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 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.
Here is Professor Audrey Truschke on Nazi origin of Hindutva:
https://www.youtube.com/embed/XbFrxTbxBAw"; title="American Historian on Nazi Origins of Hindu Nationalism" width="320"></iframe>" height="437" src="https://img1.blogblog.com/img/video_object.png" width="320" style="cursor: move; background-color: #b2b2b2;" />

Views: 1113

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 16, 2023 at 10:56am
Hindutva Hate Crimes against Muslims, Christians and members of the lower-ranked castes
 
 
Raqib Hameed Naik, 29, is the founder of HindutvaWatch.org, one of the most robust real-time data sets of human rights abuses in the world’s largest democracy. Using video and picture evidence submitted by a network of Indian activists, along with news aggregation, the site tracks hate crimes by Hindus against Muslims, Christians and members of the lower-ranked castes. Since its founding in April 2021, it has catalogued more than 1,000 instances of violent attacks and rhetoric. (Hindutva refers to political ideology that advocates for Hindu supremacy.)

It is likely an undercount, Indian political experts said. Still, the website has angered the increasingly authoritarian government of right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which critics charge promotes the idea that the Hindu majority is superior and tolerates deadly crimes against Muslims and Christians.

At least 11 times, Naik said, the government or Indian law enforcement have petitioned Twitter to suspend its account or take down some of its content, one of its most important venues for publicizing its findings. As of Sunday, its Twitter account remains active.

Until he agreed to an interview with The Washington Post, Naik, who is Muslim, ran both the site and its Twitter account anonymously from Cambridge, Mass., where he settled after fleeing India in 2020.

With Twitter now in the hands of Elon Musk, his work has become more complicated. In India, the third-largest market for Twitter, Musk has fired nearly 90 percent of the staff, according to news reports. Hindu extremists have been allowed back onto the site, and hate speech has soared. Naik worries that Musk might acquiesce to the Modi administration’s attempts to stifle Hindutvawatch.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Despite that, he has decided to make his work public, hoping to build his homegrown site into a major operation aimed at warning the Indian government that its human rights violations are being catalogued.

“At some point, it becomes very important for you to come out in the public and look into the eye of your oppressor,” Naik said in an interview with The Post. To say: “I’m watching you, whatever you’re doing. And preserving evidence.”

Preserving evidence of hate crimes

After gaining independence from the British Empire in 1947, India aspired to be a secular nation where people of all faiths could live in peace. But religious tensions have repeatedly flared rarely with as much vitriol as under Modi.

Since Modi took control in 2014, hate crimes against minorities in India have skyrocketed by 300 percent, according to a 2019 study by Deepankar Basu, an economics professor who studies South Asian politics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 17, 2023 at 8:27pm

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


https://www.thequint.com/us-nri-news/indian-american-advisory-counc...

Two things stood out in the Act:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

South Asian American Advisory Council Act

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

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

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 7, 2023 at 9:25pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 7, 2023 at 9:26pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 9, 2023 at 8:31am

History As Politics

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/history-as-politics/219991

Links between knowledge and ideology do not justify the passing off of political agendas as knowledge as is being done in the rewriting of history by the present central government; and that too of a kind not based on the understanding of history...

The colonial interpretation was carefully developed through the nineteenth century. By 1823, the History of British India written by James Mill was available and widely read. This was the hegemonic text in which Mill periodised Indian history into three periods - Hindu civilization, Muslim civilization and the British period. These were accepted largely without question and we have lived with this periodisation for almost two hundred years. Although it was challenged in the last fifty years by various historians writing on India, it is now being reinforced again. Mill argued that the Hindu civilization was stagnant and backward, the Muslim only marginally better and the British colonial power was an agency of progress because it could legislate change for improvement in India. In the Hindutva version this periodisation remains, only the colours have changed : the Hindu period is the golden age, the Muslim period the black, dark age of tyranny and oppression, and the colonial period is a grey age almost of marginal importance compared to the earlier two. This also echoes the views of Sir William Jones and Max Mueller. It allows a focus on the Hindu and Muslim periods which as we shall see was part of the political stand of the religious nationalisms of the early twentieth century.

Anti-colonial nationalist historians, often referred to as secular nationalist historians, had initiated a critique of the colonial period, but tended to accept the notion of a Hindu ‘golden age’. They did not distance themselves to assess the validity of such descriptions. Many were upper caste Hindus, familiar with Sanskrit and sympathetic to the idea of a glorious Hindu past. This was in some ways an attempt to assuage the hurt of having been reduced to being a colony. Similarly, the argument that the Muslim period was based on Persian and Arabic sources tended to attract upper-caste Muslims to this study and they too were sympathetic to what was stated in the sources without questioning them too closely. Even those who critiqued Mill’s periodisation merely changed the nomenclature from Hindu-Muslim-British to Ancient-Medieval-Modern in imitation of the periodisation of European history. There was a debate over colonial interpretations, but with less effort to change the methods of analysis or the theories of explanation.

