After independence in 1947, India’s political establishment, dominated by Westernized Fabian socialists and pseudo-secular nihilists, continued to regard the Hindus with contempt and suspicion. Their feelings for the Hindus is candidly captured in these lines spoken by Lily Chatterjee, a character in Paul Scott’s 1966 novel The Jewel in the Crown:
“And Hindu did not mean Congress. No, no. Please be aware of the distinction. In this case Hindu meant Hindu Mahasabha. Hindu nationalism. Hindu narrowness. It meant rich banias with little education, landowners who spoke worse English than the youngest English subdivisional officer his eager but halting Hindi. It meant sitting without shoes and with your feet curled up on the chair, eating only horrible vegetarian dishes and drinking disgusting fruit juices."
Lily Chatterjee is right when she says, “And Hindu did not mean Congress.” India’s political establishment—led by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and a handful of other dynasties—took the Hindus for granted. They expected the Hindus to vote for them during elections but they were hostile to Hindu aspirations. They imposed false secularism on the country to appease the minorities while making the Hindus feel guilty about their religion, culture, and history.
Hindu nationalism became a factor in Indian politics in the 1990s—in the aftermath of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement spearheaded by L. K. Advani and other rightwing leaders. The demand of the nationalists did not stop at cultural issues—some rightwing groups railed against the failures of Nehruvian socialism and campaigned for economic reforms. Hindu nationalism and economic reforms have marched in tandem since the 1990s.