From Gandhi to Modi: India Between Nationalism and Ideology

Aurora Ceccotti

by Aurora Ceccotti

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. Credits: Zee News

The Indian nationalist movement arose from the willing to become an independent state instead of merely being a British colony.

Although nationalism leverages the concept of protecting the traditions of a timeless nation, Modi’s policies inspired by his Hindu nationalist agenda are far from being the same as Gandhi. One of the cornerstones of Gandhi’s philosophy, for example, was respect for all religions. This concept does not seem to be embraced by the governing party (BJP), considering the citizenship bill that recently passed.

The bill grants citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who settled in India before the 31st of December 2014. This excludes the Muslim minority, which accounts for 15% of the Indian population.

The exclusion is deemed to be discriminatory, both by the opposition parties and the UN. Public discontent eventually led to a significant number of people to protest. The police responded with violent coercive measures; currently, 22 people lost their lives in the demonstrations.

The citizenship bill is just one piece of the Hindu nationalist puzzle. In August, article 370 was revoked by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), thus withdrawing Kashmir’s autonomy.

Modi’s nationalist-populist agenda seems to be ineffective, if not disruptive when speaking of economic growth. Reforms to attract foreign investments are not enough, as FDI significantly decreased in 2019. Figures seem to contradict Modi’s denial of economic fragility. In fact, India’s GDP growth is at its slowest rate since 2013.

  • Will the government withdraw the bill, positively responding to the protests?
  • Is the bill a further step towards marginalization of Muslims?
  • Is there a connection between India previously being a British colony and the current disequilibrium?
  • What could be done in order to attract foreign investment and reboost India’s economic growth?
  • Is the nationalist and repressive attitude of the ruling governement a factor that limits foreign investment?

Suggested Readings:

https://www.ft.com/content/ca2efd1a-0bbb-11ea-8fb7-8fcec0c3b0f9

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/indians-protesting-citizenship-law-191217070423101.html?utm_source=website&utm_medium=article_page&utm_campaign=read_more_links?utm_source=website&utm_medium=article_page&utm_campaign=read_more_links

https://www.economist.com/asia/2019/12/12/indias-new-citizenship-law-outrages-muslims

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