Mill’s projection was that the Hindus and Muslims formed two uniform, monolithic communities permanently hostile to each other because of religious differences, with the Hindus battling against Muslim tyranny and oppression. This was the view of many colonial writers on India and in terms of presenting historical sources is exemplified in Elliot and Dowson’s, History of India as Told by her Own Historians,published in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Chroniclers of the medieval courts writing in Persian and others writing in Arabic are included, the assumption being that there was no writing of Indian history prior to the coming of Islam. Nor was there concession to segmentation within the communities in terms of varying histories of castes and sects.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 29, 2023 at 8:04am

Edward Luce
@EdwardGLuce
"...India, which is jailing its opposition leader on a trumped up defamation charge; Netanyahu, who wants to quash Israel's independent courts; & Mexico, where Obrador aims to end free & fair elections. With pals like these, democracy needs no foes." Me.

https://twitter.com/EdwardGLuce/status/1641043796556238848?s=20

https://www.ft.com/content/8e1b7774-da4d-448d-aa3f-94d269e64c35


President Joe Biden’s second summit for democracy, which is taking place this week, is both virtual and surreal. Among the participants are India, which is in the process of jailing opposition leader Rahul Gandhi on a trumped up defamation ruling; Israel, whose leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, wants to shut down judicial independence; and Mexico, whose leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is trying to end free and fair elections. With friends such as these, democracy hardly needs enemies.

Biden’s aims are noble, and it is noteworthy that neither Hungary nor Turkey, regarded in Washington and western Europe as illiberal democracies, was invited. But the president’s means are open to doubt. According to V-Dem, a Swedish research institute, almost three quarters of the world’s population now live in autocracies against less than half a decade ago. That vertiginous shift justifies the term “democratic recession”.

It is difficult to believe a liberal democratic Russia would have invaded Ukraine. It is equally hard to imagine the people of an autocratic Ukraine fighting as fiercely for their freedom as they are doing now. It is thus reasonable for the US to think that spreading democracy is in its national interest. The problem is that America is not very good at it.

Nowhere has the US expended more guns and butter than in the Middle East. The democratic returns have been almost uniformly negative. The Arab world’s only recent convert, Tunisia, was recently lost to a coup d’état. Israel’s democracy, meanwhile, hangs in the balance. That is without mentioning the fact that the Jewish nation state is not exactly democratic with the Arab territories it occupies.

Sarah Margon, whom Biden named to lead his administration’s efforts on democracy and human rights, withdrew her name in January after senators objected to her criticisms of Israel. Having a record of arguing for democracy seems like an odd rap against the person whose job that will be.



-----

As India’s foreign minister, S Jaishankar, put it last year: “Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems.” What Jaishankar really meant, of course, was the west as a whole. But he was careful to exclude the US, just as Biden is careful not to mention India’s democratic backsliding. Each needs the other to counter China.

Here it gets even muddier. India’s treatment of its Muslim minorities is arguably as bad as China’s policies in Xinjiang. The US State Department has labelled the latter “genocide” — the gravest charge possible. Yet barely a peep is heard from Washington about what is going on in Kashmir.

When the west can be bothered to listen, the global south’s consistent refrain is for more dollars to help their shift to clean energy, better infrastructure and modern healthcare. Which of the two great powers, China or the US, helps the most is likeliest to shape their political future and foreign policy alignment. One of the by-products of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is that it has brought this pressing question to the fore.

Biden’s White House is trying to come up with a coherent US approach to the global south, but officials admit it is a work in progress. China has pumped more money into the developing world than all the west combined — with both good and bad effects. Whether the Malis, Cambodias and Bolivias of this world become democracies lies in their hands. The best way of nudging them down that path is to lecture less and listen more.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 31, 2023 at 9:13pm

University Campuses in India Will Be a Tool in the Hands of Hindu Nationalists

https://jacobin.com/2023/03/india-university-academic-freedom-india...
BY
VINAYAK CHATURVEDI MARK LEVINE


Elite international universities have announced plans to open campuses in India. Yet Narendra Modi’s government has made it clear these won’t be oases of academic freedom — rather, they’ll help Hindu nationalists impose censorship even outside India's borders.


