The Saffron Wave - Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India

The Saffron Wave - Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India

Product ID: 14025

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Author: Thomas Blom Hansen
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2001
Language: English
Pages: 293
ISBN/UPC (if available): 019565613X


In this book, Thomas Blom Hansen analyses the Indian receptivity to the right-wing Hindu nationalist party and its political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which claims to create a polity based on ancient Hindu culture. Rather than interpreting Hindu nationalism as a mainly religious phenomenon, or a strictly political movement, the author places the BJP within the context of the larger transformations of democratic governance in India.

Hansen demonstrates that democratic transformation has enabled such developments as political mobilization among the lower castes and civil protections for religious minorities. Against this backdrop, the Hindu nationalist movement has successfully articulated the anxieties and desires of the large and amorphous Indian middle class. A form of conservative populism, the movement has attracted not only privileged groups fearing encroachment on their dominant positions but also plebeian and impoverished groups seeking recognition around a majoritarian rhetoric of cultural pride, order and national strength.

Combining political theory, ethnographic material, and sensitivity to colonial rule and postcolonial theory, The Saffron Wave offers fresh insights into Indian politics and advances our understanding of democracy in the postcolonial world. It should appeal to political scientists, sociologists, historians, as well as the lay reader.


Hansen’s book is a brilliant account of the rise of Hindu nationalism not as an illegitimate anti-thesis of democracy in independent India, but as something which is a product of the deepening roots of democracy itself.

On the whole (this book) is a welcome addition to the growing literature on Hindu nationalism and its reading is indispensable for understanding social and cultural causes of the growth of Hindu nationalism in India.
-Economic and Political Weekly

Hansen’s strength lies in his ability to marry localized ethnographic accounts to a more formalistic analysis of ideological tracts.


Hindu Nationalism and Democracy in India

Modernity, Nation, and Democracy in India

Imagining the Hindu Nation

Organizing the Hindu Nation

Democracy, Populism, and Governance in India in the 1980s

The Saffron Wave

Communal Identities at the Heart of the Nation

Hindu Nationalism, Democracy, and Globalization