ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Politics of Ghar Wapsi

This article argues that the Hindutva drive to "reconvert" Muslims and Christians to Hinduism is essentially about shoring up the numerical strength and political power of the "Hindu community" and has little connection to religious persuasion. Converting minorities to Hinduism has always been an intrinsically violent affair and is linked to the notion of India being a homeland only of the Hindus.

The recent vigour that the Sangh Parivar and especially the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) have displayed in their “reconversion” or ghar wapsi (literally, “returning home”) drives reveal once again the enthusiasm within the groups affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) about the change of regime in India. They feel that since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is “their” government, they have every right to openly operationalise the Hindutva programmes with gusto. It is quite obvious that they believe that the popular mandate is in support of Hindutva or the Hindu nationalist ideology, which visualises Hindus as constituting a macho and virile community that defines the nation and would stand up to protect Bharat Mata (Mother India) against the “ferocious other”. However, they also feel that the number of Hindus is going down and if nothing is done about it, this “other” would take over the Hindus’ motherland.

This “other”, constituting mainly the Muslims and the Christians, is seen as growing in numerical strength and one of the ways in which it is doing so is through conversions. Thus, violence against and intimidation of Muslims and the Christians by the Sangh Parivar, along with programmes directed at them such as ghar wapsi are part of the same script. They are expressions of Hindu “power” in “Hindus’ homeland”. The message from the Sangh Parivar is clear, that it has won state power and now it has to demonstrate its power over the social space with the same vigour and brute display of force both physical and verbal. This also means that it has taken upon itself to undo the “wrongs” which it sees as heaped over the Hindus.

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