamist politics in the UK.

Let us suppose that Hindutva extremism had somehow become acceptable because it encapsulated the doctrine of “defensive Jud’dha”, made palatable by “socially conscious” liberals who saw within it elements of a response to colonialism and US imperialism. They argued that the doctrine of religious warfare was a theocratic norm accepted and acceptable to all Hindus. Furthermore, any attack and criticism of Hindutva terrorism (let’s call it Hindutvaism for the purposes of this illustration) was simply racist and a fundamental attack of ordinary Hindu individuals. These liberals even came up with a neologism for this kind of criticism; they called it ‘Hinduphobia’. What was more, any liberal pushback of Hindutvaism was deemed ‘Hinduphobic’.

Gradually Hindutvaism became the cause célèbre of the trendy left libral intelligentsia in some parts of the Guardian, the New Statesman and the far-left. They dragged in every stripe of apologist from the pro-Hindutva camp to expound on the justfication of extremist strains in Hinduism, including child marriage, extreme homophobia and passive-aggressive vegetarianism. They took pains to explain that the extremist elements in Hindu scripture formed a normative and natural progression to Hindutvaism. Credulous politicians too busy too read their briefing papers, of both the left and the right, came to regard Hindutva as the only expression of Hinduism expressed by those funny brown Hindu voters. An “umbrella organisation” of Hindutva temples and non-elected “community leaders” calling itself the Hindu Council of Britain became the primary body of representation for British Hindus.

Soon the situation became so chronic that even ordinary Hindus began to believe that Hindutvaism was a reasonable and valid interpretation of Hinduism. Very convenient for white left-liberals and pro-Hindutva academics, because it allowed them to nod sagely and point to the growing numbers of violent Vegetarianists as justification for their support of these newly radicalised, anti-democratic, anti-liberal, anti-Western, Western Hindus.

And so gradually formed the symbiotic relationship between the Hindutvas and the white liberal far-left. Soon institutions of the wider civil society formed alliances with vegetarian Hindus without realising that they were actually Hindutva fronts. It didn’t matter because no one could tell the difference anymore – since Hindutvaism had become universally accepted as the normative expression of Hinduism. Extremist Hindutva politics began to seep into every level of the British polity, from local councils to the House of Lords. Amnesty even began to champion Hindutva terrorists who waged war against the West and justified terrorism as an ethical form of liberation politics which they worked into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They called it “defensive Jud’dha”.

A blog run by a group of non-Hindus called “Fickle Politics” sprung up []. It was lauded by the liberal Left and the Guardian. Its owner was an accomplished self-publicist who published article after article, arguing for the engagement with Hindutva politics and its exponents. Their reasoning was mainly this: because ordinary Hindus came from a background of oppression and racism received at the hands of the White Man so the Hindutvas, though violent and misguided, had religious and political ideas built into their supremacist ideology which would raise the social standing of the Brown Man in general and the Hindu in particular.

The resurgence of the Hindutva was attributed to nothing less than the reinstatement of Hinduism to its rightful exalted place in world history, and the Modern world had better put up or shut up. The “noble savage” had finally made his comeback. It didn’t matter in the slightest that historical evidence showed that the Hindutva had killed and oppressed more members of their own kith and kin than the combined forces of Western imperialism ever did.

And so it had become politically correct to support religious extremism. Extremists from every other confessional group stridently demanded their stake in carving up society along religious cleavages.

However, there was still a minority of moderate Hindus who were dubious of this state of affairs. They saw through through the Hindutva delusion because, amongst other things, they had been personally affected by Hindutvaist supremacism. But their protests were shouted down, and they were charged as being effete, urbanised Uncle Toms and stooges of the West by the media, New Statesman and Fickle Politics. On the other hand, extremist Hindus who championed Hindutvaism became lionised and hero-worshipped by the liberal left, its newspapers, blogs and talking heads. Ordinary Hindus became sidelined and demonised because they refused to kowtow to the left-liberal establishment which held Hindutvaism aloft. They refused to subscribe to the narrative that Hindutvaism was a legitimate response to the hegemony of the “evil West”, but to no avail. Hindutavism or fundamentalist Hinduism had devoured its critics and had become the dominant interpretation of the Hindu faith in the West.

This is only an hypothetical scenario; it never took place. For many, the idea that the politics of the Hindutva entering into political institutions of civil society and becoming sanitised by the liberal left would be an unconscionable nightmare. But this is an analogous illustration of a reality which is equally unconscionable.