The Erosion of ‘Secular India’
Modi is implementing his Hindutva project
Right after its independence in 1947, India did two crucial things: it gave all citizens the right to vote, and it adopted a secular constitution that enshrined equality before law. Over the decades, some of that high-mindedness has eroded. Corruption and “goondah-raj” (thug rule) politics have become some defining features of Indian democracy. The enduring reality of caste and class privileges has undermined the ideal of equality. Under the populist rule of Narendra Modi, India has also drifted away from secularism. That shift has accelerated since his re-election in May 2019 to a second five-year term, with the 20% of Indians who belong to minority faiths, as well as secular-minded liberals, increasingly concerned that Hindutva-follower Modi is hell bent on making India an explicitly Hindu state. This is why a seemingly small change to citizenship rules introduced in December last year, which grants adherents of some religions fast-track naturalisation, but specifically bars Muslims, has provoked nationwide protests.
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