People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 13

March 31, 2013




Hindutva Fascism, Left & Competing Ideas of India


Archana Prasad


ON March 23, 2013 the death anniversary of Comrade Bhagat Singh was commemorated by the student and youth organisations of the democratic movement. The occasion is also an appropriate reminder of the vision of an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist nation that was espoused by the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) which was founded by these young comrades. This legacy is especially important because it can serve as a potent instrument against the Hindutva idea of India which Narendra Modi represents and to which corporate capitalism is providing legitimacy and support through its propagation of the Gujarat Model of Development.




At the heart of the Gujarat model of development and Modi’s India First slogan is Golwalkar’s ideology that was espoused in 1938 in his book We and Our Idea of Nationhood Defined (1938). Here the nation has been clearly defined as a Hindu Nation whose identity was created in contrast to a “democratic nation”. Golwalkar argues, that the history of Hindustan is a tale of “a triangular fight” where the “Hindus are at war with the foreigners or the Moslems and the British… (and) our (the Hindu’s) self-deception, we go on seceding more and more, in hopes of ''Nationalising" the foreigners” and circumventing a National regeneration in the name of democracy (pp. 55-57). This idea of a culturally aggressive and an exclusivist India has not only been implemented, but also taken further by the Gujarat model of development. The state sponsored 2002 genocide of Muslims has been the first step to create the polarisation between the Hindus and Moslems that Golwalkar defined as the basis of nationhood.


Today the linking of this Hindutva with aggressive corporate capitalism also ensures that Modi becomes the poster boy of big businesses as well as of the NRIs who are looking towards the Indian markets for profitable investments and concessions. This has particularly been seen in the Vibrant Gujarat Summit of 2013 where big businessmen proudly proclaimed that they were Gujaratis and that Modi was now fit to be the prime minister of the country. In line with this thinking Modi has been stating that all poverty has been brought to Gujarat by “outsiders”. This statement hides the rising poverty and unemployment that has resulted during Modi’s regime and has been well documented. This development is ominous as it reminds us of the historical conjecture where anti-semitism and capitalism were linked together to propel the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany.


Another dimension of Hindutva capitalism is also its NRI connection. Thus Modi’s India first statement was made to NRIs as soon as he was disinvited from the Wharton Economic Forum. Through this statement, Modi has only tried to exploit the sentiment of Hindu nationhood that has spread through various Sangh and VHP affiliates and who are playing a crucial role for funding the activities of the Sangh Parivar. Between 2009-2012 the India Development and Relief Fund disimbursed more than $ 4.86 million to various organisations for social service. Of these, most of the grants were given to Sangh affiliates with Sewa Bharati, the social service organisation of the RSS, emerging as the major partner of funders. Prominent amongst those who have received large NRI grants is the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation and various branches of the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad, well known instruments of creating a Hindutva political and social consciousness in remote areas. Seen in this context the meaning of development and patriotism towards India is an appeal to the Hindu sentiment overseas to support the divisive agenda of Hindu nationalism within the country. Thus Modi is the true heir of Golwalkar. He has reinvented the ideas of Hindutva and Hindu nation and packaged them in the discourse of development. Unless demystified, such a discourse has the potency to absolve Modi of the blame that he deserves for the Gujarat genocide and legitimise his unconstitutional agenda.




Another prominent statement of Narendra Modi was on the Leftists who have consistently opposed his Hindutva agenda. Referring to the opposition to his invite by Wharton, Modi has also questioned the Left’s commitment to the idea of India itself. This stance is not surprising considering the socialist idea of India has been a stark opposite and has squarely opposed the contemporary version of Hindutva ideology of nationhood. An example of can be traced to the ideas of Comrade Bhagat Singh whose HSRA contributed many activists to the early communist movement. The two pillars of this vision were anti-imperialism and socio-economic reform for equity through a process of reconstruction. Thus writing his last message to young political activists (February 2, 1931) Comrade Bhagat Singh clearly says that there can be no “economic liberty for workers and peasants without political freedom”. For Bhagat Singh political freedom meant more than the “transfer of State from British to Indian”. It implied the rule of the country by those Indians who would “proceed in right earnest to organise the whole society on a socialist basis”.


The HSRA itself described the task of the proletariat as a twofold one in its manifesto of 1925. The first was to oppose the emergence of the Indian capitalist class and its potential of the alliance with the foreign capitalists and the State. The second was to organise the workers to oppose State power in the hands of a few privileged people and to bring about a social reconstruction. Thus socialism was to be a path where “swaraj” was the freedom of “98 per cent of the Indians” and declared that “the freedom of India would ultimately be the freedom of all slave nations”. This internationalist conception of nationhood was thus based on the premise that there could be no ‘free nation’ if injustice prevailed in the country itself, or in the nation as a whole. Thus freedom required the establishment of worker ruled state as well as a multi-national state where the cultures and rights were respected and ensured for all. In its own manifesto, the Naujawan Bharat Sabha declared communal hatred and religious politics as a way of sabotaging the revolution. In 1926, the manifesto states that the “conservatism and orthodoxy of Hindus” and the “fanaticism of the Mohommedans are being exploited by the foreign enemy”. In the present situation this could well be applied to Narendra Modi and other right wing religious fundamentalists who themselves are the agents of political and economic imperialism. Their divisive politics is disrupting the unity of Hindus and Muslims. The division of Hindus and Muslims will only benefit economic and political imperialism.


Today, this vision of the early communists is even more relevant, especially with the rise of Hindutva capitalism’s poster boy, Narendra Modi. Hindutva capitalism is characterised by an economic and cultural imperialism, where India is seen as a Hindu nation that should move in to conquer the world. Modi’s ‘India First’ slogan is also clearly fascistic in its intent and aims to drive away the memories of the Gujarat genocide. The socialist vision is, on the other hand, internationalist in its intent and envisages the removal of injustice from the entire world by changing the social order. It is based on the fight for a truly democratic state where freedom from exploitation is holistic within the nation. This shows that communalism can only be fought by a programme of social and economic reconstruction which involves and cares for the workers and peasants irrespective of their religion and caste. In these two polar opposite visions, present day communists  face the twin challenge of reclaiming the idea of non-capitalistic, secular and socialist alternative that can fire the imagination of all the exploited masses to join its ranks and resist the rise of fascistic forces.