Indian elections and the global move toward nationalism

I am under strict instructions NOT to talk about Indian politics, so I WON’T, well not much, but as a cultural commentator on what is going on in the world, and a watchman on the wall, I can’t ignore what is happening that have no doubt this will impact on what is going on in India and the rest of the world. The fact that on Thursday Narendra Modi was again elected as India’s Prime Minister, following his 2015 victory, is highly significant.

My reticence in commentating on Narendra Modi’s landslide victory, declared the same day (23rd May 2019) we (in the UK) went to the polls for the EU elections, results of which expected today, especially the extent of dissatisfaction by Brexiteers but also across the EU with the EU, following FIVE weeks when 63% of the 800 million eligible Indian residents went to vote, is as follows:

  1. Despite being a regular India visitor over 36 years and being aware of the importance politics plays in Indian life, I feel unqualified to over pontificate on Indian politics, which in any case is a complex business.
  2. I have many Indian friends and family, who will be affected by the political outcome, and I do so out of respect for them and not to be distracted from an even greater concern than who runs the country – their spiritual welfare and our good relations.

Unsurprisingly, unless one went out of one’s way to look, one might be forgiven for not knowing that elections were going on, given the lack of coverage in the various media that comes my way, other than one Modi “hit piece” in the May 20th edition of Time magazine, controversially (I was interested this was widely reported on in India) titled “India’s Divider in Chief”. As I was reflecting on how this fitted in with other election results across world (last week I was doing so on the surprise Australian election result) I came across a Facebook share of a New York Times article by the conservative commentator, Dinesh D’Souza, titled: “Narendra Modi, India’s ‘Watchman,’ Captures Historic Election Victory”, who prefixed his share with an interesting and pertinent association: “I’m not an unqualified fan of Narendra Modi, but his re-election in India is another affirmation of the triumph of Trumpian nationalism over the cosmopolitan socialism of the Congress party. For the Left, the reckoning is now worldwide”.

It begins: “NEW DELHI — He called himself India’s watchman, even as minorities said they felt unsafe under his gaze. He boasted of his humble origins while doing favors for billionaires. He spoke the language of business, yet could not deliver enough jobs to Indians aspiring to a better life. Despite those contradictions, Narendra Modi, India’s incumbent prime minister, led his party to a stunning election victory on Thursday, eviscerating the opposition and giving Hindu nationalists the strongest hand they have held in modern Indian history. His mix of brawny Hindu nationalism, populist humility and grand gestures for the poor — like building tens of millions of new toilets — helped him become the first prime minister in nearly 50 years to win a majority in successive parliamentary elections. “This is the victory of the mother who was longing for a toilet,” Mr. Modi said in a speech to supporters on Thursday night. “This victory is of the farmers who sweat to fill the stomachs of others.” [Here are five takeaways from the victory for Narendra Modi and the BJP.] Many Indians see Mr. Modi, 68, as a nationalist icon. He stood up to China, nearly went to war with Pakistan and brought India closer to the United States. During the campaign, he described himself as the chowkidar — the watchman. And many Indians felt he was the best leader to raise India’s standing in the world. His success mirrors the rise of right-leaning populist figures around the world. But detractors say his commitment to giving more power to the country’s Hindu majority has struck fear in the Muslim minority and is pulling the country’s delicate social fabric apart.

The last statement is of particular interest as I receive reports most days of not only attacks on some of India’s 14% Muslims but also its 2% Christians, bearing in mind 80% of India’s 1.3 billion residents are Hindu and Modi’s form of Hindu nationalism is in stark contrast to the more inclusive and globalist in outlook of what had been the party of power: Congress. But more significantly, as far as this post goes, it highlights the increasing trend toward nationalism in recent years, reversing that toward globalism (and some would say a New World Order) of years before that and if the likes of the EU hegemony and various elements from socialist veering groups the world over, to name but two, have their way, will happen again. When one considers Donald Trump (USA), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Viktor Orban (Hungary), Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil) and now Narendra Modi (India), all unlikely leaders of their countries, who have come to the fore in recent years and would be seen as more nationalist than globalist in outlook, they all have flaws which their detractors would see as worrying, often for different reasons.

When I was thinking about what I ought to write concerning these recent elections, it occurred to me that it ought also to address my understanding that worldwide there has been and continues to be a battle between the Conservative / Right and Socialist / Left, with the former more nationalist and the latter more globalist in outlook, yet realising while that is  the tendency it ain’t that simple. There is a whole raft of people who are waking up having felt betrayed by the often globalist leaning political class, yet whose concerns over social justice and poverty might be better served by the Left. Besides being anti globalist myself, based on my understanding that at the near start (Tower of Babel) and near end (the rule of the AntiChrist) of the Bible globalism is flawed, and it being more veering to a form of nationalism (given God ordains nations with borders) that should be recognising its moral obligations to humankind and God. While others may see me as far right, I see myself as libertarian centrist. I am more interested how this impacts on gospel proclamation as well as challenges that face us e.g. war, famine,  refugee crisis, religious persecution, transgenderism, technology and climate change.

I conclude many of the supporters of these populist leaning figures, rather than being on the right are more in the middle and feeling somehow left behind by the hitherto ruling political class and that the nationalism these represent, for all their faults (not just Modi whose supporters oppress non Hindus), is also a spiritual reaction against globalism. God is in control and whatever my views on the above: He rules; He raises up and He also deposes rulers, and as for the people of God we need to seize the fantastic opportunity that is presented to us; that we need to proclaim and live His Word.

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One thought on “Indian elections and the global move toward nationalism

  1. It’s not as Hindu nationalism rather Hindutva both are different majority Hindu’ s not willing to accept Mr Modi’s Hindutva which means only Hinduism which is the ideology of RSS. The problem with Mr Modi is since he is a RSS trained man he wants to establish the ideology of his mentor so the minorities feel unsafe under his rule particularly the Christians, but I believe that he cannot go beyond

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