India, the world’s largest democracy, is amid ethnoreligious nationalism known as “Hindutva.” A political ideology started to gain the roots at the start of the twentieth century to counter the self-assumed ‘threat’ the West (Christian missionaries and British colonizers) and the Muslim minority emerging for the Hindus.
The struggle and agitation against British rule in India paved the way for the secular and socialist Congress movement and the rival Hindu nationalist movement in parallel. The Hindu nationalists started to preach that religion was the core of Hindu nationalism and that it was the only core of nationalism. This ideological confusion and intellectual laziness gave birth to Hindutva.
This ideology couldn’t remain within India’s premises and reached the cross borders with the name of “Sangh Parivar” (family of organizations). The Parivar proclaims an ideology of “Hindutva”, aimed at ensuring Hinduism’s predominance in Indian society, politics, and culture, which it promotes through tactics that include violence and terror. The Sangh Parivar, a coalition of nationalist Hindu outlets, was replicated among the Hindu diaspora worldwide. Its structure was factually being imported by a centralized body located in India.
The Sangh Parivar is articulated around the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS – National Volunteer Corps). Keshav Hedgewar founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925. He was influenced by V. D. Savarkar, a firm believer that Hindus were the descendants of the ancient Aryans and properly formed a nation with unified geography, race, and culture.
The Sang Parivar got representation in the political domain through the Bharatiya Janata Party – BJP – (the political heir of the Jana Sangh). The BJP tries to disguise by claiming itself as a moderate party, but it also has allied with the Sangh Parivar to appeal to its base. The Bajrang Dal and the Vishnu Hindu Parishad (VHP-World Hindu Council) are the Sangh Parivar’s major organizations. These organizations are responsible for propaganda, hate campaigns, and violence against religious minorities in India. The VHP served as the bridge between RSS and sympathetic religious leaders formed in 1964 to unite different Hindu Groups.
Ironically, the Hindu chauvinism thought by the Sang Parivar has been getting deep roots in the society through different organizations, representing different walks of life. The Rashtra Sevika Samiti (RSS’s women’s domain), and, the Seva Bharati (for socio-ideological work among the Dalits), the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, the Vidya Bharati (and its network of schools),and the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (working for the social welfare of tribal groups) are the other organizations.
This network has sought to radicalize Hindus against Muslims and Christians’ self-claim threats and lead to deadly violence. In 1992, they organized nationwide demonstrations against Muslims that resulted in the destruction of “Babri Masjid” and the killing of hundreds of Muslims in Ayodhya, Gujrat. Following the triumph of BJP in Gujrat in the 2002 election, the VHP official pledge to take Ayodhya’s experiment of violence in the other part of the country. In 2002, the episode of brutal violence was repeated in Gujrat in February 2002.
In 1999, Graham Staines, an Australian missionary who had worked with leprosy patients for three decades, was burned alive in Orissa along with his two young sons, among other Christians. Though, these are the news that brought the dangers of Hindu extremism to world attention. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any resonance of strong voice against this brutality in the West.
The Sangh Parivar has part and parcel of promoting hate in BJP’s regime. The regime is trying to alter the curricula of educational institutes to emphasize and teaching of Hinduism. Moreover, Sangh Parivar adherents have been hired and appointed to various vital positions in autonomous bodies like the Prasar Bharati, which controls the official media, the National Film Development Corporation, the Indian Council of Historical Research the National Book Trust.
Over the years, the Sangh Parivar has succeeded in establishing the idea of a global Hinduism that transcends the physical frontiers of India and reaches out to the diaspora, which is the largest diaspora of any country. Providing that, According to the United Nations estimates in 2019, India is the leading country of origin of international migrants with a 17.5 million-strong diaspora.
The Sangh Parivar’s Hindutva ideology has succeeded in finding substantial bandwidth due to local policies like multiculturalism and the rise of racism in emigration countries. These policies provided a favorable local context for ethnic mobilization among Indian diaspora that took guidance from a centralized organization in the state of origin.
The violence of Islamic extremism led by Al-Qaeda & Daesh got all the West’s attention, and they ignored the major violent trends in Hindu extremism in India.
The ignorance was due to India’s secular outlook because it is not a religiously reactionary state like Saudi Arabia or Iran. Secondly, India is essential for the U.S. because of its status as a growing trading partner, a possible geopolitical counterweight to China, and a strong partnership with the U.S. and the West in the war on Islamic fundamentalism.
Now, the Sangh Parivar’s Hindu terrorism has raised the developed world’s eyebrow and the West. The BJP’s support of violence and hate to promote the Hindutva proved as a prelude in the U.S to revisit India’s perception. Moreover, there is a significant threat to reach Hindutva’s violent extremism through the West’s large Indian diaspora.
The West has started to find out the familiarities between the Al-Qaeda or Islamic extremism and the Hindu terrorism. After finding out the difference between Al-Qaeda and Sangh Parivar’s leadership, Al-Qaeda’s leaders don’t believe in contest elections. Still, Sangh Parivar’s leaders believe in getting people’s representation by contesting elections. In this way, the Hindu terrorism can be legitimized as people would support them as they are following a ‘great’ tradition.
Sangh Parivar has been spreading the hate and against the religious minority to purify their land can drag India’s democracy, economy, and foreign policy down to increase the distance between the West and India. Simultaneously, the Indian diaspora mobilized by Sangh Parivar in the West can damage the fabric of peaceful societies through their hate and extremism. So, the civilized world has to break the silence to eliminate extremism in India, curb it in and out of its sphere.