Firstpost is convinced that Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH), a three-day online conference (from Sept 10-12) planned by anonymous organisers in the US, is a partisan and politically-motivated event designed to malign an ancient religion and its adherents. Through columns and reported pieces, this Firstpost series exposes why such programmes are misleading, agenda-driven, and nothing but thinly-veiled Hinduphobia.
Good Hindus, concerned journalists and academics have already weighed in, here, here and here, for example, on the so-called conference titled "Dismantling Global Hindutva", and what the event and its provocateur-instigators' agenda portends.
Advocacy organisations such as the Hindu American Foundation have demanded of universities and colleges, whose support the conference organisers have claimed, to answer for their involvement in this demonising - if not genocidal - project of painting Hindus into a corner and suffocating them. This is another version of anti-Semitism. We know what that led to.
Avowedly against a make-believe "global Hindutva" movement and presence, these activist-academics' goals are clear: allow for the deracination and delegitimisation of Hindus, demonise Hinduism and balkanise India. These activists' agenda is not new. It is merely a new battlefront in the 2000-year-old attempt by monopolists, supremacists and violent ideologies and their cultist followers to cleanse the world of heathens and pagans, hasten the end of the world, and enable the fulfilment of their millenarian, apocalyptic vision. We Hindus have known such men and women as daityas, danavas and rakshasas, and are aware of their avowed want to disrupt sacred rites, destroy peace and bring disorder. So, it should come as no surprise that the rakshasa lineage continues. But what should frighten us is their growing strength; major Indian and global institutions, including Western academic institutions, have come under the sway - if not taken over - by some in the rakshasa army.
It has been already noted that this "global conference" was announced the day the Taliban took over Afghanistan on 15 August, and that it is slated to be held between 10 and 12 September on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. That we celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi this 9 September should not also be forgotten. Others have expressed concern that we don't know who the organisers of the event are and who in fact the speakers at the event are, except for the paltry few well-known rabble-rousers who sport their extremist credentials as badges of honor. What we also don't know is that there is no information about the academic departments and programmes that are sponsoring the events, the rationale for their involvement, and the monies and time they are offering in support of this blatantly partisan, political and Hinduphobic event masquerading as an academic conference.
Some commentators have also wondered if Western academic institutions would dare hold conferences on Islamists, fundamentalism in Christianity or left-extremist movements.
Here we have to point out that there is no comparison between Hindutva and these millenarian/monopolist ideologies. But, at the same time, many of the global and Indian institutions are commandeered by those who owe allegiance to these millenarian religious and political ideologies. In fact, what should not surprise us is how left extremist and right extremist groups have joined hands to take on their common prey: the Hindus. We are the last remaining bulwark against the violent, destructive and monopolist millenarian ideologies, which have already commanded much of the physical, material and intellectual space in the world.
Given this, and given the massively popular petition that the Hindu American Foundation has crafted and managed, what else can be done to challenge these scheming actors and their genocidal agendas? R Jagannathan, writing in Swarajya Magazine, makes a good start in suggesting to the Narendra Modi government that they look at the universities sponsoring the conference, and "actively discourage Indians from seeking admissions in universities where Hindus will be targeted by issuing an advisory in this regard". The Hindu American Foundation and others have suggested a more cautious approach, saying that the mischief of some individuals and some departments in a university should not be laid at the door of the whole university. I think the cautious approach no longer works. Imagine what the Chinese would have done if there was a conference titled "Dismantling the Communist Party of China" or "Challenging Chinese Global Hegemony" - supported and funded by American and Canadian universities. The ton of bricks the Chinese would heap upon these universities and the flight of 400,000 Chinese students out of the US and Canada in the middle of the semester would bring down both the American and Canadian governments, and Wall Street would see stockbrokers jumping off windows as they did on 19 October, 1987.
Here, therefore, is an opportunity for the Modi government to send a really stern warning: identify all Indian universities that have signed Memoranda of Understanding with any of the 40 universities supporting the conference and order the universities to nullify those MoUs immediately; ask students not to attend any of these 40 universities; seek from American and Canadian ambassadors explanation for such anti-India, anti-Hindu activities being sponsored by universities in their country; demand special protection for all Indian students on these 40 campuses; and deny all visa requests from academics at these 40 institutions.
Universities are countenancing their professors who are painting us Hindus as fascists, Nazis, akin to White nationalists, and racists; they are allowing the deliberate distortion of our work, our texts, our ancestral legacy in the most vicious manner so that no child of ours will again be able to read and enjoy our epics, our puranas, and our punya-kathas without flinching. These violent, intolerant people have homed in on us because we are the last bastion against their untruths. Playing nice with such agents and agencies has not paid India and Hindus any dividends. We need to understand that the "Dismantling Global Hindutva" conference is a provocative and dangerous attempt to demonise Hindus and Hinduism, and make us Hindus -- a micro-minority in both the United States and Canada - targets of hate crimes. This conference threatens the life of all Hindus, anywhere in the world. The organisers of the conference are mere fronts for global agencies and interests that seek to undermine Indian democracy and demonise Hinduism. There is no other way to describe them. Petitions will not help when the players don't play by the rules and are not punished for breaking rules. If good sense has to prevail, and Hindus and Hinduism celebrated and acknowledged for their contributions to humanity, then these goons should be stopped in their tracks, whether they come wearing white hoods, black masks or academic gowns.
Ramesh Rao is a professor of communication studies at Columbus State University, Columbus, GA. Views expressed here are personal.