Hindutva and Its Other

There is no one way of reading Fredrick Nietzsche. There are several readings of Nietzsche. Maybe we can also understand caste v/s Hindu nationalism in the light of Nietzsche. It might open to us the play field of politics in our country. The Congress and the Opposition are voicing for a caste census while the ruling BJP is opposing the same. Hence, the question does arise. Are we back to the Mandal politics in our country? Will the coming of the caste question dismantle the Hindu nationalism that is waiting to gather momentum in the wake of the new Ram temple ? Falling back caste and social justice may drift the political discourse that is centered on Hindu majoritarianism. Both caste and Hindu majoritarianism are identity politics. The effort of the opposition to underline Hindutva politics is nothing but a way of covering caste and other issues of social justice. It appears that issues centered around caste might undermine larger issues of the nation, Hindu faith and culture that seem to have captured the imagination of Indians for some time now and draw attention of the people to injustices that they suffer with the intimate existential conditions of their life.

The way the slogan, ‘ Hindu Khatre Mein Hi ! ’ worked could also mirror ‘Hamre caste or Jati Katre Mein hi! ’ This means opposition has found counter-impulsions to get the voter rally around them. Both are using human security needs to use the language of Abraham Maslow to get the people become political. The political is generated and maintained around a sense of insecurity by the ruling BJP and the opposition but they do not work in the same way. We have seen how the temple visits of Rahul Gandhi failed to produce electoral dividend. Thus, mere mimicry of the Hindutva politics produces little or no favorable results. This means against hard and rabid Hindutva, soft Hindutva did not really work. Caste politics seems to be the real Other of Hindutva Politics. Hindutva politics blurred caste fragmentations and took people to focus on larger identities such as the nation and being a Hindu. But the fact the Hindutva politics has been blind and insensitive to caste oppression and has often appeared to be on the side of powerful upper castes. Thus, caste politics can become an anti-dote to the Hindutva Politics. Therefore, by taking the issues of castes, the opposition seems to have chosen the right ball to play . Will this play hit the ruling benches out of the playfield as a hitting of six does in a Cricket match ? Only time can answer this question.

Caste v/s Hindutva (and not my Hindutva is better than your Hindutva of the old days) can implode the Hindutva politics. Caste politics has similar teeth to bite. But both have different metaphysics. Hindutva politics is based on what Nietzsche would name as the metaphysic of transcendence. Hence, the individual has to transcend individualism and embrace general or large identities. Caste politics unmasks the mask that hides the forces that propel social injustice. Like Hindutva politics, caste politics also need an enemy. If Hindutva converted the Muslims and other minorities as enemies. Caste politics does not just convert upper castes as enemies but Hindutva politics of the ruling BJP as the enemy too. The enemy is no longer and outsider. But history seems to be repeating today. If the issue of the Ram temple had dismantle the mandel politics in the 1990s, we can see the return of caste politics with the building of the Ram temple. Is this the eternal recurrence that Nietzsche celebrates? This eternal recurrence is not the second coming of the myth of Sisyphus (return of the past with no purpose) nor it is the return of Hermes ( return of new meaning and purpose). It is the return of the old with new energy and purpose. It will bring possibilities of new ways of doing caste politics. It will set in a new play of forces. Caste is the most exterior to Hindutva politics and is therefore, the real new Other of Hindutva.

The Other of Hindutva politics is caste politics. Often we think that this Other are the minorities. Minorities are only cover of the real battle of Hindutva. The real battle is waged to bring everyone under Manusmruti. This is why caste politics have the teeth to bite Hindutva. Hindutva adherents may like us to misunderstand who their real enemy is. The real enemy is certainly not the minorities. It is mainly caste politics. Therefore, by igniting it again, the opposition in our country may hit upon a potent way of contesting and dismantling the Hindutva politics. Thus, will Hindutva implode or explode? Politics , thus, appears to be poised on an edge in our country. The opposition holding on caste injustice is dynamizing politics in our country by framing Hindutva with its real Other. The caste Other is (insider) immanent to Hindutva politics. This is why caste politics can break from within. The dynamism of force and power that break from within is more dangerous. Does this means caste politics lead to the springing forth of Hindutva nihilism? Will the herd no longer attrack its members ? Will it loose its binding glue over the individuals? Will the slave morality of the herd/ nation/ faith die and we shall see the outcastes become master of their destiny? Hence, quoting Nietzsche ( with modifications) can we ask? Does ‘ Nihilism stand at the door’ of politics in our country? If it is so, in true Nietzschean sense, we are living in revolutionary times.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao