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Modi's Civilizational Moment

India's Prime Minister and the Rise of Popular Hinduism

A Narendra Modi supporter dresses as the Hindu god Hanuman to celebrate Modi's swearing in, New Delhi, May 2014. Anindito Mukherjee / Courtesy Reuters

Narendra Modi’s prime ministership represents, for many Indians, a civilizational resurgence on a scale not seen since their country’s independence. Modi’s sweeping victory, in May 2014, reflected not just a desire for better governance but also a larger shift in the Indian worldview. For Modi’s supporters, and for Hindus in particular, Modi’s rise showcased India’s renewed sense of self as an ancient civilization on the threshold of a global rebirth.

Modi is the first Indian prime minister born after independence, and his appeal among India’s youth can be best understood in generational terms. India’s rising generation, people under the age of 25, sometimes called the children of liberalization, constitute half of its current population. Their parents came of age after independence, when India was struggling to define its identity in the aftermath of the India-Pakistan partition. Their grandparents constitute the last generation of Indians

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