An elderly American gentleman asked me that question, just last week. And I summed it up neatly as quite simply : the struggle between those who want to keep India a secular republic (which the constitution guarantees) and those who want to turn into a Hindu nation.
This explanation captures, in my view, what this fight is about. The ruling BJP has been in power for a few years now and emerged as a power-house only after the 1990s, coinciding with India’s economic liberalization.
I recall seeing images of the national campaign to take down a centuries old mosque, Babri Masjid, which was alleged to be the birthplace of Lord Rama.
This party has led charge against ‘liberals’ and ‘secularists’, clubbing them as anti-national.
In their vision of India, anyone who is not Hindu is a second-class citizen and suspect. Muslims and Christians are on top of the list of those deemed suspect.
The state has instituted CAA, the Citizens Amendment Act along with the proposed NRC, National Registry of Citizens; this can be a deadly weapon to make illegal millions of ‘legal’ citizens of India, who were born and raised in the country.
This is not just a struggle to reclaim what it means to be Indian, it is also an effort to define ‘Hinduism,’ a term & idea that was coined by the British.