Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Hateful Hindutva Ideology Infects Indian Diaspora

Hateful Hindutva ideology is spreading rapidly among the Indian diaspora. Individuals and organizations connected to the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) are actively working to promote India's divisive Islamophobic politics among the Non Resident Indians (NRIs) and their children. Hundreds of the RSS shakhas (branches) are now found in at least 39 countries around the world. Hindutva is a Hindu supremacist ideology inspired by 20th century Fascism and Nazism in Europe; it is very different from the ancient Hindu faith, according to American history professor Audrey Truschke who teaches Indian history at Rutgers University in the US state of New Jersey. Top Indian economists have raised alarm about it. 

Global Hindutva Sangh Parivar. Source: Audrey Truschke

False narrative of victimhood underlies Hindutva ideology. Indian historian Aditya Mukherjee characterizes the Hindutva victimhood as follows: “The great achievements of the past are then contrasted with a false sense of victimhood, the concept of a great threat the majority is supposedly facing from the minority. This is how fascism works, globally".  "Hindutva was never meant to be understood as bounded by national borders; his (Savarkar's) ambition was always planetary", writes Vinayak Chaturvedi, author of "Hindutva and Violence". "He (Savarkar) gained notoriety for his programme to “Hinduise Politics and Militarise Hindudom” while also arguing for permanent war against Christians and Muslims", Chaturvedi adds. 

Recent hate incidents in Leicester (UK), Edison (NJ) and Silicon Valley (California) all have connections to the far right Hindu organizations in India.  Here's how a recent New York Times report "Tensions That Roiled English City Have Roots in India" explains what is going on with the Indian diaspora since Prime Minister Narendra Modi rose to power in India: 

"Across the Indian diaspora, ugly divisions are emerging. A bulldozer, which has become a symbol of oppression against India’s Muslim minority, was rolled down a street in a New Jersey town during a parade this summer, offending many people. Last year, attacks on Sikh men in Australia were linked to extremist nationalist ideology. In April, Canadian academics told CBC News that they faced death threats over their criticism of growing Hindu nationalism and violence against minorities in India. Since India’s independence struggle, Hindu nationalists have espoused a vision that places Hindu culture and religious worship at the center of Indian identity. That view, once fringe, was made mainstream when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party came to power".   

"We are all with you Modiji and Yogiji", said an Indian American man who tweeted a video clip of a recent car rally in Silicon Valley, California. Rally participants are shown carrying pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Some also carried BJP's lotus flags. Hindu Americans enjoy the freedom to practice their faith and culture in the United States while at the same time they support Hindutva fascist rule in their country of origin. 

69% of Hindu Americans Support Modi. Source: Indian American Attitudes Survey 2020

The 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey (IAAS) results confirm the anecdotal evidence of India's Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi's massive popularity among Hindu Americans. The findings of a survey sponsored by Washington-based think tank Carnegie Endowment For International Peace reveal that 69% of Hindu Americans approve of Mr. Modi's performance. 70% of Hindu Americans agree or strongly agree that white supremacy is a threat to minorities in the United States, compared to 79% of non-Hindu Indian Americans. Regarding Hindu majoritarianism in India, however, the data point to a much sharper divide: only 40% of Hindus agree that Hindu majoritarianism is a threat to minorities, compared to 67% of non-Hindus, according to the 2020 IAAS Survey. 

The 7 in 10 approval rating of Mr. Modi by Hindu Indian Americans stands in sharp contrast to that of barely one in five Muslim Indian Americans. Indian American Christians are almost evenly divided: 35 percent disapprove, 34 percent approve, and 30 percent did not express an opinion. Twenty-three percent of respondents without a religious affiliation and 38 percent from other faiths approve of Modi’s performance, respectively. The share of “don’t knows” is the smallest for Hindus and Muslims compared to other religious categories, suggesting that views among respondents of these two faiths are the most consolidated.

The IASS survey sample includes 54 percent Hindus, 13 percent Muslims, 10 percent Christians, 8 percent belonging to other faiths, and 16 percent do not identify with any religion.

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.

Here is Professor Audrey Truschke on Nazi origin of Hindutva:



Suriya said...

hindutva ideology is a self-defensive idelogy in the face of Jihadi aggresion. Get used to hearing jai Shri Ram much more n around the world.

Iftekhar Hai said...

See NY Times Advertisement

Gandhi Jayanti in US: Rights bodies write an open letter in NYT to highlight discrimination against minorities in India

On the eve of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, several rights bodies in the United States of America have come out to criticize the Indian Government against the “religious persecution, discrimination and deadly mob violence” against minorities in the country.


Riaz Haq said...

The bodies including American Muslim Institution, Association of Indian Muslims of America Howard Cain, ICNA Council for Social Justice, Dalit Solidarity Forum Hindus for Human Rights, Indian American Muslim Council International Society for Peace and Justice, American Sikh Council, have written an open letter to the American people in the New York Times.

“In the India of 2022, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the right-wing Hindu nationalist/Hindutva BJP and the RSS, millions of its citizens face religious persecution, discrimination and deadly mob violence,” the rights bodies said in the letter.

The rights bodies cited U.S. Holocaust Memorial and other organizations, which have said, “Muslims, Christians and Sikhs face discrimination, frequent demolitions of homes, businesses, mosques, churches, and religious schools in BJP-ruled states, plus deadly mob violence – including lynchings”.

According to the letter, the recent Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens are disenfranchising Muslims who have lived in India for centuries.

“The BJP government is attempting to illegally seize land and property set aside by Muslims for charitable purposes. They have also severely restricted the ability of non-Hindu religious institutions to receive foreign contributions, which support care and education for underserved Indians,” the letter read.

The letter also said, “Dalits (formerly ‘untouchables’) and India’s Adivasi (indigenous) peoples face discrimination and opression, including killings and rape, on a regular basis.”

“The Indian judiciary and police are filled with BJP/RSS loyalists and are doing little to nothing to stop atrocities against religious minorities. The constitution, religious freedom, sanctity of places of worship, property, the lives and the honor of the minorities do not matter as long as the BJP is in power in India,” the letter further read.

“The constitutions of India and the United States are beacons of hope for human rights and religious freedom. All of us should stand up against anti-democratic and extremist policies. Please contact your members of Congress and the Biden Administration, and urge them to hold the Indian government accountable for its commitment to human rights and religious freedom,” it added.


Riaz Haq said...

Suriya: "hindutva ideology is a self-defensive idelogy in the face of Jihadi aggresion. Get used to hearing jai Shri Ram much more n around the world"

False narrative of victimhood is part and parcel of Hindutva ideology.

Indian historian Aditya Mukherjee: “The great achievements of the past are then contrasted with a false sense of victimhood, the concept of a great threat the majority is supposedly facing from the minority. This is how fascism works, globally"


Anonymous said...

Muslims in non Muslim countries love secularism but in Muslim countries usually impose blasphemy laws and shariah.It’s good the Hindus have seen these snakes for what they are and fought back before it’s too late

Anonymous said...

Italians Swiss French Swedish..lots of countries are awakening.But yes the Hindus on this occasion were the first which is why they will at least equal the whole EU in the next 15 years..a true superpower! They should be reminded of the ancient Indo Europeans and requested to contribute their expertise.I heard from an Indian colleague that they now have special emergency response bulldozers on standby in Indian cities ready to raze Muslim homes the minute they create a nuisance!! We need such innovations in EU pronto!!

Anonymous said...

If you want to see hatred, check out the posts from Samir Sadana on your own blog. It is best to look inwards before pointing fingers at others. Many (but not all) muslims consider their absolutist ideology okay, but point fingers at other religions who do the same. When muslims learn to integrate with the society they live in, without wanting their own sub-culture, they will not be looked upon with suspicion. Look at the US - do you see any other culture asking for their own laws like the muslims in Michigan wanting Shariah?

