Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Silicon Valley's Indian-American Congressman Joins Pakistan Caucus, Rejects Hindutva

Democrat Ro Khanna representing Silicon Valley has joined US Congress's Pakistan Caucus and rejected Hindutva. His actions have angered Hindu American supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  Cracks are beginning to appear in the Hindu American community. Democrats from the Progressive Wing of the Party are finding it increasingly difficult to support Prime Minister Modi as he ferociously pushes his hateful Hindutva agenda to target minorities. However, vast majority of Hindu Americans, including those in Silicon Valley tech community, are solidly supporting Mr. Modi in spite of his extended lock-down and brutal actions in Kashmir.

Congressman Ro Khanna with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Capitol Hill

Khanna Rejects Hindutva:

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) tweeted the following on Aug. 29: “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist & Christians.”  On August 17, Khanna became the first Indian-American to join US Congress's Pakistan caucus headed by Democratic Congresswoman Shiela Jackson of Texas and Republican Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana. Khanna's decision to join Pakistan caucus came after he met Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan during his July visit to Washington. After his July meeting with Khan Khanna tweeted: "Honored to meet PM Imran Khan. We spoke Hindustani, and I shared that my grandfather, an Indian freedom fighter with Gandhi, always had a hope for reconciliation. South Asian Americans of my generation hope for peace in the subcontinent in the 21st century."

Khanna Under Fire:

Khanna, a rising star in the progressive movement, who is vice-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, has come under fire by many right-wing Indian-American supporters of the RSS and BJP.
Majority of Hindu-Americans are ardent supporters of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Indian Ambassador Shringle (R) with White Nationalist Steve Bannon

Most Hindu-Americans fail to see the irony that Srinivas Kuchibhotla who was killed by a white nationalist in Kansas in February 2017 was a victim of the same kind of hatred in America that Mr. Modi espouses against minorities in India. Kuchibotla himself was an ardent fan of Mr. Modi’s sweeping Hindutva politics as his wife related after this murder, according to and article published in the Hindu by Indian journalist and writer Varghese K. George.  Here is an excerpt of Mr. George's article:


"The dualism of Indian-American politics has now become unsustainable as Democratic leaders find it increasingly impossible to side with Mr. Modi as he advances the Hindutva agenda. Many of these friends of India were mislead, and had misread Mr. Modi’s politics and they interpreted his success in 2014 as a turn in Indian politics towards more neo-liberal reforms and globalism. Such an image of Mr. Modi was also projected by Indian diplomacy in America. But one American thinker, who interpreted Mr. Modi’s victory as a nativist revolt against a global elite, was none other than Stephen Bannon, the most authentic interpreter of Mr. Trump’s nationalist politics. Mr. Bannon has also been particularly a critic of the H-1B visa and Indian-American immigration. That the Indian Ambassador to the U.S. retweeted a tweet that denounced Mr. Sanders and tweeted about his meeting with Mr. Bannon in glowing terms (he deleted the tweet later) in quick succession bears out the official Indian position on the emerging fault-lines in American politics and the role of Indian Americans in it."

Hindu Nationalism in America:

India's top Hindu Nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has gone global with shakhas (branches) in 39 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and several Islamic middle eastern nations, according to Indian media reports.


In the United States alone, the RSS has 146 active chapters spread over all 50 states, according to Satish Modh who has been associated with RSS work abroad for over 25 years.

While shakhas in India take place in open public spaces, most shakhas meet on university campuses on hired parking lots in the US, says Modh.  Most overseas shakhas are held once a week. In London, they are held twice a week. The UK has 84 shakhas.


A US report entitled "Hindu Nationalism in the United States: A Report on Non-Profit Groups" disclosed the following findings regarding the strength and nature of the Hindu nationalist movement in the United States:

 a. Over the last three decades, a movement toward Hinduizing India--advancing the status of Hindus toward political and social primacy in India-- has continued to gain ground in South Asia and diasporic communities. The Sangh Parivar (the Sangh "family"), the network of groups at the forefront of this Hindu nationalist movement, has an estimated membership numbering in the millions, making the Sangh one of the largest voluntary associations in India. The major organizations in the Sangh include the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

b. Hindu nationalism has intensified and multiplied forms of discrimination, exclusion, and gendered and sexualized violence against Muslims, Christians, other minorities, and those who oppose Sangh violations, as documented by Indian citizens and international tribunals, fact-finding groups, international human rights organizations, and U.S. governmental bodies.

c. India-based Sangh affiliates receive social and financial support from its U.S.-based wings, the latter of which exist largely as tax-exempt non-profit organizations in the United States: Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Sewa International USA, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation-USA. The Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party - USA (OFBJP) is active as well, though it is not a tax-exempt group.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard strongly supports Prime Minister Modi

American Presidential Politics:

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is a strong supporter of Indian Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Modi.  Her bid for Democratic presidential nomination is being bankrolled by Hindu Nationalist donors. Amongst Gabbard’s many donors are members of the US chapters of groups such as the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the Overseas Friends of the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, according to Pieter Friedrich. The Hindu Sangh Parivar in the United States has helped her come from nowhere to get elected to US Congress and set her sights on the White House.

US Presidential Candidate Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard's Hindutva Donors

Summary:

Cracks are beginning to appear in the Hindu American community. Democrats from the Progressive Wing of the Party are finding it increasingly difficult to support Prime Minister Modi as he ferociously pushes his hateful Hindutva agenda against minorities. Democrat Ro Khanna representing Silicon Valley has joined US Congress's Pakistan Caucus and rejected Hindutva. His actions have angered Hindu American supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  However, vast majority of Hindu Americans, including those in Silicon Valley tech community, are solidly supporting Mr. Modi in spite of his extended lock-down and brutal actions in Kashmir.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Imran Khan in Washington

Modi's Extended Lockdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel

29 comments:

Javed E. said...

Thanks for the post.

Ro Khanna is moving in the right direction but he was heard criticizing Imran Khan for inciting war and probably agrees with the Indian takeover of Kashmir. Perhaps you can find out what his stand is on Kashmir.

Riaz Haq said...

Javed: "he was heard criticizing Imran Khan for inciting war and probably agrees with the Indian takeover of Kashmir"

It's not unusual for politicians to talk out of both sides of their mouth.

But Indian-American Democrats in the Progressive Wing of the party can not justify their support for Modi and his actions motivated by his hateful Hindutva politics. It's especially true after Bernie Sanders has unequivocally condemned Modi.

Riaz Haq said...

#American Anti-Fascism Group Coalition Against #Fascism in #India (CAFI) Calls for Protest on Sept 28 during #Modi's US visit to attend #UNGA against #BJP's “anti-minority and anti-poor politics” #KashmirBleeds #Islamophobia #Hindutva https://caravandaily.com/us-based-anti-fascism-group-calls-for-protest-on-modis-un-visit/ via @caravandaily

“Modi’s government has been orchestrating a pogrom of hate and violence against Muslims and Dalits in India. His government has been cracking down on all forms of dissent and all those who question its politics of hate. Its economic policies have resulted in escalation of poverty and the highest unemployment rate in half a century.

“We call upon all anti-fascist, anti-racist,secular, and environmentalist groups in the United States to join us in protesting his visit and exposing the retrograde, near-fascist politics of Modi’s government,” reads the press statement issued by the CAFI.

The group cited many issues for the protest. These include his past role in 2002 Gujarat riots, the role of rightwing organisations, the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and others, in violence against minorities, lynching of Muslims, Adivasi (tribals) and Dalits, his action on Kashmir, his policy on the NRC in Assam, killing and witch-hunt of activists under his regime and many more.

Talking about his role in 2002 Gujarat riots and the involvement of the RSS and the VHP in the violence and hate against minorities, they said “Modi, his party, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), and their affiliates, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal, have a long history of violence and hate. They openly extol Hitler and Aryan supremacist views. In 2002, as chief minister, Modi oversaw pogrom of Muslim minority in Gujarat in which over a thousand people were killed women raped and thousands more were forced to leave their homes and businesses.”

Referring to the National Register of Citizen (NRC) which rendered millions of people stateless, they said, “The result is a kind of ethnic cleansing that has targeted Muslims and tribal populations in particular. As of July 2019, there are over 100 foreigner tribunals (FTs) in Assam, and 200 more are planned in the first phase by September 2019. These FTs are working with the Assam border police to render millions stateless.”

