“The Majoritarian Myth” – A Review and a Summary

“The Majoritarian Myth” – A Review and a Summary

The Majoritarian Myth: How Unscientific Social Theories Create Disharmony,” is a new book by Kausik Gangopadhyay, a Professor of Economics at IIM-Kozhikode. The book brilliantly breaks the myth that majoritarianism is the cause and driver of intolerance in society. The commonest analogy is that of people blaming the driver of a bigger vehicle in any accident without doing any rational analysis of the situation. Specifically, the assumption is that intolerance that seems to pervade Indian society, as media and academia believe it to be, is because of a Hindu majority.

A myth builds up about the “intolerant Hindu majority” (with labels like “Hindutva” and “Hindu fascism” plastered on anyone who seeks to reject the myth) that leads to increasing violence against the minorities (Muslims in the Indian scenario, but Christians have not been far behind in making such claims). However, is this story true? What is the true cause of intolerance in society? Here, the author offers a theoretical framework — the “Linear Theory of Social Evolution” (LTSE).

The author, after a decade of research, and analyzing the trends of society across time and cultures, shows that it is LTSE that brings intolerance into society and not the presence of dominant numbers in society. The belief in LTSE, by even a minority, is enough to spark intolerance and violence in society. A majority without an LTSE belief does not show intolerance.

The Majoritarian Myth

The author begins by evaluating the power of the myth in society with the help of Inayatullah’s powerful Causal Layered Analysis (CLA). “Litany,” or the continuous public description of events, represents the tip of the iceberg. At the base of all descriptions of events would be the myths prevalent in the culture. One such myth in all societies, including India, is that the majority oppresses the minority. Such myths drive the media and academia to explain the final cause of many events. The author cites many examples of this, but the most glaring one is the reportage of the exodus of 120,000 Pandits from the Kashmir Valley in 1990. There were only 1,802 reports in the Global Newsstream database, in contrast to the sixteen times more reports (29,092) for the 2002 post-Godhra riots, with a toll of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus.

Between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2022, the author finds 8,806 mentions in the Global Newsstream database of the two words “Majoritarian” and “Majoritarianism.” The identity of the guilty majority community was specified or implied in 1,671 cases. An astonishing 80 percent of them were Hindus of India, while the Muslims of Pakistan and Afghanistan constituted about 1.8 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. The assumption of Hindu majoritarianism is certainly strange, given that they constitute less than 18 percent of the world’s population. An explanation is available here, of course, for the low numbers attributed to Pakistan and Afghanistan: both countries have already systematically “cleansed” their countries of minorities, and minorities are a minuscule percentage of their super-majority Muslim countries.

The author demonstrates how the Indian Constitution, the judiciary, and the political systems are more favorably disposed towards minorities than Hindus. Beyond the symbolism of the Ayodhya Temple or the visits to temples by our ministers and political aspirants, Articles 25 to 30 constitute the crux of the discrimination against the Hindu majority and the anti-Hindu policies of the Indian state. Unless a political party attempts to amend the Constitution, the policies are clearly in favor of minorities.

Similarly, in dealing with the persecution of Kashmiri Hindus, or in the matter of temple entry at Sabarimala, among other religious issues, the judiciary persists with and is wedded to the majoritarian myth. Its judgments simply assume that the majority is at fault despite being a victim. The judiciary takes on the role of the church in deciding the “essentials” and “non-essentials” of Hinduism. It is another aspect of the majoritarian belief that all judicial and constitutional action should be only to control and rein in Hindus, even as minority religions and their violent and cunning followers escape such interventions.

Politicians, including the present ones, have been no different in subscribing to the idea that minorities need protection from the majority. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh famously declared that Muslims have the first claim to our resources. There was a proposal (which fortunately did not come through) for a Communal Violence Bill that assumed only the majority may target a person from the minority community and never the reverse. Hence, there is the great puzzle that, despite Hindus enjoying fewer and lesser rights, the global media and academia focus sharply on the so-called majoritarianism of  Hindus.

