Emergent Fascism: India’s new tryst with destiny?

Type: Paper
Theme: Ethnonationalism and Exclusion Around the World
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Governors Square 11, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Organizers: Waquar Ahmed, Raju Das
Chairs: Raju Das

Call for Submissions

Title: Emergent Fascism: India’s new tryst with destiny?

India has been often praised within the global community for its liberal democracy. For a less developed post-colonial country to remain committed to liberal democracy for decades is no small feat, even if it’s democratic set-up has been grossly distorted because of exploitative class relations and massive poverty of large segments of the population. But India’s liberal democracy is facing a relatively new type of threat since the early 1990s from right-wing extremism. India’s home-grown right-wing extremism or fascistic movement is headed by the militant Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh (RSS) that was founded in the year 1925. The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a contemporary political arm of the RSS that has gained significant electoral gains and popular support for its extremist agendas during the last 3 decades. This new threat to liberal democracy feeds off the existing problems of poverty, class, caste, gender and rural-urban contradictions across India.

The BJP runs the government of India at the central or federal level, and 18 out of 28 states are controlled by BJP Chief Ministers or coalition partners. The BJP was elected to power in 2014. BJP increased their mandate and got re-elected in 2019. The BJP and the family of far-right institutions it is a part of, are not only blatantly communal. They are also brazenly supportive of (neoliberal) capitalism, including in the form of crony-capitalism.

India is now a site of multiple crises. There is a capitalist economic crisis manifested partly as an economic slowdown. There is a political crisis -- normal democratic rights (including, especially, of religious minorities and progressive individuals/organizations) are increasingly curtailed. As well, the relations between the federal center and the provinces are under severe strain, as partly seen in the elimination of the special status of Kashmir, which has been under a lockdown for months. There is a cultural crisis. Communal and Hindu-supremacist ideas are colonizing all aspects of everyday life and multiple scales of state-society relations. Myths, lies and demagogy are given the same epistemological status as knowledge-claims based on evidence and reason, thus producing an age of un-reason and anti-intellectualism. Cows in India have greater significance than Muslims and Dalits. When there is an economic crisis and when abilities to dissent and to resist attacks on livelihood are under attack, there is therefore a crisis of reproduction, a livelihood crisis for common people – the men, women and children, who toil as wage-workers or small-scale producers.

This concrete situation in the world’s largest democracy requires a rigorous and critical scrutiny. The situation raises many questions. In particular, we invite papers on the following:
1. What are the economic and political causes of the turn to the right in the world’s largest democracy?
2. What implications does such a turn to the right have for people’s movements for social and ecological justice?
3. How is the relation between Kashmir on the one hand and India and Pakistan on the other to be viewed? What does the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination mean in this current conjuncture?
4. Despite the failure of the 2014-2019 BJP government on multiple fronts, what factors made it possible for it to be re-elected, and what implications does that have for India and its relation to the new World Order with the emergence of the likes of Trump, Bolsonaro, Erdogan?
5. What is the nature of the cultural, economic and political relationship between the Indian diaspora and the Indian far-right? Why has the Indian diaspora, despite experiencing the position of racial minorities in the West, by and large been ardent supporters of BJP’s xenophobic, islamophobic and hate-filled agendas in India?
6. To what extent might India be moving towards fascism or a version of it?
7. Why has the current left movement in India failed to resist the right-ward turn, what can it do now? Might there be a need for a new kind of left movement?
8. What are the challenges for linguistic, cultural and food diversity in view of efforts to impose Hindi across India, and impose and promote North Indian Brahmanical food culture?
9. How are struggles taking place over claims on ‘history’ as RSS/BJP increasingly colonizes the discipline of history in India to champion the cause of Hindutva and mount indignity on to Muslims and Dalits?
10. What exactly is the connection between capitalism/capitalists and the right-wing movement. Are there segments within the Indian and global business class which might counter the right-ward turn in their own long-term interest?
11. Is the BJP a communal party that is pro-business or is it a pro-business party that uses communalism to garner support?
12. What explains the geographical unevenness of the right-wing movement? Can the southern half of India be a bulwark against the right-wing movement?
13. Are there fears of escalating violence, genocide of religious minorities or escalation of conflict with Pakistan to win the next general elections (by consolidating the votes the Hindu majority), particularly if the economic woes increase?

Please send us a 200-word abstract of your paper on one or more of the above inter-related topics by October 25, 2019 to one of us:
Waquar (Waquar.Ahmed@unt.edu ) or Raju (rajudas@yorku.ca). 
 


