The Academic Seminar “Dismantling Global Hindutva’: is called out as Hinduphobic sparking rage among some nationalist pro-RSS Hindus.
The conference, titled Dismantling Global Hindutva, co-sponsored by more than 53 universities and more than 60 departments across the world, including universities like Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Rutgers, has come under attack after several groups in India and the US accused the event
The three-day global erudite seminar titled ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva had aimed to examine the ethno-nationalist ideology’s repercussions in India and the rest of the world.
Rohit Chopra, an associate professor at Santa Clara University, who is one of the conference organizers said that the organizers have declared that the panel’s aim is to “address the threat and power of Hindutva” with the “hope of the Hindu right is to intimidate and bully scholars so that no one dares analyze Hindutva”, the backlash highlighted why it was so important for the conference to proceed.
There were more than 1 million emails sent to the presidents, provosts, and officials at universities involved in the conference compelling them to stop the event and dismiss staff who were participating where there was a massive campaign by groups in India and the US. At Drew University in New Jersey, more than 30,000 emails were received in just a few minutes, causing the university server to crash.
One email sent to the organizers said: “If this event will take place, then I will become Osama bin Laden and will kill all the speakers, don’t blame me.”
A statement from the organizers of the event denounced the lies and threats from the Hindutva group and read, “We are deeply concerned that all of these lies, taken together, will be used to incarcerate those who speak at the conference, or worse, inflict bodily harm, up to murder, upon those associated with the conference,” read the statement by the conference’s organizers. “Due to the variety of the nature of these threats, several speakers have had to withdraw from participating in this conference over the past two to three days.”
“The level of hate has been staggering,” said Rohit Chopra.
“Organisers and speakers have received death threats, threats of sexual violence, and threats of violence against their families. Women participants have been subjected to the vilest kind of misogynistic threats and abuse and members of religious minorities associated with the conference have been targeted with casteist and sectarian slurs in the ugliest sorts of language.”
Poet, author and activist Meena Kandasamy, who is one of the speakers at the event, has been at the receiving end of threatening and intimidating emails over her participation at the event. Meena Kandasamy, a speaker, had pictures of her children posted online with captions such as “ur son will face a painful death” as well as casteist slurs.
Other academics have been forced to file police cases after receiving death threats. Speaking to Aljazeera, Meena Kandasamy said, “This is the textbook Hindutva approach. They just indulge in character assassination, slandering my personal life, questioning the parentage of my children, asking if they were born to one father.”
Notably, India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has openly supported a Hindu nationalist agenda, where India has over 200 million Muslims and many especially recently have faced discrimination and attacks and have been lynched, and Christians with a population of approximately 27.8 million where some are attacked in churches in certain areas, with some churches vandalized and face hatred and violence.
The conference organizers said that in recent weeks, “far-right fringe groups have mobilized to attack the speakers at the conference”, falsely characterizing the discussion of the political ideology of Hindutva as an attack on Hinduism itself.
In a statement, the organizers described how “immense pressure has been placed upon universities by fringe groups to back out of the conference” and emphasized the “sinister implications” of this “massive disinformation campaign”.
Several of the participants have withdrawn from the conference over fears it would lead to them being banned from returning to their families in India or being arrested on their arrival into the country.
Dozens of speakers and organizers in the event have had violent threats made against their family members. Meena Kandasamy, a speaker, had pictures of her children posted online with captions such as “ur son will face a painful death” as well as casteist slurs. Other academics have been forced to file police cases after receiving death threats.
“We are deeply concerned that all of these lies, taken together, will be used to incarcerate those who speak at the conference, or worse, inflict bodily harm, up to murder, upon those associated with the conference,” read the statement by the conference’s organisers. “Due to the variety of the nature of these threats, several speakers have had to withdraw from participating in this conference over the past two to three days.”
“Chopra said he had received several emails accusing him of betraying Hindus. “Whether on email or on social media, there has also been a relentless barrage of messages accusing those involved in the conference of being terrorists, Hindu-haters, Hinduphobic, anti-Indian, and the like,” he said.
Ben Baer, the director of the South Asian Studies program at Princeton University, which is a co-sponsor of the conference, said the faculty and legal department of the university had been flooded with hate mail and charges that the event was anti-Hindu.
“Those of us who have studied India, and indeed cumulatively lived there for some years, know this claim to be not only false but maliciously deceptive,” said Baer.
