That was then, this is now

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From Taylor C. Sherman’s useful Nehru’s India: A History in Seven Myths:

Although Hindu nationalists had gained prominence in the run-up to partition, the new Congress leaders of the Government of India tried to sideline them.  After Gandhi’s assassination on 30 January 1948, members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were arrested, and the Hindu Mahasabha declared it would not take part in politics.  In short, though raging before partition, the flames of Hindu chauvinism were quickly doused after independence, at least according to the old nationalist narrative.  Secondly, the reform of Hinduism was seen as an essential element of secularism.  To this end, a prominent Dalit, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, was put in charge of both writing the Constitution and overseeing reform of Hindu personal law.  Within a short time after independence, so the myth goes, India had a secular state, and was on course to establish a sense of security and belonging for the two groups who had raised the loudest objections to Congress’s nationalism: Muslims and Dalits.

As with so many of the myths that have arisen about this period after independence, the myth of India secularism owes a great deal to Jawaharlal Nehru.

The book is both a good focused view of the Nehru era, but excellent background for current disputes.

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