Skip to main content

Xenophobic Delights

Narendra Modi made nationalism India’s national pastime. The kind of nationalism that he advocates is a very narrow-minded view which amounts to his personal conviction that India is the greatest country because he was born in it. Hand in hand with that narcissism walks xenophobia. Modi’s xenophobia is not so much fear as hatred of the others. He has succeeded in raising hatred to the stature of a virtue. In 2019, Time reported that 90% of the hate crimes in the past decade happened during Modi’s reign as PM. Today, three years later, that figure will be higher, no doubt. 99% of hate crimes in the last decade in India must have happened with Modi’s tacit support.

In 2016, an online dictionary cited xenophobia as the word of the year. The ascent of Trump with his kind of xenophobia is what prompted the dictionary to highlight that word. Trump hated a whole lot of people. He got along very well with Modi, however. Similar souls who had many things to hate and few to love.

Xenophobia is a serious problem in many parts of the world today. While globalisation opened up the borders of nations, it made many people wary of others who came from different countries. As Shashi Tharoor writes in his book, The Battle of Belonging, the complexities of globalisation created a lot of nationalism and xenophobia. You find their expression “in Brexit and the Hungarians sealing their borders, both Hindutva in India and the rise of Alternative für Deutschland in Germany.”

Hindutva hates not only people of other countries but also the minority communities of its own country. This kind of xenophobia is nothing new, of course. The 15th century Spain expelled Muslims and Jews because of xenophobia. The European conquest of America led to the extermination or enslavement of the native people. The Americans may pretend to be tolerant and broadminded. But the truth is that they are as bigoted as any others. They considered the Italian immigrants as racially inferior. They hated Irish Catholicism. Asians in America were subjects of many stereotypes. Hate crimes against Asians rose in America by 150% since Covid-19 broke out. Outside America, many of the genocides in 20th century owed themselves to xenophobia. India has joined that gang of xenophobes under Modi’s leadership.

There is something uniquely peculiar to xenophobia in India. It is a kind of entertainment here. Take this example, one among hundreds. A young man is tied up, bleeding profusely all over his body, hands folded, and is lynched by a mob that tells him to chant Jai Sri Ram and Jai Hanuman. Just imagine that scene. Can you see the fervour of the assaulters as they utter the names of their gods? Can you feel the horror of it? Can you see the mockery they make of their religion? This happened in Jharkhand on 22 June 2019. The victim, Tabrez Ansari, was beaten for hours until he died.

Pardon me for citing one more example. Two days after the attack on Ansari, a 26-year-old Muslim teacher was thrown out of a train in West Bengal. His attackers too chanted Jai Sri Ram.

I can go on with umpteen such examples. It’s horrifying. But every time I imagine such scenes, I find a tickle poking me between my ribs subduing my feelings of horror. The tickle tells me that I live in an India which has become more ludicrous than horrifying. My India is enjoying the delights of xenophobia.

PS. I am participating in #BlogchatterA2Z

Previous Post: Wiesenthal’s Revenge

Tomorrow: Yesterday


  1. All I can feel is pain in today's post. Many turning blind eye to such crimes pains me more.....don't know what to do....

    Dropping by from a to z "The Pensive"

    1. It's deeply painful. What pains me more is that the Supreme Pontiff of this system is getting increasingly popular. I find that ludicrously painful.

  2. Hari OM
    It really does ache deep within, does it not Tomichan? One does despair... YAM xx

    1. Yes, Yamini. A thousand yeses.

      By the way, your comment to my last post disappeared as soon as i responded to it. My response too vanished. Mystery.

    2. Hari Om
      Blogger/Google are trying to 'improve' on something that wasn't broken because it doesn't look current... comments are disappearing, or going to spam, and all sorts of peculiar things. Each day is different - it will settle. Eventually! Yxx

  3. Violence makes me xenophobic. The perpetrators of the violence according me have no religion and unfortunately there are thousands on both sides, all sides of the 'non-violence' line. And no commune, no country in this world is free from such perpetrators.

    1. Violence has religion, Anagha. As long as violence is committed in the name of gods, it has religion. To say things like "terrorism has no religion" is to blind ourselves to certain obvious truths.

  4. Reading and watching such events are a big trigger for me like many, but I wonder how is that hate has been so easily able to spread its roots in the masses. Can we always blame the politicians? Why is it that the common man is so blind today?


