My Reflections on Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH) conference and its Perpetrators

The choice of Dismantling in DGH suggests that conference organizers & speakers belonged to the group that wish to dismantle both Hinduism and Hindutva.

The choice of Dismantling in DGH suggests that conference organizers & speakers belonged to the group that wish to dismantle both Hinduism and Hindutva.
The choice of Dismantling in DGH suggests that conference organizers & speakers belonged to the group that wish to dismantle both Hinduism and Hindutva.

DGH conference: Vicious attack on Hindutva

A three-day-long conference on “Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH)” was no more than the vicious attacks on Hindutva by a select group of so-called intellectuals. They claimed to be the saviors of academic freedom without inviting any speakers of a dissenting point of view. I have been a serious scholar in my discipline as a physicist and am proud of the principles of academic freedom and free flow of discussion, dissent, and disagreement based on evidence.

Who were these speakers? Thinking of how to characterize the speakers other than name and affiliation has many dimensions. First, I am reminded of the phrase ABCD- America Born Confused Desi. Important to note that Desi is a colloquial identity often used for people of Indian origin living abroad. The speakers included ABCDs but the worst of all were India BCD (IBCD), and the third, Videshi (foreigner) Born Confused about Desh (VBCD). Another way to characterize them is that most were faculty members with or without evidence of strong scholarship but at least with the intent of adding one more bullet point on their CV under the conference presentations. I can’t fault them for it because regrettably, academia loves the “quantity” of papers published or presented rather than the “quality.” The third characterization is that all of them were mistakenly motivated in making efforts to “dismantle” Hindutva and Hinduism. They failed to acknowledge that Hinduism has very strong roots in Sanatan Dharma, a culture, belief, and philosophy, which has neither been dismantled for centuries and nor can be dismantled by evil forces like DGH in the future.

The DGH beyond the collective rhetoric, attacks, discrediting, demonizing, denouncing, and/ or other negativity about Hinduism, had an undertone against the current Indian leadership which has awakened today’s Hindus for the first time since independence.

There were DHG presenters who argued that Hinduism and Hindutva are different. Others suggested that they are interconnected, i.e., one cannot exist without the other. I agree with the latter. That being the thesis, their efforts were directed to dismantle HINDUISM under the guise of Hindutva. What an irony and deception by the saviors of academic freedom? Did they not know that the proud Hindus constitute Hinduism with a strong belief in the tenets of their faith, culture, traditions, values, philosophy, science, way of life, and teachings derived from the ancient Sanatan Dharma and the sacred scriptures like Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, Bhagwat Geeta, etc. Let me confess that I am not a scholar with in-depth knowledge of these scriptures but neither were the DGH presenters except a few may have studied deeper than I did.

One of the speakers (Sunita Vishwanath) categorically mentioned her mentor (A. Rambachan) while making her remarks. I live in the same community and thus it became a greater curiosity as we say that ‘all politics is local.’ Admittedly, Rambachan is a known scholar of Hinduism in his own right and found his writing on Hindutva and Hinduism[1]. He writes, “The identification of Hindutva and Hinduism has different kinds of implications for Hinduism. On the one hand, there are groups that link and are opposed to both and call for their complete dismantling.” Thus, the choice of “dismantling” in DGH suggests that the conference organizers and speakers belonged to the group who wish to dismantle both Hinduism and Hindutva. In that, I believe that those belonging to IBCD, and possibly some ABCDs, may have “experienced the Hindu tradition as oppressive and as denying their dignity and humanity.” If so, as Rambachan states “it is unjust and arrogant to dismiss these voices without a sincere self-critical openness to the historical experiences from which they speak,” and I don’t disagree.

However, the question is whether the ‘self-critical openness’ should be a monologue by speakers after speakers or a dialogue, debate, and dissent among the scholars. Regrettably, the DGH made no effort, let alone sincere effort, for the critical analysis among genuine scholars who know, understand, and practice Hinduism.

What I sensed is a sinister agenda, not sincere efforts, driven by a misguided goal of just dismantling Hinduism. I heard the phrase like Hindutva is a trans-national political movement riddled with Fascism, Zionism, and Islamophobia; Hindutva promotes hatred and demonizes Muslims, Dalits, Bahujan, and Adivasis. Some of them used the phrase ‘rise of supremacism” in India which is also practiced by the Hindu diaspora. Some speakers were motivated to raise the issue of “caste” as one of the evils practiced under Hindutva. They raised the isolated Cisco case and the recent controversy about the temple in New Jersey. There were allegations that Hindutva discriminated LGBTQ community and women. It seemed like so many Hindu haters spitting venom against Hinduism in a ghetto-like virtual environment dubbed DGH.

The real issue with the so-called scholars is that they presented little evidence to establish any of their theses. For example, they would mention the enactment of CAA, the love Jihad, and abrogation of Article 370 as their evidence to bully Muslims under Hindutva. I am appalled that the speakers were in total denial that Article 370 in Kashmir was the most reprehensible and abusive act sanctioned by the then Congress-led Government. History would suggest that under 370, the Hindu genocide took place, Hindus were forcibly evicted from J&K, and their properties were illegally taken over. The State-sponsored “terrorists”, under successive Muslim Chief Ministers since India’s independence, systematically tortured, terrorized, and threatened the minority Hindus. Why did they not refute hundreds of love-Jihad cases? It starts with lies about one’s name and religion (by a Muslim man) and once a Hindu girl falls for the loving relationship and marriage, she is told the truth and forced into accepting Islam. It is a love-to-lifelong-Jihad for the trusting Hindu woman who is betrayed later.

