Is the RSS against Christians in India

Nationalism - Christians and Muslims Concerned: How Hindu Nationalists Create a Climate of Fear in India

Christians and Muslims in Concern: How Hindu Nationalists Create a Climate of Fear in India

The Hindu nationalists under Prime Minister Narendra Modi are changing the country. A dubious organization helps them with this.

Molana Niaz is not a shy man. Every Friday, the 72-year-old preaches in the Burana Idgha mosque in the heart of the Indian capital Delhi to a good 5,000 believers. In his small office in a wing of the church there are photos that show the imam in conversation with the most important representatives of his religious community.

But when it comes to expressing oneself in front of strangers on the situation of the approximately 200 million Muslims in India, Niaz becomes monosyllabic. "The situation is not good," he says quietly. “Strong words are used in government circles. We are scared."

The government is that of the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi. He has ruled India with an absolute majority since 2014, and the tone has grown rougher since then. This is because Modi and his BJP party are right-wing nationalists colored in the wool. Their hurray patriotism and their pithy words against those who think differently are well received by many Indians.

Attacks on Christians and Muslims are increasing

In a heating up climate, acts of violence against minorities are increasing. Mosques and churches are increasingly the target of attacks. The Catholic Church has already counted more than 200 attacks on Christians this year.

Muslims have been victims of lynch mobs over and over again in recent months. Dozens of people were tied up or beaten to death by self-appointed Hindu cow protectors for allegedly slaughtering cattle. Cows are considered sacred in Hinduism.

To understand why hatred of everything different has suddenly become socially acceptable in India, one has to pay a visit to Rashtriya Swamyamsevak Sangh (RSS). This “National Volunteer Organization”, founded in 1925, is now the largest association in the world with more than 20 million members and over 60,000 local chapters.

Almost all members of the current government have emerged from the ranks of the RSS. Prime Minister Modi joined the movement when he was eight. The BJP was founded out of the RSS. All of this makes the RSS the most influential institution in India, says Aditya Mukherjee, who as a historian researches the past and present of the organization. "The RSS is the deep state, the center of power in the country," he says.

"One in 65 Indians belongs to us, we have our eyes and ears in every alley, in every block of houses," confirms Chander Bhardwaj, district head of the Ballabhgarh local club on the outskirts of Delhi. As every morning, Bhardwaj's protégés gathered in the dusty park in the heart of the workers' area.

Physical exercise is part of the RSS program, so the 30 or so men complete yoga exercises and then move on to the central part of early morning exercise. Armed with bamboo sticks, the Hindu activists practice hand-to-hand combat, beating invisible opponents before they begin a kind of death blow: no wonder their opponents live in fear.

Total submission

Political trainings indoctrinate the members. You study the writings of the movement's masterminds and learn that non-Hindus in India have to "submit to the Hindus completely", as M.S. Golwalkar, the chief ideologist of the RSS, wrote as early as 1938. People of different faiths do not deserve civil rights in India, Golwalkar said, and proclaimed that with regard to its Muslims, India could "only learn and benefit from the Nazis' dealings with the Jews."

The thing with the Muslims is not that bad, Bhardwaj says after his morning exercise. It would be up to every Indian to reflect on their origins. After all, all residents of the subcontinent were once Hindus. "Only some of them were proselytized by Muslims and Christians." If their descendants now think about something better and find their way back to Hinduism, all problems will be solved. "If they don't want that, of course, then there are neighboring Muslim countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh, to which we can emigrate."

The RSS movement is like a family that takes good care of their relatives: The RSS brings about many marriages, and the children that arise from it then go to the schools that the organization runs. Adults could count on the rope teams that the RSS has established in all institutions and authorities. The RSS determines life, right down to the details: "This year, on the advice of the section, we exchanged our fairy lights that we hang up for Diwali," reports Bhardwaj. He and his wife would have thrown away the “Made in China” lanterns and bought new ones “Made in India”.

By providing the education, health care and social services normally provided by the secular state, the RSS creates a parallel world, says journalist Ashutosh Gupta. "There are many families who are now in the second or third generation of RSS members and who believe everything that the movement leads them to believe." India is deeply polarized, Gupta complains.

"Discrimination is the order of the day." In his apartment block in Nodia, a middle-class suburb of Delhi, a neighbor sold one of the 160 apartments to a Muslim. The seller was therefore attacked, the new family will be cut. In view of such conditions, the 54-year-old is very concerned that the situation in his home country could soon turn into violence. "India is heading for a big, bad disaster."