The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India

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Overview

The rise of strong nationalist and religious movements in postcolonial and newly democratic countries alarms many Western observers. In The Saffron Wave, Thomas Hansen turns our attention to recent events in the world's largest democracy, India. Here he analyzes Indian receptivity to the right-wing Hindu nationalist party and its political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which claims to create a polity based on "ancient" Hindu culture. Rather than interpreting Hindu nationalism as a mainly religious phenomenon, or a strictly political movement, Hansen places the BJP within the context of the larger transformations of democratic governance in India.

Hansen demonstrates that democratic transformation has enabled such developments as political mobilization among the lower castes and civil protections for religious minorities. Against this backdrop, the Hindu nationalist movement has successfully articulated the anxieties and desires of the large and amorphous Indian middle class. A form of conservative populism, the movement has attracted not only privileged groups fearing encroachment on their dominant positions but also "plebeian" and impoverished groups seeking recognition around a majoritarian rhetoric of cultural pride, order, and national strength. Combining political theory, ethnographic material, and sensitivity to colonial and postcolonial history, The Saffron Wave offers fresh insights into Indian politics and, by focusing on the links between democracy and ethnic majoritarianism, advances our understanding of democracy in the postcolonial world.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Peace Research
This may become a classic text. . . . Hansen writes well and thoughtfully . . .
History
Combining broad analysis with vivid local case studies, this book gives the reader profound insights into the turbulent world of contemporary Indian politics.
— Judith M. Brown
History - Judith M. Brown
Combining broad analysis with vivid local case studies, this book gives the reader profound insights into the turbulent world of contemporary Indian politics.
History

Combining broad analysis with vivid local case studies, this book gives the reader profound insights into the turbulent world of contemporary Indian politics.
— Judith M. Brown
Journal of Peace Research

This may become a classic text. . . . Hansen writes well and thoughtfully . . .
Booknews
Analyzes the processes that have moved Hindu nationalism from the margins of Indian society to its center stage, integrating approaches that emphasize the decades of systematic organizational efforts and imaginative political strategies, with those that focus on cultural and historical factors. Argues that the movement has emerged, not in either the political or religious spheres, but in a broader realm of public culture. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1999

"This may become a classic text. . . . Hansen writes well and thoughtfully . . ."—Journal of Peace Research

"Combining broad analysis with vivid local case studies, this book gives the reader profound insights into the turbulent world of contemporary Indian politics."—Judith M. Brown, History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691006710
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/23/1999
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents


Introduction. Hindu Nationalism and Democracy in India 3

Hindu Nationalism and Postcolonial Trajectories of Democracy 5

Hindu Nationalism and the Imaginings of India 10

About This Book 14

1. Modernity, Nation, and Democracy in India 16

The Democratic Revolution 20

Social Antagonisms and Politics 22

Discourse and the Analysis of Politics 24

Governance and Nationalism in Colonial India 29

Colonial Governmentalities 31

India as a Cultural Nation 39

Competing Nationalist Discourses 44

Producing Citizens and Communities in Independent India 46

Conclusion 57

2. Imagining the Hindu Nation 60

Ideology and the Impossibility of Identities 60

Objectification of Communities 65

Inversion of Orientalist Epistemology 67

Semitization of Hinduism 71

From Hindu Community to "Hindu Nation" 74

Hindutva and the "Lack" in the Hindus 77

The Nation as Fullness and Purity: M. S. Golwalkar 80

In the Gandhian Garb: Deendayal Upadhyaya and "Integral Humanism" 84

Constructing the "Founding Myth" 86

Conclusion: Hindu Nationalism and Democratic Revolution 88

3. Organizing the Hindu Nation 90

Culture versus Politics 92

The Sangh Parivar 96

Sevikas in Thane City 99

Hindu Missionaries at the Frontier 104

Cohesion, Leadership, and Control in the Sangh Parivar 107

Constituencies and Strategies of the Sangh Parivar 115

The "Sangha" Citadel in Pune 116

Lower Castes for a Higher Cause 122

The Sangh Parivar in the Political Field 133 Ambiguities of Politics 126

4. Democracy, Populism, and Governance in India in the 1980s 134

Populism and the Transformation of Governance 134

Competing Populisms 140

The Rise of the Other Backward Classes as a Political Identity 141

Caste and the Impurities of Politics 145

Religious Symbols in the Political Field 148

Muslim Minoritization 150

A Hegemonial Crisis 152

5. The Saffron Wave 154

Toward a National Hinduism 154

BJP as a New Beginning 157

Communalizing the Political Field 159

Patriotic Bricks 161

Contingencies of Electoral Politics 165

Opening Other Fronts 168

Roadside Patriotism 169

Ayodhya and Organized Communalism 172

The Demolition of Babri Masjid and After 181

The Disjunction of Agitational and Electoral0 Politics 185

Hindutva and Respectability 188

Political Imaginaries in Suburbia 191

After the Wave 197

6. Communal Identities at the Heart of the Nation 200

The Normal and the Pathological 200

Violence and Communal Consciousness 203

Communal Subjects and Political Action 214

7. Hindu Nationalism, Democracy, and Globalization 218

Hindu Nationalism and Governance 219

Hindu Nationalism and Democracy 223

Hindu Nationalism and Globalization 229

Democracy and Xenophobias in India 235

Notes 239

Glossary 269

Bibliography 273

Index 289

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