Hindutva - The Height of Ethnocentrism

Gujrat polls resurrected Hindutva. The victory of BJP in the state has led to the resumption of Hindu Rashtra theory of BJP. Since then common masses have witnessed apprehensive outburst of minority leaders and political moves of ruling party that defies explanation. The concept of secularism was mooted considering multicultural needs of India. Leaders of earlier times used slogans like 'Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai ' apas mein sab bhai-bhai' to strengthen bonds among people belonging to different religions. The present generation of politician is however leaving no stone unturned to widen the rift. What India facing today is ethnocentrism in every quarter. Hindutva is just another face of this multifaceted malady. Its ironical that the ruling party whose primary responsibility is to ensure communal peace is promoting Hindutva as the prerequisite for unified Hindu nation. If BJP is using Hindutva as a bait to attract Hindu who constitute major section of the Indian society. Leaders of minority try to woo their People through reservation. One problem that hinders intercultural communication is the tendency to see others and their behaviors through cultural filters.

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to evaluate the values, beliefs, and behavior of your own culture as more positive than other cultures. Ideally you would see both yourself and others as different but equal, with neither being inferior or superior. Ethnocentrism exists on continuum. People are not either ethnocentric or not ethnocentric. Most are somewhere between these polar opposites.

The Ethnocentrism continuum

Degree of
  Equality Treat others as equals; views different customs and ways of behavior as equal to self's.
  Sensitivity Wants to decrease distance between self and others.
  Indifference Lacks concern for others; prefers to interact in a world of similar others.
  Avoidance Avoids and limits communications; especially intimate ones with inter-culturally different others.
  Disparagement Engages in hostile behaviors; belittles others; views different cultures and ways of behaving as inferior to self's.

If we analyze Gujrat situation and how Modi managed to win despite all odds. Modi made a simple analysis of his target audience. He realized that nationality, race and cultural identification are crucial points. Groups that have experienced recent oppression may be more concerned with immediate goals and with more immediate means of effecting changes in their lives. Many want revolutionary rather than evolutionary changes. Oppressed groups often can not afford the luxury of idealism. Another argument is that since people are composites of logic and emotions, effective appeals must be based in part on emotions. However, this does not answer the question of whether emotional appeals are ethical ; It merely states that they are effective. As long as ethnocentrism lingers in the heart of Indians witty politicians will continue to use it to their advantage. We should seriously work towards promoting intercultural communication. Intercultural and inter-religious marriages could answer problem of ethnocentrism by allowing mixing of people. But for the moment that seems a remote possibility.  


More by :  Jaya Sharma

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