When the US Supreme Court docket not too long ago outlawed affirmative motion in faculty admissions, amongst these celebrating the second have been sections of the Hindu proper in America.
The Hindu Coverage Analysis and Advocacy Collective (HinduPACT), as an illustration, was fast to tweet: “#RacialQuotas in ed. adversely impacted #IndianAmerican college students. We welcome #AffirmativeAction ruling by the #SCOTUS”. HinduPACT is an advocacy group established by the US department of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHPA) – an organisation identified for its position within the rise of Hindu militancy in India.
However why does a gaggle related to the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva care about affirmative motion within the US?
Partly, it’s a reminder of an ever-growing camaraderie between US conservatives and diaspora Hindu nationalists. However equally, it is a sign of a harmful blurring of strains between politics at residence and overseas – and an effort to close down criticism of historic and present discrimination in opposition to individuals from spiritual minorities and decrease castes, in India in addition to within the US.
For it’s that discrimination that affirmative motion sought to deal with earlier than the Supreme Court docket struck it down.
A united politics
Although Indian Individuals – like most immigrant communities – proceed to largely help the Democratic Social gathering, segments of the Indian diaspora have been rallying help for Republicans. That pattern has gained steam lately.
The Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC), launched in 2015 by Chicago-based businessman Shalabh Kumar to construct a bridge between Hindu Individuals and the Republican Social gathering, expectedly advocates for smaller, restricted authorities and decrease taxes. It believes the federal government ought to discourage single parenting and abortions and that combating radical Islam needs to be central to US overseas coverage.
Kumar personally endorsed former President Donald Trump’s stance on restrictive immigration in addition to his plans to construct a wall alongside the US-Mexico border.
Conservative speaking factors are additionally straightforward to identify on the web sites of teams like HinduPACT, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Hinduvesha, American Hindus Towards Defamation (AHAD) and the VHPA. These are normally accompanied by criticism of American liberals.
All of this served because the backdrop for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bromance with Trump, broadcast to the world by means of two mega rallies they held collectively – one in Houston, Texas in 2019, and the opposite in Ahmedabad, India in 2020.
At a time when many US lawmakers, particularly within the Democratic Social gathering, have been elevating issues in regards to the Indian authorities’s in a single day revocation of Kashmir’s constitutionally-guaranteed semi-autonomous standing, Trump and his administration remained steadfast of their help for Modi.
The parable of ‘advantage’
Nowhere does this conservative confluence present up as clearly because it does in schooling. The parallels between the opposition to affirmative motion from Hindutva teams like HinduPACT and the sentiment in opposition to caste-based schooling quotas in India amongst many upper-caste Hindus are hanging.
In each instances, that is positioned as a battle for so-called advantage – pandering to casteist and racist tropes to recommend that beneficiaries of affirmative motion or quotas are much less deserving of faculty seats. Ignored, once more in each situations, are the centuries of systemic injustice and discrimination in opposition to individuals of color, particularly African Individuals, within the US and in opposition to individuals from decrease castes in India, which makes any notion of a degree enjoying discipline meaningless.
In India, those that argue in opposition to caste-based affirmative motion appear to have borrowed from the right-wing notion of “reverse racism”, usually heard within the US, after they argue that any reservations and quotas for decrease castes result in “reverse discrimination” or “reverse casteism” in opposition to deserving college students.
But, they not often discover or acknowledge the rampant caste-based discrimination in addition to on a regular basis harassment and stigmatisation confronted by lower-caste college students in establishments of upper schooling, main some like PhD scholar and Dalit activist Rohith Chakravarthi Vemula to take their very own life. In his parting letter, he wrote: “My start is my deadly accident.”
Within the US, this performs out within the use by Hindutva teams of the Indian-American group’s “mannequin minority” picture to argue that it doesn’t want or need the help that different ethnic and racial minorities want.
On this, they conveniently conflate Hindu Individuals and Indian Individuals. The RHC touts the truth that Indian Individuals have the “highest median family revenue” of all ethnic teams, are least depending on authorities help and have among the many highest ranges of schooling.
In an infographic on the “Trajectory of Hindus in America”, HinduPACT relays the same message, including that, “Indians skipped the ‘ghetto stage’ widespread to most immigrant tales”.
But, following the Supreme Court docket ruling, a Pew survey revealed that almost all Indian Individuals thought-about affirmative motion to be a great factor. Hindutva teams have clearly failed, up to now, to persuade them in any other case.
In some ways, although, US politics is the true goal these teams want to affect and the purpose is to guard the pursuits of Hindu nationalists in India.
Diaspora Hindu nationalists have lately tried to argue that Hindus are the victims of widespread and systemic discrimination, spiritual hatred, stigma, defamation and genocidal violence. The VHPA’s “Hinduvesha” initiative accuses main universities of cultivating “an ecosystem of students, funders, and journals to perpetuate Hinduphobic scholarship”.
Hindutva teams go as far as to match the discrimination Hindus allegedly face globally with the stigmatisation and persecution confronted by Jews in Europe earlier than the Holocaust.
On its web site, HinduPACT argues that criticising Hinduism for caste-based discrimination can also be proof of Hinduphobia. Hindutva teams have opposed payments to ban caste discrimination in California and the Seattle Metropolis Council, calling them Hinduphobic and alleging that the laws would enhance dangers of bullying and violence confronted by Indian Individuals in faculties and workplaces.
And after the St Paul Metropolis Council handed a decision in 2020 that was essential of the Modi authorities’s citizenship legislation amendments which discriminate in opposition to Muslim asylum seekers, the VHPA issued an announcement saying that “the true objective of this decision is to create hatred for Hindus and folks of Indian origin residing in Minneapolis – St. Paul space”.
In impact, any criticism of the Modi authorities’s insurance policies in India is deemed Hinduphobic within the US by these teams.
A harmful future?
The consequences of this marketing campaign by Hindutva teams – in opposition to lawmakers, lecturers and on a regular basis residents against them – are seen.
In 2019, after an article revealed the rising affect of Hindu majoritarian politics within the US, Ro Khanna, a Democratic congressman from Silicon Valley, tweeted: “It’s the responsibility of each American politician of Hindu religion to face for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and communicate for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians”.
Assaults on him have been speedy and constant. 4 years later, Khanna seems to have mellowed. In actual fact, within the lead-up to Modi’s go to to the US earlier this 12 months, he authored a “bipartisan letter calling for Modi to handle a joint seating of Congress”. He justified his choice to take action by insisting that “the best way to make progress on human rights is to have interaction with the Indian PM”.
Amid stress from Hindutva activists, the language of the California caste discrimination invoice was additionally amended. As a substitute of caste being a separate class underneath the state’s non-discrimination legislation as was initially supposed, it was now outlined as a “protected class underneath the bigger umbrella of ‘ancestry’”.
Anti-bill activists celebrated this diluted model as a victory, although the invoice’s proponents insist the substance of the laws stays unchanged.
These are indicators of a harmful incursion of Hindu nationalism in American politics.
Again in India, this ideology has violently divided a nation and battered its democracy. Now it’s aligning itself in opposition to social justice – whether or not on affirmative motion or caste-based discrimination – within the US, whereas attempting to bully critics of the Indian authorities into silence.
That is not simply India’s drawback. It’s America’s too.
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.