A Rising Anger in India's Streets

A Rising Anger in India’s Streets

“The incident was mild compared with some of the violent assaults on women that have taken place here. The attacks are part of what many see as rising Hindu extremism in much of the country over the past few years, especially in places such as Bangalore, precisely because it is a bastion of India’s fast-changing culture. Bangalore is home to an explosion of software companies, a lively heavy-metal rock music scene and burgeoning gay rights and environmental movements.”

Here is a little more of the article:

The growing extremism has sparked a national debate – especially with national elections this month – over what has become known by the Indian media and analysts as the “Talibanization of India.” It features a rise of moral policing and an increasingly active constellation of Hindu right-wing groups that believe in a politicized form of religion known as Hindutva.

In Bangalore, recent street protests by Hindu extremist groups have targeted the emblems of globalization. The demonstrators have thrown rocks at the glass office buildings of call centers and software companies. They have shut down clubs that feature dancing and live music. They have hurled verbal and physical abuse at women in jeans or skirts. They have vandalized Christian churches, which are regarded as foreign trespassers.

For India’s young, the debate goes to the heart of India’s new identity. In this fast-changing society, long-held religious sentiments about public behavior are still being negotiated in Indian homes and on the streets. The discussion is complicated by the fact that India’s economic growth has been lopsided: Well-paid urban youth tend to embrace Western values, while the country’s poor appear more eager than ever to stick to traditions that have been shaped by Hindu religious teachings.

“Before the IT culture, things were very peaceful. Our youth enjoyed their own Indian culture,” said Vasanth Kumar Bhavani, 32, president of Bangalore’s branch of Sri Ram Sene, a right-wing Hindu group involved in a string of attacks on women. “Now it’s been spoiled by all these outsiders flowing in, and it’s all because of this IT sector. They need to be taught a lesson.”

washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/30/AR2009043004083.html

I had intended to link the article. Thanks.

As an Indian (Singaporean), i feel sad for Indians all over the country. I have been to India several times and i have always felt safe. I have met Indian Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Punjabis and Gujeratis. I feel sad because Hindu militant groups are tearing the country apart, not realizing the damage they are bringing upon themselves (both local and international). Christianity has been flourishing in India since St Thomas arrived there and many Hindu militants/hardliners/fundamentalists do not know about the history of Christianity in India.

Christianity (Catholic/Orthodox) is unlike Protestantism or Islam where conversion means severing ties with your cultural identity (in most cases). Catholicism or Orthodoxy does not demand self-denial of your culture and customs. This is where Hindu militants need to understand - Christianity is not a by-product of Colonialism. The Colonialists do not represent Christianity nor are Westerners the enemies of Indians. The Hindu militants also need to understand Christianity did not originate from the West, as some ignorant ones would think. Nor is technology necessarily a product of evil. If the IT sector/culture didn’t flourish in India, she would still be in the stone age and she would be lacking far behind like how some Muslim nations are suffering, trying to catch up with the rest of the world.

What India seriously needs now is a charismatic leader - one who isn’t bias and not easily swayed by corruption. India needs to live up to its name as the world’s largest democratic nation. Truly unbiased and wants to compete in the technological advances she is famous for. The new leader should also strive to educate Indians on racial and religious harmony. Use another country as her benchmark - say for example, Singapore (even though i am not a fan of Singapore’s nepotic politics).

When rapid social and cultural change happens, I think it is natural for the old guard to have a negative reaction. The willingness of the Hindu right-wing to use violence to express its protest, attempting to intimidate others, worries me. I’m not well-read on India, but what I have seen indicates that the country has very large and deep problems e.g. the decades long Maoist insurgency in the middle of the country.

India’s hard charging economy has long been predicted, and perhaps in some ways is similar to China. But China has a strong central government which is still quite active in quashing dissent. India, in contrast, is a democracy which depends on dissent. I guess I worry that India might lurch towards authoritarianism, or in an attempt to unite the people with a common enemy, might provoke a war with Pakistan.

I think changing of culture is natural thing. The Indian culture totally changed with western culture.

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