Drawing attentions towards mob lynching and hate crimes against Muslims under his regime, they said, “Since May 2019 when Modi’s second term as Prime Minister started, the violence against minorities has escalated to new heights. Violent mobs, mostly inspired by the atmosphere of hate perpetrated by the BJP, now attack and lynch Muslims (and Christians) on a daily basis with complete impunity”.

The CAFI also denounced Modi government’s decision to unilaterally revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by resorting to “dictatorial means” like clampdown, communication blackout and putting their leaders under house arrest.

Riaz Haq said...

#US #lawmakers Pramila Jayapal, first and only #Indian-#American Congresswoman in the House of Representatives, and Rep James P McGovern want international media & independent #humanrights observers be allowed immediately to enter #Indian Occupied #Kashmir https://www.firstpost.com/india/us-lawmakers-write-to-mike-pompeo-on-kashmir-seek-immediate-end-of-communication-blackout-7326231.html

Two US lawmakers have expressed concerns over the human rights situation in Kashmir, and urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to press India to immediately end the communication blockade
In a letter to Pompeo dated 11 September, Pramila Jayapal, the first and the only Indian-American Congresswoman in the House of Representatives, and Congressman James P McGovern said the international media and independent human rights observers must immediately be allowed into Jammu and Kashmir
The two lawmakers told Pompeo that they have significant concerns about the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Kashmir
Two US lawmakers have expressed concerns over the human rights situation in Kashmir, and urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to press India to immediately end the communication blockade and release those who have been detained.

In a letter to Pompeo dated 11 September, Pramila Jayapal, the first and the only Indian-American Congresswoman in the House of Representatives, and Congressman James P McGovern said the international media and independent human rights observers must immediately be allowed into Jammu and Kashmir to investigate reports of abuse.

US lawmakers write to Mike Pompeo on Kashmir, seek immediate end of communication blackout
Representational image. AP
"We urge you to work across the Administration to press the Indian Government to immediately end its communications blackout of Kashmir, expedite the process of reviewing and releasing individuals 'preventatively' detained, ensure hospitals have access to life-saving medicines and protect the rights of the Kashmiri people to freedom of assembly and worship," reads the letter.

The two lawmakers told Pompeo that they have significant concerns about the humanitarian and human rights "crisis" in Kashmir.

"In particular, we are concerned about credible reports from journalists and advocates on the ground that the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed defacto curfews and cut off internet and telephone access on the region," they said.

Restrictions were imposed when New Delhi had on 5 August crapped the state's special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated in into Union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

"We also urged the Indian Government at its highest levels to make it clear that religious tolerance long a principle of Indian history and democracy must be upheld," the two lawmakers wrote in the letter.

Tagging the letter in a tweet, Jayapal said: "I continue to be deeply concerned about credible reports of a humanitarian crisis in Jammu & Kashmir. Even in complex situations, we look to strong democratic allies like India to uphold basic human rights and due process."

Riaz Haq said...

Bipartisan group of 4 US Senators—Chris Van Hollen, Ben Cardin, Todd Young and Lindsey Graham—have urged President Trump to “act swiftly” to end humanitarian crisis in Kashmir.

“With each passing day, the situation for the people of Kashmir becomes increasingly difficult. Therefore, we ask that you call upon Prime Minister Modi it to fully restore telecommunications and Internet services, lift lockdown and curfew, release Kashmiris detained pursuant to India’s revocation of Article 370”.

They also “hope the United States can play a constructive role in helping resolve the underlying disputes between the two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan”.



https://st3.ning.com/topology/rest/1.0/file/get/3553256268?profile=original

https://st4.ning.com/topology/rest/1.0/file/get/3553256942?profile=original

S Abbas said...

Riaz bhai, sooner or later you will get Indians attacking you for not saying much regarding Xinjiang. I have visited the region part of CPEC Chinese language mentorship program and I must say Western and India media have overblown things. There are no human rights or religious intolerance issues.
For those who do not have a chance to know what is happening in Xinjiang, they are welcome to visit Xinjiang and see the truth with their own eyes. Recently, representatives from international organizations including the UN, OIC, and government officials and media groups from Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and some other countries visited Xinjiang and met the trainees face-to-face. They witnessed how local Muslims lived and worked in peace and fully enjoyed the freedom of religion. They highly appreciated the ethnic and religious policies of China.

Saqlain Abbas

Riaz Haq said...

SA: "sooner or later you will get Indians attacking you for not saying much regarding Xinjiang"


This is the kind of whataboutery that disgusts me. It's nothing more than an attempt to justify Modi's horrible Hindutva policies in a country that has long claimed to be a secular democracy. It's the worst kind of hypocrisy.

Riaz Haq said...

Valley of discontent: Contempt for #Indian and #Kashmiri politicians and media overrides ‘azadi’ in #India Occupied #Kashmir. “India is so down and out that it is robbing from the Reserve Bank. And you say you will develop Kashmir? Are you kidding?” https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/valley-of-discontent/article29410880.ece

""The overriding sentiment in Kashmir is not azadi but the deep repulsion and contempt towards the Indian media, particularly TV channels that blare vitriol and threats into their drawing rooms every evening. Soldiers are now intimate enemies of the Kashmiri people but TV anchors have become their constant tormentors. “Yes, soldiers enter our homes off and on, and can be nasty. We try to keep off them. But the Indian media’s falsehood about Kashmir and the situation here is nothing less than violence,” says Junaid. “We switch them off now.” Kashmiris get to make that choice, as of now.""

Riaz Haq said...

#Tulsi Gabbard Refuses Invitation to “Howdy #Modi” Event in Texas. #TulsiGabbard drops out after #Hindu-#American congressman’s call to “reject #Hindutva”. #KashmirStillUnderCurfew http://www.ofmi.org/tulsi-gabbard-refuses-invitation-to-howdy-modi-event-in-texas/

An anonymous source within Tulsi Gabbard’s 2020 presidential campaign has confirmed to Organization for Minorities of India that the US congresswoman has refused an invitation to join Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s September 22 pep rally in Houston, Texas.

Gabbard’s decision to drop out of the event, dubbed “Howdy Modi,” follows on the heels of Congressman Ro Khanna’s statement, issued last month, that “it’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Christians.” Her action marks a significant change in engagement with India’s controversial premier considering she has previously met with him on four occasions.

“Khanna’s statement was immediately recognized by South Asian politicos as a seismic shift in Indo-centric politics,” wrote Amar Shergill on September 3. An attorney who serves as an executive board member of the California Democratic Party, Shergill continued, “He is the highest ranking American elected official of Indian origin, with a deep understanding of and connection to South Asian politics, and, yet, he stated in decisive moral terms that the dominant political ideology of India must be rejected as a matter of fundamental human rights.”

Hindutva, defined by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom as an ideology that treats non-Hindus as foreign to India, is the guiding philosophy of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP’s Modi, who campaigned as a Hindu nationalist, stated in 2013, “My identity is of a Hindutvawadi [follower of Hindutva].” VD Savarkar, who popularized Hindutva as a religious nationalist political ideology in his 1923 book of the same name, stated, “India must be a Hindu land, reserved for the Hindus.”

In 2014, Gabbard appeared at events celebrating Modi’s election, even wearing scarves bearing the BJP logo. Later, at their first meeting, Gabbard gifted Modi her childhood copy of the Bhagavad Gita on which she had taken the oath of office. In 2016, she called Modi “a leader whose example and dedication to the people he serves should be an inspiration to elected official everywhere.”

Since 2018, the Hawaiian congresswoman has faced repeated protest for her long-term association with American Hindutva groups, particularly the Overseas Friends of the BJP and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.

HSS is the international wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a paramilitary founded on Savarkar’s Hindutva ideology and inspired by fascist movements in Europe. Gabbard’s oldest and most faithful donors include HSS Vice-President Ramesh Bhutada of Houston, who joined BJP (and former RSS) spokesperson Ram Madhav at her 2015 wedding in Hawaii. Bhutada, as reported by a recent profile of Gabbard, worked from Texas to help elect Modi in India. He reportedly organized a phone bank of 700 volunteers and described US-based preparations for supporting Modi’s campaign as “almost like that for an Indian wedding.” He later called Modi’s election “a second independence for India.”

