Somini Sengupta writes about the recent religion incited violence in Orissa at NY Times. A Bajrang Dal leader offers an explanation that is the veneer on the surface of the violent brand of nationalism based on religious identity that’s the trademark of the saffron brigade:
Given a chance to explain the recent violence, Subash Chauhan, the state’s highest-ranking leader of Bajrang Dal, a Hindu radical group, described much of it as “a spontaneous reaction.”
This the line used by Modi government during the Gujarat riots in 2002 when the same Bajrang Dal killed many Muslims and looted much, this is the same line that was used by both Muslims and Hindu hardliners during Bombay riots in 1992. Of course, hatred is not the sole purview of Hindus and Muslims, Christians contribute as much as the others towards distracting people – especially the poor – from more pressing problems like feeding and educating their children.
With all this history, surprisingly, Indian democracy has proven more resilient than anyone expected (See Why India Survives, Epilogue of Guha’s book India after Gandhi, for a good survey of reasons). However, the character of this democracy has long since changed from a constitutional one where secular laws were respected to that of a populist democracy where the majority routinely terrorizes the minority.