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India's Embattled Secularism

Title:India's Embattled Secularism
Author:Mukul Kesavan
Publication:The Wilson Quarterly
Enumeration:vol. 27, no. 1, p. 61-7 / (Winter 2003)
Abstract:Part of a special section on religious strife. Secularism in India rose out of the peculiar circumstances of anti-imperial nationalism. Because colonial nationalism had to prove to the Raj that the variety of India could be gathered under the umbrella of one movement, the nationalism of the Indian National Congress did its best to keep every species of Indian on board. After most Muslims left India for Pakistan in 1947, the Congress's peculiarly Indian secularism continued to hold up well. The 1980s and 1990s saw the rise of the Hindu chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however. The Hindu Right is implacably opposed to the Congress's pluralist construction of secularism because its political identity depends on the demonization of Muslims as the enemy Other. The BJP and its affiliates are committed to the transformation of a pluralist and secular republic into a Hindu nation.

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