Riaz Haq said...

230 #Hindu-#American Organizations Urge US Congressman Ro Khanna To Leave #Pakistan Caucus, saying it was contrary to both American principles and #India's geo-strategic interests. https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/indian-americans-urge-us-congressman-ro-khanna-to-leave-pakistan-caucus-2102416 via @ndtv

Ro Khanna, 42, became the first Indian-American to have joined the Congressional Pakistan Caucus last month. He is also the member Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, which is the largest country-specific caucus in the House of Representatives.

Mr Khanna, 42, became the first Indian-American to have joined the Congressional Pakistan Caucus last month. He is also the member Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, which is the largest country-specific caucus in the House of Representatives.

In a letter submitted to the Indian-American lawmaker on Monday, Indian-American organisations, professional associations and community leaders urged Mr Khanna to withdraw from the Congressional Pakistan Caucus.

A copy of the letter was released by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF).

"As a leading member of the House India Caucus, Foreign Affairs Committee, and a champion of human rights, we are deeply troubled that you joined the Congressional Pakistan Caucus," the letter stated.

The letter alleged that Pakistan continues to utilise terror to attack US interests in Afghanistan and wage a proxy war against India.

Pakistan has shown a complete and utter disregard for human rights and religious freedom and was recently labelled as a Country of Particular Concern by the US State Department for its "systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom" against Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Shia and Ahmadiyya Muslims, they said.

"We believe that your membership in this Caucus is contrary to both American principles and our geo-strategic interests in the Indian Subcontinent and the broader South Asian region," the letter said.

"Accordingly, we urge you to withdraw from the Congressional Pakistan Caucus. We further urge you to write directly to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and meet with (Pakistan) Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan to address Pakistan's ongoing use of terrorism to destabilise the region and its rampant and severe human rights violations," it said.

The community members also urged Mr Khanna to make a formal statement for the Congressional record, highlighting the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits, who were driven out from their homes by Pakistan-sponsored terror campaign three decades ago.

The members said that they looked forward to Mr Khanna following through on the assurances he made on Sunday about working to address the suffering of both Indian and Pakistani religious minorities at the hands of the Pakistan government.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi is provoking #Pakistan and #China, and there's high potential for conflict...with the rising #Hindu #nationalism and intercommunal friction, #India is undergoing tremendous upheaval today, says #Israeli political scientist Ayelet Harel-Shalev.
https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-modi-is-provoking-pakistan-and-china-there-s-high-potential-for-conflict-1.7865089

Q: One of your areas of expertise is “deeply divided societies.” Examples are India and also Israel. Can you please first explain the meaning of the term?


A deeply divided society is one composed of a number of different communities that all see themselves as belonging to the state, and the state as belonging to them – but significant disagreements exist between these communities about the nature of that state. For example, whether it should be a state of all its citizens, or be defined as the state of a particular nationality. The case of India is interesting, because it shifts between two narratives. According to the first, it’s a state of all its citizens, a democratic, egalitarian state whose constitution is based on the democratic ethos; while the second narrative, which is currently undergoing rejuvenation and is gaining strength, is that India should be a Hindu and democratic state.


Meaning, a right-wing agenda. What is the difference between “national” and “nationalist” sentiment?

It’s elusive. If we assume that a national approach entails the aspiration that your state will possess a particular national character, take pride in the country’s achievements and have an affinity for members of the group – then nationalism deals with specific preferences for a specific people, with discrimination and racism against, and the pushing aside of, the Other. There are national movements that can be democratic or liberal, grant rights to minorities and not be swept up into nationalism. A case in point is the constitution of India, which is not nationalistic by nature. On the contrary: It promotes equality and defines minority rights. After the partition [in 1947, when independent India and Pakistan were created], which was violent and grim, [founding premier Jawaharlal] Nehru told the minorities: You are flesh of our flesh. This is an example of a particular route to the national that does not include nationalism.

Arguably, there was no other choice: The only way to create a bridge between so many streams and minorities is with pluralistic democracy.


“Uniformity and diversity” – that was the central slogan for India during the first decades of its existence, and it effectively dictated the country’s character.

But that wasn’t really its character. History in that country is rife with bloody clashes between Hindus and Muslims. And that also constituted the background to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

During the initial years [of statehood] there were many movements that believed that the Hindus, as the majority, should lead the country. Gandhi was assassinated by a member of a nationalist movement, the RSS, who thought that he was “selling out” the country to the minorities.

That’s the movement from which Prime Minister Narendra Modi sprang. Do you attribute Modi’s rise to the universal trend of the strengthening of the right, or is it a local phenomenon?

It’s not disconnected from the universal trend, of course, but there are other contributing factors to Modi’s success. To begin with, the alternative, the left-center Congress Party, which was the ruling party in India for many decades, became weakened. It was perceived as corrupt, elitist, disconnected. The vacuum that was left made possible the rise and strengthening of nationalist parties that talked about restoring self-respect to the Hindus. Second, Modi is a very charismatic leader. His messages don’t deal only with nationalism; he also talks about the rights of farmers and of women, about recycling, about hygiene and sanitation in India. The public can relate to those messages.

Riaz Haq said...

Alison Redford, Ex Premier of #Alberta #Canada: "For too long, #Pakistan’s actions have been unreasonably characterized as aggressive. #India’s tactics have been increasingly violent...more international criticism of its conduct and occupation of #Kashmir" https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-this-not-the-same-old-india-pakistan-conflict/?utm_source=facebook.com&fbclid=IwAR2dcf66o_XWPlIHKqrvgd1UFiQaR6J0tttzasqfiDFUrOcbH1gyvdpjbp4

First, in media reports, India refers to 40 years of terrorist attacks against India by Pakistan without equal mention of terror attacks perpetrated by India on Pakistani soil, as recently as three months ago in Karachi, or India’s support for independence insurgents operating in the Northwest of Pakistan over the past 10 years.

Second, although in the past there have been allegations that Jaish-e-Mohammed has been supported by Pakistan, the organization has been banned in Pakistan since 2002 and support for its operations and training activity was withdrawn. Yet, India continues to assert this position, without providing evidence to support it.

Third, it is against the fundamental principles of international law to launch a military attack on civilian targets, which can be considered an act of war. In those circumstances, one can argue that Pakistan had the right to defend itself and that its response was both measured and reasonable.

On the Kashmiri question, Pakistan has called for United Nations mediation, but India has refused, saying that it is an internal issue, while violently suppressing a growing, and younger, local insurgent movement. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized India for using excessive force in 2017. More than 500 people, including 100 civilians, have been killed in 2018.

In recent months, India’s tactics have been increasingly violent, leading to more international criticism of its conduct and occupation of Kashmir, including most recently by British parliamentarians, and two resolutions at the OIC this past weekend condemning its violent actions in Indian-occupied Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also faces criticism domestically from Indian opposition leaders such as Rahul Gandhi, for manipulating these events to bolster Mr. Modi’s political support in an election year.

There have been times when both countries have been accused of being involved in unwarranted actions against the other and the international community is quick to ignore the complicated dynamics in the region and rely on history. Instead, each incident should be assessed on its own merits to avoid dangerous rivalries from being perpetuated. With a real nuclear risk, we cannot afford to be complacent.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #Modi endorses #Trump in 2020: Modi said at his #Houston rally today: “Abki baar Trump sarkar” Trump's participation offered him chance to woo 4 million #American-#Indians whose support could prove helpful in re-election #HowdyModi #AdiosModi https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/22/us/politics/trump-modi-houston-rally.html

The rally brought together two leaders with similar styles. Both rose to power by embracing right-wing populism, portraying themselves as champions of the masses fighting against an entrenched establishment. Both presented voters with a vision to make their respective countries “great again,” and both have fanned tensions along religious, economic and social fault lines.

Mr. Modi, who is in the United States for a week largely to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York, won a landslide re-election in May. But Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi are also both polarizing figures among the people they lead. While many Indians see Mr. Modi as a strong, decisive leader, a small but vocal minority say he is becoming an autocrat, rapidly consolidating power, going after political enemies inside his country and sowing division between Hindus and Muslims.

In the United States, Mr. Trump is preparing to run for re-election in a bitterly divided country with polls regularly showing him receiving well short of 50 percent support. His participation in Sunday’s rally with Mr. Modi offered a chance to woo a constituency — the four million American residents of Indian descent — whose support could prove helpful.

Mr. Modi delivered in English an over-the top introduction of Mr. Trump, declaring that the president’s name is “familiar to every person on the planet” and “comes up in almost every conversation in the world on global politics.”

Standing next to Mr. Modi, the president beamed with pleasure as the prime minister delivered a twist on his own election slogan: “Abki baar Trump sarkar” or “This time, a Trump government.”

But earning votes from Indian-Americans will not be easy for Mr. Trump, even with Mr. Modi by his side.

Indian-Americans have supported both Democrats and Republicans in the past, though they have gravitated away from Mr. Trump’s party more recently. Although the president’s tax and economic policies appeal to many Indians, his tough stance on immigration, including legal immigrants from India, has caused great angst, especially in Silicon Valley, which relies heavily on Indian workers who come on H-1B visas.

An overwhelming majority of Indian-American voters are registered as Democrats and voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

M.R. Rangaswami, the founder of Indiaspora, a group that tries to organize Indian-Americans, said events like Sunday’s rally help the community become more relevant in the United States. He said Mr. Trump’s appearance here was an opportunity to increase his 14 percent showing among Indian-Americans in 2016.

--------------------


He has come a long way. Years ago, he was banned by American authorities from even entering the United States because of allegations that as chief minister in Gujarat in the early 2000s he was responsible for an explosion of religiously driven violence that claimed more than 1,000 lives, most of them Muslim.

The goal of this trip is to attract investment to India, and there is a little extra urgency: India’s economy is suffering its biggest downturn in years. Mr. Modi is also eager to shore up diplomatic support. But a controversy threatens to cast a shadow over his visit.

Human rights groups and three Nobel Peace Prize winners have criticized the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a prestigious award they plan to bestow upon Mr. Modi this week. The peace activists say that under Mr. Modi’s leadership, “India has descended into dangerous and deadly chaos that has consistently undermined human rights.”

Riaz Haq said...

#India's Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate: “Facebook is replete with hate posts that continue to fester animosity. It is now clear that despite being reported by its own team, no action is taken” #Facebook #hate #BJP #Islam #Pakistan #socialmedia https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/row-over-wsj-report-facebook-issues-clarification-congress-reiterates-demand-for-jpc-probe

A day after US newspaper Wall Street Journal exposed how social media giant Facebook ignored hate speeches made by BJP leader, Facebook issued a clarification saying it does not discriminate on the basis of political ideology.


“We prohibit hate speech and content that incites violence and we enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone's political position or party affiliation. While we know there is more to do, we're making progress on enforcement and conducting regular audits of our process to ensure fairness and accuracy,” said Facebook.

In the report titled “Facebook Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics -- Company executive opposed move to ban controversial politician”, the WSJ reported that Facebook looks the other way in cases of hate speech made by BJP leaders.


The WSJ also reported that a top level executive of Facebook’s India operations, Ankhi Das had said punishing violations by BJP workers “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”.

Blaming Facebook for ‘destroying democracy in India’, Congress has however, reiterated its demand for a JPC probe.

“With all responsibility I will say that Facebook’s inaction destabilises our democracy. More often than not Facebook takes no action and even worse, allows objectionable content to continue despite being brought to notice,” said Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate.

Saying that “Facebook is replete with hate posts that continue to fester animosity”, Shrinate said, “It is now clear that despite being reported by its own team, no action is taken”.

Shrinate pointed out that Facbook India policy head Ankhi Das' links with the BJP and RSS affiliated ABVP go back a long way.

“Her identical twin sister Ms Rashmi Das was not just ABVP General Secretary at JNU but she continues to be an ABVP activist and was a prominent voice that supported violence on the campus,” she said.

Reiterating Congress’ demand for a JPC probe, Shrinate said, “We also expect Facebook global to look into discrepancies that exist in its India operations and we hope Facebook will take immediate remedial measures”.

Riaz Haq said...

#US affiliate of #Modi's #BJP registers as foreign agent in #America. FARA is an important tool to identify foreign influence in the United States and address threats to national security. #Trump #Hindutva #India #UnitedStates #Elections_2020 https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/us-affiliate-of-bjp-registers-as-foreign-agent/story-vUFzyF4pYIFVEpy4I9o62L.html

The US affiliate of the Bharatiya Janata Party - Overseas Friends of BJP-USA (OFBJP-USA) - recently registered itself with the American government under a law that requires individuals and entities that engage in political activities on behalf of a foreign principal to file a public disclosure of their ties and activities.

The OFBJP-USA identified BJP as its “foreign principal” in a registration form filed on August 27 with the US department of justice (DOJ) under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), 1938. It listed Vijay Chauthaiwale, in-charge of the BJP’s department of foreign affairs, as the party official it works with.

For the mission and objective of the BJP as the foreign principal, the OFBJP, said in the registration form, “Advocating for welfare social policies, self-reliance, robust economic growth, foreign policy driven by a nationalist agenda, and strong national defence for India.”

Adapa V Prasad, one of the three signatories of the registration form, denied that the registration was compelled by a US investigation of the organisation as had been contended by some. “OFBJP has voluntarily registered under FARA with DOJ, he said, adding, “OFBJP is not under any investigation.”

A response was awaited from the US justice department to a request from Hindustan Times to confirm or deny that an investigation was underway.

Prasad said the members of the organisation learned about FARA regulation “very recently and upon review of the regulation; we thought it best to register voluntarily”.

He added, “We haven’t suspended any of our activities. We are fully functional.”

The department of justice says, “FARA is an important tool to identify foreign influence in the United States and address threats to national security. The central purpose of FARA is to promote transparency with respect to foreign influence within the United States by ensuring that the US government and the public know the source of certain information from foreign agents intended to influence American public opinion, policy and laws, thereby facilitating informed evaluation of that information.”

“Willful violation” of the law is punishable with up to five years in jail and or a maximum fine of $250,000, or both. The punishment for certain lesser violations is a jail term of no more than six months or a fine of $5,000, or both.

Riaz Haq said...

Unmasking Hindutva - Frontline
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https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/unmasking-hindutva-looking-back-on-dismantling-global-hindutva-online-conference-september-2021/article36628499.ece

SOCIAL science academics associated with American and European universities organised a three-day online conference titled “Dismantling Global Hindutva” from September 10 to 12 with the stated aim of bringing together “scholars of South Asia specialising in gender, economics, political science, caste, religion, health care, and media in order to try to understand the complex and multifaceted phenomenon of Hindutva”. The conference was co-sponsored by academic units of more than 50 universities worldwide.

As soon as the announcement pertaining to the conference was made sometime in August, the organisers and the invited speakers were threatened, trolled and intimidated on social media. Hindu groups based in the United States such as the Hindu Mandir Executives Conference, which describes itself as an initiative of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad America, the Coalition of Hindus of North America and the Hindu American Foundation pressured participating universities to withdraw their support for the event. Niraj Antani, a Republican State Senator from Ohio, condemned the conference, terming it as “Hinduphobia”. In India, the event attracted massive opposition, with several media outlets taking the lead in campaigning against it.

The speakers acknowledged the “bravery” and “fortitude” of the organisers in staying the course and proceeding with the conference. The conference had nine thematic sessions with 45 speakers (including the moderators) presenting their ideas and analyses. While the participating scholars (the majority of them were of Indian heritage) were mainly from the U.S., there were speakers from the United Kingdom, France and Germany as well. A handful of Indian activists, who were subjected to virulent online attacks, including death threats, also spoke at the conference. The organisers deserve to be congratulated because it is hard to imagine an academic event that rigorously interrogates the idea of Hindutva taking place in India with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in government at the Centre.

Also read: Sangh Parivar’s U.S. funds trail

The historian Gyan Prakash, in his opening statement, said Hindutva, which he characterised as “anti-democratic and anti-intellectual”, was the “de facto ideology of the ruling regime in India” and that it “seeks to alter the constitutional order”. Prakash stated that the concerted attacks in the U.S. and India on the basis of “false characterisation of the conference as anti-Hindu” was because “the Hindutva ego is fragile”.

Paradox of global Hindutva
The first session was titled “What is Global Hindutva?”. The political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot, the film-maker Anand Patwardhan and the poet and author Meena Kandaswamy spoke in this session. Jaffrelot sought to explain the paradox of a global Hindutva movement because Hindutva is linked to a “sacred territory” (the Indian subcontinent in this case) as expounded by V.D. Savarkar in his pamphlet Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? Since the 1990s, Jaffrelot explained, a transformation has happened, with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) expanding its organisational base tremendously beyond India. The RSS invests heavily in the diaspora because of its “wealth”, “the concept of Western ethnic nationalisms of the early 20th century movements” and with the hope that it can act as an “ethnic lobby” the way Israel has done.


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https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/unmasking-hindutva-looking-back-on-dismantling-global-hindutva-online-conference-september-2021/article36628499.ece


Patwardhan spoke about the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar and the “ahistorical, illogical and contradictory claims of Hindutva” to distinguish between Hindutva and Hinduism. He said: “Hindutva is as Hindu as the Ku Klux Klan is Christian.” Meena Kandaswamy opened her talk with the anguished information that death threats had been issued against her four-year-old child because she was taking part in this conference. For her, Hindutva was the expression of two fundamental inequalities: “oppression of caste and women”, and thus, it could be defeated through “caste annihilation and feminism”. In Meera Kandaswamy’s understanding, the “anti-minorityism of Hindutva is used as a polarising tactic to deflect attention from the struggle between the Brahmins and Dalit/Bahujans”.

The sociologist Jean Dreze, in his paper on the theme of “Political Economy of Hindutva” that was read out in the second session, argued that “the surge of Hindu nationalism in India can be seen as a revolt of the upper castes against the egalitarian demands of democracy. The Hindutva project is a lifeboat for the upper castes insofar as it promises to restore the Brahminical social order.” Pritam Singh, an economist, said in his presentation that “the farm laws have been brought by the Indian government to deepen agro-business capitalism and centralisation in India and through that, advance Hindutva’s political agenda”. The social geographer Jens Lerche also spoke on the farmers’ agitation. He observed that the BJP’s policies showed that “it was less interested in pro-poor policies than the previous Congress government, which has resulted in an increase in poverty”. This point was reiterated by the economist Vamsi Vakulabharanam as well, who presented his argument in the form of a puzzle: A vast majority of Indians have faced heightened economic distress and inequality since the BJP came to power in 2014. This was evident by 2019, so how did the BJP and its allies increase their vote share? Vakulabharanam offered a tentative economic explanation for the saffron party’s return to power. “There is a huge gap between the real economic content of the Hindutva project that is elitist and the rhetoric of this project, which is economic populism and nationalism, which appeals to the promise of upward mobility,” he said.

Benign Brahminism
Considering that caste is an intrinsic part of the Hindutva world view, a session was dedicated to the theme. Gajendran Ayyathurai presented his paper on “Systematic Blindnesses: Hindutva, Benign Brahminism and the Brick Wall of Caste/Hindu Identity”. In his argument, “benign Brahminism stands for how Brahmin-male claims of Hindu identity, Hindu culture and Hinduism have come to be legitimised in the Indian and Western academy’s theories, institutions and practices that superimpose and mask the latent and manifest forms of caste/casteism”. Bhanwar Meghwanshi, who quit the RSS as he became disgusted with its casteism, explained in Hindi that “Hindutva is not a religion or faith but is a communal political ideology that is based on brahminical Hinduism that wants to turn India from a secular nation into a Hindu rashtra”. Basing his argument on his own experience, Meghwanshi asserted that “the lower castes do not have any role in determining the strategies or politics of the RSS, instead, they are exploited and weaponised against religious minorities”. In her presentation, the philosopher Meena Dhanda said it was possible for caste “to be included in the legal definition of race under the [U.K.’s] Equality Act of 2010”.

Riaz Haq said...

Unmasking Hindutva - Frontline
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https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/unmasking-hindutva-looking-back-on-dismantling-global-hindutva-online-conference-september-2021/article36628499.ece

In a session on “Gender and Sexual Politics of Hindutva”, the film-maker Leena Manimekalai showed a clip from her incomplete film Rape Nation, which partially looks at the stories of survivors of sexual violence during the communal carnages that took place in Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar in 2002 and 2013 respectively. Arguing that sexual violence is at the core of Hindutva, Leena Manimekalai said: “Hindutva has redefined nationalism as a genocidal impulse to rape and murder non-Hindu women. It is a celebration of toxic masculinity.”

The transgender studies scholar Aniruddha Dutta showed in his presentation how the BJP’s rise had even affected the Hijra tradition where there has been a transformation from a “syncretic Indo-Islamic tradition to a more orthodox version of Hinduism”. The Dalit feminist P. Sivakami critiqued Hindutva as having “no vision for Hindu women except that it intends to prepare and reorient them against their imaginary enemy, i.e., the Muslim man, thus diverting her from her real struggles”. The feminist scholar Akanksha Mehta segued from this presentation, stating that “notions of gender and sexuality rooted in caste and race are crucial to the Hindutva project” even as she compared the analogous role of women among savarna (caste) Hindus and Zionists.

Hindutva and its relationship to nationalism was the theme of the session titled “Contours of the Nation”. The focus was on the operation of Hindutva in Kashmir, the north-eastern region and the Adivasi-inhabited areas of central India. The anthropologist Mohamad Junaid examined the “spectacle of domination” of the Hindutva state, characterising it as “primarily an anti-Muslim state”. He also spoke about the long history of Hindutva in Kashmir, tracing it to the land reforms of the 1950s, which were a challenge to “Hindu sovereignty”.

The anthropologist Arkotong Longkumer looked at the operation of Hindutva in the north-eastern States, arguing that “Hindutva’s spread is not restricted to the politics of the north-east but also extends to the cultural and social spheres of the region”. The sociologist Nandini Sundar’s presentation dwelt on four arenas through which the “supremacist projects of the RSS have received state support” in the Adivasi regions of central India; one of these arenas was the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashrams, which she discussed in detail. Yasmin Saikia, a historian of Assam, spoke about how millions of Muslims in Assam “are facing the threat of denationalisation and statelessness” because of the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. She stated: “The transformation of Muslims [in Assam] from migrants to immigrants to infiltrators to illegal Bangladeshis is the product of Hindutva, although the Congress party too enabled this process by its failure in developing a well-measured and humane minority policy.”

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Unmasking Hindutva - Frontline
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https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/unmasking-hindutva-looking-back-on-dismantling-global-hindutva-online-conference-september-2021/article36628499.ece



Ayurvedic and other native cures that were promoted by different departments of the Union government to treat COVID-19 came under the scanner at the panel discussion on “Hindutva Science and Healthcare”. Meera Nanda, science historian, made three points in her presentation: first, that the “[Narendra] Modi government promoted potentially dangerous ayurvedic remedies to fight COVID-19”; second, “fake history through which Ayurveda has claimed parity with modern science”; and third, that “the post-colonial critics of science have let us down by clamouring for alternative ways of knowing that can put modern science in its place”. The public health historian Kavita Sivaramakrishnan pointed out how “public health and science have become a vital pillar of Hindutva assertions”. The feminist science studies scholar Banu Subramaniam critiqued the Modi government by stating that “science and technology are being increasingly mobilised by an authoritarian state fuelling sectarian violence, crushing dissent, arresting writers, increasing surveillance and rousing the public in the false security of rampant rumours, disinformation, fake news and dangerous nostalgic visions of a Hindu prehistory”.

Capturing social media platforms
The BJP’s control over social media and the digital space has catalysed the party’s growth and has provided a steady channel for its propaganda. This was the theme of the next session. The journalist Cyril Sam spoke about the pioneering partnerships that the BJP had built with communication technology companies such as Facebook to spread its propaganda. “They [BJP] have captured most communication platforms which are used as a pipeline for radicalisation and recruitment,” said Sam. The digital culture scholar Dheepa Sundaram observed that the concept of secularism was systematically discredited through the digital ecosystem of Hindutva. The journalist and author Salil Tripathi analysing the BJP’s use of social media said: “The Internet has made it possible for people to believe that it is all right to be bigoted, to speak loudly and to heckle. The Internet makes bigotry more widespread than it originally was, makes it respectable and makes the fringe the centre and when the fringe becomes the centre, it is time to worry because it is when the centre cannot hold that things fall apart.”

Also read: ‘Hindutva is not the same as Hinduism’

In the penultimate session, which was on “Hinduism and Hindutva”, the Carnatic vocalist T.M. Krishna offered a range of possibilities on the theme under discussion: first, that Hinduism and Hindutva are the same; second, Hinduism and Hindutva are completely opposite; and third, that Hinduism and Hindutva are the same but this assertion came from a Bahujan perspective which even saw the conference as an attempt by “savarnas trying to save Hinduism”. The anthropologist Balmurli Natrajan commented on the critics of the conference. He said: “The main claim of the critics of this conference is that they are defending Hinduism. They do this by conflating Hindutva with Hinduism. but in reality, they are defending Hindutva by weaponising Hindu symbols—both literally and figuratively.”

]

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Unmasking Hindutva - Frontline
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https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/unmasking-hindutva-looking-back-on-dismantling-global-hindutva-online-conference-september-2021/article36628499.ece


Two scholars from the Feminist Critical Hindu Studies Collective, Shana Sippy and Sailaja Krishnamuti, asserted that “not all Hinduism is Hindutva but Hindutva is, in fact, Hinduism…. Hindutva is a powerful, vocal, insidious form of Hinduism.” In a powerful presentation, Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights, spoke about her engagement with a more casteless and inclusive form of Hinduism. Identifying herself as a practising Hindu who “loves Sita and Ram”, she decried how “Jai Shri Ram has become a murder slogan”. The geographer Brij Maharaj argued how the RSS and its ideology of Hindutva had found it difficult to pervade Indian diasporas in South Africa, Mauritius, Guyana and Fiji because of their origins as indentured labour.

In the last session, on “Islamophobia, Hindutva and White Supremacy”, the historians Anupama Rao and Anjali Arondekar and the media studies scholar Deepa Kumar shared their perspectives. Deepa Kumar commented on the shrinking academic space in Indian universities, quoting her own experience: In May 2021, her talk on Islamophobia at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education was cancelled following protests by Hindu right-wing activists. Deepa Kumar drew on her past work to show the commonality of “tactics, strategies and rhetoric” among white supremacists, Zionists and espousers of Hindutva.

Riaz Haq said...

India is miles away but its tyranny is shaking, shaping American politics
American supporters of the BJP and its affiliated ultra right-wing, paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh manage to steamroll anyone who calls out India’s abysmal treatment of Muslims, oppressed castes and other minorities.
By Rummana Hussain Jun 18, 2022, 2:00am PDT

https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2022/6/18/23170018/india-illinois-modi-politics-raja-krishnamoorthi-pieter-friedrich-bjp-rss

Last weekend, a Muslim activist in India was arrested and had his house bulldozed by authorities who suspected him of orchestrating demonstrations that turned violent in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Javed Muhammad, whose daughter Afreen Fatima is also an organizer, wasn’t the only one whose family’s property was destroyed. At least two others protesting Islamophobic remarks made by members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party had their homes razed.

“Bulldozer justice” has recently become commonplace against Muslim activists and business owners in India.

Meanwhile, American supporters of the BJP and its affiliated ultra right-wing, paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh verbally steamroll and harass, like a swarm of agitated bees, anyone in the United States who dares to call out India’s abysmal treatment of its religious minorities, oppressed castes and other marginalized groups.

Then they retract their stingers in the presence of politicians and community leaders and lure them into a honey trap, convincing them that any criticism of India is offensive and divisive.

This is exactly how many City Council members were persuaded last year into shooting down a non-binding, bare-bones resolution that simply said discrimination in India is wrong. Chicago leaders shouldn’t weigh in on international matters, some argued. But less than a year later, a resolution supporting the “independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine” was passed by the City Council without controversy.

Many South Asians of all faiths, horrified by the bloodshed and bigotry overseas, believe a similar playbook has been pulled out with the recent statements issued in defense of U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., who has upset many of his former supporters for cozying up to Modi and other BJP/RSS leaders.

“The days ... of making threats against non-white people, especially because of the color of their skin, their religious affiliation, or their country of origin must remain behind us,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson tweeted after writer and activist Pieter Friedrich stood outside the congressman’s Schaumburg office on May 21 and said, “Nazis out, Raja must go” and a desi slogan that offended Krishnamoorthi.

Friedrich has been a thorn in Krishnamoorthi’s side since he moved to the western suburbs from California last month to shine a light on the influence of right-wing India in local politics. Friedrich’s style is brash, and his Nazi references can hurt the cause of Muslim rights.

Riaz Haq said...

India is miles away but its tyranny is shaking, shaping American politics
American supporters of the BJP and its affiliated ultra right-wing, paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh manage to steamroll anyone who calls out India’s abysmal treatment of Muslims, oppressed castes and other minorities.
By Rummana Hussain Jun 18, 2022, 2:00am PDT

https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2022/6/18/23170018/india-illinois-modi-politics-raja-krishnamoorthi-pieter-friedrich-bjp-rss

The issue, though, isn’t about him. It’s about the persecution in India that has been swept under the rug by many American leaders because of the handiwork of their BJP/RSS-supporting donors.

Jackson said he took issue with language Friedrich used.

Curiously, Jackson’s four-part tweet echoed the talking points of Indian Americans who fought against the City Council resolution and failed to mention Friedrich has been speaking out against oppression in India.

Krishnamoorthi accused Friedrich of making death threats for chanting “Krishnamoorthi murdabad.”

Murdabad literally translates to “death to” in Hindi and Urdu.

However, when used in political discourse in India and Pakistan, murdabad means “down with,” according to Tyler Williams, an associate professor of South Asian languages and civilizations at the University of Chicago. “It is absolutely not a death threat,” Williams said.

Friedrich maintains he only referenced Hitler’s party because the most influential RSS leader was inspired by Nazi Germany.

Friedrich went on to say the homophobic and anti-abortion remarks Equality Illinois and Secretary of State Jesse White denounced him for in their support of Krishnamoorthi were made when he was a Christian fundamentalist as a teenager. “I own them and bear responsibility but I repudiate these views now,” said Friedrich, 36.

Krishnamoorthi, meanwhile, told me he is “very concerned” about the rhetoric being used against Muslims and other minorities by the BJP/RSS and that he condemns any violence carried out by them.

The congressman did rush out to O’Hare Airport in 2017 to join protesters and immigration lawyers when Donald Trump issued the “Muslim ban.” He also put out statements condemning the derogatory comments made about Prophet Muhammad by leading BJP members and the call for a genocide of Muslims at a conference in India earlier this year. Much appreciated.

But it is hard to ignore Krishnamoorthi’s reported attendance at several events organized by Hindu nationalists, including a 94th birthday commemoration of the RSS, a group Williams described as the Indian equivalent of the Proud Boys.

You can’t stand against someone when you are standing with them.

Krishnamoorthi is on the right side on domestic matters — Black Lives Matter, the environment, etc. — but when it comes to India, he’s “cheerleading for the Modi government” said Nikhil Mandalaparthy, the advocacy director of Hindus for Human Rights.

Krishnamoorthi said he is willing to meet with those worried about the tyrannical hold that has taken over India and conceded, “I need to do more in continuing to speak out.”

We’ll be waiting.

Riaz Haq said...

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari took India to task on Thursday for calling Pakistan “the epicentre of terrorism”, saying India “demonises the people of Pakistan” to hide its Hindu-supremacist ideas.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2391342/bilawal-hits-back-at-india-for-calling-pakistan-epicenter-of-terrorism

The FM’s comments came minutes after his Indian counterpart had accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists, including Osama bin Laden.


In his speech at the Security Council, the Indian minister had said that “India faced the horrors of cross-border terrorism long before the world took serious note of it” and has “fought terrorism resolutely, bravely and with a zero-tolerance approach".

Bilawal hit back at the comments saying “I am the foreign minister of Pakistan and Pakistan’s foreign minister is a victim of terrorism as the son of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif when he was chief minister of Punjab, his home minister was assassinated by a terrorist. Political parties, civil society, the average people in Pakistan across the board have been the victims of perpetrators of terrorism.”

“We have lost far more lives to terrorism than India has,” he added questioning why Pakistan would ever want to perpetuate terrorism and make “our own people suffer”.

“Unfortunately, India has been playing in that space […] where it is very easy to say ‘Muslim’ and ‘terrorist’ together and get the world to agree and they very skilfully blur this line where people like myself are associated with terrorists rather than those that have been and to this day are fighting terrorism,” he continued.

The FM then went on to say that New Delhi perpetuated this narrative not just against India but also Muslims in that country. “We are terrorists whether we’re Muslims in Pakistan and we’re terrorists whether we’re Muslims in India.”

“Osama bin Laden is dead,” said Bilawal, “but the butcher of Gujarat lives and he is the prime minister of India”.

“He [Narendra Modi] was banned from entering this country [the United States],” he continued, “these are the prime minister and foreign minister of the RSS [a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation]”.

“The RSS draws its inspiration from Hitler’s SS [the Nazi Party’s combat branch, Schutzstaffel],” Bilawal added.

The FM went on to point out the irony in the inauguration of Gandhi’s bust at UN headquarters by the Indian FM and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “If the FM of India was being honest, then he knows as well as I, that the RSS does not believe in Gandhi, in his ideology. They do not see this individual as the founder of India, they hero-worship the terrorist that assassinated Gandhi.”

“They are not even attempting to wash the blood of the people of Gujarat off their hands,” said Bilawal, lamenting that the “Butcher of Gujarat” was now the “Butcher of Kashmir”.

“For their electoral campaign, Prime Minister Modi’s government has used their authority to pardon the men who perpetuated rape against Muslims in Gujarat. Those terrorists were freed by the prime minister of India,” said Bilawal.

“In order to perpetuate their politics of hate, their transition from a secular India to a Hindu supremacist India, this narrative is very important,” said Bilawal, claiming Pakistan had “proof” that Modi’s government had facilitated a terrorist attack in Pakistan.

The minister was referring to the “irrefutable evidence” Pakistan had of the involvement of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in the blast at Johar Town, Lahore last year as three terrorists had been arrested.

Riaz Haq said...

US court dismisses Hindutva group’s defamation case against Audrey Truschke, four activists

https://maktoobmedia.com/2022/12/21/us-court-dismisses-hindutva-groups-defamation-case-against-audrey-truschke-four-activists/

A United States court on Tuesday dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by the Hindutva group Hindu American Foundation against four activists and historian Audrey Truschke for two articles published in Al Jazeera.

“The Hindu American Foundation’s SLAPP lawsuit against me and four other defendants is dismissed by Judge Mehta! I’ll comment more in the coming weeks, but this is a win against the far right!,” tweeted Truschke.

The US-based right wing group had filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on 7 May last year. Besides Truschke, it had sued Indian American Muslim Council Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed, Hindus for Human Rights co-founders Sunita Viswanath and Raju Rajagopal and Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America chairman John Prabhudoss.

Sunita Viswanath, Rasheed Ahmed and John Prabhudoss had been quoted in the Al Jazeera articles, while Audrey Truschke was named in the suit for tweeting about the story and the Hindu American Foundation.

The author of one Al Jazeera article and prominent young Muslim journalist Raqib Hameed Naik, was named as a co-conspirator in the lawsuit.

“A federal judge in Washington DC has dismissed a frivolous lawsuit filed by rightwing group Hindu American Foundation over one of my stories published in Al Jazeera last year. HAF had sued 5 people & named me as a co-conspirator,” Raqib tweeted.


Riaz Haq said...

How Desis in Illinois Fought Off a Law Altering the Definition of 'Indian'


https://www.thequint.com/us-nri-news/indian-american-advisory-council-bhutan-nepal-sri-lanka-desis-fought-off-a-law-altering-the-definition-of-indian

Two things stood out in the Act:

How it defined an Indian: "Indian" means a person descended from any of the countries of the subcontinent that are not primarily Muslim in character, including India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

The Act said that the purpose of the council, among other things, is "to enhance trade and cooperation between Indian-majority countries and this state."


The Bill – HB4070 – was filed with the House clerk on 22 April 2021 by Lewis. It was eventually passed by both the chambers in April 2022 and became an Act on 10 June 2022 when Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker signed the Bill.

The law, however, came to the Illinois south Asian community's attention sometime in September, said Pushkar Sharma, Co-Founder of Chicago Coalition for Human Rights in India (CCHRI).

Subsequently, members of a group representing south Asian communities approached State Senator Ram Villivalam, a Democrat and the chief sponsor of the Bill in the State Senate.

"A group of Illinois citizens representing the Asian American community, particularly the south Asian American community, spoke with State Senators and Representatives to learn more about what had happened. We learned that community members had not been involved in drafting this text. As far as we know, Representative Seth Lewis also did not consult with the members of the community," Sharma said.

"Legislators we spoke with said that they receive 6,000 pieces of legislation, and advisory councils like this (and there are many of them) are not as urgent as other legislative priorities."
Pushkar Sharma
Senator Villivalam also admitted mistake but said that he did not read the text clearly as he receives many such legislations on his desk.


The amendment changed the name of the Act to the 'Illinois South Asian American Advisory Council Act', renamed the advisory council to the 'Illinois South Asian American Advisory Council', removed the term 'Indian', and defined 'South Asian' as "a person descended from any of the countries of the South Asian subcontinent."

South Asian American Advisory Council Act

The Trailer Bill was passed by the State Senate in late November 2022 and was approved by the House of Representatives on 11 January 2023. It will become a law after the governor signs the amendment.

Seth Lewis: The Republican Behind the Law
The brainchild behind the Indian American Advisory Council Act, Seth Lewis, was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives from District 45 for two years after being elected in 2020; he held office from January 2021 to January 2023.

Riaz Haq said...

#SiliconValley's #Indian-#American Congressman Ro Khanna talks of the threat of growing #Hindu nationalism. Khanna: “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva" #Hindutva #Islamophobia #Modi #BJP
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/rep-ro-khanna-will-first-indian-american-chair-congressional-india-cau-rcna68702

Khanna said that, having spent much of his career in Northern California's Silicon Valley, he has been immersed in Indian American issues for years. The rising tide of Hindu nationalism is on the forefront of the diaspora’s collective consciousness; from professional spheres to college campuses, reports of Islamophobia and casteism abound in South Asian spaces.

Khanna hasn’t shied away from such conversations, and his vocalness has sparked outrage from right-wing Indian Americans. In 2019, 230 Hindu and Indian American entities wrote letter criticizing Khanna for denouncing Hindu nationalism (also known as Hindutva) and for advocating religious equality on the subcontinent.

“It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist & Christians,” Khanna tweeted at the time.

They also criticized Khanna for joining the Congressional Pakistan Caucus and for speaking out against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s revoking the state of Kashmir’s autonomy.

“Of course, we have to fulfill the strategic partnership and we have to respect the democratically elected leadership in India,” Khanna told NBC News. “I will work to strengthen that while also upholding these human rights values.”

Riaz Haq said...

The world is now learning about the major threat Hindutva fascism poses today.

https://theloop.ecpr.eu/hindutva-fascism-is-threatening-the-worlds-largest-democracy/

In India, fascism is reinventing itself. It has crept through Hindu nationalism – Hindutva – and now poses a serious threat to Indian democracy, writes Amit Singh

Frequently framed as populist, nativist and nationalist, ‘Hindutva fascism’ has so far evaded the serious scrutiny of scholars and activists. But, as Luca Manucci has argued convincingly, mislabelling such a phenomenon could jeopardise the struggle against fascism and anti-democratic regimes.

Without accurate labelling, we will never develop an effective counterstrategy against fascism. Fascism is manifesting itself in India under the auspices of radical right-wing groups such as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Widespread public confusion, along with a silencing of the discussion around Hindutva's ‘fascistic roots’, is assisting the gradual death of Indian democracy.

What is Hindutva?
Hindutva is an ethnic form of nationalism. Since 1925, the right-wing Hindu nationalist paramilitary organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been its most staunch proponent. RSS is radically far-right, hierarchical, authoritarian, and founded on the premise of Hindu supremacy. Hindu nationalism seeks uniformity through the imposition of Hindi language, Hindu religion, Hindu mythology, and unquestioned loyalty to the nation. On different levels, it seeks to repress dissenting views, and to expunge religious pluralism and secularism from political discourse.

