Hindu Nationalism’s New Temple - IAMC
IAMC Interviews

JEWISH CURRENTS: Hindu Nationalism’s New Temple with Safa Ahmed

On January 22nd, India’s far-right prime minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Ram Mandir, a gargantuan new temple dedicated to the Hindu god Ram, in an event that marked the most consequential victory for the Hindu nationalist movement in its 100-year history. The temple has been erected in the exact spot where a centuries-old mosque, the Babri Masjid, stood until Hindutva supporters violently destroyed it in 1992. The attack on the Masjid catalyzed anti-Muslim mass violence across the country, and in the years since, Hindu nationalist, or Hindutva, groups like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)—a Nazi-inspired paramilitary of which Modi is a member—have used the campaign to construct a new temple on the site of the demolished mosque as a rallying cry in their efforts to transform India from a secular democracy to a Hindu supremacist nation. That ambition appeared to have been fulfilled at the Ram Mandir opening ceremony, with Modi declaring that “this temple is not just a temple to a god. This is a temple of India’s vision . . . Ram is the faith of India.”

The temple’s inauguration comes months before national elections in which Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears certain to emerge victorious. Over the course of its two terms in office, the BJP has already entrenched India’s annexation of the Muslim-majority of Kashmir, presided over anti-minority riots across India, and ratcheted up state-sponsored Islamophobia to such a pitch that experts warn that India’s 200 million Muslims are at risk of facing a genocide. With the completion of the Ram Mandir, this anti-minority fervor seems set only to intensify further. On this episode of On the Nose, news editor Aparna Gopalan speaks to writer Siddhartha Deb, scholar Angana Chatterji, and activist Safa Ahmed about the Hindutva movement’s epochal win, how it was achieved, and what comes next for India’s minorities.

Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”



Source: Jewish Currents