Not democracy, rather “identity” as the referent object of security in modern India – OpEd – Eurasia Review


While discussing “identity” as still a part of modern politics, Francis Fukuyama in his book “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment” infers that the application of identity in politics is still relevant. For Fukuyama, the reason is that despite the promises of dignity, human rights and equality for all made by liberal democracy, the practical fact is that liberal democracy has not delivered on its promises. . It is most relevant to communities with a history of past marginalization, thus leading to the resurgence of nationalist fervor affiliated with religion and race. This identity politics based on the above rationale makes nationalism and religion the dominant forces that have shaped modern politics. Modi’s India is the first case.

India proclaims the largest democracy in the world which is by and for the population of 1.39 billion people; claim the unity of a nation, live diversity, recognize its multi-religious composition, as well as ethno-cultural pluralism. The ethnic composition of India is such that Hindus make up 79.8% of the population; Muslims are 14.2%; Christians are 2.3%; Sikhs represent 1.7%; Buddhists are 0.7%; and Jains are at 0.4%. This ethnic pluralism in India obliges the Indian constitutional framework to respect the principles of secularism and formal equality; and theoretically, at least, it did.

However, religious freedom in India has been subject to a non-explicit constitutional clause which is “subject to public order”. It legalizes the suspension of minority rights for national security, thus authorizing the political repeal of state secularism in India. With this constitutional crisis in practice which is contrary to the legitimate secular architecture of the Indian constitution; the ongoing Hindu political engineering by right-wing politics in India is the cause of the conflict amidst Indian nationalism and the human security situation of not only Indian minorities but also intra-Hindu subsections. What should be emphasized again is that the genesis of the “Hindu” ideology actually advocated Hindu nationalism based on geographical and not religious belonging, recognizing ethnic pluralism with real equality with respect to ethnic minorities and the majority residing in India.

In India today; the rise of Hindutva, or neo-Hindutva, under Modi’s BJP characterizes India as a majority Hindu regime. Hindutva has been assimilated into Indian politics as a strategic culture embedded by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his election in 2014. The normative approach to security and governance under the BJP has taken into consideration individual identities , rather than individuals collectively, as a referent of national security. However, by international standards, consistent human security holds benchmark status, especially in the case of the state that claims to be the largest democracy in the world.

Human security in India reflects the ethnocultural and geostrategic adaptation of Hindutva. In cultural aspects, Indian minorities have been ordered according to a hierarchical pattern, although this pattern of hierarchy is a historical stratification. However, the existing political order in India has complicated this very relationship to ensure their acculturation within the normative framework of the Hindu majority, such as the animal preservation amendment, the non-religious conversion ordinance, the uniform civil code instead of Muslim personal law and many others as protective measures. social control against the Muslim minority. This social order specific to Hinduism includes, to the extreme, policies that declare minorities stateless in India. This was done under the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Population Register (NPR) 2019-2020; under the Pan-India National Citizens Registration (NRC) Act.

These constitutional measures indicate that the BJP initiated the ethnocentric politics of Hindutva constitutionalism. However, Article 15 of the Indian Constitution provides freedom of religion and the right to profess, practice and propagate religions and the inalienable right of citizens in India. Similarly, Articles 14 and 25 to 28 of the Indian constitution legally bind the Indian government to treat all religions in India equally and impartially without any discrimination and prohibit interference in their religious affairs.

The India-based Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) identifies the escalation of communal violence with the identity shift in Indian politics, including the political application of Hindu nationalism by populist political parties. Similarly, the 2020 report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom ranks India at Level 2 on the current state of religious freedom violations in India. According to the report, the previously upheld constitutional rights which had been guaranteed to India’s religious minorities since independence are in a state of gradual erosion in present-day India. Similarly, several reports by the United Nations Human Rights Watch since 2020 raise concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in India.

India has a history of sensitivity to identity politics. Previously, the consequences of the divide and rule policy were seen in the Gujarat massacre which followed the demolition of the Babri Mosque and was supported by the BJP, Shiv Sena and VHP in 1992, resulting in around 2,000 deaths. ; moreover, during the clashes between Hindu jatts and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar, in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) in 2013 which left 62 dead, 93 injured and 50,000 internally displaced.

Given that the current Hindu Majority Politics of Hindutva or Modified Hindu Nationalism is a cause of human rights abuses, whether as intended or unintended consequences of the populist governance model in India, this has implications concerns about human security in India.

* Komal Khan works as a research officer at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), a nonpartisan think tank based in Islamabad, Pakistan.


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