Tocqueville, a French diplomat, introduced the term “tyranny of the majority,” which John Stuart Mill later strengthened. Marxism captured academia in the second half of the twentieth century and put majoritarianism on a firm footing. The idea of two warring cultural classes became strong. The traditional society became the oppressor and the majority following the traditional values, was anointed the “guilty” majority. This idea of the “guilty” majority is evident in the Government of India Act 1935, in Dr. Ambedkar’s writings, the Nehruvian post-independent Indian politics, and finally in the left-conquered academia post-1969, says the author.

The LTSE Hypothesis

Gangopadhyay says that the concept of majoritarianism originated from an assumed asymmetry among different cultures and communities, which is historically inaccurate if one looks at the history of intolerance evident in European colonization, Communist rule, and the Nazis against the Jews. The assumed asymmetry also generated the idea of “virtuous victimhood,” where, if a well-organized community alleges intolerance against them, it is easily believed and widely circulated, as in the claims of Islamophobia in the West and India. Claiming victimhood could very well be an act of aggression. The solution is obvious — the reduction of social intolerance by challenging the aggression of the most intolerant community — as Naseem Nicolas Taleb also reiterates.

The Linear Theory of Social Evolution, conceptualized by the author, describes the linear plan manufactured by the “liberal West” for social evolution in a community. The most crucial aspect is that there is no scope for evidence-based change in this plan. Importantly, the believers in LTSE practice “otherization,” that is, to treat different people differently only because they do not follow this social plan. Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) says that the natural tendency to categorize themselves and others into social groups can lead to intergroup conflict based on the supposed superiority and inferiority of groups. The intolerant can also collectively extract greater concessions.

Gangopadhyay then shows how political Christianity, political Islam, Communism or Marxism, Nazism, racism, and the present Cultural Marxism or liberalism are the clearest promoters and believers of LTSE. All of them have two characteristics:

  1. A general linear plan for the entire humanity: All non-Christians or non-Muslims will become Christians or Muslims, respectively; only the proletariat will become rulers; only liberalism, by its troika principles of Diversity-Equity-Inclusivity, can give equality; consider one’s own culture and religion as the best, allowing non-believers to be treated differently or even exterminated, as exemplified by Nazism or racism; and so on.
  2. Otherization of those not believing in the LTSE propositions with sometimes dire consequences. Thus, there will be eternal hell for non-Christians; non-Communists will be labeled as “reactionaries” fit for elimination; canceling people and denying freedom of speech to people who do not believe in liberalism, the DEI agenda for grabbing power and social engineering, and so on.

However, Nazism was not stereotypical nationalism because Hitler did not see himself as a leader of the whole world.  Nazism was a peculiar mixture of socialism, nationalism, and racism, says Gangopadhyay.

The author then proposes that nationalism, Hinduism, and Hindutva do not have LTSEs embedded in them since they do not subscribe to frozen theories or ideologies and they change with the times to accommodate diversity organically and without violence. The religions of Islam and Christianity offer a path for individuals to lead a moral life, but it is the political forms that consolidate individuals into groups that carry an LTSE. The individual now might find self-interest served best when in a “group”. The author quotes Farrukh Dhondy who says that that Sufism and juridical (literal Islam), have been in conflict since the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali.

Is Hinduism or Hindutva a Faith, a Religion, or an LTSE?

The author carefully argues that Hinduism and Hindutva cannot possibly be based on LTSE. He briefly traces the evolution of Hindutva, starting with the writings of Chandranath Basu. Veer Savarkar did not bear a grudge against either Muslims or Christians. The author quotes Savarkar, who says, “The majority of the Indian Mohammedans may, if free from the prejudices born of ignorance, come to love our land as their fatherland, as the patriotic and noble-minded among them have always been doing.” Savarkar was, in fact, an atheist. The Hindu Mahasabha declared treating all communities on an equal footing. Despite all the negative publicity, the neti-neti (not this, not this) definition of a Hindu by Savarkar (not a Muslim, not a Christian, not a Jew, not a Parsi) is what the Indian Constitution embodies now. Instead of uniform laws, paradoxically, the Indian Constitution accepts different laws for Hindus and non-Hindus and the so-called “minorities”.

