Gujarat: A Successful Hindu State?

Saturday, January 8, 2011: 9:40 AM
Room 207 (Hynes Convention Center)
Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi , Rutgers University-New Brunswick, New Brunswick, NY
Gujarat, as one of India’s most successful provinces, is often called the “laboratory of Hindutva.” Hindu nationalism is an ideology that portrays Hindus as vulnerable victims of Muslim invasion and British colonial oppression. The movement’s exceptional electoral success in the state can be traced to the deployment of new practices of representation in a secular democratic system and its ability to unify Adivasi, as well as lower, and intermediary status groups, with the Savarna (high castes) as “Hindus” in opposition to Christians and Muslims, who are positioned as outsiders in a Hindu rashtra (Hindu nation). In this context, traditional religious conceptions and practices relating to diet and worship have become refigured and upwardly mobile Hindus are encouraged both to externalize their own low caste practices and to distance themselves from Muslims and Christians in new ways. The economic advances in the state have cemented a political leadership that is at once globally oriented and culturally chauvinist locally.