Hindutva and Citizenship in India: Helping Refugees or Building Vote Banks?

25 July 2016

Image by Bharath Joshi

One of the most noteworthy developments in Indian politics is the occurrence of a phenomenon often described as Hindu-Nationalism or Hindutva-movement (Bhatt 2001; Jaffrelot 2007, 1996; Zavos 2000). The movement refers to efforts to undertake dramatic changes within the political culture of India. This attempted transformation of state and society, which manifested itself through ‘communal violence’ – clashes between different religious communities especially between Hindus and Muslims (Engineer 2003; 1987) and actions aimed at challenging constitutional provisions such as secularism in combination with increasingly radical socio-political demands, have posed a threat to the Indian model of consensus democracy and have sadly lived up to bleak forecasts (Basu et.al. 1993).

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The 50th Death Anniversary of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar: It’s Time for a New Assessment

25 February 2016

On 26 February 2016, it’s the 50th anniversary of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s death. Furthermore, this year marks also another anniversary related to the ‘jubilee’, two decades ago the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed its first national government in New Delhi. This date determines a significant bench mark in any elaboration on Savarkar, because the BJP spent substantial efforts to keep him alive in the country’s collective memory and to make sure that he gets an appropriate place in the conception and awareness of Indian history. At the first sight, this might appear as a common undertaking in a relatively young state which experienced centuries of colonial suppression and years of freedom struggle. But when one looks closer, it touches the core of India’s self-perception and the ideational foundation the country is built on. By having said this, one has to be aware that Savarkar is an extraordinary controversial and multi-faceted personality, whose life and literary contribution present various paradoxical phenomena.

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Negotiating the Non-negotiable: Taliban, Peace and Democracy – Afghanistan’s impossible triangle

31 July 2015

Photo credit: Wikipedia

On July 8th, the first official acknowledged ‘peace talk’ between the Afghan Taliban and the government in Kabul took place (Johnson/Zahra-Malik, 8.7.2015). Facilitated by Pakistan who are being supported by China, delegations of the two conflicting parties met in Murree, a hill resort near Islamabad (cf. Harooni, 8.7.2015). Besides Chinese officials, U.S. representatives were also present during the event (Ahmed, 28.7.2015). The peace talk is being praised by Pakistani authorities as a potential move towards the ending of 14 years insurgency -after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001-, the major outcome of the gathering was to meet again by end of July after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (Aljazeera, 8.7.2015). Continue reading “Negotiating the Non-negotiable: Taliban, Peace and Democracy – Afghanistan’s impossible triangle”