In 2022, sixteen academics based at the University of Melbourne resigned from their posts at the Australia India Institute, citing interference from the Indian High Commission. The complaint wasn’t just about Indian authorities themselves — for they also cited a lack of support from their own university authorities in protecting academic freedom.

Over in Canada, the Indian High Commission pressed the organizers of a student film festival sponsored by Toronto Metropolitan University to remove a documentary from the program because it hurt the sentiments of Hindus. The sponsoring faculty member and university administrators capitulated to the pressure, censoring the student’s work.

Again last year, there were suspicions of similar interventions when the University of Chicago withdrew an invitation for the head of Amnesty International India, Aakar Patel, to deliver a lecture on campus. He tweeted “[I] asked if someone close to the govt of [I]ndia had pressured them. [N]o response yet.” His passport was then confiscated by government authorities, and he was prevented from leaving India to deliver other invited lectures at US universities.

In India itself, attacks on academic freedom and government repression of students and faculty have increased dramatically since Narendra Modi’s rise to power in 2014. There has been a rash of government policies targeting academics who refuse to promote — never mind oppose — Hindu nationalism in the classroom and in their research. New “anti-terror” legislation has brought rising numbers of arrests of academics and students.

Student organizations linked to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) not only openly hurl threats and abuses at academics researchers, but have attacked faculty members as well. In the most serious cases, scholars on the Left who have opposed the extremist ideology of Hindutva have been murdered. Studies of poverty, caste discrimination, women’s rights, Dalit politics, and histories of Muslims and Christians are viewed as direct threats to a glorious Hindu history, and increasingly prohibited.

In the midst of this academic landscape, on January 5, the University Grants Commission (UGC) in India unveiled its plan to allow foreign universities and institutions to establish campuses in India. According to the UGC, any university listed in the top 500 of global rankings is open to apply through a formal process. As university administrators and financial officers start modeling price/cost ratios for opening campuses in India, it’s vital to keep in mind that India today is experiencing the most profound and troubling education crisis in its history, one closely tied to the government’s ever more repressive policies — and the broader democratic backsliding they represent.

Silencing Critics
Indeed, according to the V-Dem Institute, one of the leading measures of democracy, India now ranks in the bottom 10-20 percent on its Academic Freedom Index.

To cite only the most recent example, in January, the government deployed emergency powers to ban the recently aired BBC documentary India: The Modi Question because of its criticism of the prime minister’s role in the infamous 2002 Gujarat riots; when students at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi organized a screening of the film on campus, the university administration cut the electricity, and the students were attacked by thugs associated with the Hindu right. At other campuses, students were arrested or suspended for watching it.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 31, 2023 at 9:14pm

University Campuses in India Will Be a Tool in the Hands of Hindu Nationalists

https://jacobin.com/2023/03/india-university-academic-freedom-india...

The government’s long-term plan clearly seems to be the replacement of all administrators and academics who object to Hindutva. The other tactic is to shut down institutions, as demonstrated in the case of the prestigious Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. The UGC has already eliminated topics at universities that are considered “anti-national” and “seditious.” Syllabuses are censored to remove histories, texts, and ideas that do not promote Hindutva. More broadly, academics, journalists, filmmakers, comedians, and NGOs have been warned that they would be the new targets of the state if they did not celebrate the greatness of Hindus.

We have already seen how direct attacks, censorship, and even expulsion of foreign academics occurred without any pushback from New York University (NYU) and other university administrations in China and the Persian Gulf, prompting universities to act like “careful guests” afraid to offend their hosts’ sensibilities. At NYU Shanghai, to take one example, there is a specific agreement to respect the laws of the host country, which in China’s case would clearly include prohibiting criticism of the government or conducting research on topics deemed too sensitive.

Further, in 2017 the United Arab Emirates denied visas to two NYU scholars who were invited to teach at the university’s Abu Dhabi campus; thereby, causing a furor within the US academy about academic freedom and censorship. There is little reason to imagine universities would behave differently in India, which would only further legitimize and reinforce such policies, to the detriment of students and the academic community alike. In these circumstances, opening a campus in India would be tantamount to giving a thumbs up to large-scale government-imposed censorship in the world’s most populous country.

The presence of elite US universities will only legitimize the ongoing crackdowns in higher education at a time when India now views its civil society as an “internal enemy.” The new security and military agreements between the United States and India will also provide a cover for increased violence and restrictions on free expression, peaceful assembly, and other basic rights guaranteed by India’s constitution. US universities’ involvement will legitimize increasingly aggressive policing of the speech and activities of “overseas” academics conducting research on India, as they are already regularly monitored and even threatened.

