Right-Wing Hindu Nationalism on the World Wide Web: An Analysis of HinduUnity.org

By Shanadi, Govind | Global Media Journal, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Right-Wing Hindu Nationalism on the World Wide Web: An Analysis of HinduUnity.org


Shanadi, Govind, Global Media Journal


Abstract

Although the Hindu nationalist party, BJP, lost control of the Indian government in 2004 following elections, this paper argues that the Hindu nationalist movement, or Hindutva, still seeks to gather support from the Indian diaspora through the medium of the Internet. The paper draws on theories of nationalism offered by Benedict Anderson (1991) and Partha Chaterjee (1993). Since Internet penetration in India is still relatively low, the websites primary audience is inferred to be those living in the diaspora, primarily the United Kingdom and the United States, but other countries as well. Because of this diasporic audience, Stuart Hall's theory on identity formation is discussed. The paper traces the major organizations involved in promoting Hindutva, and finally examines some of those organizations' websites.

Introduction

Although the Hindu nationalist party, BJP, lost control of the Indian government in 2004 following elections, this paper argues that the Hindu nationalist movement, or Hindutva, still seeks to gather support from the Indian diaspora through the medium of the Internet. The paper draws on theories of nationalism offered by Benedict Anderson (1991) and Partha Chaterjee (1993). Since Internet penetration in India is still relatively low, the websites primary audience is inferred to be those living in the diaspora, primarily the United Kingdom and the United States, but other countries as well. Because of this diasporic audience, Stuart Hall's theory on identity formation is discussed. The paper traces the major organizations involved in promoting Hindutva, and finally examines some of those organizations' websites.

Theories of Nationalism

Benedict Anderson's influential book, Imagined Communities (1991), originally published in 1983, stated that the nation is imagined in three ways. One is that it is imagined as limited because even the largest of them have boundaries beyond which lie other nations. Secondly, a nation is imagined as sovereign as a result of Enlightenment ideals that undermined the legitimacy of divinely-ordained monarchy. Finally, the nation is imagined as a community. Regardless of inequality that may exist, essentially there is a horizontal relationship among the masses who will never actually know each other on a personal basis.

Anderson's book is based on the emergence of the European nation. It was the countries of that continent that engaged in the exploitive political-economic system of colonialism whereby the European countries would use the countries of the Americas, Africa, and Asia as a source of raw materials to be processed in the center (Europe) and shipped back to the periphery (colonies). This system essentially produced a dependency by the colonies on the European countries for finished goods.

Such a core-periphery colonial relationship existed between Great Britain and India. India first came into contact with Europe after the establishment of trading outposts by Holland and England in the early seventeenth century. After an initial period of Dutch dominance, the British East India company came to control trade, and eventually established control over India. After a failed mutiny against the British East India Company, India came under direct rule of the British monarchy in 1858.

Ironically, it was colonialism that introduced the idea of a nation to a part of the world which, arguably, had never had such a concept. It was this idea of a nation that would be mobilized by Indian independence fighters, including Gandhi.

Another theorist working in the area of the emergence of nationalism is Partha Chatterjee, particularly in his work The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (1993). Chatterjee raises the question that if outside of Europe and the Americas, all nations are based on modules that arose in those two areas, what is left to be imagined in the rest of the world? In other words, the peoples outside of Europe and the New World are forced to develop along established patterns of nationness according to Anderson's work. …

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