Not many scholars have studied Hindu nationalism with the intensity of Stanford University anthropologist Thomas Blom Hansen. The 63-year-old’s new book, The Law of Violence: The Violent Heart of Indian Politics, argues that anger and brutality have become mainstream in public life and politics in India. The 176-page volume explores what Hansen calls “the emergence of a decidedly non-liberal democracy,” which explains why police attacks against Muslims and lower-caste men and women go unpunished.
The Danish-born scholar, who has written several books on nationalism in India, told me that “the joy of violence, the joys of hatred and vengeful fantasies, and the permission to kill” are factors that pre-World War II India is today shares with Germany II. In his book, Hansen describes the dangers of the rise of Hindu nationalism and explicitly compares today’s followers with the Nazis, who allowed their guards and stormtroopers to terrorize Jews, communists and anyone else who was against their agenda.
UNP: When you met an RSS activist [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent body of the BJP] Did it occur to you in Pune in July 1989 that this militant right-wing Hindu organization would become the most impressive electoral unit in the country through its political arm, the BJP, over the next few decades?
TBH: When I started my work, the BJP took its first steps in large-scale mass politics with the Ayodhya Campaign to “Liberate Lord Ram’s Birthplace”. [a mythological Hindu king]. Most BJP activists at the time were not particularly adept at engaging in this type of mass politics and campaigning, and they were openly surprised by their sudden success in becoming the second largest party in the country. Many of them have learned that if they properly use Muslim grudges, it could become their most powerful political resource.
When Modi decided in 2014 to adopt the Congress agenda for economic reforms as well as much of the welfare policies elaborated, many believed that BJP was finally a moderate party on visa / development, not just culture / development. religious concerns. This paid off and the lack of an effective opposition allowed Modi to establish itself as the dominant force in Indian politics, encouraging the BJP to return to their true anti-Muslim and bigoted colors after Modi and BJP were re-elected in the year 2019 with an even larger majority.