India is considered the largest liberal democracy in the world. It is home to a widely celebrated secular national identity despite its ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity. This distinction sets India apart as a successful role model for heterogeneous developing countries transitioning to democracy. This impression is, however, tempered by persistent communal violence dating to Indian independence from the British rule in 1947. Over the last few decades, this group violence, particularly between the religious majority and minorities, appears to have increased. The rise in communal violence has coincided with the ascendance of Hindu nationalists in Indian politics, thus raising questions about their connection with this trend. This thesis analyzes the role of Hindu nationalist organizations and their ideology in promoting political violence in India. It contrasts primordialist and instrumentalist arguments and, based on a range of evidence, finds support for the instrumentalist argument that Hindu nationalist organizations deliberately promote communal violence in India to build support among their base and advance their political interests. The outcome of this analysis will assist in the study of domestic communal violence in India and the implications of this violence for India’s secular national identity as a heterogeneous country.
Mabry, Tristan J.
Security Studies (Combating Terrorism: Policy and Strategy)
Naval Postgraduate School
Master of Arts in Security Studies (Combating Terrorism: Policy and Strategy)
National Security Affairs (NSA)
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