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

An Aberration of Kali Yuga

Are we Indians now living in an aberrant period of history? A period that is far worse than the puranic Kali Yuga? A period in which gods decide to run away in fear of men? That’s a very provocative question, isn’t it, especially in a time when people are being arrested for raising much more innocuous questions than that? But I raise my hands in surrender because I’m not raising this question; the Malayalam movie that Maggie and I watched is. Before I go to the provocations of the movie, I am compelled to clarify a spelling problem with the title of the movie. The title is Bhramayugam [ ഭ്രമയുഗം] in Malayalam. But the movie’s records and ads write it as Bramayugam [ ബ്രമയുഗം ] which would mean the yuga of Brama. Since Brama doesn’t mean anything in Malayalam, people like me will be tempted to understand it as the yuga of Brahma . In fact, that is how I understood it until Maggie corrected me before we set off to watch the movie by drawing my attention to the Malayalam spelling

Karma in Gita

I bought a copy of annotated Bhagavad Gita a few months back with the intention of understanding the scripture better since I’m living in a country that has become a Hindu theocracy in all but the Constitution. After reading the first part [chapters 1 to 6] which is about Karma, I gave up. Shelving a book [literally and metaphorically] is not entirely strange to me. If a book fails to appeal to me after a reasonable number of pages, I abandon it. The Gita failed to make sense to me just like any other scripture. That’s not surprising since I’m not a religious kind of a person. I go by reason. I accept poetry which is not quite rational. Art is meaningful for me though I can’t detect any logic in it. Even mysticism is acceptable. But the kind of stuff that Krishna was telling Arjuna didn’t make any sense at all. To me. Just a sample. When Arjuna says he doesn’t want to fight the war because he can’t kill his own kith and kin, Krishna’s answer is: Fight. If you are killed, you win he

Kabir the Guru - 1

Kabirvad Kabirvad is a banyan tree in Gujarat. It is named after Kabir, the mystic poet and saint of the 15 th century. There is a legend behind the tree. Two brothers are in search of a guru. They have an intuitive feeling that the guru will appear when they are ready for it. They plant a dry banyan root at a central spot in their courtyard. Whenever a sadhu passes by, they wash his feet at this particular spot. Their conviction is that the root will sprout into a sapling when their guru appears. Years pass and there’s no sign of any sapling. No less than four decades later, the sapling rises. The man who had come the previous day was a beggarly figure whom the brothers didn’t treat particularly well though they gave him some water to drink out of courtesy. But the sapling rose, after 40 years! So the brothers went in search of that beggarly figure. Kabir, the great 15 th century mystic poet, had been their guest. The legend says that the brothers became Kabir’s disciples. The b

Raising Stars

Bringing up children is both an art and a science. The parents must have certain skills as well as qualities and value systems if the children are to grow up into good human beings. How do the Bollywood stars bring up their children? That is an interesting subject which probably no one studied seriously until Rashmi Uchil did. The result of her study is the book titled Raising Stars: The challenges and joys of being a Bollywood parent . The book brings us the examples of no less than 26 Bollywood personalities on how they brought up their children in spite of their hectic schedules and other demands of the profession. In each chapter, the author highlights one particular virtue or skill or quality from each of these stars to teach us about the importance of that aspect in bringing up children. Managing anger, for example, is the topic of the first chapter where Mahima Chowdhary is our example. We move on to gender equality, confidence, discipline, etc, and end with spirituality whi

Kabir the Guru – 2

Read Part 1 of thi s here . K abir lived in the 15 th century. But his poems and songs are still valued. Being illiterate, he didn’t write them. They were passed on orally until they were collected by certain enthusiasts into books. Vipul Rikhi’s book, Drunk on Love: The Life, Vision and Songs of Kabir , not only brings the songs and poems together in one volume but also seeks to impart the very spirit of Kabir to the reader. Kabir is not just a name, the book informs us somewhere in the beginning. Kabir is a tradition. He is a legend, a philosophy, poetry and music. I would add that Kabir was a mystic. Most of his songs have something to do with spirituality. They strive to convey the deep meaning of reality. They also question the ordinary person’s practice of religion. They criticise the religious leaders such as pandits and mullahs. Though a Muslim, Kabir was immensely taken up by Ram, the Hindu god, for reasons known only to him perhaps. Most of the songs are about the gr