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts of "Hindutva and Violence" By Vinayak Chaturvedi:

(T)he ubiquity of Hindutva has ensured that everyone in India will have (Hindu Nationalist intellectual leader Vinayak Damodar) Savarkar’s ideas in mind for the foreseeable future. For Savarkar, Hindutva was never meant to be understood as bounded by national borders; his ambition was always planetary. Anyone with an interest in South Asia also knows that neither Hindutva nor Savarkar can be ignored today, no matter where they live. The challenge for all of us now is navigating the intellectual and political terrain to think with and against his ideas.

Hindutva and Violence (p. 11). State University of New York Press. Kindle Edition.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is a difficult figure. As an intellectual founder of Hindu nationalism, he has emerged as the most controversial Indian political thinker of the twentieth century. His arguments for Hindutva transformed political debate by rethinking the concepts “Hindu” and “Hindusthan.” He is remembered as an anti-imperialist who simultaneously longed for the resurrection of the lost Hindu Empire of centuries past. He is celebrated and condemned for his roles as a nationalist, a revolutionary, a political prisoner, and president of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha. He gained notoriety for his programme to “Hinduise Politics and Militarise Hindudom” while also arguing for permanent war against Christians and Muslims. He was never forgotten – and for many, never forgiven – for his associations with the murderers of M.K. Gandhi – the Mahatma. The consequence: Savarkar is declared a martyr by some and condemned as the enemy by others.

Chaturvedi, Vinayak. Hindutva and Violence (p. 20). State University of New York Press. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

In 1939 Savarkar organised annual celebrations throughout Maharashtra on May 10th as “War of Independence Day.”22 By 1942 the date was also known as “Anti-Pakistan Day.”23

Chaturvedi, Vinayak. Hindutva and Violence (p. 286). State University of New York Press. Kindle Edition.

Savarkar could hardly have not been aware that the essentials of Hindutva he had articulated in the 1920s and promoted as president of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha were largely ignored in independent India. This notwithstanding, for Savarkar the fact that in 1947 “Hindusthan” was divided into two nation-states – India and Pakistan – did not mean that Hindus needed to abandon Hindutva. Instead, the post-colonial moment following Partition was precisely when Hindus needed to unite.11 Hindutva was now marginalised, but he considered this a temporary phenomenon.

Chaturvedi, Vinayak. Hindutva and Violence (p. 426). State University of New York Press. Kindle Edition.

Bharat as defined in the Constitution of India was not the same geographically as the Bharat of Savarkar’s writings. This did not seem a contradiction to Savarkar, especially as he considered the partition of Hindusthan (and the creation of Pakistan) to be temporary. What did Savarkar mean in the context of these changed circumstances? On July 3, 1947 Savarkar delivered a speech titled “Protest Against the Vivisection of Hindusthan” in which he pointed out that it was necessary for Hindus to reassess “all things past and present” – by which he meant Hindu history.22 It was important to show that historically Hindus had faced crises even more devastating than those of recent years. The power of Muslims in Hindusthan had substantially declined over the past millennium, to the extent that it had been reduced to the idea of Pakistan: “My message to Hindudom even on this Black Day in our History is to assure it once more, ‘Despair not! – a glorious future awaits the Hindus – if only they do not betray themselves!!”23 For him the point was what Hindu history had illustrated – the “amazing capacity for resurrection, of renaissance[,] of rejuvenation” of the “Hindu Nation.”24 He cited examples from Essentials of Hindutva and Hindu Pad Padashahi to demonstrate that Hindus were capable of establishing power. This speech is also important because it provides a preview of key arguments that Savarkar developed in Saha Soneri Pane.

Chaturvedi, Vinayak. Hindutva and Violence (pp. 430-431). State University of New York Press. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

Jinnah’s interpretation of the “two-nation theory” differed from Savarkar’s formulation in arguing for the creation of a sovereign Muslim state – as against a single Indian state.51 Jinnah also wanted a formal treaty between Pakistan and Hindustan to reconcile differences between the two nations (and states). In the midst of great public debate on the idea of India containing two antagonistic nations, Savarkar’s clarification of his interpretation of two nations and the idea of the creation of a singular Indian state was often overlooked.52

There were, of course, exceptions, and Savarkar had some notable critics. B.R. Ambedkar argued against Savarkar’s interpretations in Essentials of Hindutva of defining Hindus as a nation, especially the idea of classifying all “Depressed Classes” as Hindus.53 But he also explained that Savarkar’s idea of two nations in India – a Hindu nation and a Muslim nation – did not mean that Savarkar called for a partition of territory. On the contrary, Ambedkar correctly pointed out, Savarkar’s priority priority was to maintain geographic unity. In fact Ambedkar noted that Savarkar’s ambition was not for a Hindu nation to coexist with a Muslim nation within India; instead, he wanted Hindus to establish “an empire over Muslims” for the purpose of creating “an imperial race” of Hindus.54 In other words, the resurrection of the Hindu empire noted in Hindu Pad Padashahi was part of Savarkar’s imperial ambition via the formation of an Indian state. This was a point that Ambedkar fully understood.55

Chaturvedi, Vinayak. Hindutva and Violence (pp. 438-439). State University of New York Press. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

The conversation next turned to Gandhi’s murder. The leadership of the Hindu Mahasabha and its affiliates had declared the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan a failure. It had been condemned by Savarkar, for example, on the grounds that the “vivisection of the Motherland” was an insult to all Hindus, and the idea of Pakistan was a threat to the making of a Hindu nation in the aftermath of British rule.49 For Savarkar’s followers, like Godse and Dr Parchure, Gandhi and the Indian National Congress were to blame for the turn in political developments leading up to the Partition in 1947, a period in which it was argued that the rights of Hindus were not being protected. Godse echoed Savarkar’s claims: I stoutly maintain that Gandhiji … has failed in his duty which was incumbent upon him to carry out, as the Father of the Nation. He has proved to be the Father of Pakistan. It was for this reason alone that I as a dutiful son of Mother India thought it my duty to put an end to the life of the so-called Father of the Nation who had played a very prominent part in bringing about vivisection of the country – Our Motherland.50

Chaturvedi, Vinayak. Hindutva and Violence (p. 540). State University of New York Press. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

Savarkar’s argument that the formation of Hindus qua Hindus was a process linked to colonialism and violence is central to any understanding of the meaning of Hindutva. Hindus were the perpetrators of violence who conquered and assimilated non-Hindus as Hindus in a process that can be described as dominance with hegemony. Savarkar considered this violence legitimate. Yet while he maintained that he “abhorred all violence” when perpetrated by a dominant force or entity, he believed it was justifiable for victims to seek vengeance against an oppressor.28 Hindus were in a permanent war – as victims of the past – in which violence was necessary to negate unjust violence. The mere existence of a Muslim or a Christian in India meant that the “foreign invader” was still present. The only resolution lay in the veer seeking vengeance – in what Etienne Balibar has called the “infinite circularity” of violence that has no end.29 The survival of Hindutva as an idea requires the unceasing repetition of this history: Hindutva may very well become hollowed out without it. All critiques of Savarkar’s history are necessarily meant to annihilate the epistemic conceptualisation of Hindutva. I am uncertain whether we are in a “state of emergency” – or that we will be in a “real state of emergency” as articulated by Walter Benjamin. But what is clear to me is that Hindutva cannot be ignored.30 And that being so, nor can Savarkar’s ideas about history. If Hindutva is of Being, then the very idea of the “Hindu,” as constructed by Savarkar, is at stake. To understand the fundamental thought that “Hindutva is not a word but a history” marks the continuation of this struggle.

Chaturvedi, Vinayak. Hindutva and Violence (pp. 521-522). State University of New York Press. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

In India there are many who have been inspired by the writings and activities of Savarkar and his disciples. And one does not need to look very hard to find these individuals and groups, especially as their public presence cannot be avoided in everyday life. The discursive project of Hindutva, led by the BJP and its subsidiaries, for example, promotes the changing of names in consonance with Savarkar’s ideals. In November 1995 the Maharashtrian state government led by the Shiv Sena (Shivaji’s Army) changed the official name of Bombay to Mumbai.79 The Shiv Sena as a nativist organisation had been demanding the vernacularisation of the city’s name since its founding in 1966 but could only change it once it had secured the patronage of the BJP government at the centre. The process was extended to replacing the names of streets, buildings, railway stations, neighbourhoods, and anything deemed necessary to rid the city of its Portuguese and British titles, and as a way to reinscribe a Hindu identity in the city. Institutionally, the project has played an important role in targeting Muslims, Christians, and other minorities: reincarnations of the Hindu Rashtra Sena and the Hindu Rashtra Dal frequently make their presence felt. I asked Upendra Parchure about his views on the direction of today’s Hindu nationalism. To my surprise he was dissatisfied with the current leadership and their national programme. He argued that today’s politicians were corrupt, and consequently they did not live up to the ideals of creating a Hindu Rashtra as articulated by Savarkar, his father, and the others involved in the Gandhi murder case. Upendra Parchure reiterated that the assassination was necessary for the betterment of the nation, to ensure that India could develop into a strong, powerful homeland for Hindus. For Upendra Parchure I was part of the future generation his father and Savarkar had hoped would serve as the messengers of Hindutva. As Vinayak I could embody the characteristics of power, strength, and masculinity inscribed in my name, and participate in the making of a Hindu Nation. As I stated at the outset, I wish the story of my name had ended many years ago and did not require such a long, unsettling journey.

Chaturvedi, Vinayak. Hindutva and Violence (pp. 548-549). State University of New York Press. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

#UK Home Secretary raises concerns over #immigration from #India.“I have concerns about having an open borders migration policy with India because I don’t think that’s what people voted for with Brexit” #Leicester #Hindutva #Islamophobia https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ahead-of-deadline-for-fta-uk-home-secretary-says-she-has-concerns-reservations/article65976981.ece

Speaking at the Conservative Party Annual conference this week, Ms. Braverman also made negative remarks about “new migrants”, whom she blamed for the communal riots between people of Indian and Pakistani descent in Leicester last month, and said that life in the city had been disrupted “because of failures to integrate large numbers of newcomers”.


Suella Braverman’s comments come just two days after Secretary for International Trade Kemi Badernoch also lowered expectations on the agreement; sources say Prime Minister Modi’s visit to London is being planned for October-end
As trade officials from India and the United Kingdom race to seal Free Trade Agreement talks (FTA) in the next couple of weeks, U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss’s new Home Secretary threw a dampener on the process on Thursday by suggesting that she would not back the deal if it involves increased immigration to the U.K.

The comments by British Home Secretary (Minister) Suella Braverman came just two days after the new U.K. Secretary for International Trade Kemi Badernoch also lowered expectations on the FTA, that is due to be announced by Deepavali (October 24), according to a deadline set by the previous U.K. government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

According to sources, officials are also working on a visit to London by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the end of October, contingent on the FTA negotiations being finalised to a satisfactory extent.

The FTA agreement is being touted as proof of the Modi government’s ability to negotiate global trade deals, as well as a possible shot in the arm for Ms. Truss, in the midst of an economic crisis, especially as it was Ms. Truss as International Trade Secretary who conducted the opening rounds of trade talks in 2021.

Speaking to the British magazine Spectator, Ms. Braverman, who is herself the child of Indian origin migrants, said she had “concerns” and “reservations” about the deal.

Riaz Haq said...

#US advises "increased caution" while traveling to #India due to #crime, terrorism.“Indian authorities report rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in India. Violent crime, such as sexual assault, has occurred at tourist sites and in other locations.” https://indianexpress.com/article/world/us-citizens-increased-caution-india-crime-terrorism-8196292/

“Do not travel to: The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (except the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh) due to terrorism and civil unrest. Within 10 km of the India-Pakistan border due to the potential for armed conflict,” it said.

According to the travel advisory, “Indian authorities report rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in India. Violent crime, such as sexual assault, has occurred at tourist sites and in other locations.” The advisory said that “terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and government facilities.”

“The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in rural areas from eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal as US government employees must obtain special authorisation to travel to these areas,” said the travel advisory.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian Muslim delegation meets New Jersey lawmakers for probe in Hindu supremacist bigotry - IAMC


“New Jersey’s lawmakers have a duty towards their constituents to ensure that the alien hate ideology of Hindu supremacism is stopped at the state’s borders and not allowed to vitiate the peace here,” Mohammad Jawad, president of the New Jersey chapter of IAMC, said. “Every lawmaker we spoke with at Trenton fully agreed with this objective.”

The IAMC delegation informed the lawmakers of the bigoted display of a bulldozer at a parade called by the Indian Business Association (IBA), an Indian American organization, in the state’s Edison and Woodbridge cities on August 14. Initially defending the bulldozer’s float, the IBA later apologized saying it was a “blatant divisive symbol.”

“We asked the lawmakers to seek federal investigation into the links of the IBA and the Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP), whose leaders were prominently present at the hate parade, with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India’s preeminent Hindu supremacist organization that is persecuting India’s religious minorities,” Jawad said.

Riaz Haq said...

Rana Ayyub
To the world that continues to give Narendra Modi a free pass. Indian foreign minister
says that the western press is out to discredit Modi. In the last two days in India, there have been calls for economic boycott & genocide of Muslims by government lawmakers.


Riaz Haq said...

The CJ Werleman Show
Hindu supremacists have now infiltrated every level of British society and politics - to the detriment of Muslims in UK, India, and Kashmir.

Watch #CJWS here:➡️ http://youtu.be/DsPlsFkPGYc


Riaz Haq said...

Crackdowns, lawsuits and intimidation: the threat to freedom of expression in India
A clamorous public square has long been a point of national pride. But the pressure on unfettered speech is palpable.


“Fewer and fewer people want to speak, and for good reason: there are consequences,” says Vrinda Grover, a human rights lawyer practising in India’s Supreme Court. Grover serves as defence counsel for the journalist Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the non-profit fact checking website Alt News. His arrest by police in June over a 2018 tweet “hurting religious beliefs” — and subsequent multiple charges including criminal conspiracy, destroying evidence and receiving foreign funds — made headlines around the world.


“We know this from history: that the people who led inventions and innovation were immigrants, minorities, kids with curiosity,” says Jose. “What we are now doing as a country to our own people is killing all the opportunities for people of very diverse backgrounds to emerge and excel.” 

Several of those ensnared in legal cases in recent years have been Muslims. In a country where the BJP’s majoritarian Hindu nationalism has widespread support, public anger whipped up by online commentators has played a role in punishing outspoken minority voices.

When Zubair was arrested in June, the journalist and fact checker was charged with “hurting religious sentiments and inciting riots”. The arrest, which followed a sustained online campaign, was made in connection with a 2018 tweet in which he had posted a still from a 1983 Bollywood film, which was interpreted by some as insulting to Hindus. A widely shared tweet offered cash rewards to anyone who could file police complaints against Zubair and Alt News, arrest him, or convict him to a jail sentence.

Police seized Zubair’s laptop, mobile phone, a hard drive and tax invoices during a search of his house, although his lawyers pointed out that the devices were not needed to investigate tweets. He was released on bail after several days in detention. He still faces multiple outstanding legal cases in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

But Zubair’s lawyers believe the real reason for his arrest was another tweet in May in which the journalist published offensive remarks about the Prophet Mohammed made by a then-BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. The remarks created a furore in some Muslim-majority countries and Sharma was suspended from the ruling party, which denounced her comments.

Another Muslim journalist, Siddique Kappan, was arrested in 2020 while travelling in Uttar Pradesh to cover the rape and murder of a Dalit woman. India’s Enforcement Directorate, an agency under the purview of the ministry of finance that is responsible for investigating economic crimes, filed a case against him and four others last year; police accused him of seeking to incite religious hatred and of having links to the Popular Front of India, a Muslim group that India outlawed in September after accusing it of having links to terrorism. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court granted Kappan bail after almost two years’ of detention, but he remains in jail on a separate charge.


Jaswal says the legal threat is only one aspect of her ordeal. She adds that the space for free expression is increasingly being policed, not only by the government itself, but also by an army of supporters of its ideology who are using “extremely sophisticated software” to abuse journalists online. After the tweet was highlighted, she says she was hounded by thousands of strangers online, including in the form of “rape threats, death threats and pornographic content”.

“I was in the middle of the worst abuse,” she adds.

Jaswal says she is now undergoing a digital security course in an attempt to safeguard herself against such attacks “because I am scared . . . I am scared of what’s to come.”

Riaz Haq said...

Hindutva and the shared scripts of the global right

The forum on “Hindutva and the shared scripts of the global right,” curated by Supriya Gandhi (Yale University) and edited by Mona Oraby (TIF editor and Howard University), examines the rise of far-right movements and actors through a global lens with Hindutva and the Hindu right at the center of this inquiry. As Gandhi states in her introductory essay to the forum, “these movements do not exist in silos but, rather, frequently feed into each other.” On the other hand, Gandhi also makes clear that differences between emerging forms of authoritarianism are significant to scholarly and public debate on this topic, suggesting that “the questions and problems examined here include asking how supremacist projects, such as Hindutva and white nationalism, may reinforce each other even as they also diverge.” The contributors to this forum urge scholars and the public to consider how far-right movements are born in local environs but also converge into a global phenomenon.



Dr. Audrey Truschke
Like white nationalism, Dr. Gandhi points out, Hindutva crosses borders. The gravest consequences are in India, and she highlights here Hindutva persecution of Muslims, environmental degradation, and more.



Dr. Audrey Truschke
In introducing a series of essays, Dr. Gandhi argues for identifying convergences and divergences between "supremacist projects, such as Hindutva and white nationalism."

Contributors to this forum will write on Turkey, Brazil, and other sites of authoritarian projects.


Dr. Audrey Truschke
One really important point that Dr. Gandhi makes is positing the analytical place of Hindutva in understanding other supremacist movements --

"Hindutva holds up a multifaceted mirror reflecting the complex web of connections between the global right." #Hindutva

Riaz Haq said...

In #Britain and #India, we must resist the tragic thinking that pits #Hindus against #Muslims. The recent disorder in #Leicester echoes the ‘communalist’ politics that now dominates India thanks to the ruling #BJP | Opinion by Chetan Bhatt. #Hindutva https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/oct/11/britain-india-hindus-muslims-leicester-bjp?CMP=share_btn_tw

Chetan Bhatt is professor of sociology at the London School of Economics

he terrible events in Leicester last month saw several hundred young people marching to Green Lane Road on 17 September chanting, “Jai Shri Ram” (“Glory to Lord Rama”). Other youths, in response, gathered to chant “Allahu Akbar”. Both expressed heady allegiance to their god – not as a simple demonstration of faith, but as a combative slogan against others. Several British politicians have intervened, as have the governments of India and Pakistan. Social media “influencers” descended on Leicester to video themselves and their “patrols” and further provoke young people. With a few important exceptions, most of those intervening chose to enlarge, rather than contest, a dangerous logic of communalism. It is in their political interests to keep communities pitted against each other.


The RSS, the BJP and their affiliates have placed strong emphasis on working in the Indian diaspora, especially the UK, the United States and Canada. In Britain, for example, the RSS’s Indian organisational structure and its main affiliates are reproduced as religious, women’s, student and other wings that work alongside its regular training branches for children and young people. Among more recent migrants, including those who have arrived directly from Modi’s India, other Hindu right affiliations have reportedly emerged. Similar dynamics are found in the international organisation of the Jamaat-e-Islami from Bangladesh and Pakistan, the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt and other sectarian political-religious movements. These organisations have worked doggedly in UK south Asian communities over many decades, and the growth of deep communalism is the outcome, one actively energised by local authority, national government and political party support for these groups and their charitable offshoots.


The Hindutva groups in the UK have tried to distance themselves from the Leicester violence, blaming it on “Muslims”. As with the tedious view of the Indian RSS when faced with repeated evidence of its atrocities, they say that Hindu protests, however provocative or violent, are always peaceful, and Hindus are eternally innocent. Locally, some of the established Gujarati communities have blamed recent arrivals from India. Sympathisers of Islamism have blamed the “Hindu right”. They are each following a communal script that is engraved on their political souls.

Riaz Haq said...

Trading Scotch for migrants: India takes offence


Post-Brexit, one of the big prizes in UK trade talks would be a deal with India, and Scotch whisky could benefit most. A deal has been getting close.

It is now in doubt because of comments by new Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Saying that Indians are over-staying their work permits strikes at the biggest gain that Delhi wants to see, and has caused offence.

Suella Braverman, (is the) newly installed as home secretary. In charge of immigration policy, she told The Spectator magazine that she is concerned about Indians who come to the UK to work and then fail to return when their visas run out. She said Indian nationals are the most numerous offenders.

"I have concerns about having an open borders migration policy with India because I don't think that's what people voted for with Brexit… The largest group of people who overstay are Indian migrants. We even reached an agreement with the Indian government last year to encourage and facilitate better cooperation in this regard. It has not necessarily worked very well."

The comments have gone down very badly in India. The country's press is expressing its indignation that the home secretary should insult Indians that way.

Riaz Haq said...

(British) Labour (Party) relegated to third place in North Evington (Leicester) amid accusations its candidate supported India’s ruling BJP


“North Evington was one of the jewels in the crown in Leicester East with the majority that Labour had, but that has been turned around completely,” said Abdul Osman, a former lord mayor of the city, who spent 20 years as a Labour councillor before defecting to the Conservatives.

“The fact that there was a big upsurge in the Green vote, that must have been a protest again at the Labour party. The trend nationally is against the Conservative government, but you have to look at a local administration that hasn’t delivered.”

The byelection came after the resignation of Labour’s Vandeviji Pandya, who took office following a byelection in May last year in a result that also showed a sharp swing towards the Conservatives.

The Tories also took a seat in the neighbouring Humberstone and Hamilton ward in a byelection last year, with 44% of the vote, giving the party its first council seat in two years.

A spokesperson for Tejura’s campaign team said: “This result is a wake up call for the Labour party. They have been in power for a very long time, not only in North Evington, but in the city itself, and it’s quite clear the council needs to do more and deliver for the people of Leicester if they want to continue with their support.

“We’re happy and proud of the campaign we’ve run, and we’re confident we can bounce back and win seats in May’s election.”

Riaz Haq said...

Religious Polarization in India Seeping Into US Diaspora
Clashes in India between Hindu nationalists and minority religious groups, particularly Muslims, have sparked tensions online and in person in the Indian American diaspora.


By DEEPA BHARATH and MARIAM FAM, Associated Press

In Edison, New Jersey, a bulldozer, which has become a symbol of oppression of India’s Muslim minority, rolled down the street during a parade marking that country's Independence Day. At an event in Anaheim, California, a shouting match erupted between people celebrating the holiday and those who showed up to protest violence against Muslims in India.

Indian Americans from diverse faith backgrounds have peacefully co-existed stateside for several decades. But these recent events in the U.S. — and violent confrontations between some Hindus and Muslims last month in Leicester, England — have heightened concerns that stark political and religious polarization in India is seeping into diaspora communities.

In India, Hindu nationalism has surged under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, which rose to power in 2014 and won a landslide election in 2019. The ruling party has faced fierce criticism over rising attacks against Muslims in recent years, from the Muslim community and other religious minorities as well as some Hindus who say Modi's silence emboldens right-wing groups and threatens national unity.

Hindu nationalism has split the Indian expatriate community just as Donald Trump’s presidency polarized the U.S., said Varun Soni, dean of religious life at the University of Southern California. It has about 2,000 students from India, among the highest in the country.


Syed believes violence against Muslims has now been mainstreamed in India. He has heard from girls in his family who are considering taking off their hijabs or headscarves out of fear.

In the U.S., he sees his Hindu friends reluctant to engage publicly in a dialogue because they fear retaliation.

“A conversation is still happening, but it’s happening in pockets behind closed doors with people who are like-minded,” he said. “It’s certainly not happening between people who have opposing views.”

Rajiv Varma, a Houston-based Hindu activist, holds a diametrically opposite view. Tensions between Hindus and Muslims in the West, he said, are not a reflection of events in India but rather stem from a deliberate attempt by “religious and ideological groups that are waging a war against Hindus.”

Varma believes India is “a Hindu country” and the term “Hindu nationalism” merely refers to love for one’s country and religion. He views India as a country ravaged by conquerors and colonists, and Hindus as a religious group that does not seek to convert or colonize.

“We have a right to recover our civilization,” he said.

Rasheed Ahmed, co-founder and executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Indian American Muslim Council, said he is saddened “to see even educated Hindu Americans not taking Hindu nationalism seriously." He believes Hindu Americans must make “a fundamental decision about how India and Hinduism should be seen in the U.S. and the world over.”

Riaz Haq said...

Pieter Friedrich
Chandru Acharya of the HSS, the international wing of India’s fascist #RSS paramilitary, was appointed as advisor to a Department of Homeland Security council. “Acharya has often denounced reports highlighting the alleged religious intolerance in India.” https://www.thequint.com/us-nri-news/who-is-chandru-acharya-hindutva-leader-appointed-us-department-homeland-security-advisory-council-hindu-swayamsevak-sangh-rss


An Indian American member of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), a Hindutva group, was appointed to the United States Faith-Based Security Advisory Council of Homeland Security, a press release said on Monday, 17 October.
Chandru Acharya, who lives in Michigan, is the lone Indian and Hindu voice in the committee of 25 faith leaders residing in the US.
The council, which includes prominent personalities from different faiths, has been set up to give advice to the secretary on matters related to the protection of houses of worship, and coordination between people of different

Several prominent Indian Americans have, however, denounced the appointment of Acharya to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and alleged that the HSS, whom he represents, is actually the overseas arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The website of the HSS also says that it takes inspiration from several Hindutva groups, and specifically mentions the RSS in this regard.
"HSS USA is inspired by a long lineage of Hindu movements in India, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which have helped rejuvenate the society and take Hindu civilisation forward," the website states.
Acharya, however, has denied any relation between the HSS and the RSS.
Who Is Chandru Acharya?
While Acharya was raised in India, he settled in the US as an Information Technology (IT) professional and served as the president of an IT firm called Imetris Corporation.
A yoga instructor and football coach, he teaches Hindu history, culture, and heritage at the Hindu Temple Balgokumal in Ohio's Canton, and is often invited to speak at several schools and colleges on the topic of Hinduism, according to The Interfaith Observer.
The press release confirming Acharya's appointment says that he is known in the Hindu American community and interfaith forums for building bridges with people from different faiths through dialogue and peace initiatives, news agency PTI reported.

Riaz Haq said...

Far-Right Hindu Nationalism Is Gaining Ground In The U.S.
Hindutva, an extremist ideology, takes many cues from white nationalism — and it’s endangering millions of Muslims and other religious minorities.


Audrey Truschke, a professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University, never thought her work could result in death threats and vicious vitriol.

Yet Truschke, a scholar, mom, wife and author of three books, now sometimes needs armed security at public events.

The publication of her first book, in 2016, challenging the predominant perception of 16th- and 17th-century Mughal kings — Muslim rulers who are widely vilified by Hindu nationalists — put a target on her back. Her email was bombarded with hate mail. Her Twitter account was inundated with threats. People wrote letters to news outlets about her.

“It felt like the world exploded at me,” said Truschke, pushing back her dark hair to reveal the salt and pepper streaks that frame her face. “This was my first brush with hate email. I’m sure it would seem like nothing to me now.”

Far-right Hindu nationalism, also referred to as Hindutva, is a political and extremist ideology that advocates for Hindu supremacy and seeks to transform a secular and diverse India into an ethnoreligious Hindu state. Hindu nationalism has been around for over 100 years and was initially inspired by ethnonationalism movements in early 20th-century Europe, including those in Germany and Italy. Champions of Hindutva have viciously targeted religious minorities including Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, and have sought to silence critics such as academics and activists.

Hinduism, the faith, is not Hindutva the far-right movement. But the label Hindu can be categorized as a religious, political or racial identifier depending on who is using it, explained Manan Ahmed, a professor and historian of South Asia at Columbia University. Hindu nationalists, he said, are morphing the religious, political and racial into one identity in order to advance a supremacist, majoritarian agenda.

People impacted by Hindutva in the U.S. say the movement has crept into their hometowns and workplaces, making life more dangerous for them and threatening to make their communities less diverse and tolerant. The ideology has deep ties to white nationalist movements across the globe, and the targets of nationalist groups warn that the impact could be deadly if Hindutva is not addressed and defeated.

“We see Hindu nationalism as an ideology which seeks to transform India from a pluralistic secular democracy to a Hindu state in which non-Hindus are seen at best as second-class citizens and at worst targets for extermination and disenfranchisement of all sorts,” said Nikhil Mandalaparthy, the deputy executive director of Hindus for Human Rights, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting pluralism and human rights in South Asia and in the U.S.

“It’s a vision that we think is in direct opposition to a lot of the values of Hindu religious traditions,” he added.

A Different Kind Of Extremism
In India, Hindu nationalism can be traced back to the 1920s. The formation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, in 1925 fortified the core belief in a Hindu state for Hindus, despite India’s secular constitution and the long history of ethnic and religious minorities in the country. The RSS has been banned three times since it was established, including after a former party member assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.

It was out of the RSS that India’s ruling political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, emerged. It has held power since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected in 2014.

Since then, the crackdown on India’s minorities, particularly Muslims, has intensified with little to no accountability.

Riaz Haq said...

The hypocrisy of the Indian diaspora is overwhelming


Earlier this month, the Indian actor and United Nations goodwill ambassador Priyanka Chopra expressed her support for Iranian women who have been removing their hijabs and chanting “death to the dictator” after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s death over a dress code violation. Chopra, who now lives in the United States, said she was in “awe” of the women fighting their government. She was immediately criticised for her “selective outrage” and “double standards,” and her deafening silence about a similarly awe-inspiring resistance being waged by India’s Muslim women, who are facing moral-policing under the Narendra Modi government for wearing a hijab.

The incident is, no doubt, revealing of the actor’s politics of convenience, but the larger issue at hand is how they moved in parallel with the growth of her international stature. It is a glance into the psyche of the vast, powerful and wealthy Indian diaspora, which suffers from an intellectual malady: being double-dealing and phoney in India and champions of democratic values as soon as they board an international flight.

Over the past few years, the Indian diaspora has become political—while keeping a safe distance from the storm centre of the toxic right-wing politics it spews—and Chopra is simply the high priestess of the blinding bourgeois hypocrisy it has come to typify. Like Chopra, the larger community of Indian immigrants to the United States and the United Kingdom have been in the news for what they choose to endorse and ignore. Indian-Americans in New Jersey recently apologised after including a bulldozer—now a symbol of anti-Muslim hate—in a parade to celebrate 75 years of Indian independence. The New York Times noted that, “to those who understood its symbolism, it was a blunt and sinister taunt later likened to a noose or a burning cross at a Ku Klux Klan rally.” In September, the diaspora in Leicester and Birmingham went on an angry march, threatening Muslim residents in the area. Wherever the diaspora is concentrated, it is now flexing its muscles to threaten South Asian Muslims. The seeds of hate sown in India have spread like a metastasising cancer, infecting all corners of the world where Indians live.

VIDYA KRISHNAN is a global health reporter who works and lives in India. Her first book, Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped History, was published in February 2022 by PublicAffairs.

Riaz Haq said...

Pieter Friedrich
, discussing the end goals of Hindu nationalist groups in the US, says the biggest goal is to normalize Hindu nationalism in America as well as to whitewash the crimes of Hindu nationalists in India. But... she says their job is becoming harder every hour.


Riaz Haq said...

Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial ticket, Wes Moore and Aruna Miller, held a fundraiser with Trump supporters and people linked to the Hindutva movement.


MARYLAND’S DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL candidate Wes Moore is widely expected to blow out his Republican opponent Dan Cox. But that won’t stop Moore from welcoming support wherever he can get it. Lately, the list of Moore’s supporters even includes the leaders of two organizations founded to support former President Donald Trump.

Last month, Moore, a political newcomer, and his running mate, former state Del. Aruna Miller, held a high-dollar fundraiser at the home of Jasdip “Jesse” Singh, the founder of Sikhs for Trump. The event was co-hosted by one-time Trump adviser Sajid Tarar, who founded Muslims for Trump and delivered a prayer for the then-candidate at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Singh and Tarar have strong connections to the current Republican governor, serving on his commission for South Asian issues.

The fundraiser was also organized in part by Dr. Sudhir Sekhsaria, a local allergist who referred to himself at the event as one of the campaign’s “finance chairs” and has given at least $12,000 to Moore and Miller since January. Sekhsaria had previously helped Miller as treasurer during her unsuccessful congressional run in 2018, soliciting thousands of dollars in donations from people affiliated with Hindu nationalism.

Adapa Prasad, the national president of the group Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the U.S. outreach wing of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, also attended the fundraiser. The group, which Sekhsaria has also been linked to, was required in 2020 to register in the U.S. as a foreign agent.

A spokesperson for Moore and Miller’s campaign did not say how much money it raised from last month’s event, but the local news site Next TV reported a total haul of more than $100,000.

The fundraiser in Maryland for Moore and Miller appeared to be the latest instance of Hindutva, or a Hindu nationalist political ideology, creeping into American politics. As the global far right gathers power, Indian policy issues and Hindutva-affiliated money have increasingly shown up in U.S. elections. In Maryland, the combination of cozying up to allies of both Trump and Modi has raised questions among local activists and South Asian Americans as to what interest they might have in helping Democrats take back the governor’s mansion.

“We see this as a stepping stone for more folks with these right-wing connections to come into office,” said Gayatri Girirajan, a member of Peace Action Montgomery, a local chapter of the grassroots peace organization that has been advocating for transparency and accountability around the Moore campaign’s affiliations. “These are people who have a lot of influence, community power, money, and lobbying power to put policies in place that would have a significant effect on marginalized communities.”

Donors who are prominent members of groups associated with the U.S.-based Hindu right have funded Democratic politicians in recent years, including backing former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; former Texas congressional candidate Sri Preston Kulkarni; and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.

A spokesperson for the Moore campaign told The Intercept that the campaign is happy to accept support from people across the aisle, and that its success depends in part on bringing Republicans into the fold. They also said Sekhsaria is not employed by the campaign.

“In order to win elections, you have to build a broad coalition, and that often includes people who’ve previously supported Republicans,” the spokesperson said. “These donors have given to many Democrats here in Maryland and across the country, including every Democrat currently running for statewide office.”

Riaz Haq said...

Dr. Audrey Truschke
The below tweet is steaming pile of Hindutva nonsense. I haven't done this in a while, but let's unpack, shall we?



Dr. Audrey Truschke
First of all sources -- Those making this ahistorical statement are not historians. Both men are Hindu Right ideologues, and the individual to whom the statement is attributed is a plagiarist and Savarkar sycophant.

What are they claiming and how does it hold up to scrutiny?


Dr. Audrey Truschke
There seems to be a claim of a single Islamic conquest of India. That's wrong.

Real story -- There were many Indo-Muslim dynasties who ruled parts of South Asia over the centuries. Some came from outside the subcontinent, and others did not. Nobody ever conquered all of India.


Dr. Audrey Truschke
I think we're talking here about early political conquests, because of the mention of Nalanda.

Here "Khalji" is said to have sacked Nalanda. Khalji is a dynastic name, so this would be a bit like saying "Tudor" or "Mughal" did something. Which Tudor? Which Mughal?


Dr. Audrey Truschke
I'm guessing (because some of us know both real South Asian history and Hindutva mythology pretty darn well) that he means Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji, a general who conducted raids and other military activities in Bihar in the late 12th–early 13th centuries.


Dr. Audrey Truschke
Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar hit various Buddhists sites, although there isn't especially strong or clear evidence that he sacked Nalanda specifically (a Buddhist monastery and site of elite learning).

I go into the evidence on this point here:


"I agree with Hodgson’s assessment of the lack of evidence for the proposition that Islam killed off Indian Buddhists or Indian Buddhism and also with
his contention that this narrative relies mainly on prejudices rather than facts.
Here I take up Hodgson’s call for “active revision” of the presumed destructive relationship between Islam and Buddhism by interrogating premodern
and modern limiting preconceptions.
I am far from the first scholar to take issue with the “Islam killed Indian
Buddhism” narrative, but my interests and interventions stand apart from earlier work in a few key ways. Several scholars have tried to undercut the assumption of a single-mindedly destructive relationship between Islam and
Buddhism by drawing attention to little known interactions between medieval Buddhists and Muslims. Johan Elverskog’s Buddhism and Islam is especially enlightening in this regard, but it ultimately takes us away from the
question of what happened to Indian Buddhism circa 1200, a query in which
I am invested. Scholars such as Jinah Kim and Arthur McKeown have presented new evidence about Indian Buddhist patronage and monks, respectively, in the early to mid-second millennium.11 I cite the insightful work
of both scholars here, but my lens is larger and more attuned to historiographic
and narrative issues. The idea that Islam violently undercut Indian Buddhism
cannot be overturned by new research alone because the theory does not rest"

Riaz Haq said...

Dr. Audrey Truschke
Invisibilizing Hindu terrorism through the “War on Terror” --

The latest in a series of essays on Hindutva and the Shared Scripts of the Global Right




At a recent rally celebrating India’s Independence Day on August 15 in New Jersey, a bulldozer bearing images of the far-right Hindu monk Yogi Adityanath and the Indian Prime Minister Modi roamed the streets with Hindu nationalist slogans chanted in the background. Under Adityanath, who is currently the chief minister of India’s most populous state and a political stronghold in the country, Uttar Pradesh, instances of police brutality (popularly known as “encounter killings”) against Muslims and Dalits (so-called untouchables) have raised alarm among several transnational human rights organizations. Speaking about Muslim women protesting against discriminatory legislation in 2020, Adityanath asked his followers to “feed them bullets, not biryani” (traditional North Indian Muslim cuisine). Today many Hindu nationalists view Adityanath as an able politician who might eventually replace Indian Prime Minister Modi to head the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In Uttar Pradesh nowadays, the bulldozer has become a potent instrument for demolishing Muslim homes when they protest against violence, humiliation, and discrimination. For Hindu nationalists, it has clearly become a celebratory symbol within and outside India.

