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Of Boundaries and Border Crossings

Abstract: Much has been written on Hindu nationalism in the past few years. Indeed, the rapid ascendancy of the Hindu Right has been the focus of attention of numerous scholars from a wide variety of disciplines. What remains neglected thus far is the role of recent migrations from Bangladesh, increasingly characterized in popular parlance as ‘infiltration’. The present paper aims to rectify this situation. Applying James Scott's framework on social domination and dissent, this paper identifies and explores the convoluted ties between the phenomenal growth of the Hindu nationalist forces, and clandestine population flows from Bangladesh. The paper argues that while the official sanitized transcript of hindutva positions Indian Muslims at the margins of Hindu nation, undocumented Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh are increasingly viewed as a severe threat to the security and integrity of the Hindu nation. The staggering signal of an ‘invisible invasion’ of India by Bangladeshi ‘infiltrators’ has been expressed through an overt discourse circulated through the media and ‘hindutva press’. Public discourse has been further bolstered through public rituals of migrant deportation and expulsion. Ironically, as this paper reveals, overt deferential treatment of the sangh parivar by the immigrants is appended to a series of covert narratives and practices that present a serious challenge to the authority of the state and hegemony of the Hindu Right.

Sujata Ramachandran
Taylor and Francis Online