“The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture….In a word, they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment---not even citizens’ rights.”

M.S. Golwalkar, “We, or Our Nationhood Defined”

The rise of a bigoted Hindu India is now a painful reality, both for the liberal fringe of the Indian society and the rest of the world. The growing sway of Hindutva, which seeks to define the Indian culture exclusively in terms of Hindu civilization and values, in India has sounded death knell to the dream of a multi-cultural India in which people belonging to different religions and cultures could live in peace and harmony with one another. Modi-led BJP’s second victory in the Indian general elections with a thumping majority earlier this year portends grave dangers for the future of India, especially for its minorities. These dangers become obvious if one takes into account Modi’s personal bigotry and his life-long association with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a well-known Hindu militant organization wedded to the concept of Hindutva. What it implies for the Muslims, Christians and other minorities in India can be gauged from the quotation given above from the 1938 work of Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the second RSS supreme leader.

The ignominious role played by Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujrat in the large-scale massacres of the Muslims in 2002 was the harbinger of the things to come after his elevation as the Prime Minister of India in 2014. The increasing incidents of Hindu extremism and bigotry, and of the persecution and lynching of the Muslims, Christians and other minorities by Hindu fanatics, witnessed in India over the past few years, have confirmed the worst apprehensions of the keen observers of the Indian society. Its liberal fringe is rapidly losing its influence and effectiveness, thus, leaving the field wide open to the followers of RSS and other varieties of Hindu extremists for the fulfillment of their evil designs.

The growing appeal of Hindutva in India carries dangerous implications, both internally and externally. Internally, it is likely to aggravate social tensions among the followers of different religions and cultures, thus, encouraging fissiparous tendencies in the country. The religious minorities in India are likely to oppose Hindutva or attempts to subsume them into the Hindu culture, particularly because of the caste-ridden character of Hinduism. In contrast with Islam, which teaches human equality and brotherhood, Hinduism is based on the impregnable division of the society into castes barring vertical mobility. Those born in the lower strata of the society are condemned to accept their exploitation at the hands of the people in the higher castes without protest and any possibility of improving their lot. The untouchables, as the name suggests, are at the lowest rung of the Hindu society, destined to lead a life of abject misery and deprivation. Obviously, the followers of other religions cannot expect a better treatment in a society dominated by Hindutva.

The rapid rise of Hindu bigotry in India carries serious implications for its neighbors and the rest of the world in view of New Delhi’s hegemonic designs. The combination of the two factors constitutes an explosive mixture for peace and security at regional and global levels. Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book “Strategic Vision---America and the Crisis of Global Power”, while taking note of the Indian hegemonic designs, observed, “Indian strategists speak openly of a greater India exercising a dominant position in area ranging from Iran to Thailand. India is also positioning itself to control the Indian Ocean militarily; its naval and air power programs point clearly in that direction---as do politically guided efforts to establish for India strong positions, with geostrategic implications, in adjoining Bangladesh and Burma.”

To begin with, the rise of Hindu bigotry in India vindicates the rationale for the creation of Pakistan. A united India in the post-British era would have been the arena for continuous discord, unrest, and communal strife and fighting between an oppressive Hindu majority and the Muslims who constituted about 25% of the total population at the time of independence. Quaid-e-Azam and other leaders of the Pakistan movement rightly apprehended that the Muslims in a united India, dominated by a Hindu majority, would be subjected to the same type of persecution and lynching that we are now witnessing in India.

Secondly, Pakistan must be prepared for a prolonged period of tensions and strife with India because of India’s hegemonic designs, growing Hindu bigotry, and outstanding disputes especially the Kashmir dispute. It is a marathon, not a 100-meter sprint. Recent actions by India aimed at annexing Jammu and Kashmir in a blatant violation of applicable UN Security Council resolutions reflect not only the bigotry of the Hindu majority in India but also the hardline approach and the muscular style of diplomacy that New Delhi is likely to employ in dealing with Pakistan in the years to come. It is unlikely that, in the foreseeable future, New Delhi would adopt a conciliatory approach in handling relations with Pakistan or the Kashmir or other disputes. So difficult times lie ahead for Pakistan-India relations calling for a carefully worked-out long-term strategy and skillful diplomacy on the part of Pakistan, particularly in handling the Kashmir dispute.

Thirdly, SAARC, even if it can be revived, has limited benefits for Pakistan. The pursuit of the goal of a South Asian economic union is unrealistic given India’s hegemonic designs and drift towards Hindu bigotry, and the consequent Pakistan-India tensions. It would also allow India to dominate the South Asia region economically, leading even to domination in the political/strategic field, because of the huge size of its population and economy, thus, posing a serious threat to Pakistan’s security and economic well-being. Regional integration within the framework of SAARC would subsume Pakistan’s national identity in the bigger and dominant India, which would, thus, achieve through the process of regional integration what it has failed to achieve through coercive means so far. However, SAARC can play a useful role for facilitating Pakistan-India trade provided it is on a level playing field with due safeguards for the health of Pakistan’s economy. It can also facilitate, under suitable circumstances, regional cooperation in other areas such as water management and environment.

Fourthly, the rise of an India steeped in Hindu bigotry and driven by hegemonic designs is bad news generally speaking for regional and global peace and security. While the US is committed to helping build up India as a major power of the 21st century primarily to check the expansion of China’s power and influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, it is unlikely that Washington would be to control New Delhi’s external policies because of the anticipated huge size of India’s economy and its growing political weight in the international community. India’s smaller neighbors and countries in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean regions should, therefore, be prepared for the consequences of India’s hegemonic ambitions.

In the face of the emerging dangerous scenario, Pakistan should adopt a long-term strategy focusing on domestic political stability, rapid economic progress and pro-active foreign policy while maintaining a credible security deterrent. What it entails for the country will be the subject of the next article.