India's business gurus: the World Hindu Economic Forum (WHEF)


NARTOK E. E.

THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY, vol.43, no.8, pp.1988-2005, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 43 Issue: 8
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/01436597.2022.2080047
  • Journal Name: THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Periodicals Index Online, American History and Life, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, CAB Abstracts, Educational research abstracts (ERA), Geobase, Historical Abstracts, Index Islamicus, PAIS International, Political Science Complete, Public Administration Abstracts, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.1988-2005
  • Keywords: India, WHEF, Hindu nationalism, global elite networks, business forums, GOVERNANCE

Abstract

This article analyses the World Hindu Economic Forum (WHEF), in terms of its social functions in India and beyond. WHEF is a newly emerged platform consisting of elites from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu nationalist circles around the world. Founded in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, WHEF stands for creating a new (and non-Western) type of entrepreneurs to mobilise Hindus in the business field. Although WHEF organised itself in the countries around India in the beginning, it has grown considerably in the last decade, reaching out to North America and Western Europe. Drawing upon semi-structured interviews with the forum elites and a broad analysis of the forum's documentation and adopting a neo-Gramscian international political economy approach, this article argues that WHEF mobilises businesspeople, technocrats, and academics possessing Hindu nationalist commitments around the world as business gurus to produce an alternative conception of the world, combining Hinduism with neoliberal market-oriented ideas. And, taking a critical stance towards Indian Congress-originated protectionist policies favouring India's large corporations, its business gurus project themselves as mentors of the subordinate groups in the Indian business community to strengthen Hindu nationalism in India in relation to their global network.