First as Farce, Then as Tragedy

Hindu nationalism is the modality in which the crisis of postcolonial capitalism is lived.
A few months ago, the BJP-led rightwing government in India decided to broadcast an old cult adaptation of the ancient literary epic Ramayana on national television. When this TV adaptation was first broadcast during 1987-88, it played a momentous role in catalyzing the emergence of the Hindu rightwing, represented by its political outfit, the relatively newly formed BJP. The TV adaptation was watched by around 80-100 million people across the country. In the Hindi-speaking belt of North India, the TV adaptation’s kitschy valorization of the Hindu kingdom of Rama, the divine protagonist of Ramayana, gained unprecedented popularity, to the extent that the very act of watching the show became a religious ritual, and the TV sets were transformed into shrines for collective worship of Rama. Building on the TV adaptation’s unexpected popularity, L.K. Advani, the leading rightwing ideologue, undertook a nationwide rath… Read More...