India elections: Varanasi welcomes Narendra Modi


#1

bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-27451970

BBC - India elections: Varanasi welcomes Narendra Modi

India’s Prime Minister-elect, Narendra Modi, has been performing religious rituals in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi after his election landslide.

Mr Modi offered prayers on the banks of the river Ganges after being greeted by jubilant supporters.

Observers say the ceremony was rich in political symbolism, underlining Mr Modi’s roots as a Hindu nationalist.

Mr Modi, 63, also promised to clean up the Ganges, considered a sacred river by Hindus.

He was elected to parliament from Varanasi as well as from another seat in his home state of Gujarat.


#2

I am hesitant concerning what Modi and the BJP’s victory means for the 25 million Christians of India and other minorities, including the roughly 125 million Muslims. Many Hindus I have spoken to in the UK seem very pleased but I am unsure what to think. They tell me that this election has essentially determined how India views itself as a nation, with the BJP landslide indicating that the future lies with India seeing itself henceforth as the locus of Hindu civilization.

This concerns me because Mahatma Ghandi and Nehru founded the Indian Republic post-Raj as a secular, liberal polity embracive of all the faiths that make up India’s rich religious landscape. Could that be about to change? Is India’s secularism in danger?

Modi is opposed to Christian evangelization, or so I have heard, some even arguing that he is by nature an autocrat who is opposed to religious liberty. He claims to be celibate, yet it recently came out that he has had an estranged wife of 45 years. The public image of celibacy seems to be oriented towards portraying him as totally devoted to the nation.

He was governor of Gujarat when the massacre of over a 1,000 Muslims by Hindu Nationalist mobs took place in 2002.

On the one hand, I admire his rise from poverty and low caste to the summit of political power. He is also a first-class orator, oozing with charisma and he has worked an economic miracle in his home state (although some see it as a bubble).

However he is a lifelong member of the far-right paramilitary Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which advocates an aggressive Hindu Nationalism and is considered by many to be a Fascist organization. The BJP Party is essentially its political wing.

Its members stress militancy, martial arts, discipline and wear uniforms. They recruit in particular young boys from poor backgrounds like Modi in his youth.

The organization has a fascist style salute in which the arm crosses the heart.

Here is an image of one their rallies:

http://archives.deccanchronicle.com/sites/default/files/mediaimages/gallery/2013/Jan/15RSS.jpg

What are your thoughts on this Party taking over in India? The Congress Party was notably corrupt, however I am not convinced that this will be an improvement.


#3

I also am not sure this will be an improvement.

I’m not at all an expert on the subject, but I did learn a lot about the social and political structure of India from recently reading the book, “IN SPITE OF THE GODS, The Strange Rise of Modern India” by Edward Luce.


#4

I’ll need to read the book :thumbsup:

India is an important country. By 2050 it will have a bigger population than China. As the world’s largest democracy, it has often been typecast as an alternative model of a developing “power” that has not went down the authoritarian path. I hope this political earthquake doesn’t suggest that it might go down that path.


#5

The way I see it, the BJP comes from the same kind of sentiment that animated the various anti-conversion laws at the state level, which tend to target Christians. Certainly they are not our friends.


#6

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