It is a dark time indeed to be a Hindu, a patriotic Indian, or an adherent to the truism of Hindu faith, history, and philosophical enquiry. The fact that this has coincided with the rise of Narendra Modi and the BJP in India is not a matter of coincidence. Indeed opponents of Hindu, and Indian, personage, agency, and purposefulness have become considerably braver since this ascension; and now feel compelled to direct their ire towards anything resembling Hindu identity and faith; and this has played itself out to exhaustion through western academia and its media fronts.
The latest spear to be thrown in this crusade is a dark, unsettling, and abhorrently myopic academic event that seeks to ‘dismantle’ Hindutva, that is to present a one-sided, prejudiced, and astonishingly pejorative view of what it means to be a Hindu today, an Indian today, to be even remotely right of centre as far as ones political viewpoint in India is to be, and all through the lens of the worryingly titled event to be held September 10-12, 2021, entitled “Dismantling Global Hindutva” (DGH).
A rogues gallery of academic experts have arrogated to themselves the right to expound on what it means to be a Hindu, particularly one who is proud of their religion, has faith in the political approach of the BJP and Narendra Modi, and one that seeks to better understand the ever fluid, and constantly evolving concept that is Hindutva. These experts/academics are in name only, rather to the point they are in fact activists who now seek to mount this three day pulpit to lecture to the world on the finer points of Hinduphobic discourse, while simultaneously undermining and conveniently displacing the fact that Hindus have never felt more abandoned, mocked, lampooned, and ridiculed than they do at the current time.
These activists will play to a crowd that knows and sees India and Hinduism through a narrow lens, one reinforced by media and academic stratagem that paints the country as one festering in caste bigotry, horrific social ills, rife with violent extremism, separatism, and that is waiting to spawn an philosophical apocalypse that will take down the very concept of pluralism within its borders—they will do this while deftly skipping over the fact that Hindus have been ethnically cleansed throughout their history, have had their numbers culled through genocidal campaigns, and whose agency and autonomy is regularly ripped from their hands by virtue of the fact that they were born proud and devoted Hindus in a modern day India.
To the organisers of this grisly event, and those who are in lockstep to its prejudicial origins and academic bent, Hinduism and Hindutva is not an ever evolving, coherent, and diverse set of ideologies that continues to grow but through their eyes is instead one that is intrinsically a problem-that it is a fascistic, partisan methodology that paints Hindus as inherently bigoted, dangerous, despises others (particularly Muslims), and that is underpinned by dual loyalty.
Now any event such as this should, in order to facilitate healthy debate and discussion, lay great store in political neutrality, to subject its own narrative to academic rigour and dissection. This event does not even pretend to amplify such a belief—it is a retrograde, despicably one sided and laughably myopic means to demonise the modern day Hindu. This is not an event that wants to understand or dismantle anything, it is one that footnotes an evolving chapter in the book of Hinduphobia; it is just another chapter in the contestation of what it means to be an Indian, a Hindu, in today’s day and age and the ringleaders who have put together this degrading event rob Indians and Hindus worldwide-but especially in the United States-of their agency and right to philosophical enquiry.
Indeed this divisive event conveniently forgets the very real threat to Hindu students on college campuses, those who are targeted and report feeling under attack for opposing Hinduphobic depictions of their religion in the classroom and for opposing anti-Hindu hate on college campuses. This has already played itself out in the University of Oxford in Great Britain and events like this will only empower critics of India, and Hinduism, to amplify their vitriol, to paint one of the world’s oldest and peaceful religions as pagan, fanatical, irrational.
The organisers have thus far dug in their heels, attacking those who feel threatened by the ethical misstep that this event represents. The Hindu community worldwide has already amped up steps to challenge the narrative that this event extols, and this is emblematic of Western media and academic in general-that they feel emboldened to take advantage of lack of resources and access- to silence those who were once under the thumb of colonialism; but in 2021 they don’t have a monopoly over what Indians and Hindus get to think about and feel anymore.
Call out this grisly event for what it is, an unashamed, supercilious, and thoroughly deplorable takedown of an ancient perennially peaceful civilization by prancing, pavonine political poseurs masquerading as academics. If there is no greater example that Hinduphobia is a real and profound threat to persons of colour from the Indian subcontinent, then let this event bring its chequered heart to the light.