While 9/11 has etched the figure of the Muslim terrorist in the Western imagination, the phenomenon of Hindu terrorism has received little scrutiny. In a strategic move to politically cement their power at the global stage, Hindu nationalist actors in both India and the Western diaspora have not only appropriated Islamophobic discourses of the “War on Terror” but actively thrived through it to wantonly mark disposable Muslim bodies for death, rape, violence, and statelessness through their support for an Indian state that enacts these brutalities as an active component of its Hindu nationalist/Hindutva ideology. Older histories have proved to be fertile grounds for the ongoing persecution of Muslims in India, following the colonial legacy of British institutional efforts to cause a schism between Hindus and Muslims, racializing Muslims as more masculine and violent than subservient and effeminate Hindus, and distorted school history textbooks that presented Muslims as medieval foreign invaders to the country. Today Muslims are problematically and singularly blamed for the Partition of India in 1947.

This anti-Muslim animus in postcolonial India gained further momentum under the country’s unique trajectory of Brahmin supremacist racializing, gendering, and demonizing of Muslims and Dalits through casteist lenses of desirability and belonging, propagated through popular mediums such as Bollywood movies, demographic myths, and, as some scholars have argued, the structures of liberal representative democracy itself. Importantly, Hindu privilege as a majority in India and Hindus as model minorities in the West, rather than being a monopoly of the Hindu right, is baked into Western liberalism. This is not to deny the century-old exceptionally violent project of Hindutva heralded by Savarkar and Moonje since the 1920s or the links between Nazism and the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS), or the fact that several Hindu nationalists were troublingly also members of the Congress Party prior to the Partition of 1947. Nor is it to downplay the racism that Hindus face in the West. However, scholars must reconsider how majority-minority dialectics are structurally implicit in representative liberal democracies and how these representations draw on national and international discourses.

Riaz Haq said...

Invisibilizing Hindu terrorism through the “War on Terror”


India’s international standing insulates it from repercussions for discriminatory legislation and practices. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will prevent Muslim refugees like Ahmadis, Afghans, Rohingyas, and internally displaced Kashmiris from getting citizenship and equitable access to asylum in India as they flee persecution and conflict. This act will also expel and expunge India’s very own population of overwhelmingly poor and illiterate Muslims, who would be made to produce documents to prove their ancestry on the lands they have lived for centuries. Perhaps it should not come as a shock that India has violated the Geneva Convention and sent Rohingya refugees facing persecution back to Burma. Yet the United States continues to tout India’s reputation as the world’s largest democracy in diplomatic endeavors and for several reasons.

India’s geopolitical location and economy also make it a natural American ally. For the West, India is not a threatening or communist power like its neighboring country China. It is not deemed as a terrorist haven like Pakistan in popular representations. It is not a poor Muslim-majority country like Bangladesh which currently faces trade deficits due to neoliberal Western financial institutions. It is not a small crisis-ridden country like Sri Lanka or landlocked Nepal. Rather, India provides a large consumer market and cheap land for multinational corporations. Subsequently, savarna Hindus who advance the project of Hindutva have greatly benefited from the current international relations scenario, especially since 9/11, both as a community and as individuals.

Despite many cases of Hindu terrorism in India, the figure of the Muslim as a terrorist in Indian society lurks in no small part due to post 9/11 Western discourse of the “War on Terror.” That the Malegaon bombasts, Ajmer Dargah attack, and Mecca Masjid blast were carried out by Hindu terrorists is somehow comfortably forgotten in mainstream narratives. In each of the instances mentioned above, many Muslims were politically targeted and killed, yet young Muslim men were arrested and tortured in prisons for these poorly investigated crimes, often without evidence, and sometimes for decades. Much like white bodies that allegedly do not commit terrorism in mainstream media narratives, even when white supremacists shoot down Black people, so do Hindu extremist outfits allegedly not commit politically motivated acts of terror. For example, in 2007, the Samjhauta Express, a train running between New Delhi and Lahore, was attacked and bombed by Hindu terrorists. However, in 2019, all nineteen culprits, including Swami Aseemanand who had openly declared that he had masterminded the attack, were acquitted. There can be no Hindu terrorism if there is no court of law to recognize that Muslims can be victims of terrorism from non-Muslim perpetrators. Recently, some have claimed that other instances of bombings in India have been carried out by far-right Hindutva cells, with the intent to set up more “terror training camps.” Yet any reference to the term “saffron terror” to indicate growing Hindu terrorism in India can be used a disciplinary ground by the Election Commission of India for allegedly endorsing a “political conspiracy.”

Riaz Haq said...

Invisibilizing Hindu terrorism through the “War on Terror”


Even in some liberal Indian media forums, articles have been published commending Muslims for using a secular discourse to assert their rights as citizens during the anti-CAA protests. The assumption here remains that the Muslim body is always on the brink of terrorism, and not choosing that route makes their nonviolent resistance commendable. It also implicitly seeks to regulate expressions that can be construed as forms of Muslimness, preventing the community from finding solace in their religious beliefs against very real oppression. In doing so, such liberal discourses like Hindu Nationalism do not permit Muslims to articulate a resistance that is a little more nuanced than simply violent and nonviolent. Muslims cutting off the roads to keep the army at bay, in order to protect themselves from being thrown into abysmal detention centers, are likened troublingly to Islamist terrorists. Moreover, many activists and academics are calling upon us to rethink the very term “terrorism,” seeing how certain nation-states, like the notorious Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, use the term to target dissenters and activists. But this should be distinguished from State monopoly on violence (and mechanisms to surveil and punish) against those who challenge it. The insidious violence by the genocidal Hindutva Indian State and its vigilantes is not interpreted as terrorism, just as the terrorism committed by the USA on innocent civilians of Afghanistan and Pakistan in South Asia.

Significantly, what gets overlooked in these contested terms and representational politics of Muslim terrorism in India is the issue of foundationally discriminatory institutions and laws that have become more emboldened under the current regime of Hindu Nationalists to harm marginalized communities. Meanwhile, Modi continues to use the discourse of terrorism to represent India in a favorable light internationally and to win elections repeatedly. Just before the 2019 Indian elections, Modi raised the familiar South Asian trope of the enemy within—the figure of the Muslim terrorist—following the controversial Pulwama case in Kashmir that witnessed the deaths of forty Indian army men. To date, international investigations of the case dispute any conclusive evidence over who was responsible for the incident. Tellingly, similar discourses of terrorism have been used against Sikhs, another religious minority in India, very recently when they protested and eventually succeeded against the passing of polemical agricultural laws that Hindu nationalists had initially sought to pass. In other words, all minorities in India except for the figure of the upper caste Hindu can be cast with aspersions over charges of terrorism.

Riaz Haq said...

Invisibilizing Hindu terrorism through the “War on Terror”


Notably, consorted efforts to resist the label of terrorism among Hindu nationalists exceed India’s borders. Privileged diaspora Hindu nationalists in North America have happily catered to the White gaze as model minority immigrants who are successful doctors and engineers, or taxi drivers with PhDs. All the while, the largest funding for Hindu extremist projects has come from diaspora Indians in the West since the 1980s. Within the United States, Hindu Nationalists have also funded research scholarships and advocated for caste-based oppression to be removed from California school history textbooks. Significantly, they have sought to fund political campaigns of young right-wing cadres as representatives of the Indian community to the White House across the Democratic-Republican political aisle. Even in popular media representations, Hindus are represented as affable “people of color”/people without a caste, unlike images of the undesirable or dangerous Muslims that pervade most of Hollywood. India has successfully branded itself as “Incredible India,” a land ripe for Western tourism, with yoga serving as an important force for Modi’s ‘soft power’ diplomacy. Meanwhile Kashmir, the world’s most militarized region finds even less solidarity than Palestine when it comes to the draconian occupation and subjugation of its peoples and land. Secular and liberal Hindus are often unwittingly complicit in downplaying if not invisibilizing Hindu terrorism when they use questionable vocabularies or give endless warnings about India at the “brink” of “descending into fascism,” while Muslims in the country are already suffering without the need to portray the public calls for genocide and rape against them as “impending” in academia. For Indian Muslims and Kashmiris, the horror and suffering has already begun or started even before the Partition of 1947, yet their appeals as imperfect victims in the era of global Islamophobia falls short in most analyses of Hindutva State terrorism.

It needs to be vigorously asserted lest we forget: Modi came to power as a Prime Minister in 2014 in India after he was accused of being complicit in the Gujarat Massacre of 2002 that killed over a thousand Muslims by the government’s own conservative estimates. In recent times, Hindu leaders have been elected to the Indian Parliament after they have committed known acts of terrorism, including planting bombs in mosques that killed people. As India increasingly gets synonymized as Hindu, and academic-activist works interrogate Hindutva, we must investigate the pre- and post-9/11 impact of the “War on Terror” in invisibilizing Hindu terrorism and the consequences that has had within and outside India. In fact, an honest examination would require how overlooking the material consequences of naming Hindu terrorism, aka “certain activities,” has facilitated an openly fascist-inspired Hindutva movement to be elected twice to state power with historic majorities and unabashedly organize rallies in America to celebrate it.

Riaz Haq said...

Ravi Nair
This BJP spokesperson says that Savarkar wrote a series of mercy petitions to the British Crown because Chhatrapati Shivaji wrote five mercy petitions to Aurangazeb!!!


Riaz Haq said...

India At 75: Hindu Faith Bottled And Home-delivered


High in the Himalayas, where the mighty Ganges is still a frigid glacial stream, labourers fill jerry cans with its holy waters to be distributed to Hindus all over India.

Buyers sparingly use the precious liquid to bless important occasions, from births, weddings, and funerals to festivals such as Diwali or the purchase of a new car.

"This is for every faithful Hindu who can't get here personally," said one of the workers in the pilgrimage town of Gangotri, giving his name as Ramesh.

"It feels blessed to be part of a project that reaffirms our Hindu faith and delivers this divine water to all corners of the country," he told AFP.

The scheme is run by the Indian postal service and is one example of a raft of initiatives, from the symbolic to the gargantuan, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi promoting Hinduism in the country 75 years after independence.

The water is considered purest closest to its source so is collected in Gangotri, where the Ganges starts its roughly 2,500-kilometre (1,550-mile) journey across India, and trucked to a bottling plant 100 kilometres downstream.

After being left to settle for three or four days, it is filtered in tanks before workers decant it by hand into 250-millilitre plastic bottles.

Bought over the counter at post offices around India, they cost just 30 rupees ($0.37) each -- customers can also order them online for home delivery at 321 rupees for a pack of four.

Millions of the little containers have been sold since the scheme launched six years ago.

Since winning elections in 2014, Modi has put Hinduism front and centre of his government in the officially secular nation of 1.4 billion.

The core tenet of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and its militaristic ideological parent the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, is that Hinduism is India's original religion.

This worries India's 210 million Muslims and other minorities. Social media is rife with hate speech and attacks on Muslims and Christians have risen, activists say.

Modi's biggest religious construction project is a grand temple being built in the ancient city of Ayodhya.

Hindu zealots destroyed a centuries-old mosque there three decades ago, triggering sectarian violence that killed more than 1,000 people -- most of them Muslims.

The government has also pushed a $1.5-billion highway project in the northern state of Uttarakhand, which will make it easier for Hindu pilgrims to reach Gangotri and three other Himalayan temples.

Riaz Haq said...

India At 75: Hindu Faith Bottled And Home-delivered


The sites already receive hundreds of thousands of devotees each year, and environmental activists are concerned about building grand highways and tunnels in the ecologically sensitive region.

Modi's government has made clear it will not let up on its vision, however, channelling money into researching the properties of cow urine -- a sacred animal in Hinduism -- and finding "proof" of legends in Hindu scriptures.

Some school textbooks have been rewritten to airbrush the role played by Muslims in Indian history, while Islamic-sounding names of cities have been changed.

These "dramatic initiatives... create an ethos of a majoritarian nation and sublimely reinforce the feeling that we now see ourselves as a de-facto Hindu country," said Hartosh Singh Bal, political editor of The Caravan, an Indian English-language magazine.

"Modi knows exactly what he's doing," he added.

"If critics now raise concerns about minorities or injustice, they can be labelled as someone who's against such schemes delivering holy Ganges water -- and shut them up."

Recipients of the precious liquid, though, have no such concerns.

New Delhi postman Rupesh Kumar, 23, has made several deliveries of the holy water, including during the current auspicious festive period.

He feels "additional responsibility" whenever he is carrying it to a customer for their ritual needs, he told AFP.

"We also used Ganges water in the family for all special and religious occasions," he said.

"People are often very thankful and polite after I deliver these bottles to their homes."

Riaz Haq said...

The Guardian view on Modi’s India: the danger of exporting Hindu chauvinism
New Delhi’s foreign policy won’t be insulated from its domestic politics, which demonise India’s 200 million Muslims


hen the US state department recently told a court that the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, should have immunity in a lawsuit over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it portrayed its argument as a legal and not moral position. By way of evidence, it pointed to a rogues’ gallery of foreign leaders previously afforded similar protection. Nestling between Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, who, it was claimed, assassinated political rivals, and Congo’s Joseph Kabila, whose security detail was accused of assaulting protesters in Washington, was India’s Narendra Modi.

Dropping Mr Modi into such a list was no accident. It is a reminder that while New Delhi basks in its diplomatic success at recent G20 and Cop27 summits, it might find the international environment less accommodating if Mr Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) continue to stir up hatred to win elections. Washington’s gesture suggests that its strategic partnership with India cannot be completely insulated from domestic political issues. Mr Modi’s failure, as chief minister of Gujarat, to prevent anti-Muslim riots in 2002 that left hundreds dead saw him denied a US visa, until he became Indian prime minister. The message from Foggy Bottom was that the ban had not been withdrawn, but suspended, because Mr Modi ran a country that Washington wanted to do business with.

India is considered a geopolitical counterweight to China and, in many ways, an indispensable actor on the world stage. But Mr Biden’s team appears to see the position as more contingent, and will be less tolerant than the Trump administration of Mr Modi’s attempts to remould Indian democracy so that Hindus become constitutionally pre-eminent, with minorities reduced to second-class citizens. Last week, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom accused New Delhi of a “crackdown on civil society and dissent”, and “religious freedom violations”. The Indian foreign ministry hit back at “biased and inaccurate observations”. Officials would do better to reflect on where their country is going.

Riaz Haq said...

The Guardian view on Modi’s India: the danger of exporting Hindu chauvinism
New Delhi’s foreign policy won’t be insulated from its domestic politics, which demonise India’s 200 million Muslims


While a rising power, India’s ascent depends on building bridges with others. The Middle East is a key energy supplier and regional trade partner that supports 9 million Indian workers. India’s security depends on Arab states sustaining a hostile environment for terrorism. So when BJP functionaries made derogatory remarks about the prophet Muhammad this summer, Gulf states lodged formal protests with New Delhi. Chastened, the Modi government was spurred into action – suspending one party official and expelling another, as well as saying it accords “the highest respect to all religions”.

Bland assurances may not be enough. The intimidation of India’s 200 million Muslims is hiding in plain sight. State elections in Gujarat begin on Thursday, weeks after BJP ministers approved the premature release of 11 men convicted of rape and murder of Muslim women and children during the riots. On the campaign trail last Friday, India’s home minister claimed troublemakers had been “taught a lesson” in 2002. This sounded like a signal to Hindu mobs that they could do as they pleased.

Worryingly, there are signs that the communal clashes seen in India are being copied elsewhere. In Leicester, many south Asian Muslims – like the city’s Hindus – have Indian roots. Yet when violence erupted between these communities this September, escalating into attacks on mosques and temples, the Indian high commission in London condemned the “violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and vandalisation of premises and symbols of [the] Hindu religion”. Pointedly, there was no condemnation of Hindus’ violence against Muslims. Once careful to proclaim its secularism, India’s government appears content to export its Hindu chauvinism. That should trouble everyone.