Politics and International Relations
This paper analyzes the changing character of democracy by focusing on the activities of vigilante groups in India. Under current Modi government, there are numerous incidents of vigilante groups, especially Gau Raksha [Cow Protection] group, are lynching and killings Muslims. Such killings often take place on the alleged rumors of Muslims slaughtering cattle and eating beef. These groups are gaining tacit but strong governmental supports, which is quite different from past vigilante groups like Ranvir Sena in an Indian state of Bihar. Ranvir Sena, for example, was formed by the feeling of insecurity in which the upper-caste landlords could not secure governmental support caused by the political change in 1990’s Bihar. The recent violence by vigilante groups is new form of political violence, though the extent of violence is less than large scale religious riots.
Why is this new type kinds of violence spreading in India? How does it change the character of Indian democracy? In current world, liberal democracy is in crisis as many scholars are arguing. India has been maintaining liberal democracy since independence except brief interruption of Emergency period, which is a rare case in non-western world. Under present government, however, democratic ideals and practices are severely destroyed by strong state power, which changes the character of Indian democracy. The analysis of recent vigilante groups provides useful clue to understand the changing character of Indian democracy and the democracies in the world.