Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) with other dignitaries performing rituals to launch the construction of the controversial Ram temple in Ayodhya in August 2020. (Photo: AFP)

By Nirendra Dev

August 5 marks the second anniversary of the constitutional amendment initiated by the Narendra Modi government to take away the functional autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.

A year later, on the same day in 2020, the prime minister laid the foundation stone for a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya on a plot of land where once stood the Babri mosque before its demolition by frenzied mobs of Hindus in 1992.

The two events aren’t mere sociopolitical developments in the recent history of the country but can be seen as symbols of the latent but strong cultural transformation India has undergone ever since Modi became prime minister in 2014.

This transformation has pitchforked a new elite who are basically provincial, pro-Hindu and pro-Hindi. They detest English and prefer the Hindi language, and proclaim their Hindu identity.

The end result has been the rise of an unapologetic fanatic.

“This is the new social order now. We may not see major upheaval or social destabilization. But in the name of anti-elitism what we have got is anti-intellectualism. More precisely it is anti-liberalism,” West Bengal-based social analyst Ramakanto Shanyal said.

They won’t employ Muslims. This was unthinkable in communist-ruled Bengal till the nineties

The new generation has changed a lot. They think communal,” Shanyal said while narrating how his cousins and their children were now touchy about mundane things like employing laborers to work in their garden.

“They won’t employ Muslims. This was unthinkable in communist-ruled Bengal till the nineties,” Shanyal added.

The new ruling political class, under the patronage of its century-old Hindu fountainhead called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has no regard for India’s progress as a secular and pluralistic nation since it gained independence in 1947.

The gradual transition perhaps started under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the first prime minister to lead a federal government run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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