In India, radicalisation is being flaunted as a badge of honour



Radicalisation: The action or process of causing someone to adopt radical (extreme) positions on political or social issues. (Cambridge dictionary)

The conventional or popular belief in India (as also globally) is that radicalisation is associated with only one religious community, the adherents of Islam. How wrong this perception is can be seen in our country over the past few years, where an uncharacteristic but toxic fundamentalism appears to have seized the euphemistically termed “majority community”, especially in the north and west of the country. Driven by an ideology which has acquired political and executive legitimacy, this “reverse” radicalisation has now become almost state policy and has seeped deep into our social fabric. But whereas earlier it was an insidious infection slowly permeating the organs of this republic, over the past two months, post Article 370 and Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), it has now erupted into a full-blown pestilence which its carrier-hosts no longer bother to disguise but flaunt as a badge of honour. The radicalisation of the majority community is now seen as essential to protect the motherland from the “traitors”.

This has been a work in progress since 2015, the idea being to persuade the majority that they are under threat from an “other” whose loyalty is not to India. The constant barrage of vilification, hate, fake news and reinterpretation of history has been largely successful, as repeated electoral successes of the BJP prove. For radicalisation to succeed, it is essential to create an enemy, and the community of 200 million with the same religion as Pakistan fits the bill perfectly. It has been de facto made an extension of that country and has therefore become the prime enemy. But with this enemy has been merged anyone who stands up for their rights or criticises the government: liberals, intellectuals, ‘urban Naxals’, “sickulars”. The enemy thus fully conforms to the hydra-headed monster to be found in all Hindu mythology – for example, Ravana – which of course has to be slain before Ram Rajya can arrive. The script is complete.

I am quite amazed at how radicalised my co-religionists have become. Well educated, financially secure, widely travelled, privileged families have swallowed the poison being dished out by the BJP and amplified by a craven media. They are willing to believe every lie loaded on WhatsApp and Twitter by the party’s IT cell, suspending their disbelief and eager to teach “them” a lesson for all the imagined historical wrongs perpetrated by their ancestors. The government takes the lead in this catechism by creating dubious legislation and the patriots follow it up by lynching, desecration and riots. And the BJP periodically hoovers up the votes.

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