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Conference fuels rising US debate over Hindu nationalism

Poster for the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference. Courtesy image

Poster for the Dismantling World Hindutva convention. Courtesy describe

(RNS) — Dismantling World Hindutva, a digital convention topic to originate on Friday (Sept. 10), seeks to envision what organizers claim is a miles-honest Hindu ideology that they suspect about is already undermining India’s secular and democratic traditions and threatening to stifle academic freedom within the U.S. and across the globe.

To its opponents, the convention is an exercise in Hinduphobia.

The match, that can also honest proceed through Sunday, will embody nine panels, with issues comparable to “Caste and Hindutva” and “Islamophobia, White Supremacy and Hindutva.”


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Organizers teach extra than 50 teams representing journalists, activists and universities from the U.S. and Canada will have part, alongside side Harvard, Princeton and the University of California.

The convention takes pains to manufacture obvious that the Hindu faith is evident from Hindutva ideology.

In line with Suhag Shukla, executive director of the Hindu American Foundation, which has condemned the convention, the term Hindutva still device varied things to Hindus, from the non secular to the political.

“But, by some activists, the term is being misused as a pejorative against the Indian and Hindu systems of life and is centered on political ideology,” mentioned Shukla. 

HAF and other Hindu American advocacy teams effort that the convention blurs the traces between reliable criticism of India’s policies and anti-Hindu detest. Shukla compares the opinions of Hindutva to criticisms of Israel that veer into antisemitism.

“Hindutva” used to be first frail within the 1890s by Bengali writer Chandranath Basu, who championed a strongly scripture-based mostly totally, conservative Hinduism. A 1923 pamphlet, “Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu?” by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, framed Hinduism as a political and cultural identification besides a non secular one. For the reason that mid-20th century, the chief proponent of this imaginative and prescient of Hindutva has been the Hindu nationalist team Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, is conception as RSS or the Sangh, which has been banned again and again for laborious-line militant activities at some level of its history. 

“Hindutva is no longer comparable to Hinduism the least bit; Hindutva is an authoritarian and majoritarian ideology that insists that Hindus and Hinduism outline India,” mentioned Rohit Chopra, an affiliate professor of communique at Santa Clara University in California and one of many organizers of the convention. “On this decide up out about Muslims, Christians and members of different faiths are outsiders.”

In the seven years since Modi, a extinct member of RSS, has been prime minister, there used to be a resurgence of Hindu nationalism, and minority teams have device beneath strain, drawing criticism that he has a Hindutva agenda.

In latest years, debates over Hindutva have erupted amongst Hindu American communities, as Hindus within the US and in India have defended or attacked Modi’s politics. In 2018, American academia turned into a battleground after Audrey Truschke, a historian of South Asia at Rutgers University, made what many Hindus call offensive feedback about the depiction of deities from Hindu scripture. Truschke and other lecturers have gotten death threats within the ensuing social media tussle.

In April, Rutgers hosted an Notion Hinduphobia convention, attended by the college’s president, that led the college’s pupil affiliation to undertake a working definition of Hinduphobia.

In latest months, a team of lecturers who call themselves the South Asia Student Activist Collective and who embody Truschke issued a “Hindutva Harassment Self-discipline Guide” geared in opposition to helping lecturers fend off attacks on their scholarship. In response, other Hindu teams claimed the authors have been attempting to silence academic freedom on campuses.

Now, organizers of the Dismantling World Hindutva convention teach they’ve been victims of a smear marketing campaign. 

“The score is being frail to silence critics of the Hindutva ideology who’re all in favour of this convention,” mentioned Chopra. “This has ranged from organized petitions to letter campaigns and petitions that claim falsely that this convention will result in genocide. Some of those all in favour of the convention have gotten death and other vile threats.“


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