Weekend Roundup: Modi Follows a Menacing Neo-Nationalist Trend

Less than two years into Narendra Modi’s first term as Indian prime minister, an alarming brand of hyper-nationalism is rising. Ministers and right-wing followers of Modi’s Hindu nationalist ruling party are labeling a growing number of student protesters, intellectuals and activists as “anti-national” simply for criticizing the government. The message is that you’re either with India and Modi or you’re not — and if you’re not, you may be accused of being a terrorist or of wanting the disintegration of India. Over 3,200 people were reportedly being held in January alone on executive orders without charge or trial.

Modi’s government appears to be a part of a neo-nationalist trend as inequality rises and economic challenges mount in India, China, Russia, Turkey and beyond. Like Modi’s, the governments of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have also recently ramped up nationalism and cracked down on dissenters in an attempt to retain legitimacy.

India’s economy is expected to grow more than 7 percent this year, one of the fastest rates in the world, but it’s struggled to create jobs, leaving millions feeling left behind, including thousands who recently protested. And it seems that Modi feels politically vulnerable — recently, he accused unnamed colluders of “hatching conspiracies every day to finish and defame me.”

In response, many fear that his Bharatiya Janata Party may be trying to replace India’s liberal democracy with an authoritarian Southeast Asian-style democracy that allows little political dissent. BJP politicians have also been fueling religious tensions with provocative speeches and proposals that target non-Hindus, particularly Muslims. Having lost key state elections, the BJP may be calculating that the race-and-religion card is —> Read More