World View: Narendra Modi and the Rise of Hindutva (Hindu Nationalism) in India

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com
  • Russia's mysterious 227-truck convoy returns from Ukraine
  • Philippines to defy China by offering South China Sea sightseeing cruise tours
  • Narendra Modi and rise of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) in India

Russia's mysterious 227-truck convoy returns from Ukraine

What was Russia's president Vladimir Putin really up to? His massive, 227-truck "humanitarian aid convoy" crossed the border from Russia into Ukraine on Friday, without Ukraine's permission, and traveled to the anti-Ukraine separatist stronghold of Luhansk. Then the big, white trucks left on Saturday, traveling back across the border to Russia.

Putin says that it was just humanitarian aid. Westerners point out that only 35 of the 227 trucks were inspected, and some of the rest may have been military supplies for the anti-Ukraine militias.

No one knows for sure, but Nina Khrushcheva, the granddaughter of 1960s Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev and Associate Professor of International Affairs at the New School, was interviewed on al-Jazeera and said that it was a public relations coup for Putin. Here are some excerpts (my transcription):

We don't know if [military equipment] was moved this time or some other time, because it's been documented that military equipment has been moving back and forth. So it may not be the case this time around, and military equipment is probably not associated with this convoy.

Because I do believe that the white trucks are going to be white trucks, exactly what Putin says they're intended for – humanitarian aid. This is [a] public relations campaign. He'll say he's helping the Ukrainians, those who are in humanitarian distress, while [Ukrainian president Petro] Poroshenko is shelling his own citizens, and actually causing the humanitarian disaster, according to Putin. That's the narrative – he'll say, "the West is out to get us," which is what he always says in response to every accusation.

Ukrainian forces have been gaining ground on the anti-Ukrainian separatist militias. According to Khrushcheva, even if the convoy contained nothing but humanitarian aid, it still had a political value: "Even if the convoy was just humanitarian aid, the fighting will have to stop, there will be a ceasefire, so the separatists, the rebels, will have time to regroup." BBC and Reuters and Ria Novosti

Philippines to defy China by offering South China Sea sightseeing cruise tours

The South China Sea saga is taking a bizarre twist.

China has been pursuing a "salami slicing strategy" to annex South China Sea territories belonging to other countries. China has annexed several islands and shoals in the South China Sea belonging to Vietnam and the Philippines and is threatening to annex other territories belonging to Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan.

The chief of staff of the Philippines Armed Forces is planning to offer a sightseeing cruise service that will take tourists right through the islets, shoals, and fishing grounds that China is annexing.

China is already offering a sightseeing cruise that takes tourists around the islands that China is annexing. However, China's military is opposing the Philippines's cruise service, saying that it would violate Chinese sovereignty and may trigger conflict. The Diplomat and Want China Times

Narendra Modi and rise of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) in India

The recent election of Narendra Modi, as self-described Hindu nationalist, as India's prime minister is giving rise to controversies about Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism. The most recently controversy was sparked last week by Mohan Bhagwat, head of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist activist group, supporting Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), when Bhagwat said:

Hindutva is the identity of our nation.

Hindustan is a country of Hindus.

The entire world recognizes Indians as Hindus, therefore India is a Hindu state. The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva, and the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture.

He added that the world has now realized that Hindutva has been the only basis to keep India united since ancient days despite having plenty of diversities.

Modi's political opponents are furious. According to Digvijaya Singh of the opposition Congress Party:

I thought we had one Hitler in [the] making but it seems now we have Two! God save India! 

...

A question to Mohan Bhagwat – Is Hindutva a religious identity? What is its relationship with Sanatan Dharma? Is a person who believes in Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism or any other religion also a Hindu? Would Mohan Bhagwat please clarify?

While Modi hasn't publicly supported Bhagwat's endorsement of an all-Hindutva India, he hasn't disagreed with it either. Hindu nationalism is controversial in India because opponents associate it with "Hindutva violence," originally targeting British colonizers, but recently targeting Muslims. Modi himself became associated with Hindutva violence in 2002 when he appeared to be complicit in violence against Muslims. Hostility between the Hindu and Muslim populations has been a growing trend since the 1970s, and Modi has become extremely popular, either despite or because of his Hindutva connection.

While campaigning for the election several months ago, Modi made several statements targeting immigrants, particularly Muslim immigrants. He particularly said:

I want to warn from here, brothers and sisters write down, that after May 16, I will send these Bangladeshis [immigrants] beyond the border with their bags and baggages.

Modi was elected on May 16 but did not repeat his threats against the Bangladeshis. The Hindu and New Delhi TV and The Hindu


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