On March 23, 1919, the world had no idea that Benito Mussolini was not only inaugurating his fascist organisation titled ‘Fasci Italiani di Combattimento’ in Italy, but also was creating an abysmal hybrid breed of violent authoritarianism.
Mussolini allied with Hitler while committing ferocious crimes, ranging from Italian killings, to persecution of Jews, and massacres in Ethiopia.
Today, similar reflections are seen in Modi’s ideology derived by the organisation which influences his foreign and domestic policies, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
From September 10-12, an international conference on Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH) was conducted, sponsored by over 40 international academic institutions including Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, New York University, Cornell and Northwestern University. The speakers were of the view that Hindutva has gone global with RSS’s investment in Africa, US, and Europe.
The diaspora is being brainwashed to uphold the RSS’s Hindutva ideology, which promotes an exclusionary vision of India as a Hindu homeland where, non-Hindu minorities and caste-oppressed communities can only be second-class citizens. Many speakers, organisers, and volunteers remained anonymous because of concerns to their safety.
Speakers at Dismantling Global Hindutva conference were of the view that Hindutva has gone global with RSS’s investment in Africa, US, and Europe
One cannot forget that it was under Modi’s blessings that 2002 Gujarat genocide was carried out. Likewise, Modi also approved Ram Temple to be built at the site of the demolished Babri Mosque.
Modi is intolerant to criticism, opposition and dissent. It is evident in the alarming increase in violence against minorities, especially Muslims in India. In Modi’s India, minorities, including 25 million Christians and 176 million Muslims, are increasingly unsafe and prone to violence and even killings, despite Indian claims of being the largest democracy. Back in 2005, PM Modi was even barred from entering the US and denied the American visa because of his involvement in Muslim killings.
Presently, the fascist government of India, operating under Hindutva ideology has created havoc against minorities. Disregarding international law is the new normal for Modi’s India. The UN policies were pulverised by the Moditva regime when Article 370 was revoked in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir’s (IIoJ&K), where demography is now being changed.
Indian actions in Kashmir are also a part of the institutionalisation of the Hindutva doctrine. Mass killings of Kashmiris are a routine exercise in IIoJ&K.
Within India, the free speech exercised by journalists, human rights activists and academicians is being violently suppressed. Different NGOs working in India for human rights are being forcibly shut down, including Amnesty International, which had been in the frontline to criticise Modi’s policies.
There is an alarming increase in violence against minorities, especially Muslims and citizens of IIOJ&K. India should be put on blacklist via financial institutions until Modi improves the situation on ground
Furthermore, in 2019, the Indian Parliament approved the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which will render many minority members and immigrants stateless. The government also introduced a national register of citizens, which is to be used to minorities as most of the immigrant Muslims do not have their documents for proving their place of birth. Such laws not only sideline religious minorities but also discriminate against low caste Hindus like Shudras and Dalits.
If the international community does not act to counter such Indian designs, time is not far when this internal instability will spill over in the region and beyond. Indian military, economic, and political elements largely depend on special bilateral and multilateral deals blessed upon it by major powers, including the US and Russia.
One way to rescue the Indian people is through hybrid coercion via diplomatic and economic means. The country should be put on blacklist via financial institutions, bilateral and multilateral agreements until Modi improves the situation on ground. It will be a tool to coerce the government to safeguard its democracy, secure religious and caste freedom, solve Kashmir dispute, and safeguard human rights in India as well as IIOJ&K.
It is especially an obligation for the US to not turn a blind eye towards societal fragmentation and instability caused by Modi’s proto-fascism within India, under the façade that India is a counterweight to China. The onus of correcting India’s path lies on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris who have, time and again, criticised human right violations in India and IIOJ&K.
Bio: Anum A. Khan is a Senior Research Officer at Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS), Islamabad and a PhD Scholar at Defense and Strategic Studies Department (DSS), Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad