Nadim Asrar , IBNLive Specials
Two things happened twenty years ago. Manmohan Singh was brought from Geneva’s economic think-tank South Centre and appointed finance minister in a deal forced upon India by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when the agency was approached to bail the nation out of its debt crisis. Singh supervised the transition of India from a socialist-democracy to a capitalist market economy, a process often referred to as liberalization-globalization.
Two decades later, the man heads the Union government and is called by the corporate media as the best Prime Minister India has seen since Nehru (although the man they would actually like to see at 7, Race Course is Hindutva icon Narendra Modi. Refer to the public endorsements by Ratan Tata and Sunil Bharti Mittal). But more on that later.
Something else - equally if not more profound - happened in 1991. In the General elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured 120 seats. The rise of the right-wing party from just 2 seats in the 1984 elections to the Indian political mainstream is largely attributed to the communally divisive Ram Mandir movement which was the party’s biggest election plank in 1991. Less than two years later, on Dec 6 1992, the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya was demolished. 18 years since the incident, there has been no closure to one of India’s most violent movements and the temple still remains BJP’s principal political ambition.
It would be naïve to look at the 1991 economic reforms and the emergence of Hindutva as two isolated and unrelated phenomenon. There is, as we shall see, a fundamental and organic synergy between the two. In fact, it can be argued that neo-liberalism facilitated the rise and impact of Hindutva on national social life in an unprecedented manner, just like other right-wing movements facilitated capitalism globally. Examples: Margaret Thatcher’s ‘reforms’ in Britain, Ronald Reagan in the US or the Latin American dictatorships actively supported by the US.