“Based, among other things, on the cut-and-paste nature of a great number of the messages received, it is clear that the conference has been under attack from an orchestrated campaign by one or more fringe extremist groups.”
The conference has also become a particular object of ire on rightwing TV news channels in India, who have accused it of being funded by the CIA, foreign governments, and George Soros, and alleged on-air that the conference is designed to support the Taliban.
The groups campaigning against the conference are the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an Indian organization that has faced allegations of being linked to the murders of intellectuals and journalists, and US-based rightwing groups the Hindu American Foundation and the Coalition of Hindus of North America.
In a statement this week, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) USA – a sister group of the RSS, an extremist nationalist organization in India – urged all universities involved to withdraw support. They expressed “deep concern about the upcoming online event titled Dismantling Global Hindutva. We strongly condemn such events that amplify Hinduphobia, encourage Hindu hate, and incite violence against the minority Hindu population in the west.”
Hindu Janajagruti Samiti also wrote to the Indian home minister asking for action to be taken against those taking part in the event.
Even those who are not connected to the conference have faced violent threats. Audrey Truschke, a professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University in the US, whose works on Mughal history have made her a target for Hindu rightwingers, had to contact the police after a threatening voicemail was left for her. An investigation is underway.
“Because of what’s happening in India, the Hindu right and Hindu supremacists in the United States feel particularly emboldened, and the virulence of their attacks on scholars is accelerating significantly,” said Truschke, who has to have armed security present whenever she speaks in public.
Last week, more than 900 academics from across the world and 50 organizations connected to south Asia issued a collective statement in support of the conference.
In an article titled ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva event an academic assault on Hinduism’, David Frawley has written for Firstpost, while News18 has published an article titled ‘How the ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ Conference in the US Dehumanises Hindus Everywhere’.
Making a distinction between individual online trolling and the ‘systemic and organised’ response to the DGH conference, Kandaswamy pronounced, “What is upsetting them is that the topic is being given the halo of academic recognition and a theoretical framework,” The News Minute quoted.
Ashok Swain said, “If their ideology is so old and powerful, and above all, if Hinduphobia is true, why are they so nervous about a few unnamed academics in the US holding an online conference on #DismantlingGlobalHindutva!
“Dismantling Global Hindutva’ is not anti-Hindu, but anti-RSS violence
Hindutva Goes back to Sarvakar: While There is no word Hindu or Hindutva in any book, rather Sanatan Dharma is the actual word to identify Hindu. The word Hindutva was coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923 as an ‘ethno-nationalist majoritarian ideological project’, Hindutva classified people with a common nation, common race, and common culture as true inhabitants of India.
Hinduism differs from Hindutva as the latter is a political ideology, which seeks to either make non-Hindus second-class citizens or convert the masses to Hinduism. It is a nationalist, political form of religion with very little roots in spirituality, which is why it has vehemently attacked others many times in the past.
RSS Hindutva Rants on the Mughal Invasion: Today, the movement under the RSS is stoking up the past, to spark hatred towards the Muslims evoking false fears that the “Muslims will take over India”. I have to mention here that despite the Mughul rule for centuries, and the British rule for nearly 200 years, India still remains 80% Hindus, over 14% Muslims (India is home to 10.9% of the world’s Muslim population) and a little over 2% Christians, so what is the fear?
Also while the Hindutva forces share literature amplifying the Mughal invasion, they conveniently leave out the hundreds of bloodiest battles Hindus rulers fought among themselves, killing thousands in each conquest, The constant ranting against the Mughal rule has evoked anti-Muslim sentiment seeking to dehumanize Muslims.
RSS Hindutva Evokes Castism: At the heart of it, Hindutva is all about ultra-Brahminism as well as the wealthier Hindus being established on a higher periphery. We see this today in the new capitalistic structure of the nation which benefits the upper fringes of society who are quite casual about the massive job losses and fallen economy because they are not affected. Hindutva followers in the movement have inflicted violence against Dalits who are also Hindus.
Hindutva does not establish or respect the equality of Indians, unlike Hinduism, which regards all humans as equal and caste clashes are going to rise over time.
RSS Hindutva is a Political Movement of Violence: Being a political move, over decades, the Hindutva brigade has silently, insidiously generated fabricated literature, news, WhatsApp videos, and information infiltrating the average Indian mind with poison. In fact, the educated elite was carried away with this infused with more hatred for other people than a common simple villager.
