A Global Network of Hindu Nationalism by Ingrid Therwath (Le Monde Diplomacy)

BJP Road Show: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Calls on Hindutva to Rally Voters, Varanasi, March 4, 2017

Adarsh ​​Gupta Hindustan Times Getty

aagain Are India’s nationalist politicians looking to export the ethnic and religious strife they have sparked in the country? suggests. According to the BBC, more than half of his 200,000 tweets about violence came from users in India (with multiple accounts) who supported Hindutva as he seeks to establish Hindu supremacy. (1).

The term Hindutva was popularized in the writings of statesman Veer (Vinayak Damodar) Savarkar (1883-1966). Hindutva Essentials (1923) became one of the founding texts of the nationalist paramilitary volunteer organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, National Volunteer Corps). Founded in 1925 along Mussolini’s Italian front, the RSS is considered a pioneer of modern Hindu nationalism. There are many affiliated organisations, both in India and abroad, such as trade unions, student unions, women’s chapters and publishers.

RSS has been banned twice in India. From 1975 he also during the state of emergency under Indira Gandhi’s government in 1977. The leadership of the RSS then decided to strengthen its contact with the diaspora by establishing overseas chapters. In 1976, his RSS supporters in the UK founded the Friends of India International (FISI) to promote Hinduva ideology. FISI continues to operate in the UK and continental Europe, particularly in Paris.

In India, the RSS has its own political arm, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Bharatiya Janata Party). A longtime member of the RSS, Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the organizer of the BJP, eventually leading the party to election victories in 2014 and again in 2019.

What is a Hindu?

Primarily an ethnonationalist movement, Hindutva is more concerned with population and territorial composition than with religion or philosophy. Its followers consider India to be a Hindu country and all Hindus to be Indians, even if they live elsewhere. Non-Hindus are guests at best and aggressors at worst and must be identified, monitored, deprived of certain rights and possibly exiled or eliminated. They are Muslims (13% of the population) and Christians (2.3%), Dalits, tribal people and even Hindu women who do not follow patriarchal norms.

Nationalists oppose mixed marriages between Hindus and Muslims, calling them “love jihad” aimed at converting Hindu women to raise their offspring as Muslims. This paranoid fantasy has fostered violence and widespread slander against Muslims.

The Indian diaspora (30 million people in 110 countries) provides significant political and especially financial support to Sangh Parivar, a network of pro-Hindutva organizations linked to RSS. RSS realized early on that it needed to attract Indian expatriates in order to grow. These included many IT students and engineers. (2)and in 1996 RSS launched the Global Hindu Electronic Network (GHEN), allowing members to participate in virtual conferences.

BJP’s digital corps

Indian journalist Swati Chaturvedi has investigated the BJP’s “digital army” and uncovered a troll gang made up of BJP supporters from India and abroad, as well as bots operating under the leadership of party leaders. (3)A 2018 report from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted the existence of IT cells within the BJP and described how individuals critical of the government are being harassed online. (Four)This propaganda and intimidation targets minorities, women (particularly lesbians, women of lower castes or religious minorities), and journalists. On Twitter, trolls use keywords such as “sickular” (a portmanteau of “sick/worldly” to suggest that secularism is a disease) and “prostitute” (media/prostitute).

But ideology alone cannot explain why Indian political groups (and politicized individuals) interfere in the affairs of other countries. Or why people of Indian descent living in other countries import Indian ideas and methods. Because it is a source of funding and influence.

After the 2001 earthquake that devastated the city of Bhuj in Gujarat and severe anti-Islamic riots in Gujarat in 2002, donations from the diaspora (especially the US and UK) flooded in.