Gangopadhyay accepts the strongest hypothesis of SN Balagangadhara Rao that Hinduism, in the manner of Abrahamic religions, is not a religion. It is a huge conglomeration of traditions (sampradayas and paramparas, where deities, gurus, and lineages take more importance). The configuration of a traditional culture is fundamentally an “indifference to the differences.” The European colonialists saw plenty of practices in Indian culture, and to make sense of them, they constructed a meta-narrative of a religion called Hinduism when, in definitional terms (one God, one temple, one messenger, one book), it was completely different from Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. The diverse traditions in this constructed Hinduism interact organically with a mutual give-and-take among groups. Intense debates can and did happen, but violence against non-believers is/was practically unknown in Indian culture. At a fundamental level, religions say, “I am true, and you are false,” but traditions say, “I am true, but you are not false.” Thus, Hinduism is the farthest away from any LTSE, claims the author.

Similarly, the Hindutva of the RSS-BJP cannot be considered to incorporate LTSE. The common academic allegations against the Hindutva ideology have been the pursuit of the building of the Ayodhya Temple, the inclusion of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the Indian Constitution, and abolishing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the expert archaeological testimony on the Ayodhya Temple, the mention of a goal of promulgating a UCC as proposed in Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, and the fact that the special status for Kashmir was only temporary adequately answers the allegations, argues the author. The Citizenship Amendment Act is akin to the Lautenberg Amendment in the US, which allowed citizens of former Soviet Union countries and members of a religious minority group to join their family members in the US. There is no element of LTSE involved in the CAA either, says Gangopadhyay.

Similarly, the predictions of Muslim genocide like that of the genocide of Jews by Nazis have no basis in fact, as the BJP has been elected many times at the state and central levels, and Muslims continue to thrive and multiply in India. Religion-inspired (communal) riots have decreased since 2014, and there has been an increase in academic scholarships (a 62 percent increase) and welfare schemes offered to minorities as compared to the previous governments, says Gangopadhyay. The number of Muslim bureaucrats in the country has also registered a rise, he points out.

The Scientific Examination of Evidence: The Two Hypotheses

The philosopher, Karl Popper, called it a paradox that unlimited tolerance for intolerance leads to the disappearance of tolerance in society. But he does not mention the source of intolerance. The author sets up an examination of two competing hypotheses: 

  1. Majoritarian Hypothesis: The majority is guilty if the non-LTSE majority is found to be socially intolerant towards a minority.
  2. The LTSE Hypothesis: Social intolerance depends upon LTSE belief in the groups or communities in the population, not their proportion.

Studying the ten major genocides in history, which include the Bangladeshi and Nazi genocides, the author shows how LTSE can be implicated in most cases. The author lists the many false flags in assessing intolerance, especially in media reports. He points out that Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy are the “Dark Triad” qualities of an individual who signals virtuous victimhood more than others. These individuals manipulate society to shape and push narratives. For example, the Nazis, before moving into Poland, staged a false operation called the Gleiwitz incident, which the BBC reported faithfully.

Microaggression is another false-flag operation where a group creates an act to create the impression of being the victim of another group’s aggression. People, believing the media reports, tend to sympathize with the groups accused of microaggression. Generally, it is the LTSE group that concocts this victimhood story. For example, the stories of Christian martyrs by the Church helped evoke sympathy for the Christian cause, which finally led to the extinction of the Roman pagans.

Both the intolerant and the victims of intolerance know who is responsible, and it is the true victim who generally migrates to a safer environment, and their proportion gradually decreases. This has been the case of Jews in Germany, Tibetans in Tibet, and Hindus in Kashmir. In Afghanistan, which represents the most ideologically indoctrinated political Islam, the Hindu and Sikh population was 7 percent of the total in the second half of the twentieth century. Now, only a few hundred Hindus and Sikhs live in Afghanistan, putting their lives at risk. The proportions of Hindus in West Pakistan and East Pakistan were around 15 percent and 29 percent, respectively, at the partition of India in 1947. Hindus are now 2 percent of the population in Pakistan, and Hindus in Bangladesh have reduced progressively to below 9 percent in Bangladesh (the former East Pakistan).

