Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

Professor Varshney Publishes New Column in The Indian Express | The Bharat Mata Pivot

March 30, 2016

Bharat Mata statue

Yesterday, March 30, Professor Ashutosh Varshney published a new column, The Bharat Bata pivot.

In this column on The Indian Express, Professor Varshney makes two arguments:

  1. India's cultural transformation is now the BJP's primary political project, not the country's economic transformation, which may or may not happen.  If an economic transformation comes about, it will be celebrated.  If not, a cultural narrative is being built around Mother India, a popular narrative that goes beyond a purely Hindu imagery.
  2. In developing this narrative, the BJP is bowing to the RSS. The BJP's dependence on the RSS is very substantial.  The RSS is driven by a cultural agenda, not an economic one.  For the RSS, Bharat Mata is Hindu, even if for millions of non-RSS Indians, Bharat Mata has great resonance.  In that sense, BJP is crafting a narrative that has two meanings: a nationalist one for a lot of people, and a HIndu nationalist one for those influenced by the RSS.

Read the full column