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Indian Nationalism

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By Jean-Pierre Brown

APMCP Year 15 Online

 India has long been admired by Europeans for being the "Land of Religions". India was the land that promised release from the material world. Today we often think of this birthplace of many of the world's religions as a nation engulfed in religious wars and hatred. The vision of sublime spirituality has eroded to give way to an entangled image of materialism and division. Current examples are the incidents of violence in the state of Gujarat over the disputed site of a mosque once destroyed by Hindu activists.

The Indian election comprises the biggest democratic event in the world. More than 600 million people are eligible to vote at 800,000 polling stations across the nation. Religious nationalism has however taken the lives of three of the most important leaders since the independence of the country. Non-secular ideologies are so embroiled in the nations psyche one has to remark that Indian democracy is itself left in a precarious position. Self-determination and personal freedom are jeopardized by fundamentalist convictions and brutal derailment.

Hinduism long considered a very tolerant religion now dons another face, that of Militant Hinduism. Political groups such as India's leading coalition the Bharatiya Janata Party is now torn, as it is holds both secular minded members and Hindu extremists in its flanks. In their own election campaign strategy, the BJP used tactics that target minority communities in order to consolidate its position as an aggressive bloc. Hindu Nationalists argue that invaders brought other cultures and religions to India. These "other" values are considered alien to true Indian culture and should therefore be removed from the nation. The BJP is immobilized and no longer able to differentiate what is right from wrong in its governance.

 Indian elections today are won with tired concepts of religious superiority. Indian politics often borrow religious symbols as a political tactic to mobilize voters of all castes. In their electoral frenzy, Indian nationalists ignore that Indian culture is neither Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Jainist or for that matter Christian. It is an amalgam of all of these and many more un-institutionalized movements of faith. Nationalists that fuel the fires of discord do not appreciate India's beautiful quality of self-renewal that comes from its amazing diversity.

Jean-Pierre Brown