His comments have been widely interpreted, since, as a diplomatic reference to the partisan divide in parliament summed up by a single phrase, “ghar wapsi,” that might otherwise be associated with warm tidings. It means “homecomings.” And it is the name of a very ambitious Hindu nationalist campaign.
The goal of ghar wapsi is to bring members of minority religious groups—mostly Muslims and Christians—“back to Hinduism, back to their original home,” says Dharm Narayan Sharma, central secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), one of India’s largest Hindu nationalist organizations. And he makes no apologies. “This is the work of India,” he told me.
The percentages certainly are with the Hindus, but the raw numbers spell potentially huge problems. Hindus make up roughly 81 percent of India’s 1.24 billion people, while, again, very roughly, 13 percent (161 million) are Muslim, and 2.3 percent (28.5 million) are Christians; 1.8 percent (22.3 million) are Sikhs and millions identify with other religions groups.