The pattern of brutality was once again seen during the recent riots in India during the anti-CAA protests where mysterious people would appear, plant inflammatory statements, cause fights, attacks, sabotage and disappear. The sources later traced to be the RSS and BJP in many instances. Fake videos were traced to be from the BJP IT cell.
After the Delhi riots claiming 53 lives, Kapil Mishra of the BJP co-inspirator of the riots cooly said “No Regrets, will do it again if required’:on his speech. Repeatedly, instigators of violence have been rewarded and promoted to Parliament.
RSS Hindutva Will Close India’s Open, Spiritual and Secular Climate: India has a strong inclusive, embracing climate of all religions because, for generations, all people of different religions lived together in harmony. Islam came to India as messengers of peace in the seventh century. Christianity came to India over 2000 years ago, Buddhism was birthed in India, Sikhism was born in India, likewise, many other religions flourished in India. There was no question of talking about religious differences in those days.
We are Indians by ethnicity and blood for generations and not immigrants. But the RSS Hindutva seeks to make a difference by religion, trying to make Indians of another religion inferior.
Because of India’s heterogeneity, unlike many other nations, the foundation of India is very strongly democratic even before the Constitution of India which was founded on 26 January 1950. This enabled India to advance far ahead of its neighbors in inventiveness, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing industries, the movie industries, and many other major developments.
Closing these doors will only bring the nation down.
RSS Hindutva will go against Dharma: Unfortunately, in order to build Hindutva militantly, the present “nationalists” have taken the path of violence. Their very purpose is destroyed at the onset. Religion has to be embraced by human will and not forced in order to succeed. The bullying modes of the Hindu “nationalists” have caused the new generation of youth to resist their movement, driving them deeper into secularism or atheism and they say, “We want no part of a communal India.” The youth are suddenly aware of the importance of tolerance and acceptance and a new movement is resonating to counter the Hindutva “hate.”
Due to the caste system, Hindus themselves will resist the Hindu Rashtra: Even Hindus will face discrimination due to the caste system. Dalit Hindus bear the biggest backlash of the caste system. Under the rule of Hindu Brahmin supremacy, they would be made the underdogs and they are already resisting the idea of Hindutva. Already, bias and inequality are crumbling the walls of democracy.
RSS Hindutva will witness the return of separatist insurgencies and weaken India from external threats: This will only push the North East, and Kashmir, Punjab into deeper levels of conflict and are also most likely to witness the return of separatist insurgencies. The South too would rise in conflict and resistance. New groups will arise as people will fight back for freedom of expression of their religion, caste, and equality. If the Hindutva brigade thinks they could shoot down or arrest everyone, this would have serious consequences. India would go back to ancient India having little kingdoms fighting one another, constant war, and bloodshed.
Spiritualism will be manipulated for personal gain: There will be no Supreme Court or edicts of the law, as we formally know. Humans easily gravitate to their baser selves and while “saints” who rule will claim a form of spiritualism to manipulate their narrative to achieve their goals.
RSS Hindutva Will Wipe Away Accountability: There will be no boundaries, no checks or balances, no absolutes, wrong or right. Humans left without boundaries will destroy each other. We will hold faith in a system of law and Constitution to administer justice, but if left to the mercy of “saintly” people who do as they think is right, dangerous unsteady events will occur and people will be manipulated. The world has become more complex than a few centuries ago, with the Internet, cross-cultural businesses, and mixes, so to function as a medieval theocracy would not work practically as people’s mindsets have changed completely.
RSS Hindutva Will destroy Trade: With internal peace and stability fragmented, India will be busy fighting internal problems with no time to deal with outside threats. With insurgencies and instability rising, India’s trade will be curbed as no nation wants to open fresh business deals with an unstable nation. All the war-torn nations over the globe are financially ruined. Our neighbors will delight in our downfalls and vex our borders with more threats.
RSS Hindutva will Weaken our Army: While the Indian Army is one of the most diverse, open-minded spiritual and secular institutions in the country with a large force of minorities serving in the Army, where a temple, mosque, church, and Buddhist shrine stand side by side, hatred, and inequality to other religions will also break the harmony of the armed forces and bring in divisions and remove the effectiveness and powerful unity the Army once had.
If people are crushed, anarchy is birthed because the natural course of nature is suppressed and crushed because the freedom of expression flows through nature and is a gift from the Universe to us.
There was a global concern about the rising violence of the Hindutva, and a seminar was created to discuss it, but the very death threats and intimidating reactions from the Hindutva brigade actually proved Hindutva was indeed a violent moment.