However, these mainly consisted of building pro-Hindu schools aimed at “re-Hinduizing” the tribal people, and in 1992 Hindu nationalists destroyed the sixteenth-century Ram temples in Ayodhya. It was used to fund a campaign to build the Century Babri Masjid Mosque. Reports by the NGOs Sabrang Communications and Publishing and Awaaz South Asia Watch in 2002 and 2004 (Five)and a documentary by British broadcaster Channel 4 explores Sang Parivar’s illicit financing system through the Diaspora, and the structural, hierarchical, and hierarchical relationship between the Diaspora in English-speaking countries and Hindu nationalist organizations in the country. and exposed personal connections.

However, the Indian Development Relief Fund (IDRF), established in 1989 and based in Maryland, USA, raises funds for Sun Palibar, but is non-political, non-sectarian and non-profit. Registered as a charity. The IDRF consists of 75 organizations, 60 of which belong to Sangh Parivar. Between 1995 and 2002, the IDRF officially distributed more than $5 million to 184 organizations, but 80% of donations not designated by donors (or the total amount raised) 75% of the funds) went to Saint-Paliver related organizations. Sabrang reports that “Since its inception in 1989, the IDRF has grown systematically and evolved into a key participant in the RSS-organized foreign funding drive.” (6).

Ideology alone cannot explain why Indian political groups interfere in the affairs of other countries.The real reason is that the diaspora provides funding and influence

So does Sewa UK, based in Birmingham, England. According to Awaaz South Asia Watch, he raised at least £2.3m after the Bhuj earthquake, of which £1.9m he donated to Sewa Bharti Gujarat. Funds were raised to rebuild the villages destroyed by the earthquake. Awaaz claims that funds raised by his parent organization, Sewa International, were passed on to organizations affiliated with RSS. [a Gujarati] Villages and illegal occupation of buildings and land previously in charge [Muslims].’

Many scholars have studied these networks, among them Vijay Prashad, who wrote about the “Yankee Hindutva,” and Thomas, who examined the role of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, the religious branch of RSS) in South Africa. Blom Hansen, Amina Mohamad and others. – Arif, who chronicled his VHP rise in the United States. Nevertheless, the structure of this global Hindu network remains unclear.

Hindutva Wealthy Donor

Including wealthy donors. In the United States, in recent years, Subhash and his Sarojini Gupta (publisher), Ramesh Bhutada (businessman and president of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, a socio-cultural organization affiliated with Sangh Parivar) and his son, Rishi, have all grown in numbers. donated a million dollars.Pro-Hinduva Organizations Through Foundations (7)This has given them increased status in the local Hindu community, political power (supporting the Republican Party), contacts in India, and material and symbolic benefits. According to Citizens Web’s 2022 report, 24 US organizations (charities, think tanks, political focus groups, and higher education institutions with nearly $1 billion in assets) have linked with India’s Sang Parivar, promotes Hinduva ideology.educational authorities (8).

The same is true in the UK, with big donors such as influential entrepreneur and businessman Manoj Radwa, brothers SP (Srichand) and Gopichand Hinduja, who lead the Hinduja Group. These are wealthy, educated, high-caste Hindus with links to local government and diaspora association leaders. The movement to recruit future elites is also seen among pro-Hindutva student organizations.

In most Western countries, it is illegal to contribute financially or otherwise to the political activities of another country, especially when it leads to human rights violations, as is the case with the RSS, BJP and their Indian affiliates. So outside of India, Sang Paribar takes care to look harmless. Amid calls for the organization to be put on a watch list or even designated as a terrorist group (especially in the United States), Hindutva’s supporters are harmless, claiming their activities are consistent with multiculturalism. I’m trying to pretend it’s there. This will help attract Hindus interested in cultural or educational activities and establish their organization as a legitimate part of the political and social landscape. It also helps avoid.

In August 2022, RSS Head Mohan Bhagwat concluded the International Membership Conference in Bhopal to bring India to prosperity in the Diaspora, Vishwagur (world leader). For defenders of Hindu nationalism, that means fundraising, political lobbying, and the demonization of Islam. A Global Network of Hindu Nationalism by Ingrid Therwath (Le Monde Diplomacy)

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