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The 3 Most Polarizing Words in India

Author: Snigdha Poonam

Affiliation: Hindustan Times 

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Policy

Date/Place: February 13, 2020, U.S.

Type of Literature: Magazine Article

Word Count: 1880


Keywords: India, Hindutva, Nationalism, Nazism, Ram, Muslims, Communalism


In Hinduism, Ram, one of thousands of deities, has a special place and is revered as “just, brave, self-sacrificing, and righteous.” To express their praise, Hindus chant the popular “Jai Shri Ram” (Victory to Lord Ram) – reminding of his mythological win over his antidote “Raavan,” from whom he brought back his abducted wife. Recently, these three words have been used to trigger terror among minorities living in mainland India, of whom Muslims are the readily available target. India, home to 1.3 billion people, has nearly 200 million Muslims. Ever since the rise to power of right-wing Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Muslims have been lynched as “morale-boosted” Hindu activists see India as a country for only those professing Hinduism. The article provides evidence and reveals a nexus where hate against Muslims and other minorities is triggered, and later intensified, through various media—resulting in widespread violence against Muslims. It details the connection of the anti-Muslim violence with India’s new citizenship law which grants citizenship to all non-Muslim migrants who came to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan before the end of 2014. The BJP government, which draws its inspiration and cadre from Nazism-inspired Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is also implementing a National registration of Citizens (NRC) which asks people living in India to show they are legal citizens of India. In the case where Muslims are not able to prove their citizenship, all rights are lost and under the new law passed by Indian parliament on December 11, 2019, they also can’t apply for citizenship. If allowed to live inside India, it will be as a disenfranchised and disempowered population.

By: Riyaz ul Khaliq; Non-Resident CIGA Research Associate



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