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

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

This morning’s key headlines from

  • 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 Russiainto Ukraine on Friday, without Ukraine’s permission, and traveled tothe anti-Ukraine separatist stronghold of Luhansk. Then the big, whitetrucks left on Saturday, traveling back across the border to Russia.

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

No one knows for sure, but Nina Khrushcheva, the granddaughter of1960s Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev and Associate Professor ofInternational Affairs at the New School, was interviewed on al-Jazeeraand said that it was a public relations coup for Putin. Here are someexcerpts (my transcription):

We don’t know if [military equipment] was moved thistime or some other time, because it’s been documented thatmilitary equipment has been moving back and forth. So it may notbe the case this time around, and military equipment is probablynot associated with this convoy.

Because I do believe that the white trucks are going to be whitetrucks, exactly what Putin says they’re intended for -humanitarian aid. This is [a] public relations campaign. He’ll sayhe’s helping the Ukrainians, those who are in humanitariandistress, while [Ukrainian president Petro] Poroshenko is shellinghis own citizens, and actually causing the humanitarian disaster,according to Putin. That’s the narrative – he’ll say, “the Westis out to get us,” which is what he always says in response toevery accusation.

Ukrainian forces have been gaining ground on the anti-Ukrainianseparatist militias. According to Khrushcheva, even if the convoycontained nothing but humanitarian aid, it still had a politicalvalue: “Even if the convoy was just humanitarian aid, the fightingwill have to stop, there will be a ceasefire, so the separatists, therebels, 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 SouthChina Sea territories belonging to other countries. China has annexedseveral islands and shoals in the South China Sea belonging to Vietnamand the Philippines and is threatening to annex other territoriesbelonging to Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan.

The chief of staff of the Philippines Armed Forces is planning tooffer a sightseeing cruise service that will take tourists rightthrough the islets, shoals, and fishing grounds that China isannexing.

China is already offering a sightseeing cruise that takes touristsaround the islands that China is annexing. However, China’s militaryis opposing the Philippines’s cruise service, saying that it wouldviolate 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 Hindunationalist, as India’s prime minister is giving rise to controversiesabout Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism. The most recently controversywas sparked last week by Mohan Bhagwat, head of Rashtriya SwayamsevakSangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist activist group, supporting Modi’sruling 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 isa Hindu state. The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva, and the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of thisgreat culture.

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

Modi’s political opponents are furious. According to Digvijaya Singhof the opposition Congress Party:

I thought we had one Hitler in [the] making but itseems 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 whobelieves in Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism or anyother religion also a Hindu? Would Mohan Bhagwat pleaseclarify?

While Modi hasn’t publicly supported Bhagwat’s endorsement of anall-Hindutva India, he hasn’t disagreed with it either. Hindunationalism is controversial in India because opponents associate itwith “Hindutva violence,” originally targeting British colonizers, butrecently targeting Muslims. Modi himself became associated withHindutva violence in 2002 when he appeared to be complicit inviolence against Muslims. Hostility between the Hindu and Muslimpopulations has been a growing trend since the 1970s, and Modi hasbecome extremely popular, either despite or because of his Hindutvaconnection.

While campaigning for the election several months ago, Modimade several statements targeting immigrants, particularlyMuslim immigrants. He particularly said:

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

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