Description

India has been often praised within the global community for its liberal democracy. For a less developed post-colonial country to remain committed to liberal democracy for decades is no small feat, even if it’s democratic set-up has been grossly distorted because of exploitative class relations and massive poverty of large segments of the population. But India’s liberal democracy is facing a relatively new type of threat since the early 1990s from right-wing extremism. India’s home-grown right-wing extremism or fascistic movement is headed by the militant Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh (RSS) that was founded in the year 1925. The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a contemporary political arm of the RSS that has gained significant electoral gains and popular support for its extremist agendas during the last 3 decades. This new threat to liberal democracy feeds off the existing problems of poverty, class, caste, gender and rural-urban contradictions across India.

The BJP runs the government of India at the central or federal level, and 18 out of 28 states are controlled by BJP Chief Ministers or coalition partners. The BJP was elected to power in 2014. BJP increased their mandate and got re-elected in 2019. The BJP and the family of far-right institutions it is a part of, are not only blatantly communal. They are also brazenly supportive of (neoliberal) capitalism, including in the form of crony-capitalism.

India is now a site of multiple crises. There is a capitalist economic crisis manifested partly as an economic slowdown. There is a political crisis -- normal democratic rights (including, especially, of religious minorities and progressive individuals/organizations) are increasingly curtailed. As well, the relations between the federal center and the provinces are under severe strain, as partly seen in the elimination of the special status of Kashmir, which has been under a lockdown for months. There is a cultural crisis. Communal and Hindu-supremacist ideas are colonizing all aspects of everyday life and multiple scales of state-society relations. Myths, lies and demagogy are given the same epistemological status as knowledge-claims based on evidence and reason, thus producing an age of un-reason and anti-intellectualism. Cows in India have greater significance than Muslims and Dalits. When there is an economic crisis and when abilities to dissent and to resist attacks on livelihood are under attack, there is therefore a crisis of reproduction, a livelihood crisis for common people – the men, women and children, who toil as wage-workers or small-scale producers.

This concrete situation in the world’s largest democracy requires a rigorous and critical scrutiny. The situation raises many questions. In particular, we invite papers on the following:
1. What are the economic and political causes of the turn to the right in the world’s largest democracy?
2. What implications does such a turn to the right have for people’s movements for social and ecological justice?
3. How is the relation between Kashmir on the one hand and India and Pakistan on the other to be viewed? What does the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination mean in this current conjuncture?
4. Despite the failure of the 2014-2019 BJP government on multiple fronts, what factors made it possible for it to be re-elected, and what implications does that have for India and its relation to the new World Order with the emergence of the likes of Trump, Bolsonaro, Erdogan?
5. What is the nature of the cultural, economic and political relationship between the Indian diaspora and the Indian far-right? Why has the Indian diaspora, despite experiencing the position of racial minorities in the West, by and large been ardent supporters of BJP’s xenophobic, islamophobic and hate-filled agendas in India?
6. To what extent might India be moving towards fascism or a version of it?
7. Why has the current left movement in India failed to resist the right-ward turn, what can it do now? Might there be a need for a new kind of left movement?
8. What are the challenges for linguistic, cultural and food diversity in view of efforts to impose Hindi across India, and impose and promote North Indian Brahmanical food culture?
9. How are struggles taking place over claims on ‘history’ as RSS/BJP increasingly colonizes the discipline of history in India to champion the cause of Hindutva and mount indignity on to Muslims and Dalits?
10. What exactly is the connection between capitalism/capitalists and the right-wing movement. Are there segments within the Indian and global business class which might counter the right-ward turn in their own long-term interest?
11. Is the BJP a communal party that is pro-business or is it a pro-business party that uses communalism to garner support?
12. What explains the geographical unevenness of the right-wing movement? Can the southern half of India be a bulwark against the right-wing movement?
13. Are there fears of escalating violence, genocide of religious minorities or escalation of conflict with Pakistan to win the next general elections (by consolidating the votes the Hindu majority), particularly if the economic woes increase?


Agenda

Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Dhananjaya Katju*, Texas A&M University, Nazimuddin Siddique, Independent Researcher, Ethnonationalism and the Contours of Citizenship: The ‘National Register of Citizens’ in western Assam, India 15 11:10 AM
Presenter Thomas Crowley*, Rutgers University, Hindutva: a passive revolution? 15 11:25 AM
Presenter Waquar Ahmed*, University of North Texas, Kashmir as embodiment of the Muslim question for the Indian State 15 11:40 AM
Presenter Raju J Das*, York University, Toronto, The deepening of fascistic tendencies inside the world's largest democracy 15 11:55 AM

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