Age of Rages: Nationalisms
Webinar 3: Nationalism and Religion
Nazneen Mohsina is a Senior Analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She holds a Masters of Science in International Relations from RSIS. Her research interests include contemporary debates about identity and identity politics, and how it affects inter-ethnic or inter-religious relations, and how domestic and international politics shape and bring one’s religious/ethnic identity to the fore.
Hindu Nationalism Amidst Diversity in Contemporary India
The birth of nationalisms and the rise of nation-states have been major phenomena of the modern world. The nature of nationalism, its elements, its historical trajectory and the transformations it undergoes have been the subject of much academic analysis and theorisation, both in the global north and south.India, as part of the global south, is a country of immense cultural diversity – there are different religions, languages, cultural habits, devotional patterns, etc found here. India in recent times is in the midst of a transformation where one witnesses a decline of secular-inclusivist nationalism and the rise of an exclusivist nationalism. The latter called Hindutva, is premised on the idea of the political consolidation of one community, i.e., the Hindu community, and denotes a strong Hindu nationhood in India. Apart from a unified nationhood, this ethnic nationalism also implies an invincible Hindu selfhood. It aims at Hindu political unity and supremacy and is at odds with a religiously plural and inclusive national identity of India which was articulated by the Indian freedom struggle. The inclusive nationalism of the anti-colonial struggle was an overarching nationalism but accommodative of the sectoral and religious diversity of India. Hindutva, in contemporary India, is associated with the Sangh Parivar – of which the ruling party, the BJP is a part. This Sangh Parivar believes that India should be a strong Hindu nation-state. It stands for Hindu supremacy in India and believe that the guiding ideology of politics and policy should be Hindutva. The myth of Hindu-Muslim antagonism is an intrinsic part of the core of Hindutva ideology. Aggressive stances and even open violence are not seen as unjustified to advance Hindutva. The coming to power of the BJP in the 2014 and 2019 general elections in India is seen by the Hindutva groups as people’s overwhelming support for them and the idea of Hindu nationhood, and conversely, the rejection of the idea of a secular and religiously plural nationalism.
Manjari Katju is Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad, India, where she teaches courses on Indian and Comparative Politics to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Her research interests include varied themes located in Indian state and politics such as the functioning of democratic politics; ideas and unfolding of Hindu nationalism; and, the working of state institutions. She is the author of books titled, Vishva Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics (2003) and Hinduising Democracy: The Vishva Hindu Parishad in Contemporary India (2017). Her published papers include, “History of Hindu Nationalism”, 2019, in Oxford History of Hinduism: Modern Hinduism (ed. Torkel Brekke, Oxford: Oxford University Press); “Mass Politics and Institutional Restraint: Political Parties and the Election Commission of India” (Studies in Indian Politics, 2016) and “Election Commission and Changing Contours of Politics” (Economic and Political Weekly, 2009). She did her doctoral research between1994 and 1998 at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Sinhala And Buddhist Nationalism In Contemporary Sri Lanka And Beyond: The Case Of “Sinhale”
This paper examines nationalism in Buddhist societies with a concentration on contemporary Sri Lanka. Links and relations with forms of nationalism in Thailand and Myanmar will be considered by identifying connections with re-readings of accounts found in the Pali chronicles. An account of ethnic and religious nationalism in Sri Lanka on the basis of closer scrutiny of ‘Sinha”Le”’ will be given for the first time with an academic study of primary materials in the Sinhala language on that particular activist movement. Issues of Muslim identity and criticisms will be considered in the discussion. The focus on ‘Sinha”Le”’ and Muslims will help to connect ethnic and religious nationalism in Sri Lanka with similar nationalist manifestations in Southeast Asia.
Mahinda Deegalle is Professor of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics at Bath Spa University, United Kingdom. He is a graduate of University of Peradeniya, Harvard University and The University of Chicago. He has held Numata Visiting Professorship in Buddhist Studies at McGill University, Canada and NEH Professorship in Humanities at Colgate University, USA.
He has conducted post-doctoral research at Kyoto University, Aichi Gakuin University and International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies, Japan under the auspices of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai. He has been awarded grants by the British Academy / Leverhulme Trust, British Council and Fulbright. He is the author of Popularizing Buddhism: Preaching as Performance in Sri Lanka (SUNY 2006) and editor of Buddhism, Conflict and Violence in Modern Sri Lanka (Routledge 2006), Dharma to the UK (World Buddhist Foundation 2008), Vesak, Peace and Harmony: Thinking of Buddhist Heritage (Nagananda International Buddhist University 2015), Justice and Statecraft: Buddhist Ideals Inspiring Contemporary World (Nagananda International Buddhist University 2017) and co-editor of Pali Buddhism (Curzon 1996). He was the former editor-in-chief of the Journal of Buddhist-Christian Studies. He regularly appears in the BBC1 The Big Questions, BBC World Service, Aljazeera and Buddhist TV programmes. He has conducted fieldwork in Sri Lanka, Japan, Korea and China. His research concentrates on minority issues, ethics of war and violence, religious extremism, Nationalism, Religious Conversion, Buddhism and politics and preaching traditions. Currently researching on pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak. https://www.bathspa.ac.uk/our-people/mahinda-deegalle/
Ronojoy Sen is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies and the South Asian Studies Programme, National University of Singapore. He has worked for over a decade with leading Indian newspapers, most recently as an editor for The Times of India. He is the author of Articles of Faith: Religion, Secularism, and the Indian Supreme Court (Oxford University Press, 2010; pbk. 2012; revised ed. 2018). He has also authored Nation at Play: A History of Sport in India (Columbia University Press/Penguin, 2015) and has edited several books, the latest being Media at Work in China and India (Sage, 2015). He has contributed to edited volumes and has published in several leading journals and writes regularly for newspapers. Ronojoy Sen holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago and read history at Presidency College, Calcutta. He has held visiting fellowships at the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington, D.C., the East-West Center Washington and the International Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland