There is a need to keep a close watch on such organizations that are spreading their tentacles in US politics
This may not be news for those who have little connection with US domestic politics, but those who are closely watching the house of Uncle Sam, it’s apparent that Hindutva forces are challenging the core US values in its home turf.
Hindu organizations active in USA
This is an interesting development that needs to be closely watched as America’s melting pot culture is having the taste of India’s Hindu organizations. These are Hindu SwayamSevak (HSS), the international wing of the RSS, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) and the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). These organizations are extolling the virtues of the Hindutva ideology and teaching them the values of Hindu Civilization.
Surprisingly these Hindu outfits do not claim to be the custodian of ‘Sanatana Dharma’. They confine being the advocacy group of Hindu Americans and do not define ‘Hinduism’. They seem to be self-convinced that they represent the entire caste matrix of ‘Sanatana Dharma’ as well as Hindu minority groups like Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains to be in their world view of Hinduism.
About Hindu American Foundation
Among the Hindutva forces in the US, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) is the most articulate organization. It was founded by rich, articulate, and highly educated second-generation Indians in 2003 with the mission to educate the Americans about Hindus and Hinduism.
The HAF came into existence barely a few months after the Gujarat pogrom in 2002 which was against the Muslims and there was a huge outrage against then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The HAF justifies the Gujarat communal riots calling them a spontaneous act, an outburst of the Hindus against the Muslims who they say were responsible for the death of ‘Kar Sevaks’ in the Godhra train tragedy. A similar stance was taken by them during the 2020 Delhi pogrom.
The HAF members are on a mission to support Narendra Modi and his extremist policies. They dismiss all criticism against him as ‘Hindu-Phobia.’
Going through the website of HAF, one gets the impression that it’s an extension of Hindutva forces that’s currently at work in the US. They have put stories on their website suggesting that all their energies are focused on supporting Modi’s acts and to defend Hindutva in the ‘dream land.’
After 2014, the HAF’s effort is to defend Prime Minister Modi’s policies. Be it, note ban, GST, making J&K a UT., the lockdown, etc. The talented pool of young and accomplished voices of HAF are defending Narendra Modi as a savior of mankind, projecting him as the world’s ‘greatest leader.’
This group’s speckles campaign was finally articulated at ‘Howdy Modi’ show. This particular event during the Trump administration boosted the Indian Prime Minister’s image and also showcased the Hindu- American voting muscle to the Americans.
“Hindu lobby groups in US elections”
Such Hindutva lobby is making deep inroads into US politics. Banking on the large Hindu voters, such organizations are propping up Hindu candidates that could represent their ‘Hindutva ideology’ in the US Congress.
Tulsi Gabbard, Sri Preston Kulkarni, Padma Kuppa, Raja Krishnamurti were candidates that were backed by the Hindu lobby groups in America.
There is a criticism made by the civil rights activists in the US that accuse HAF of backing a fascist ideology. They in turn are being rebutted with the accusation that they are pro-Islamists suffering from Hindu-Phobia.
The HAF proclaims to be involved in the areas of human rights, civil rights, and education, etc. They say their motto is to promote dignity, mutual respect, and pluralism along with the well-being of the ‘Hindus.’
However, these sweet words are charade to present a positive image of Hinduism to the Americans. The real fact is their mother outfits RSS and the BJP in India instruct them to make inroads into US politics. The neo-rich Hindu Americans are donating extensively to support the Hindu candidates so that they can impact US politics.
Challenging mainstream US media
The job of HAF is also to challenge the mainstream US media on their reportage on India. Several websites are propped up by them that are engaged in challenging the popular media outlets like NYT, Washington Post, and TIME, etc. Their job is to refute the negative coverage of the Indian Prime Minister and his policies in the US media.
The HAF claims that it is a politically agnostic and non-partisan group that does not favor or endorse any political party or candidate and is not affiliated with any religious or political organization. However, if we go to their website, they have put stories on ‘Bengali Hindu Genocide in 1971’, ‘India’s Citizenship Amendment Act,’ ‘Kashmir and Articles 370/35A’, ‘Correcting Media Portrayals of Hinduism’, Commercial use of Hindu Images, etc. All these stories, tear open the underbelly of Hindutva forces in America from where the yank Golwarkars and Sarwakars ooze out.
There is a need to keep a close watch on such organizations that are spreading their tentacles in US politics. They need to be put on a leash before they make any deadly assaults on the American value system.
[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at [email protected].]
This story first appeared in ummid.com on April 6, 2021 here.