1st Edition

Hindu Nationalism and Terrorism in India The Saffron Threat to Democracy

By Eamon Murphy Copyright 2024
    186 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book discusses terrorism and the rise of Hindu nationalism in contemporary India and examines how this movement has become a threat to democracy in the country.

    The work analyses the rise of Hindu nationalism, culminating in the success of Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political arm of the movement, in the 2019 Indian national elections. It offers an accessible account of the complexities and subtleties of Hindu nationalism and the dangers it poses to India’s pluralistic democracy and secularism. A major theme of the book is the role that terrorism has played in the rise of Hindu nationalism, a factor often underplayed or ignored in other studies, and it also challenges the widespread belief that terrorism is largely an Islamic phenomenon. Employing a cross-disciplinary approach, the book is highly relevant to both academics and policymakers, given India’s importance as a major global economic and military power.

    This book will be of interest to students of terrorism and political violence, South Asian history, Indian politics and international relations, as well as policymakers.


    1. Hinduism, Caste and Politics: An Overview

    2. Islam and Christianity in the Indian Sub-Continent: Myths and Misconceptions

    3. Hindu Nationalism: A Historical Overview

    4. The Militias and Foot Soldiers of Hindutva Terror

    5. The politics of religious extremism: The destruction of the Babri Masjid

    6. State Terrorism, Politics and Communal Violence in the Indian State of Gujarat, 2002

    7. Terrorism in "Paradise": Hindu Nationalism, Terrorism and Politics in the Kashmir Valley

    8. Contemporary Developments: The Saffron Threat to Indian Liberal Democracy



    Eamon Murphy is Adjunct Professor, School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, Curtin University, Western Australia. He has researched and taught South Asian history and politics for over 55 years. His publications include Islam and Sectarian Violence in Pakistan: The Terror Within (Abington: Routledge, 2019).

    'Eamon Murphy, a recognized South Asian expert, peals the skin of current Indian politics in his new book on Hindu nationalism and the threat to democracy. Like his previous books on Pakistan, this volume on India promises to be a most useful resource in understanding the problem of terrorism that vexes the subcontinent.'

    Dipak K. Gupta, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University, USA

    'This highly accessible book will be of great use to anyone interested in exploring the rise of Hindu Nationalism in India through the lens of Critical Terrorism Studies. Murphy’s study of the relationship between the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Samaj) and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) sheds light on the complex connections between religion and nationalism in the world’s largest secular democracy.'

    Adil H. Khan, Anne Morvant Elmer Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, Loyola University New Orleans, USA

    'Like Murphy's previous publications on Pakistan, this book will be of utmost interest and relevance to those analysing terrorism and political violence. This is a must read for military strategists and diplomats worldwide, as well as policymakers advising their political leaders.' 

    Mark Roberts, Security and Counter-Terrorist Analyst, USA

    'In the vast, complicated nation of India, outbreaks of political violence can seem inscrutable to anyone without specialist insider knowledge. With his proven eye for detail, a clear narrative voice and systematic explanation, Eamon Murphy offers the reader a clear understanding of the ways in which Hindu nationalism has evolved and mutated in recent decades, and the often devastating effects this has had on India’s politics, society and the security of its minorities. Without over-simplifying or essentialising, Murphy reveals the key historical events, figures and processes which have led India to its present violent juncture. This is essential reading for anyone concerned to understand what is happening in this important nation.'

    Richard Jackson, The University of Otago, New Zealand

    'Using theoretical insights from critical terrorism studies and deep empirical investigation, Professor Murphy analyses the rise of Hindu nationalism that has catapulted marginal, violent extremist groups into the centerstage of Indian politics. It may not auger well for the survival of secular, pluralistic Indian democracy, which already is reduced to a hollow shell of what it used to be. The book convincingly argues that the narrative of Hindu identity, rise of the conservative middle class, populism, and embracing of terrorism as a tool of silencing, intimidating and further marginalizing minorities is the new political normal, India and the world will have to live with. A must read for students of South Asian politics, nationalism, religion and politics, and terrorism.'

    Rasul Bakhsh Rais, LUMS, Lahore