Dismantling Global Hindutva
For decades now, scholars have been studying Hindutva: from its early articulation in the works of Savarkar, where he contrasted Hindutva’s muscularity with the effeteness of Hinduism; to its adoption by groups like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other affiliates; to the spread of its ideas into civil society; and the rise of its practitioners to political power, making it the de facto ideology of the current Indian state. Moreover, the rise of militant Hindu groups in India and the corresponding escalation of violence against religious minorities and other marginalized communities are well documented facts. International attention has also been directed at the exclusionary Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 pushed through by the ruling Hindutva-aligned Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the aggressive crackdown on all forms of democratic dissent, and the intimidation and imprisonment of journalists, human rights groups and activists working to empower marginalized caste and tribal communities. This overall erosion of democratic practices and freedoms in India has been noted by global research networks.
It was in this backdrop that hundreds of intellectuals from around the world, with the support of scores of American universities and faculties, came together virtually for a three-day online conference. At the conference, the intellectuals hoped to canvass support in the US to help tame the insidious network of expatriate Indian groups which are linked to the ruling party in New Delhi, the BJP, which with the help of its various affiliate groups, been adept at building connections with the vast Hindu diaspora, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Moreover, in the name of Hindutva, it has instituted discriminatory policies including beef bans, restrictions on religious conversions and interfaith weddings, and the introduction of religious discrimination into India’s citizenship laws. These measures have led to a horrifying rise in religious and caste-based violence, including hate crimes, lynching and rapes directed against Muslims, non-confirming Dalits, Sikhs, Christians, Adivasis, and dissident Hindus. Women of these communities are specially targeted.
During the moot, participants expressed their concerns that Hindutva is fast becoming a global phenomenon and Western universities are also not safe from its influence among South Asian students. They were of the view that hatred is being generated by the Hindutva narrative and this is not against any religion rather against humanity because this philosophy places Hindutva as a vehicle, and the message is actually the supremacy of Brahmin Varna over any human. Most speakers were of the view that in the Western world, Hinduism was promoted as a culture rather than a religion during the last half a century but now it has changed its face as a brutal and extremist religious monster that wants to kill everybody except Brahmins.
Speakers of the conference were of the view that the term Hindutva is a strategy based on violence, hatred and terrorism. It is an enemy to democracy and has been targeting freedom of speech since the BJP came into power. Several cases of harassment of journalists were cited by speakers and participants.
Hindutva wants to change the outlook of followers to see the world with only Hindutva extremist ideology. This purist approach is contrary to basic human rights ensured by the modern world to people. Hindutva has a history of ill-treatment of women, zero respect for transgender rights, minority exploitation, and extreme policies towards Muslims, Christians, Jews and non-Brahmins. It violates the basic fundamental rights of everybody who is not Brahmin.
The conference highlighted that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is promoting Hindutva. Motivated by the Nazi ideology, its regulatory principle is to transform India from a secular democracy to a Brahmin state where Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities are demoted to the position of second-class citizens. Speakers were of the view that Hindutva is a political philosophy styled after European fascism of the early twentieth century, an ideology that privileges a cult of personality and authoritarian leadership.