Contrastingly, India after independence has seen a growth of the Muslim population from 9.8 percent to 14.2 percent in 2011, while the Hindu proportion shows a decrease in proportion from 84.1 percent at independence to 79.8 percent in 2011. In Gujarat, allegedly the hub of Muslim persecution, there has been a rise in the Muslim population from 8.7 percent in 2001 to 9.7 percent in 2011.

India, Lebanon, and Tibet are examples where the majority are not LTSE believers while the Muslim and Christian minorities are. The diminished majorities in such societies confirm the LTSE hypothesis, which predicts the same phenomenon. The author demonstrates, by way of examples of Nepal, Tibet, and Lebanon, how intolerance has rarely got anything to do with the majority population but with the presence of an LTSE minority.

As noted earlier, reports on Hindu “majoritarianism” make up 80 percent of media and academic reports, while Indians constitute only 17 percent of the global population. Paradoxically, Hindus have fewer rights than others in India. The author says it is the media, often controlled by liberals (cultural Marxists), that acts as an LTSE to accuse Hindus of intolerance while being intolerant itself/themselves. The rise of left-liberal ideology has grown to alarming proportions in both American and Indian universities. In 2005, the Democrat (left) to Republican (right) ratio among faculty members in the US was 11.5:1. More damagingly, conservative faculty members fear that “their ideas and beliefs will meet resistance or outright opposition on campus”.

It is indeed the LTSE liberals, who are intolerant towards civilizational and traditional identities and believe in the intense atomization of society. It is quite often the case that the more liberal a person is, the greater the discrimination and intolerance towards others. As Gangopadhyay says, it is not even necessary that liberals are smarter because the proportion of liberals is higher in the humanities and significantly lower in the STEM disciplines.


The author then deals with some of the strawman arguments showing a higher Muslim proportion in jails and a lack of employment opportunities for Muslims. The lack of employment among Muslims is more because of lesser parental investment in the education of their children. Similarly, in a country like the United Kingdom, where both Hindus and Muslims are minorities, the trends clearly show the presence of LTSE in the Muslim population. Muslim and Hindu migrants are 4.2 percent and 1.3 percent of the British population, respectively. However, the prison population is 18 percent Muslim and only a negligible number of Hindus are in British prisons.

A confirmatory test for intolerance because of LTSE (not majority) would be to see whether liberalism as an LTSE has exacerbated intolerance. Ideally, liberalism should indicate a rise in tolerance. Taking the US for study, which has seen ever-expanding liberalism, the author says that in 1978, the average American used to rate the members of their political party 27 points higher than the members of the other party. This was done by a “feeling thermometer,” normalized between 0 and 100. In 2016, this had risen to 45.9 points. A survey (2023) by the Wall Street Journal reveals that a belief in tolerance for others is now deemed “very important” by only 58 percent of Americans—down from 80 percent four years ago.

Theory and Empiric-Driven Social Systems

In the final sections, the author dwells on the basic structure of social identities and how differences in these identities lead to the presence or absence of LTSE. In Indian society and culture, for example, the jati (or so-called caste) structure is the bedrock. These are experiential identities that depend on the location of growing up, the immediate family, fellow members of society, family profession, and so on. These empiric-driven social systems rely on the people’s collective understanding through the process of consultation and discussion rather than a theory. Such identities cannot be replicated, but they remain minority identities without becoming intolerant of others.

Religion, race, philosophy, and even nationality become the reasons for creating large, centralized theoretical identities. These, in contrast to the decentralized empirical identities, can be replicated and merged into large group identities. Such group identities based on a theory are always in the process of becoming a majority and, thus, are intolerant towards others not belonging to the group.

At a meta-level, the conversion of a decentralized model into a centralized theory-based model based on a “single” religion of Hinduism or a single philosophy of Hindutva is a gross misunderstanding of Indian culture. Such an understanding is an intellectual assault on our culture. Perhaps, as a thought, the genius of Indian culture is in the empiric-driven jatis and not the theory-based varnas (the four varnas being Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vysya, and Shudra). There are problems galore when one tries to understand Indian culture in the framework of the varnas only while ignoring the more important jatis.