Israeli Precedent
The paradigm for this dynamic is the US-Israel relationship, where an increasingly close military, economic, and political partnership emboldened the Israeli government over several decades to intensify its repression of Palestinians, deepen its occupation and settlement program, and gradually wear away whatever democratic protections were previously the norm at least for Jewish citizens.

Indeed, the centrality of higher education and research to the US-Israel relationship made it a focus of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, precisely because of how powerfully the normalization of academic collaboration with Israel has functioned to deflect criticism of systematic Israeli human rights abuses, censorship, and violations of academic freedom, both within Israel and in Occupied Territories.

So-called “Israel supporters” have systematically worked to deny jobs, fellowships, and even tenure to critics of the government’s policies. The strong-arm tactics that led Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to rescind the invitation to former Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth to take up a prestigious fellowship, and the donor-led pressure that successfully blocked the hiring of renowned human rights scholar Valentina Azarova as director of the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program are just the most recent high profile examples.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 31, 2023 at 9:15pm

University Campuses in India Will Be a Tool in the Hands of Hindu Nationalists

https://jacobin.com/2023/03/india-university-academic-freedom-india...


Most recently, the Supreme Court has let stand an Arkansas law penalizing BDS supporters, despite it being a blatant free speech violation. Not surprisingly, corporations are already pressing states to enact similar anti-boycott laws against the long-cherished citizen-boycott tactics used to pressure corporations to stop environmental and other harmful practices.

There is little doubt that India hopes to replicate the success of Israel and its supporters in the United States, Canada, and Europe in creating a “Palestine exception to free speech” on campuses and in the public sphere more broadly. When Caltech, Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, MIT, Princeton, and a dozen state schools all have collaborative agreements with Israeli universities, most of them involving STEM fields, that buys a lot of good will and support from academia at large, regardless of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians across the “Green Line” where few scholars ever venture.

The new clarion call for the Hindu right is to declare all critics of the Indian government policies as “Hinduphobic.” As India’s ambassador to the UN noted in 2022, Hinduphobia needed to be condemned in line with antisemitism as a form of religious hatred. Indian leaders have looked to the Jewish community as a model for organization since the beginning of this century, while leaders of both diaspora communities in the United States have reached out to each other in recent years to increase cooperation at the communal and, even more important, political levels, seeing their current or ancestral homelands as sharing similar military, strategic, and economic interests that can be bolstered by a united front against critics.

Already, during Modi’s tenure the India-Israel relationship has become increasingly close at the economic as well as security levels. That New Delhi will leverage its relationship with Washington and Tel Aviv to implement ever more repressive policies is no longer supposition; the only question is how successful it will be in doing so. Tellingly, however, the Biden administration has thus far refrained from commenting on the changing landscape facing India’s civil society.

In this context, opening American campuses in India will not just increase the prevalence of dangerous policies there, but further erode academic freedom in the United States. The question is ultimately whether the corporatized bottom line at American universities, which has already done so much harm to higher education at home, will continue to sacrifice academic freedom globally in the quest for ever more revenue.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 10, 2023 at 7:50am

Ashok Swain
@ashoswai
A Hindu supremacist yelled slurs, tore up a Quran, and attempted to run down worshippers in his vehicle at a mosque in Canada. I have been telling for years that saffron terror has gone global. https://cp24.com/news/man-charged-after-allegedly-driving-toward-wo... via
@cp24

https://twitter.com/ashoswai/status/1645433799428173824?s=20

-------

https://www.cp24.com/news/man-charged-after-allegedly-driving-towar...

Police say a man is in custody after a suspected hate-motivated incident in which he allegedly drove a vehicle directly toward a worshipper at a Markham mosque, yelled threats, and uttered racial slurs.

A release issued by York Regional Police Sunday said Toronto resident Sharan Karunakaran, 28, was located and arrested shortly after midnight on Friday.

On Thursday, officers responded to a call for a disturbance at a mosque on Denison Street, the release states. Witnesses reported that a male suspect, now alleged to be Karunakaran, had attended the mosque in a vehicle and drove directly at one of the worshippers, yelling threats and religious slurs. The suspect drove dangerously in the parking lot before leaving the property, police said.

Karunakaran has been charged with one count of uttering threats, one count of assault with a weapon, and one count of dangerous driving. The charges have not been proven in court.

The accused was held for a bail hearing. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 11 in Newmarket, Ont.

On Saturday, local member of parliament and federal trade minister, Mary Ng, says she was “deeply disturbed” to learn of the alleged attack.

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