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India as a Hindu state?

24 5 71

The writer is Meritorious Professor of International Relations and former Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Karachi and can be reached at [email protected]

In 1976, the preamble of 42nd amendment to the constitution of India changed the description of the state from a “sovereign democratic republic” to “sovereign, socialist, secular democratic republic”. Since then, constitutionally, India is a secular state supposed to be providing rights to all the citizens of the country irrespective of their religion, and taking a neutral position on religious matters. Forty-three years after the 42nd amendment, the campaign to declare India as a Hindu state has gained momentum particularly since the BJP, under Narendra Modi, came to power in 2014.

The debate on why and how India is declared a Hindu state is not new. In a seminar on Indian communal politics which was held in April 1993 at the Arms Control Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States with Dr Akhtar Majeed, who was at that time affiliated with Aligarh Muslim University, a Pakistani participant argued that in the wake of the demolition of Babri Mosque and uninterrupted communal violence targeting Muslims and other minorities, why India doesn’t declare itself as a Hindu state? The guest speaker and other Indian participants strongly objected to such a suggestion and proudly stated about the secular identity of their country. Now 26 years down the road, it seems the time to declare India a Hindu state has come.

The surge of Hindutva in India, however, has historical roots when Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was established in 1925. Narendra Modi, who was an RSS pracharak before joining the BJP, pursued a vicious agenda to transform India from a secular to a Hindu state. Never in the history of India since its inception as a new state in August 1947, the country has experienced so much of intolerance and extremism against religious minorities. The Pulwama terrorist attack of February 14 this year and subsequent events witnessed brutalities against Kashmiri Muslims........

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