Hindu nationalists in India | VPRO Documentary

Jan 31, 2020

vpro documentary

Nicolaas Veul is introduced to young Hindu nationalists in the holy city of Allahabad. Divya, Ritesh and Vikrant fight for a Hindu India, and against external (western) influences.

India radicalizes itself into far right at lightning speed and extremist clubs are having more and more influence and followers who feel that the West has far too much impact on India with its values. People like Vikrant, who want to make India great again. Just like Ritesh and Divya, he is a volunteer at Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is, with about 6 million members, the largest Hindu nationalist movement in India. In the RSS headquarters, Vikrant explains to Nicholas why they wear uniforms and why he believes that Western settlers have stolen all kinds of Indian inventions, such as airplanes and plastic surgery. And Ritesh can be short about gay rights: “In India, gay relationships actually do not occur’.

To show Nicholas the light, RSS volunteer Divya takes him to bathe where the Ganges and the Yamuna merge. There the westerner is being cleansed of his sins. According to Divya, a hopeful first step towards a world in which we will all be Hindu and therefore family.

In the series ‘The westeners’, of which this is an episode, one of our program makers follows remarkable young people day and night who take us into their world. A world that is no longer waiting for Western ideals. Partying, hating, loving, praying and working: we experience adventures with people who are different in life than we are; looking for new ideas, amazing insights and totally different truths.

‘The westerners’ step out of their own comfort zone, directly into someone else’s existence elsewhere. With an open mind, sharpness, empathy and humor they attract people who are completely different in life. Each and every one of them act from their own perspective and also have to criticize Western ideals such as democracy, religious freedom, women’s emancipation or animal welfare. This leads to astonishing insights and confrontations with other truths, on which own prejudices can be tested and perhaps also revised.

Looking beyond our own navel, beyond our Western dogmas – to be able to reflect on what it actually means to be ‘Western’. The Westerners combine participatory journalism with telling stories that surprise, move and defy our world view.

May 2017

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