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HomeGeopolitical CompassSouth & Southeast AsiaThe Modi Government Is a Regime of Low-Intensity Terror

The Modi Government Is a Regime of Low-Intensity Terror

Interviewee: Thomas Blom Hansen

Affiliation: Stanford University

Organization/Publisher: The Nation

Date/Place: March 24, 2021/New York, USA

Type of Literature: Interview

Word Count: 1850


Keywords: India, Hindu nationalism, RSS, Narendra Modi, Terror, Hate, Islamophobia




In his study of the rise in Hindu nationalism, laced with racism and anti-Islamic behavior, in India, Stanford anthropologist Thomas Blom Hansen explains why the RSS+BJP (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bharatiya Janata Party) ruling regime in the country of 1.3 billion people resembles Italy and Germany of the 1930s. ‘The enjoyment of violence, the pleasures of hatred and vengeful fantasies and the license to kill’ are features that make India similar to pre-World War-II Germany, he notes. This interview of Hansen is for his new book – The Law of Force: The Violent Heart of Indian Politics. He says the RSS+BJP combined and took the first steps of their entry into mass politics with their campaign to attack Babri Masjid to “liberate the birthplace” of one of their gods, Ram. After the early 16th century mosque was attacked in 1992, the author says the Hindu nationalists were themselves surprised over their “success.” The so-called propaganda of development (vikas Godhra) of Narendra Modi before the 2014 general elections and an ineffective opposition boosted the BJP to return to its anti-Muslim and bigoted colors, he says. Challenging the narrative of RSS+BJP working to unify Hindus, he raises questions on their prospects to climb the ladder when they enter the organization. RSS is an upper Hindu caste organization, and lower caste Hindus find place only in violent outfits of the right-wing organization. Views of its foot soldiers are not considered in the self-appointed hierarchy of its command. Inside the Indian parliament where the RSS+BJP enjoy an undefeatable majority, although the constitution boasts of pluralism, socialism, and democracy, the Denmark-born author reminds readers that the founders of the organization were never part of India’s independence movement. He emphasizes that RSS is not a democratic organization. On criticism of the opposition parties and the so-called progressive/leftist parties of Modi’s policies, Hansen says the situation of minorities—especially Muslims—has been the same under their rule. They remained marginalized while India’s left ruled West Bengal province for decades. In his observation about the Indian Muslims, he says Indian Muslims understand that any radical gesture is simply going to backfire, thus what he terms “Muslim radicalism” has few takers in India. 


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



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