The God Market

The God Market: How Globalization is Making India More Hindu

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The God Market
    Book Description:

    Conventional wisdom says that integration into the global marketplace tends to weaken the power of traditional faith in developing countries. But, as Meera Nanda argues in this path-breaking book, this is hardly the case in today's India. Against expectations of growing secularism, India has instead seen a remarkable intertwining of Hinduism and neoliberal ideology, spurred on by a growing capitalist class. It is this State-Temple-Corporate Complex, she claims, that now wields decisive political and economic power, and provides ideological cover for the dismantling of the Nehru-era state-dominated economy. According to this new logic, India's rapid economic growth is attributable to a special Hindu mind, and it is what separates the nation's Hindu population from Muslims and others deemed to be anti-modern. As a result, Hindu institutions are replacing public ones, and the Hindu revival itself has become big business, a major source of capital accumulation. Nanda explores the roots of this development and its possible future, as well as the struggle for secularism and socialism in the world's second-most populous country.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-309-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction to the Monthly Review Press Edition
    (pp. vii-xl)

    The defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India’s last general elections in 2009 was greeted with relief by secularists and democrats everywhere. Not entirely unreasonably, many saw it as evidence that Indian voters have rejected the toxic idea of India as a Hindu nation peddled by the BJP and the rest of the Hindu right “family” (or the Sangh Parivar). The consensus among political pundits is that piety is no longer driving politics, as it did during the mass mobilizations through the 1990s that led to destruction of a 500-year-old mosque in Ayodhya and brought the BJP to...

  4. Introduction: God and Globalization in India
    (pp. 1-11)

    India had its own ‘why do they hate us?’ moment after the city of Mumbai came under attack in November 2008 by a bunch of gunmen with links to terrorist outfits in Pakistan. Many in India answered the question much the same way George Bush famously explained the 9/11 attacks on the United States: Islamic terrorists hate us because we are good and they are evil; we are free and democratic and they hate freedom and democracy.

    This ‘us–them’ divide was further linked to globalization, a word that got bandied about a great deal in the aftermath of the...

  5. 1 India and the Global Economy: A Very Brief Introduction
    (pp. 12-60)

    India is becoming increasingly Hindu as it globalizes. But what do we mean by globalization? Why is it that whenever any country opens up to global trade these days, it invariably ends up adopting a package of neo-liberal economic policies? What is ‘neo-liberalism’ anyway?

    This chapter will first explain, in layperson’s terms, what buzzwords like ‘globalization’ and ‘neoliberalism’ mean. It will then tell the story of how India came to embrace the gospel of free markets and global trade and how it is setting the stage for the growth of Hinduism.

    One note of caution is in order: the economic...

  6. 2 The Rush Hour of the Gods: Globalization and Middle-class Religiosity
    (pp. 61-107)

    Those looking for evidence to back Peter Berger’s verdict cited above that ‘the world today is as furiously religious as it ever was...[and that] beliefs and practices dripping with reactionary supernaturalism have widely succeeded’, can do no better than to take a closer look at the religious landscape of India, the crouching tiger of the 21st century global capitalism.

    India today is teeming with millions of educated, relatively well-to-do men and women who enthusiastically participate in global networks of science and technology. The Indian economy is betting its fortunes, at least in part, on advanced research in biotechnology and te...

  7. 3 The State–Temple–Corporate Complex and the Banality of Hindu Nationalism
    (pp. 108-144)

    Popular Hinduism is undergoing a great resurgence. As we described in the previous chapter, the rich and the poor alike are turning to gods and gurus; pujaris, astrologers, vastu shastris, spiritual advisers are all doing a thriving business.

    What may seem like a paradox, the resurgence of popular Hinduism is happening notagainstthe grain of Indian secularism, butbecauseof it. The Indian brand of secularism has allowed the state to maintain an intimate and nurturing relationship with the majority religion. As the neo-liberal state has entered into a partnership with the private sector, a cosy triangular relationship has...

  8. 4 How We See Ourselves
    (pp. 145-170)

    Of all the people in the world, guess who are the most bewitched by their image in the looking glass?

    We are.

    Indians rank number one in the world in thinking that wearenumber one in the world. Or rather, that our culture is.

    This ranking comes from the 2007 Global Attitudes Survey carried out by the well-known American think tank, Pew Research Center. The survey asked people in forty-seven countries if they agreed or disagreed with this question: ‘Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others.’ Indians topped the list. A whopping 93 per...

  9. 5 Rethinking secularization (with India in mind)
    (pp. 171-203)

    So far we have concentrated, single-mindedly, on understanding the growth of popular Hinduism in India in the era of globalization. But India is not alone: a rising tide of religiosity seems to be sweeping the whole world. Consider the following:

    Traditional Christian beliefs in a personal God, heaven, hell, and the resurrection of the soul are growing even in some of the most secularized countries in Europe. Evangelical churches preaching a more passionate and participatory Christianity are showing a strong growth in such bastions of secularism as Sweden, Holland, Germany, and Britain. American-style tele-evangelicalism and mega-churches are cropping up within...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 204-232)
  11. Bibliographic Essay
    (pp. 233-236)

    This essay is intended to be a guide to further reading. It is not an exhaustive survey of literature.

    The available literature on the history and nature of globalization is vast. Jan Aart Scholte’sGlobalization: A Critical Introduction(Palgrave, 2005) provides an excellent overview of contending theories of globalization. Other books that left a significant impression on the analysis offered here include: Colin Leys,Market-Driven Politics: Neoliberal Democracy and Public Interest(Verso, 2003), David Harvey, A Brief History ofNeoliberalism(Oxford, 2007), and Gabor Steingart,The War for Wealth(McGraw Hill, 2008).

    The analysis of the changing political economy of...

  12. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 237-238)
  13. A Note on the Author
    (pp. 239-239)