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

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

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

Khanna Rejects Hindutva:

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

Khanna Under Fire:

Khanna, a rising star in the progressive movement, who is vice-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, has come under fire by many right-wing Indian-American supporters of the RSS and BJP.

Majority of Hindu-Americans are ardent supporters of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Indian Ambassador Shringle (R) with White Nationalist Steve Bannon

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

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

Hindu Nationalism in America:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard strongly supports Prime Minister Modi

American Presidential Politics:

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

US Presidential Candidate Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard's Hindutva Donors

Summary:

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

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Imran Khan in Washington

Modi's Extended Lockdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

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Comment by Riaz Haq on September 11, 2019 at 4:21pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 12, 2019 at 8:39am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 12, 2019 at 10:37am

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

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

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

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 17, 2019 at 4:47pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 19, 2019 at 3:33pm

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 22, 2019 at 9:05pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 22, 2019 at 9:58pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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