Arecent survey by Pew research center has led to the revelation that Hindus are more likely than members of other religious groups to link Indian and Hindu identities.
The survey of nearly 30,000 Indian adults conducted after the BJP’s victory in the 2019 parliamentary elections and before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic sought to measure the dimensions of Hindu nationalism by asking people how important certain attributes or behaviors are to ‘true’ Indian identity.
As per findings of the report, nearly two-thirds of Hindus accounting for about 64% say it is important to be Hindu to be truly Indian as opposed to 27% of Muslims who say being Hindu is very important to be truly Indian.
Hindus who link their religion with national identity also tend to link the Hindi language with being authentically Indian, the research found. As a result, a majority of Hindus (59%) feel that being able to speak Hindi is very important to be truly Indian.
In all the study found that 51% of Hindus and 36% of Jains say being Hindu and speaking Hindi are both very important to be truly Indian. While, 25% of Buddhists, 23% of Muslims, 18% of Sikha, and 15% of Christians do not conform to the above view.
Even among Hindus residing in different parts of the country, there exists a difference in thought processes. Hindus in the Northern (69%) and Central (83%) regions are most likely to say being a Hindu is very important to be truly Indian, while Hindus in the South (42%) and Northeast (39%) express the weakest association between national and religious identities. Similarly, Hindus in the Northern (71%) and Central (87%) regions are most likely to say it is very important to be able to speak Hindi to be truly Indian.
Other factors like having a college degree and political belief also affect how a person defines its national identity. Roughly half of Hindu college graduates (53%) tie being Hindu with being truly Indian, compared with nearly two-thirds of other Hindus (65%).
Likewise, it was found that support for the BJP which is essentially a party promoting the agenda of Hindutva is considerably higher among those who say both being Hindu and speaking Hindi are very important to be truly Indian.
Six in ten Hindu voters who place great importance on both of these attributes say they voted for the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary election. By comparison, 33% of those who say neither being Hindu nor being able to speak Hindi is very important to national identity were also found to have voted for the party.
As a result, the study also inferred that Hindus who expressed this combination of Hindu nationalist positions are also the ones more inclined to support a religiously segregated India by opposing the interreligious marriage.
As opposed to the above definitions of national identity, large majorities of Indians across all major religions generally are of the opinion that respecting elders, respecting all religions, and respecting the country’s institutions and laws are each individually also paramount to being truly Indian.