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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: May 2012

Chapter 9 - Hindu Normalization, Nationalism and Consumer Mobilization

from Part II - From Pietism to Consumerism


This book has sought to map some of the relationships between religion, the state and advanced capitalism in different political and social arenas across the globe. In India, accelerated and uneven modernization following the nation's economic liberalization in the early 1990s provides an interesting context to examine these relationships, specifically given the significant rise of Hindu nationalism in this period. Hindutva (loosely “Hindu-ness”), an ideology advocated by Hindu nationalist movements, exerts significant influence in parliamentary politics and arguably more insidiously, in social life in contemporary India. Although it has been argued that modernization and associated secular practices have repressed religion from public life, since the 1980s we have seen a deprivatization process of religion in many places in the world (Casanova, 2006). This chapter follows on this perspective and discusses the ways religious expression may adapt to and diffuse through public spaces and practices of modernity with regards to the political projects of Hindutva and consumer mobilization more specifically.

We consider the ways Hindu assertion diffuses through the consumption of information, images, sounds and goods. The saturation of popular media and consumer practices with Hindu cultural markers has in many ways constructed forms of “Hinduness” as “Indianess,” particularly among the urban middle classes. Through the construction of a Hindu normalcy, the operation of power with nonhegemonic and non-Hindu groups is made less visible and thus unchallenged.