Indian politics are characterized in the case study about political competition and conflict as divisive but strangely inclusive and democratic. After the previously predominant political party, Indian National Congress came to power in the late 1800s, the country pursued a social democratic economy and elimination of caste discrimination. However, as Hindu nationalism rose and the division between Indira Nehru and her son, Rajiv, the INC lost its dominance and needed to form coalitions in order to stay in power. In the 2014 election, the INC succumbed entirely to the Hindu nationalist party, BJP. The BJP leader Narendra Modi appeals to the growing middle class by promising privatization policies in the economy but remains strictly Hindu nationalist.
Hindu nationalist sentiments are reflected in The Guardian’s article about a Muslim city being renamed by the government. Allahabad, a predominant Mughal area, is now called Prayag, which ties to the belief “that the creator of the universe, Brahma, made his first offering at the area in the city.” According to the article, this city is also the site of one Hindu’s largest pilgrimage. Uttar Pradesh prime minister has specified that more names are bound to be changed, and that “if needed, we will rename more cities and roads. The mistakes done earlier will be rectified.”
How far will the government push against Muslims and other ethnicities and religions to protect Hindu nationalist identity?
The current government has also been accused of violence against Muslims in the Uttar Pradesh region. The violence in India could be pushed even further under the BJP’s rule. However, as the Supreme Court just passed the decriminalization of same-sex marriage also suggests that the judicial review in Indian democracy might be effective in checking the government’s power.
1 Patrick O’Neil, Karl Fields, and Don Share, Cases in Comparative Politics (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2018), 475-484.
2 Michael Safi, “Hindu nationalist-led state changes Muslim name of Indian city,” The Guardian (October 16th, 2018), https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/16/india-uttar-pradesh-allahabad-name-changed-prayagraj-muslim-hindu.