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In Modi's India, Hindu Nationalism Ascends

Jan 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Supporters of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, a Hindu nationalist organization, attend a religious congregation organized by the group in New Delhi on Dec. 9, 2018.

Supporters of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu nationalist organization, attend a religious congregation organized by the group in New Delhi on Dec. 9, 2018. Organizations like the VHP are on the upswing as Hindu nationalism grows in India.

(NASIR KACHROO/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

With more than a billion people, India is a kaleidoscope of different languages, castes, regions and religions; indeed, the demographic diversity has long led the country's leaders to pursue secularist policies, lest support for any one group incite communal clashes. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, the government is pursuing greater national unity through social policies that give more pride of place to the nearly 80 percent of the country that is Hindu. Ahead of elections in 2019, Modi frequently played the populist card in an effort to curry favor with Hindu nationalists. Now, as Modi embarks on another five years in office, such populist policies -- like the revocation of Muslim-majority Kashmir's autonomy, the implementation of a divisive citizenship bill that allegedly discriminates against Muslims and the allocation of the disputed site of a demolished mosque for a Hindu temple -- are likely to...

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