The “overtly political” Dismantling Global Hindutva conference was an organised “anti-Hindu jamboree” and not an academic event, Australian sociologist and academic Salvatore Babones has said, adding that the success of India has made the West resent the country.
In an exclusive article for Firstpost, Babones wrote: “The motives of Western anti-Hindu intellectuals are very different, but the respectability they provide is crucial for the success of anti-India movements. For example, the overtly political 2021 Dismantling Global Hindutva conference was co-sponsored by dozens of university research institutes. The conference organisers obtained statements of support from 40 professional associations and ‘60+ community organisations’. It was in no sense a normal academic conference. It was an organised anti-Hindu jamboree.”
He said though the main information sheet published by the conference organisers emphasised that “calling out Hindutva is not anti-Hindu”, “the parallel with the anti-Semitic trope that ‘calling out Zionism is not anti-Jewish’ is crystal clear”.
“The tactics are the same because the institutions — and many of the individuals — are the same. The Western elite anti-Semitic template has been adopted by anti-Hinduists, who (just like anti-Semites) mobilise institutional endorsements to bring the mainstream news media onto their side,” the academic said.
Babones said the Hindu civil society organisations had rightly called out the conference and the anti-Hindu sentiments that motivated it but unfortunately, they “missed the trick on anti-Hinduism”.
“They have instead attached the label ‘Hinduphobia’ to these slurs, on the model of Islamophobia. But anti-Hinduism is not a phobia. Many people really are afraid of Muslims; they are not afraid of Hindus.”
Elaborating further, Babones said anti-Hindu Western intellectuals do not fear the rise of India; they resent it. “Just as Western anti-Semites are offended by the success of Israel, Western anti-Hinduists are offended by the success of India. They can’t accept the idea of a strong and independent Hindu-majority country. They would much rather keep India weak and poor, just as their ancestors did centuries ago,” he said.
Co-sponsored by departments of over 50 universities in the United States — including Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, New York University, Cornell and Northwestern University — the three-day Dismantling Global Hindutva conference had raised eyebrows in India too.
The virtual conference, which sought to look into issues relating to the Hindu supremacist ideology from a scholarly perspective, soon attracted negative press as Hindu groups both at home and abroad slammed the event for being ‘Hindu-phobic’, a charge denied by the organisers.
Hindu groups in the United States, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), the Coalition of Hindus in North America (CoHNA), and the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), allegedly sent over 1.3 million emails to several universities urging them to pull out of the conference, the Indian Express reported.
“This conference paints Hindus disproportionately and falsely as purveyors of extremism, actively denies the genocide of Hindu people, and most troublingly, labels those who disagree as ‘Hindutva’ which the conference organisers define as Hindu extremism,” read a statement by CoHNA.
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