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Marketizing Hindutva: The state, society, and markets in Hindu nationalism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2018

PRIYA CHACKO
Affiliation:
University of Adelaide Email: priya.chacko@adelaide.edu.au
Corresponding

Abstract

The embrace of markets and globalization by radical political parties is often taken as reflecting and facilitating the moderation of their ideologies. This article considers the case of Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, in India. It is argued that, rather than resulting in the moderation of Hindu nationalism, mainstream economic ideas are adopted and adapted by its proponents to further the Hindutva project. Hence, until the 1990s, the Hindu nationalist political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its earlier incarnation, the Jana Sangh, and the grass-roots organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), adopted and adapted mainstream ideas by emphasizing the state as the protector of (Hindu) society against markets and as a tool of societal transformation for its Hindu nationalist support base. Since the 1990s, Indian bureaucratic and political elites, including in the BJP, have adopted a view of the market as the main driver of societal transformations. Under the leadership of Narendra Modi, in particular, the BJP has sought to consolidate a broader support base and stimulate economic growth and job creation by bolstering the corporate sector and recreating the middle and ‘neo-middle’ classes as ‘virtuous market citizens’ who view themselves as entrepreneurs and consumers but whose behaviour is regulated by the framework of Hindu nationalism. These policies, however, remain contested within the Hindu nationalist movement and in Indian society generally. The BJP's discourse against ‘anti-nationals’ and the use of legal sanctions against dissent is an attempt to curb these challenges.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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Footnotes

I am grateful to Prakash Kashwan and the other participants of the panel on ‘Democracy, Neoliberalism and the Politics of the New Right in Asia’ at the 2016 International Political Science Association conference in Poznan, as well as the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

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