The current Prime Minister of India is a far-right extremist who, while ironically popular with the Indian public, has an ideology that has little in the way of common sense. The BJP (or the Bharatiya Janata Party), is little more than a Hindu-nationalist party that espouses their contempt for religions other than Hinduism boldly, and expresses xenophobic tones in their commentary that is, at best, concerning, and at worst, terrifying. The BJP, with their far-right tones, a flair for dramatic nationalism, and a tendency to create a hurricane of social discord between people, is disastrous for India and its people.
Being an Indian-Muslim across oceans, away from the motherland, makes India seem so distant to me. I have always associated the motherland with its characteristic vibrancy, rich culture and diverse elements of people, traditions and language. I am proud to be Indian, to be part of a nation with a history of civilizations filled with epic figures and timeless stories, to have known that I am the descendent of an immeasurable number of radiant cultures and traditions, and to be a member on a subcontinent filled with a population that is driven, hardworking and culturally artistic. And it’s this pride that has me so worried with the political state of India today.
When my parents speak of the time after the Partition of 1947, decades after a conflict whose threads of trouble still reverberate today between India and Pakistan, they speak of a time when chai was passed between Indian and Pakistani forces stationed at the border of Kashmir. Today, Kashmir is violently tense, and bloody conflicts are a diurnal occurrence. My parents mentioned a time when Muslim and Hindus could be found in each other’s homes, celebrating the luminous lights of Diwali, and the grand feasts of Eid. Celebrations weren’t cloistered away based on religion as they are today, and relationships were not so tense either.
This growing political tension on the Indian subcontinent that affects everything from the treacherous border of Kashmir, to the decreased number of house calls from neighbors of different faiths, can largely be attributed to the rising power of the BJP party. In a recent UN report aimed at profiling countries with instances of racism, “the victory of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party [was found to be] linked to incidents of violence against members of Dalit, Muslim, tribal and Christian communities” (1). The party has marginalized religious minorities, notably Muslims, from public life. There are even some horrific instances of Muslims “being lynched by Hindu nationalists in the name of “cow protection” (2). The BJP has crushed progressive thought under the grand heel of the “Hindu Rashtra,” played the bureaucracy and the media into their hands of intolerance, and planted the dangerous seed of a cultural revolution that is xenophobic, racist, and nationalistic within the hearts of the Indian public.
It is alarming as an Indian who exists as a spectator to it all. Alarming, and frankly, horrifying. I shudder to see India as such. I fear for the lives of my Muslim family members in a country that has become so dangerous for them. I count myself lucky to be living in the United States, where religious intolerance, although always present, has never been so openly hostile. I am fearful of an India that is intolerant, fearful of the growing global trend of the far-right gaining power, but I fear that people will be unable to recognize certain toxicities within political parties the most. The increasing tension in India that involves a heavy rise of Muslim persecution is concerning and deserving of international outcries. The world continues to stay silent, and Muslims continue to suffer all over the world.