Book Launch of “Rising Hindutva & its Impact on the Region”
Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad
February 20, 2019
“With the veneer of Gandhi’s non-violence and Nehru’s secularism cast aside, the current trajectory of the Indian leadership will have ominous geopolitical implications, particularly for Pakistan. It is ironic that western powers, who have promoted the Indian narrative of an extremist threat to nuclear weapons in Pakistan, are shying away from indicating the dangerous trend of “Hindutva” in India.” This was stated by General (Retd.) Ehsan-ul-Haq, former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, during his address as a chief guest at the book launch ceremony of Rising Hindutva & its Impact on the Region, organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) today. At the event Ambassador (Retd.) Ashraf Jehangir Qazi and former Senator, Mr. Nisar Memon also addressed the participants and shared their reviews of the book. The launch was attended by foreign diplomats, scholars, journalists and students.
The book is authored by Group Captain (Retd.) S. M. Hali and provides insight to “Hindutva Hindus” as well as “non-Hindutva Hindus.” It is a recommended read for policymakers in Pakistan especially given the current Indian government’s belief in Hindutva philosophy. Mr. Hali said that it is extremely clear that the Pulwama attack was a pre-meditated attack to draw attention away from the Indian atrocities happening in Kashmir. We have to be ready to deal with an enemy that is extremely “aggressive” he said.
During his remarks, General Ehsan-ul-Haq stated that a particularly ominous facet of Hindutva is its ingress into the Indian military. Inductions, which preach extremist communalism, Hindu supremacy and hatred for minorities, particularly Muslims, are likely to impact the image of the armed forces. Additionally, he said that careful analysis the book brings forth and consolidates the evidence on the intolerance inherent in Hinduism and its accentuation into extremist interpretation. He went on to say that the existential challenges that India poses require that Pakistan be the base of the most accurate and comprehensive research on India. Besides the obvious study of the politico-strategic environment, Pakistan also needs to focus on the Indian socio-cultural environment.
While introducing the book, Mr. Hali said that during writing the book, he made it a point to include the Indian opinions, to showcase that there are sane Indian scholars and critics who recognise the threat emanating from the Hindutva philosophy. Sideways, during the course of writing, he has tried to disprove many of the myths regarding Hindutva, he said.
Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi said that the book is a very useful and contemporary political record and analysis of Hindu chauvinism evolving from the margins of the Indian politics to its mainstream. From being an Indian aberration in response to the Muslim and colonial rule, Hindutva has now become the Indian norm and India’s main vehicle for the realisation of its great power aspirations. The upcoming Indian elections in 2019 will test this thesis, he said. He also called on the governments of both Pakistan and India to consider specific steps to reduce and eliminate misinformation and hatred.
Mr. Nisar Memon called the book a unique addition, useful for all stakeholders, specifically for the people and policymakers of the Hindu Kush, Himalaya Karakoram region. India must come to terms with the reality that neighbours cannot be changed nor can the common challenges that face both countries he said. In foreign relations, India’s record with its neighbours is dismal. This book is a necessary reminder to highlight what sort of government in India, Pakistan needs to take cognisance in this regard. Whether the Indians will go the path of peace, prosperity and development or one of war are for the Indians to decide and something only the 2019 elections will exhibit, he said.
Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Ambassador (Retd.) Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, called this book special since it comes at a time when India is going through its internal transformation. The author outlines how the Hindutva ideology will only serve to exacerbate existing fault lines in India since it seeks primacy of Hinduism and exclusion of minorities in India. In the backdrop of the Pulwama attack and the warmongering hysteria being whipped by the Indian media, which is touching dangerous levels, this book is a timely addition. “It is our hope that instead of levelling baseless allegations the Indian leadership would do well to focus on what dangerous grounds its own ideology is breeding,” he said.
Ambassador (Retd.) Khalid Mahmood, Chairman ISSI, in his concluding remarks said that it is not only the Muslims but every minority residing in India that are subjected to maltreatment as a result of the spread of the Hindutva doctrine. Even within the Hindu circles, the Dalits have not been spared. In fact, Hindutva is poisoning the whole polity of India and its society and the situation has worsened with the advent of Prime Minister Modi. Externally, the hatred being spewed by India against Pakistan is an example of the external implementation of Hindutva. We hope that the liberal-minded people in India not only recognise the growing danger in India but try to stop its spread.