ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Modi Era

Impact on Strategic Culture

The influence of Hindutva in political culture on India’s strategic culture has been traced. It has resulted in a hardening of strategic culture with the bias towards the offensive also resulting from the military’s organisational culture that has been independently penetrated by Hindutva. But, a strategic doctrine of compellence is combustible, and the retraction of Hindutva from polity is a prerequisite for stability. 

This column was written before the election results were announced.

The author would like to thank Kajari Kamal for comments that helped improve the article.

It is by now a trite observation that a change in India’s political culture has been wrought over the past three decades, dated variously to Indira Gandhi’s religiosity on display in the Jammu belt in the run-up to assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir in the early 1980s, or to Lal Krishna Advani setting off on his rath yatra in 1990. The nomination of a terror-accused “sadhvi,” Pragya Singh Thakur, as a parliamentary candidate by the ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is emblematic as a culmination of this trend. The BJP’s impact with a parliamentary majority for the first time in three decades is liable to leave behind an unmistakable ­saffron imprint on India’s body politic (Arun 2019), and if it stays on in power, it would prove an indelible one.

The change in question is a marked shift rightwards beyond the traditionally-conceived conservative segment of the political spectrum under the impact of the political ideology of cultural nationalism—Hindutva—adhered to by the BJP. The Hindutva project is to create and convert a religious majority into a parliamentary majority (Noorani 2019: 27). Both dimensions of the project—the societal and political—are mutually reinforcing and have registered success over the past three decades. Even though a Supreme Court verdict of 1995 elevates it to “a way of life,” in practice, the term Hindutva now symbolises what to the Court it was not: “narrow fundamentalist Hindu religious bigotry” (Hindu 2016). Majoritarianism subscribed to by the Sangh Parivar—of which the BJP is the political front (Noorani 2019: 100–08)—is now a feature of political culture. An indicator is the invisiblisation of India’s largest minority, the Muslims (Mustafa 2017). Even the opposition party, the Congress, has been unwilling to chance the Hindu vote by projecting itself as a secular alternative and has instead settled for so-called soft Hindutva, symbolised by the temple-hopping engaged in by its leadership.

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Updated On : 27th May, 2019
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