The Bharatiya Janata Party’s practices emerge from the grounds of managerialism. They manage, not just institutions and polity but the emotions especially fear, the anxieties, the sentiment and the social position of individuals in the country. Managing social position manifest in practices that enable and are rooted in caste-based discrimination, a legacy of any and all religions and peoples of the Indian subcontinent since time immemorial (including Islam and Christianity which the BJP has managed to demarcate as non-indic). The perversity of BJP as managers of social positions lies in the manner in which they have produced products that generates the lexicon of otherness, materially damaging those who are marked as other. These products are used to bloodily manage who is considered as others thereby allowing for alter-managerialism or a managerialism of otherness by organizations of the Sangh Parivar.
The Sangh Parivar is a political counterpart to the Gandhi Parivar. While the latter is biological, the former is organizational. While the latter normalizes the everydayness of violence, the former feeds on it for its sustenance. However, as large families they both continue to dominate the political landscape of India, muffling dissent and producing otherness. The progenitor of the various organizations of the Sangh Parivar is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an exclusionary and paramilitary group and these organizations includes the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal. Collectively they congregate around an assembly line of hatred producing products of Hindutva using which they manipulate people, their emotions, ideologies, affiliation, perspectives; they generate discourses, narrative and rhetorics using these products that destroy people’s lives in blood and flesh.
The Sangh Parivar manipulates minds against others, making one wonder whether the current trajectory of manipulation of the mind will ever pave the road to reconcile the beaming and totalitarian hatred that currently pervades India. The damage done by their products are irreversible as they wrap these products in colorful language of cultural celebration, crime, law and order, protectionism and social development. Their mastery is not only in the manufacturing of these products but the way in which they camouflage the hate generating products in colorful and popularly desirable packages. This is very similar to how businesses enthrall us, tap onto our insecurities through colorful products arranged orderly in the racks of supermarket that has no substance. A prime example of such artsy practices of packaging is Narendra Modi.
But this article is not about Narendra Modi, the Sangh Parivar’s serendipitous product. The totalitarian and towering image of Narendra Modi often overshadows other products of the Sangh Parivar. These other products, of which my list is only limited, are roots of hatred. They spread the lexicon of otherness and hatred across the lands of the Union of India that the Sangh seeks to occupy and conquer. The pollen and seeds from the beautiful flowers of hatred is further blown out by the saffron wind. Some say that the saffron wind carries the stench of blood from the various riots and lynching that the Sangh has enabled, the recent ones being the 2020 Delhi Riots and the lynching of Mohammed Alamgir. The Sangh, blatantly put, is here to conquer India and we call its offspring the BJP regime, a government. Laughable!
Alter-managerialism brings together industrial managerialist virtues of discipline, regimen and control and systemic neo-liberal values of invisible, decentralized and unruly (yet entangled) expansion with a vision to generate “others.” The first product of BJP’s alter-managerialism is Yoga. In his first UN General Assembly, Narendra Modi remarked, “[y]oga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition” and called for an International Yoga Day. The UN passed the resolution, without a vote, on December 11, 2014. Since then the world celebrates International Yoga day on June 21 every year. The problem here is not that Yoga is celebrated internationally or that the soulfulness of the practice is recognized internationally. The problem is rather the way the practice enables the production of otherness by constructing a vision for “being Indian.”
The moment I share with an American or a foreigner that I am from India, they say that they practice Yoga every day. I fail to understand how it is of any relevance to my Indianness which extends beyond Yoga. Further when I reveal, if need be, my identity, I have also been asked—”are there Muslims in India?” Hence the problem is in the way alter-managerialism of the right wing in India creates patterns of association for orientalists to imagine what they call India—a place where Yoga, as an ancient Indian tradition, is practiced and a place where there are no Muslims.
Hence, while Yoga is packaged as a cultural artifact deemed worthy of cultural celebration, the association of Yoga with Ancient India provides a vision that propels imagination about ancient Indian traditions along the lines of Hinduism. The way Yoga is packaged also gives meanings to Hinduism, to quote Modi, like “unity,” “harmony” and a “lifestyle” change, in ways it does not reflect the extremist Hindu practices adopted by a few in India today namely, the need to make India into a Hindu Nation. In such a way, BJP’s alter-managerialism enables the production of Hindu supremacy and extends Hinduness as the ultimate form of Indianness. The problem, to state clearly, is not Hinduism (however, the religion like every other religion has its share in discrimination) but Hindu supremacy.
The next product of BJP’s alter-managerialism on display is the Ram Mandir. Extensive amount of toxic ink on environmentally damaging papers has been shed on the Ram Mandir debate and how it helped BJP reclaim power and produce hatred against Muslims. However, what important to note is Ram Mandir, as product, was used to change the meanings of law, peace and justice, thereby giving them newer meanings in shades of saffron. On November 9, 2019, when the Ram Mandir Judgment was passed, legality emerged as a matter of faith, peace became a burden on Muslims to fulfil by staying silent after the verdict and justice canoed as revenge. Ram Mandir as a product rendered the Hindutva manufacturing unit efficient and popularly likable, earning them a faithful electorate.
To a “secular” Hindu, one who is against CAA and NRC, the Ram Mandir is a cultural pleasure that’s enjoyed indoors, dare I say, on bed—a symbolism that demonstrate its libidinal economy, and not publicly. It is similar to how that secular Hindu experiences Hindu Rashtra—secretly proud of the prospect and unconsciously desiring a Hindu Rashtra that allows them to overlook or stay indifferent to the everyday lynching, destruction of mosques and the fear among their Muslims neighbours and other minorities. The indifferent Hindu then joins the chorus of jingoism celebrating Modi’s vision of neoliberal development or the construction of a new parliament, calling him a statesman. For that Hindu, the developmental agenda should not be confused with lynching or the fact that law and order in India is in shambles. However, the alter-managerial strategy of centralized yet diffused control ridicules the conscious attention of a rational mind, like yours and mine, to fragment and categorize issues of concern, say communalism vs. development, thereby producing a generous reading of the regime’s practices. It has to be read together under regimes of alter-managerialism.
The last product of BJP’s alter-managerialism is “the Muslim.” The Muslim who rolls out of the alter-managerialist assembly line of Hindutva is one who is a criminal—abandons his wife, is inherently anti-national, a youth who is trained in vaginal oral sex and eventually, trapping woman in love Jihad, a cow smuggler, terrorist and who should be sent to Pakistan. Without the product Muslim, the BJP would not have been possible. But more critically, the product Muslim lets any discussion on the Indian States violence against Muslims of India spiral down the void of identity politics. Against “the Muslim” who is the Other are political and critical Muslims of India, India’s selves, who are unifying against regimes of exclusion and exclusiveness and questioning products of Hindutva. The struggles continues.