In light of his most recent travels to India, Matthew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross, wrote an op-ed for Worcester’s Telegram & Gazette on Narendra Modi, India’s newly appointed prime minister and a very controversial figure. Modi, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, announced he would be standing for parliament from Varanasi, considered one of the most sacred cities for Hindus, as well as being a part of India’s most populated and politically influential state. Although there is concern for Modi’s potential push of a Hindu nationalist agenda, religious tensions were eclipsed by the excitement surrounding the announcement.
Economic growth is among the positive outcomes expected from Modi’s appointment. “It is true that Indian economic growth has slowed in recent years — especially in urban areas like Varanasi,” writes Schmalz. “While Modi does have a strong Hindu nationalist constituency, his support was quite broad and cannot be reduced to simple jingoism. He himself worked at his family tea shop in his youth and his rags to riches story has a strong resonance for many Indians hoping for a society that increases opportunities for all Indians, not just those for those in the political class.”
This is a “Holy Cross in the News” item by Evangelia Stefanakos.
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