Let us especially ask the VBCD intellectuals about the 1990 Lautenberg Amendment enacted by the U.S. Congress. It was designed for expedited visa processing and has been renewed since, for persecuted religious minorities in other countries. These included Jews, Christians, Baha’is, Sabaean-Mandaeans, and Zoroastrians from Iran but excluded persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, etc. Yet nobody in DGH acknowledged it. In contrast, everything is wrong if a Hindu majority India passed CAA to welcome persecuted religious minorities (Sikh, Jain, Christian, Parsi in addition to Hindus) for settlement and safety from the neighboring Islamic countries. What a hypocrisy by the defenders of the U.S. law but wanting to dismantle India’s CAA both of which are essentially enacted for the safety of persecuted religious minorities.

In my analysis, the DGH was organized, led, and executed by the academic mafia only for one reason, i.e., to use extraordinary negativity to ridicule Hindu ethos, attack Hinduism from the left, right, and center, and promote sinister agenda to break Hindu unity in diversity. Contrary to their efforts to dismantle Hinduism, they indeed helped Hindus get united to fight the Hindu-Jihad more vigorously than ever before.

The DGH beyond the collective rhetoric, attacks, discrediting, demonizing, denouncing, and/ or other negativity about Hinduism, had an undertone against the current Indian leadership which has awakened today’s Hindus for the first time since independence. The DGH presenters would not call spade a spade, i.e., India is a Hindu majority country like, for example, the U.S. and U.K. have a Christian majority, and Pakistan and Bangladesh have a Muslim majority. The DGH group, Hindu phobic to the core, are welcome to hold their views, criticize the current Modi government, and recommend constructive changes. For example, I and many more are openly criticizing the recent Biden policy fiasco, i.e., the return of Afghanistan to the Taliban after 20 years. Perhaps, there are reasons for Biden’s policy that I am not aware but I used my freedom of expression to be critical rather than a call for “dismantling” the global U.S. foreign policy.

Talking about the Modi leadership, he has transformed India for the better. The prime example is India’s own vaccine against the menace of COVID-19. India stands tall among the nations with the current UNSC Presidency. Modi’s style of leadership is par excellence such that the world leaders flock to him as equals. Yet, there are groups who not only hate both Hinduism and Hindutva to the extent of dismantling but if they have their druthers, they seek extinction of Hindus. The fact is that they can’t stomach that a Chaiwala (tea dweller), who was once banned to travel to the United States due to their lobbying, is coming here later this month. Modi and Biden are expected to discuss many matters of globally strategic interest and importance. Beyond that, they may feel threatened by a very united and strong Hindu believing Indian diaspora who are emerging as a powerful force in most countries. What is wrong if this hardworking Hindu diaspora helps their country of origin similar to what Jews everywhere did for their own land.

One of the speakers asserted that they must continue the “Andolan” to fight against the growing global Hindutva. Yes, they are welcome but it won’t be just one-sided. The United Hindu community is equally well prepared for a Hindu Andolan that will reverberate globally. We Hindus will fight them with our arguments, history, and research; will fight them legally if and when necessary, and most importantly we will win because of Satyamev Jayate (Truth always wins).

Thinking back about the Hinduism scholar cited above, the assertion that the groups that are opposed to Hinduism and Hindutva should call for the complete dismantling of both is inappropriate. Listening to Swaminath, likely an ABCD, her mentor may belong to the dismantling side of the argument. With regards to Swaminath, a Hindu chaplain at Columbia Univ. should not be in that capacity because of her previous acts and association with misconstrued movements like Holi against Hindutva. The name of that movement has changed but I surmise that the perpetrators are the same including Swaminath.

In my informed opinion, the presenters were not promoting their scholarship and/ or academic freedom but a well-orchestrated campaign on behalf of Islamic groups motivated by their firm belief of all Hindus being an infidel. They also had backing from Christian organizations engaged in conversion from Hinduism to Christianity. They are under the scanner since the Modi government came in power and is not able to transfer funds easily for such acts. Islamic jihadists want the extinction of Hindus but under Modi’s leadership their wings are cut, the borders are secured, and the army is empowered and well equipped to disable their jihad and terrorist activities.

It is unfortunate that the presenters calling themselves historians showed no historical evidence. There were more activists than scholars inciting attacks and innuendo rather than a tone to build alliances based on mutual trust, deliberations, and discussions. What a terrible loss of time and virtual space and a total failing of the dismantling of Hindus, Hinduism, and Hindutva. I wish, they would work toward building a universal framework for an Andolan to dismantle and eradicate evils like terrorism, social injustice, and poverty. Together, let us promote peace, prosperity, and wellbeing for all. Can we rise above the religious hatred, bigotry, and prejudice and build a better world for us, but more importantly, for those who come after us?

Note:
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

References:

[1] The Hindu Value for Debate and Dissent: Untangling Hinduism and Hindutva – Mar 15, 2020, ANANTANAND RAMBACHAN

Born in village Kotah (Saharanpur), Vijendra Agarwal, left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee but always remained connected with his roots. A researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he came to US in 1978. He served as faculty and academic
administrator (Assistant Vice President, Associate Vice Chancellor, and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering) in several universities, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during Clinton administration. Following his voluntary retirement in 2014, he and his wife co-founded a US based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward education, health, and empowerment of girls and overall development. An Indian at heart, his passion for writing has no boundaries. This includes policy, politics and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement. Currently he is the Brand Ambassador for Times of India and frequently blogs on Linkedin on various topics.
Vijendra Agarwal

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