Seva, Hindutva, and the Politics of Post-Earthquake Relief and Reconstruction in Rural Kutch

Bhattacharjee, Malini (2016) Seva, Hindutva, and the Politics of Post-Earthquake Relief and Reconstruction in Rural Kutch. Asian Ethnology, 75 (1). pp. 75-104.

[img] Text - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (260kB) | Request a copy


The phenomenal rise of Hindu nationalism in Indian politics is in part attributed to its grassroots work centered on a strategy of sevā (social service), which is operated through an array of Hindu nationalist organizations. Participation in service activities paves the way for an embedded form of mobilization that is seemingly unthreatening as it is subtle, nonviolent, and clothed in humanitarianism, in contrast to the more virulent forms of mobilization that are common to the politics of the Hindu Right. Based on empirical evidence drawn from three villages in rural Kutch, this article attempts to understand the ways in which participation in relief and reconstruction after the Bhuj earthquake of 2001 provided an opportunity for the Hindu Right to undertake a creative form of political mobilization that deepened and broadened its support. The disaster relief operation enabled Hindu Rights organizations, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to disseminate and consolidate their ideology of Hinduness (hindutva) and recruit new members. The role of the Hindu Right in relation to the state government in Gujarat is also critically examined. The article highlights the under-analyzed aspects of the moral complexity of evaluating the humanitarian work of the Hindu Right by drawing attention to the compassionate side of the movement.

Item Type: Article
Authors: Bhattacharjee, Malini
Document Language:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Disaster, Earthquake, Hindu, Nationalism, Kutch
Subjects: Social sciences > Political Science
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Public Policy and Governance
Full Text Status: Restricted
Publisher URL:

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item