The Solutions: The Indic Civilisational Understanding of Satya and Ahimsa

The author stresses the important point that envy lies at the roots of modern narratives of liberalism and social justice. Unfortunately, this is a point often ignored in most studies. Envy has been widely known to human beings since antiquity. It is one of the seven deadly sins of Christianity and one of the six inner enemies in Indian culture too. Most traditional societies recognize envy as a potent weapon of destruction for society, and efforts have always been made to mitigate this. The modern social sciences, standing against traditions generally, have rechristened envy as “social justice” and hidden the existence of envy. The author explains that, thus, existing social theories cannot create a stable, tolerant society. It is a utopian concept that a society would be comprised of unenvious equals.

Belief in LTSE is the highest form of intolerance, as it morally justifies intolerance. The civil war in Christendom led to tension among nations in Europe, and the war between Communist regimes shows the danger of LTSE on a large scale. Finally, the author says, the limited experience of a small group of people at a point in time cannot be the beacon for social harmony for all human beings at all times. Indian civilization has been perfecting solutions for harmony for thousands of years. The traditional world of India had an “indifference to differences,” and this allowed it to absorb alien faiths. It was the alien faiths that were gradually becoming traditionalised. This transitioned them from intolerance to tolerance.

Instead of continuing this process and understanding the true nature of Indian culture, thinkers, in reverse, started to make religions out of traditions, traversing the path from tolerance to intolerance. Indian socio-cultural systems have Dharma — social order, or sustainable living — as their essence. Our philosophy divides human psychologies into two broad categories, as the author explains: Daivi (divine-like), intended for the sustainable welfare of the world, and Asuric (devil-like), which aims only for the gratification of one’s ego.

Similarly, the key concepts in Indic culture are Satya (truth) and Ahimsa (non-violence). The author says that liberal post-truth ideas negate truth, which does not help the victims of oppression. Similarly, liberalism encourages victimhood. False allegations against identified and unidentified groups are simply himsa, or violence. The cancel culture against free speech, the anti-merit attitude of DEI aiming for equal outcomes, and media discrimination are himsa against individuals and communities. This is antithetical to Dharma.

Concluding Remarks

“Western liberal democracy”in which supremely reigning individuals have the power to vote — has become the normative model for society today. However, Balagangadhara Rao and Jakob De Roover (“John Locke, Christian Liberty, and the Predicament of Liberal Toleration”) argue that the liberal model of toleration is a secularization of the theology of Christian liberty and its division of society into a temporal political kingdom and the spiritual kingdom of Christ. Therefore, when liberal toleration travels beyond the boundaries of the Christian West or when Western societies become multicultural, it threatens to lose its intelligibility.

Liberalism, of which the West is enamored at present, when superimposed on Indian culture as a solution for harmony, leads to severe distortions and disharmony. Our mechanisms of harmony and dealing with multiculturalism are entirely different. The individualism of the West is a violent attack on the community-level harmony of India.

This book by Gangopadhyay is a powerful statement that aims right at the center of the intolerant ideologies of the world, of which present-day liberalism constitutes the greatest danger. At the same time, the author gives some solutions based entirely on the Indian understanding of Dharma, which fosters harmonious living. The book requires careful reading to challenge the present flawed narratives prevalent in academia, media, and public intellectual spaces.

The author signs off by saying that though there is enough evidence against the idea of majoritarianism, it is nearly impossible to debate liberal dogmas. Developing a scientific acumen requires comparison and contrast of the cultures, which reputed academic journals refuse to entertain. A discussion without “canceling” appears increasingly difficult in an academic environment under the dominance of liberalism. The book is sure to generate plenty of debate, which can only do good for India in the present circumstances. It is an important read for every Indian.

Dr Pingali Gopal

Dr Pingali Gopal is a Paediatric and Neonatal Surgeon practising in Warangal, Telangana. He has a keen interest in Indian culture and does his little bit to correct the many wrong narratives which hurt India at many levels. Opening his eyes rather late to the wonder called India, it is now a continuous journey for him to sip bits from the oceanic nectar of Indic Knowledge Systems.