IGSD Brown Bag-Craig Danielson- HU&A -"Secularism Fatigue: An Ethical Analysis of Indian Media Reaction to Hindu Nationalist Yogi Becoming Leader of India's Largest State"

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Floor/Room #: 
Mid Century Room

 

"Secularism Fatigue: An Ethical Analysis of Indian Media Reaction to Hindu Nationalist Yogi Becoming Leader of India's Largest State"

 

This paper examines the ethical stance behind Indian media reaction to Hindu nationalist leader Yogi Adityanath's selection as Chief Minister of India's largest state, Uttar Pradesh (or UP) in 2017.  A five-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament, Adityanath is a Hindu ascetic known for making anti-Muslim statements.  He also faces criminal charges including attempted murder, defiling a place of worship, and inciting a riot.  He also recently said that the Taj Mahal, his state's major tourist attraction, is not reflective of Indian culture, presumably because of it being a Mughal (therefore Muslim) monument. Adityanath was not chosen by the voters but selected by his party after his party won a landslide victory, largely based on the Prime Minister's inclusive campaign promises of "development with and for all."  No major Indian editorial in the English-language press explicitly cited Indian secularism as a reason for why Adityanath was unfit to be Chief Minister.  This is surprising given that a candidate's secularity used to be a much more prominent criterion for judging a politician's moral worthiness for Indian office.  Candidates, like Adityanath, often were denounced by the press for being anti-secular for, among other things, making anti-minority comments.  By "secularism" Indians do not generally mean any of the numerous "Western" notions of secularism, such as a non-religious society or separationist notions of religion and state/politics.  Just as there is no single definition of secularism in the West, there are competing versions of Indian "secularism." Indian politicians generally use the term "secular" in ways similar to "tolerance"," "pluralism", or "multiculturalism." That none of the critical editorials invoked the term "secularism," may be a sign of "secularism fatigue" that political invocations of "secularism" are less effective or perhaps even counterproductive in contemporary India. 

 

Audience(s):