The Sociolinguistic Saffronisation of India

Singh, Jaspal (2021). The Sociolinguistic Saffronisation of India. In: Theodoropoulou, Irene and Tovar, Johanna eds. Research Companion to Language and Country Branding. Routledge Studies in Language and Identity. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 57–71.



This chapter presents a sociolinguistic analysis of a current political project that aims to saffronise India. I study two recent discursive events, the staging of national unity and Hindu superpower by means of erecting colossal statues and the renaming of cities that bear a recognisable Muslim toponym, to show how saffronisation is part of a larger branding of India as a non-secular Hindu Nation. This branding circulates alternative narratives in public discourse that erase the historical achievements of postcolonial India’s secular architects, as well as the role that Muslims played in India’s history, and instead enregister recognisable Hindu elements as political symbols for a vision of a new Hindu India. This sociolinguistic saffronisation is dangerous insofar as it might incite and further normalise communal violence.

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