The Second World Hindu Congress was held in the American city of Chicago on 7 and 8 September. The first World Hindu Congress was held in November 2014 in New Delhi, few months after Narendra Modi became India’s Prime Minister.
This time the venue was shifted to Chicago by the World Hindu Foundation, officially to commemorate 125 years of anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s famous speech in Chicago, but primarily to showcase the global reach of Hindu hardliners.
Hindutva forces, after capturing the political power in India in 2014, are not only working overtime to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra, but also leaving no stones unturned in projecting their image as the sole proprietor of Hindus all over the world.
There is no doubt that the World Hindu Congress is not a forum of Hindus, but of fundamentalist Hindutva forces, who advocate the exclusionary and discriminatory ideology. The Sangh Parivar under the watch of RSS has been openly engaged in organising it.
Even the RSS Chief in his speech at the World Hindu Congress asked Hindus to join hands if they wanted to survive ‘wild dog’ non-Hindus. India is not a Hindu Rashtra yet, and it is still constitutionally a secular country. That has not stopped India’s ruling Hindutva regime to fly country’s Vice President on an official visit to Chicago to give the keynote speech at the World Hindu Congress.
Several central government ministers also attended the Chicago jamboree of Hindu supremacists, while a secular state is paying for their travel bills.
The list of speakers at the World Hindu Congress, which included Hindutva rabble-rousers like Anupam Kher, Madhu Kishwar, Vivek Agnihotri and Rajiv Malhotra does not leave any doubt that this congregation was a platform of Hindu supremacist forces. The ideologue and the main organiser of this World Hindu Congress in Chicago, Swami Vigyanand, an IIT alumnus, has a history of even promoting militant Hinduism and exhorting ordinary Hindus to carry trishuls (Tridents).
The World Hindu Congress claims to strive for the resurgence of Hinduism. But, Hinduism was never dying. Rather, Hinduism has survived and thrived forever in India in spite of the country being ruled by Mughals and British for hundreds of years. Since its independence, India’s political and economic power have been always under the control of Hindus.
Four out of every five people in India are Hindus and they are one billion strong. But, by creating a false narrative of Hindus are in danger, the primary aim of the Hindutva forces is not to work for the betterment of Hindus but to reduce India’s minorities, particularly Muslims as second-class citizens.
Reviving Hinduism is just a crocodile tear of Hindutva forces who organised the World Hindu Congress as anyone can see the way they have reacted to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s on-going Kailash Yatra.
Since last week, the Congress president, who describes himself as a Shiv Bhakt, has gone on his pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar. He had vowed to undertake this pious journey, a dream for any devout Hindu, after his plane plunged around 8000 feet while traveling to Hubli in Karnataka during the election campaign in April 2018.
Though the religious trip has been very low-key and personal one for Rahul Gandhi, it has made the so-called Hindu-loving Hindutva forces extremely nervous. Instead of being happy and encouraging of his ‘Hindu’ deed, many ministers, BJP spokespersons and its IT cell members have wasted no opportunity in spreading rumours to malign this pious Hindu-pilgrimage of Rahul Gandhi.
Hindutva, political philosophy that thrives on anti-others
Hindutva is a political philosophy, which thrives on being anti-others. After Hindutva forces captured power in India, minorities are witnessing increased attacks on their places of worship. The ruling party, the BJP, is openly and actively promoting Ghar Wapsi programmes and vigilantism against the so-called Love-Jihad. Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, himself has been talking about banning the so-called triple talaq. There are increasing incidents of violence involving so called Gau-Rakhaks all over India. The world has gradually started to see the real face of fascist Hindutva forces.
Thus, the World Hindu Congress has been facing protest inside and outside of its conference venue in Chicago. Violence broke out inside the venue on the first day of the meeting leading to arrests of three demonstrators.
The US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, who is a practicing Hindu and a favorite of Hindutva forces, has publicly rebuked the organizers and refused to chair the ‘partisan’ political event. The other US Congressman, Raja Krishnamoorthi, who came to the event but to teach the real meaning of Hinduism to the Hindutva forces, “I decided I had to be here because I wanted to reaffirm the highest and only form of Hinduism that I’ve ever known and been taught — namely one that welcomes all people, embraces all people, and accepts all people, regardless of their faith.”
Hindutva forces have organised the World Hindu Congress at Chicago with the active support and participation of Narendra Modi government. It is part of their consistent effort to be the sole voice of Hindus of the world and to paint Hinduism in their own ‘saffron’ colour.
But, thanks to the protests and campaigns against Chicago event and the high-profile rebukes from the US lawmakers, the world has started to see more the real danger of Hindutva forces. If anything, it has expedited the process of the unmasking of the fascist face of Hindutva group to the rest of the world.
(The writer is professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Sweden)