New Delhi, India CNN  — 

On the eve of India’s independence, the man who would soon become the country’s first Prime Minister outlined an aspirational vision.

India would be a nation where people of all religions had equal rights, privileges and obligations, Jawaharlal Nehru said in his now-iconic speech to the country’s parliament on August 14, 1947.

Now, over 70 years later, there are signs that Nehru’s hopes for the nation face perhaps their greatest threat.

On November 9, India’s top court gave Hindus permission to build a temple on a disputed centuries-old holy site in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which holds significance for both Hindus and Muslims.

India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru outlined a vision for a secular India.

Hindus believe the site is the birthplace of Lord Ram, one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. However, Muslims have also prayed there for centuries.

The ruling on the Ayodhya site was seen as a blow to Muslims. It also came at a time when Muslims increasingly see themselves as second-class citizens in the predominantly Hindu country.

India has a long history of sectarian violence, but over the past few years, there has been a rise in suspected hate crimes against Muslims, who make up roughly 200 million of the country’s 1.3 billion population.

intv Amanpour Imran Khan Pakistan Kashmir_00000000.jpg
Imran Khan: 'I fear a massacre' in Kashmir
13:50 - Source: CNN

In August, the Indian government stripped the majority-Muslim state of Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomous status, essentially giving New Delhi more control over the region’s affairs. That same month, nearly two million people in India’s northeast Assam state were left off a controversial new National Register of Citizens, which critics feared could be used to justify religious discrimination against Muslims in the state.

All of this comes under the shadow of the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist who has spoken out repeatedly against India’s secularism.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has roots in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing organization founded in 1925 that promotes the vision of a Hindu nation.