Current right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an active member of RSS, is notorious for his complicity in the post-Godhra riots. Modi claimed that the fire on the train which killed 59 Hindus in 2002 was an act of Islamist terrorism rather than an outbreak of communal violence. Under Modi, India is fulfilling RSS' Hindutva mission to make India a Hindu nation. Once a secular state, India has become an electoral autocracy, with Hindutva as its unofficial ideology.

Hindutva's fascistic roots
Veer Savarkar, one of Hindutva's earliest proponents, asserted:

India should follow the German example to solve the Muslim problem… Germany has every right to resort to Nazism and Italy to fascism – and events have justified those isms…

VEER SAVARKAR, 1938
Hindutva ideologue Madhav Sadashivrao Golwalkar applauded Hitler’s Germany for exterminating Jews to maintain the purity of the race and its culture. He strongly believed 'foreign races in Hindustan must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race; [they] deserve no privileges… not even citizen's rights.'

BS Moonje, a politician close to the RSS, met with Mussolini on 19 March 1931. Moonje played a crucial role in moulding the RSS along Italian (fascist) lines, militarising Hindu youths. Hindutva ideologues consider a homogeneous identity a necessary foundation of nationhood. Thus, nationhood is inherently anti-plural.

Hindutva’s proximity to fascist ideas
The RSS shaped Hindutva ideology similarly to the way the Nazis and Italian fascists shaped fascist ideology in the 1930s. Hindutva rejects the liberal democratic conception of nation and citizenship. It is anti-democratic, and inherently Islamophobic. The cult of tradition and male chauvinism dominates Hindutva fascist policies. Under Modi, Hindutva fascism has crystallised.

Fascist politics aims to separate a population into 'us' and 'them'. In India, pre-existing communal divisions between Hindus and Muslims have been exacerbated by Hindutva forces such as the RSS and its political wing, the BJP. Since Modi came to power in 2014, his administration has fed Islamophobic propaganda to the Hindu masses. This has led to the public demonisation of Muslims, and even normalised violence against them.

Hindutva is obsessed with Hindus' inherent superiority. The Indian Ministry of Culture is even establishing a genetic database to 'trace the purity of races in India'

Riaz Haq said...

The world is now learning about the major threat Hindutva fascism poses today.

https://theloop.ecpr.eu/hindutva-fascism-is-threatening-the-worlds-largest-democracy/

Muslims have even been prosecuted for offering prayer in their own homes. A move to pass a Citizenship Amendment Bill, along with a proposed National Register of Citizens, are Modi's underhand attempts to exclude Muslims from Indian citizenship.

The Nazis were obsessed with 'racial purity', striving for a pure 'Aryan' German race. Hindutva, too, is consumed by the idea of Hindu superiority. In 1966, Golwalkar published a book alleging the 'purity' of Hindu blood. Today, the Indian Ministry of Culture is establishing a state-of-the-art genetic database to 'trace the purity of races in India'.

Disagreement is a crime in fascist discourse
In Modi's India, dissent at any level meets with ruthless punishment. This is a clear symptom of a fascist regime. Modi is a ‘predator of press freedom’. Under his government, freedom of the media and academic freedom have sunk to new lows. In many cases, parliamentary debate has been shut down, and laws passed without debate.

Under Modi's government, press freedom and academic freedom have sunk to new lows

The cult of Modi in India has parallels with Hitler’s leadership style. Images of the ‘Dear Leader’ are everywhere. Sensationalist, biased Godi media has replaced state media. This media never tires of demonstrating how hard Modi works. Instead, what they should be doing is criticising his disastrous mismanagement of the Covid pandemic, which has resulted in the deaths of millions of Indians. Godi media is normalising illiberalism and promoting hate speech, not only against Muslims, but against anyone who opposes Modi.

Fascism rewrites history. It promotes anti-intellectualism by attacking universities and educational systems that might challenge its ideas. Under Modi, chapters on protest and social movement have been excised from textbooks. Replacing them are Islamophobic Hindutva ideologies, and stories of Hindus' past glories. Academics and scholars are fired or attacked for criticising Hindutva or the Modi government. Government institutions, especially security and financial agencies, intimidate and harass opposition parties and anyone who dares to voice dissent.

Resisting Hindutva fascism
Current resistance against Hindutva is sporadic and disorganised. However, open resistance against Hindutva is apparent in various forms, and at different levels. Farmers, students, intellectuals, religious minorities, India's main opposition party, and members of civil society, are rising up to protest Modi’s Hindutva government policies.

‘Invisible defiance’ against Hindutva fascism is also taking shape in private discussion, even among Hindutva supporters. Hindutva may be hegemonic, but its gradual decline has already begun.

In 2005, the US banned Modi from entry because he had failed to act against anti-Muslim riots in India. However, when Modi became prime minister in 2014, Western leaders gave him the red-carpet treatment, possibly to nurture business interests. Once Hindutva gained respectability in the West, it boosted the morale of its proponents, and discouraged resistance.

If Western nations really want to save liberal democracy, they must isolate authoritarian leaders like Modi, and condemn their illiberal policies. Doing so is the only way to save a dying democracy like India.

Riaz Haq said...

#Facebook rejected complaints about posts in #India offering #guns for sale in a forum devoted to an extremist #Hindu nationalist org, then later removed them on Tuesday after Wall Street Journal inquired about the posts. #BJP #Modi #Hindutva https://www.wsj.com/articles/guns-offered-for-sale-in-facebook-groups-devoted-to-religious-extremists-in-india-11675861299?st=mrdsn2a0wsv3m3d via @WSJ

Firearms are heavily restricted in India, which requires buyers to be at least 21 years old and possess gun licenses. Sellers must also be licensed.

Posts offering firearms for sale have appeared in Groups, as Facebook’s forums for like-minded users are known, that pledge allegiance to Bajrang Dal, a youth wing of a conservative Hindu organization, the Vishva Hindu Parishad, or VHP.

The VHP is affiliated with Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh organization, known as the RSS, for which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi worked for decades before his landslide election victory in 2014.

Bajrang Dal was in 2018 deemed a militant religious organization by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Its members have in past years been jailed in India for religiously motivated killings.

A spokesman for Bajrang Dal and the VHP said the U.S. government’s assessment of Bajrang Dal is misguided, that none of its members would purchase firearms and that the groups don’t believe in violence.

Spokesmen for the RSS and the Prime Minister’s Office didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The posts offering guns for sale in five different Groups dedicated to Bajrang Dal were tracked by Mr. Naik, the founder of the research group Hindutva Watch. Some sellers promised they could deliver the firearms within 24 hours, according to posts reviewed by the Journal.

In one of the posts last month, a user shared images of five pistols, some silver and some black in color, with one resting on a motorcycle seat and another held in someone’s hand. Bronze-colored bullets emerge from a clip in one photo.

Any “brother” who needs a “Desi katta pistol,” an Indian homemade gun, should contact the user via Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service at a mobile number provided, the person wrote in Hindi.

When Mr. Naik contacted the seller via WhatsApp, the person responded that one of the pistols could be purchased for 11,000 Indian rupees, equivalent to $133, according to messages reviewed by the Journal.

Users in Facebook Groups devoted to Bajrang Dal have also made threats to use weapons against Muslims, according to separate posts seen by the Journal.

Mr. Naik said the material is alarming given ongoing religious tensions in Hindu-majority India, where Muslims make up about 14% of the population. The Journal in 2021 reported that internal Facebook documents showed researchers determined the company’s services were rife with inflammatory content that one internal report connected to deadly religious riots in India.

A Facebook spokesman said at the time that the company had invested significantly in technology to find hate speech across languages, and that globally such content on the platform was declining.

Facebook in the U.S. has confronted the issue of gun sales before. In 2016, it banned the private sale of guns following controversy over users selling firearms through its Groups.

India is a vital market for Facebook, since it isn’t allowed to operate in China, the only other country with more than one billion people. In 2020, Facebook announced a $5.7 billion investment in a new partnership with an Indian telecom operator to expand operations in the country, its biggest foreign investment.

Facebook in 2020 determined Bajrang Dal likely qualified as a “dangerous organization” that should be banned from the platform, the Journal reported that year, citing people familiar with the matter.

Facebook didn’t remove the group following warnings in a report from its security team that cracking down on it might endanger both the company’s business prospects and its staff in India, the people said.