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Hindu Nationalism in India

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Photo of Sally Warhaft, Shashi Tharoor and Meena Kandasamy

Sally Warhaft, Shashi Tharoor and Meena Kandasamy — Photo: Sophie Quick

In 2014, Narendra Modi swept into power as Prime Minister of India; he did so on a pro-business, pro-development platform and on a wave of Hindu nationalism.

It was a spectacular victory and, if the decisive recent state election results for his party in Uttar Pradesh are any indication, he remains a popular figure with many Indians – around 80% of whom are Hindus – several years into his leadership.

But India is a country with significant populations of religious minorities. Among other religious groups, especially Muslims, and among some concerned Hindu Indians too, there is deep concern about the rising tide of Hindu nationalism in the population. Of particular concern are Modi’s alignment with the extremist nationalist groups, his history of turning a blind-eye to acts of right-wing violence and vigilantism and the growing culture of media censorship.

Join authors Shashi Tharoor and Meena Kandasamy as they talk politics and religion in the world’s largest democracy, with host Sally Warhaft.

Presented in partnership with Melbourne Writers Festival.

Photo of the discussion

Photo: Sophie Quick


Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.

Portrait of Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor is an award-winning author of 16 fiction and nonfiction books, a politician and former international civil servant. Tharoor’s books include the path-breaking satire The Great Indian Novel, the classic India: From Midnight to the Millennium and the visionary Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century. His latest book, Inglorious Empire, was released in 2017.

He has won numerous literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Now a second-term Lok Sabha Member of Parliament representing Thiruvananthapuram, and chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, he served as Minister of State for human resource development and external affairs in the Government of India. During his nearly three-decade-long career at the United Nations, he served as a peacekeeper, refugee worker and administrator at the highest levels, serving as Under-Secretary General during Kofi Annan’s leadership.

Portrait of Meena Kandasamy

Meena Kandasamy

Meena Kandasamy is a poet, fiction writer, translator and activist who lives in London. She has published two collections of poetry, Touch and Ms. Militancy, and has performed her work at literature festivals around the world. The Gypsy Goddess, her critically acclaimed novel about the 1968 Kilvenmani massacre of 44 Dalit agricultural labourers in Tanjore, was chosen as the Independent’s debut of the year and shortlisted for several awards.

Her second novel, When I Hit You: Or, The Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife was published this year. She was a fellow of the international writing program at the University of Iowa in 2009, and a British Council Charles Wallace fellow in 2011. She holds a PhD in sociolinguistics and has written for Al Jazeera, the Hindu, India Today, Himal and Newsweek’s Middle East edition, among other places. Her work has appeared in 18 languages.

The Fifth Estate

The important stories of the day – off the front pages.

Sally Warhaft hosts a dizzying array of guests from the worlds of politics, culture, international relations and beyond, in a witty and revealing analysis of current affairs.