Hindutva – Caste – Race: Snakes at Deakin University, Australia

Hindutva – Caste – Race: Snakes at Deakin University, Australia
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Deakin University, in Melbourne, Australia is one of the prestigious research institutions in the world named after the founding father and second prime minister of Australia, Alfred Deakin. In the book “Snakes in the Ganga,” Rajiv Malhotra and Vijaya Viswanathan explain how faculty in the departments of the Humanities and the Social Sciences of the iconic Harvard University have fashioned and nurtured anti-Hindu narratives, and how they have groomed young scholars to follow their scheming ways and deceptive skills. Now, Deakin University of Australia is on its way to imitating Harvard and is gearing to produce scholarship on Hindutva, using Critical Caste Theory, and target the Hindu population Down Under. The Hindu diaspora in Australia is concerned about the outcome of this anti-Hindu enterprise as it will surely fuel more Hinduphobia and violence against Hindus, Hindu temples, and Hindu businesses and institutions.

What is this new fear of Hindus in Australia based on? There was a recent advertisement by Deakin University calling for applications to a PhD scholarship worth more than $100,000 to initiate and conduct research on Transnational Hindutva Populism in Australia. All three professors supervising this project are non-Hindus, and from what we know of their academic credentials and previous work, we can imagine their predetermined and malicious intent and their professed will to harm Hindus, undermine their sense of security and well-being, and demonize Hinduism. What is strange here is that a PhD student is not the one proposing a topic, but a PhD Faculty Committee is itself offering the topic for study! This is what the Deakin U website says: “The PhD candidate will work with Prof Ihsan Yilmaz, Dr Priya Chacko, and Dr Ana-Maria Bliuc to conduct research on civilizational populism and transnational political mobilization through digital technologies, with a focus on the Hindu nationalist movement and the Indian diaspora in Australia. The candidate is strongly encouraged to consider the relationship between offline and online environments”. So, this is what scholarship has been reduced to: “We have made up our mind on this topic. We want to train a doctoral student in this area. We will expect him/her/they to do what we expect them to do and come to the conclusions that we expect them to come to. We will then publicize this around the world as what Australian Hindus really are: Hindu nationalists, casteists, racists, and Islamophobes”.

Dr Ihsan Yilmaz, the “Hindutva” project supervisor is the Research Chair in Islamic Studies at Deakin University. His research interests include “Muslim politics, Muslim identity, and citizenship,” and hence it does not take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out what this scholar’s project is and what he has in store, and if we can expect objective, scholarly, unbiased efforts from him in conducting any studies on “Hindutva Populism,” we Hindus can very well give up hope of getting to Jannah. Well, we might, if we get converted to Dr Yilmaz’s faith in Allah. Given the title of the project itself, how can there be any objective study of Hindus or of “Hindutva” in Australia, mate? Yilmaz has criticized India’s democratically elected government and the Bharatiya Janata Party for dividing Indians into what he calls “pure Hindus, traitorous elites, and dangerous Muslim others”. In one of the recent tweets on social media Yilmaz shared the – “Hindu nationalists now pose a global problem” article — echoing the heading of an Aljazeera article, and the echo chambers of Islamist activists the world over like the Indian American Muslim Council.

We can very well ask, “What in the deakins is Deakin up to enabling Islamists masquerading as liberals lead this project?” Interestingly, Yilmaz, who grew up in Turkey, must now be chewing his nails trying to figure out why Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent two planes-load of relief supplies to his earthquake-stricken country. But we doubt that this act of care and concern of a Hindu India, a Hindu Prime Minister, and the universalist Hindu ethos can change the heart of an Islamist’s heart for a milli-second. We can be darned sure that it would not make him pause a moment in the pursuit of his ideological agendas.

We do not have to spend much time analyzing his tweet. And Dr Yilmaz is merely repeating what he gleans from his daily morning newspaper feed from Aljazeera.  His research theme also links so-called “Hindu nationalism” with caste, race, gender and class, a typical left deconstruction social theory model intent on caricaturing Indian society as dysfunctional. How is this man, who has taught almost nothing about India, and knows very little about India, be invested with this right to demonize India? For example, his knowledge areas are the following, according to the official Deakin University webpage: “Populism – Authoritarianism – Religion; Islam-State-Society-Law (Middle East, Pakistan, Australia, UK, USA);  Transnational Islam, Muslim Identity, Victimhood (Australia, Turkey); Securitization of Minority Identities (Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, Australia); Muslim Politics, Belonging, Participation (UK, USA, Australia); Turkish Diasporas (Australia, UK, USA); Muslim Minorities (Australia, UK, USA). Ah, we see this is how: he has written about how Erdogan has influenced Turkish politics, and he simply wants to replace Erdogan with Modi in his prepared notes, and claim that he knows about India, knows about Hindus, and knows about Indian politics. A classic act of the magic that spurious “scholars” perform in their pursuit of grants, book deals, and publications in friendly, Hinduphobic journals.

Next among the trio of “Hindu haters” is Dr Priya Chacko — an Indian origin Christian academic who has written several articles targeting Hindus, Narendra Modi, and the BJP and has disparaged “Hindutva” and demonized Hindu involvement in politics as “Hindu nationalism”. Par for some of the work of Hindu-hating Christian “scholars,” Dr Chacko has reviewed the rabid demonizer of Hindu-activism, Christophe Jaffrelot’s “Modi’s India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy”. She has manufactured a spurious essay titled, “Marketizing Hindutva: The State, Society, and Markets in Hindu Nationalism”. Yet another one is titled, “The Right Turn in India: Authoritarianism, Populism and Neoliberalisation”. That we can expect anything of real value from her work on this new Deakin project should be squelched at first squeak. But this anti-Hindu cabal have a slick publishing network as their essays and op-eds appear regularly in large mainstream Australian newspapers like The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, and others as well as in the publications of think tanks like the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Lowy Institute, and so on. Ethnic Islamic publications are quick to circulate and cite these articles to suit their agenda as and when required. The echo chamber they have built is therefore a closed, loud, and diseased system that can offer no room, no space, and no light to those who wish to challenge them and their venomous bias.

The third faculty member is Dr Ana-Maria Bliuc. When we click on the link to her name, we are taken to this site of Dr Ana Maria Contardo Ayala, who is said to be a research fellow in the “Faculty of Health”. What her expertise on India, Hindus, and health is for anyone to guess. We can suppose she will suggest to the PhD candidate this research question: “How sick, angry, unhappy, Islamophobic are Hindus in Australia, and how can you best measure their mental state?” We wish we could use some four-letter words to express our frustration at this blatant attempt to put their fingers on the scale, but we will leave the choice of those words to our readers!

Alfred Deakin (1856-1919) — Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

Hinduism being an open architecture system is open to honest debates on intellectual issues. Hindus are not compelled to shape their beliefs, practices, attitudes towards others, and to their understanding of the cosmos based on a single book, their belief in “one true god,” or the “last prophet,” one real “son of god,” and so on, as the Chacko-Yilmaz combine does. Nor are Hindus governed by one centralized institution whose edicts are strict and applicable to all within the “faith”. In Australia too, the Hindu diaspora is not one entity but a diverse set of communities with their own distinct ways of doing, acting, believing, living, and celebrating. Though one might logically assume this Hindu ecosystem complements multiculturalism and pluralism in Australia, left-leaning academics, in collusion with Islamists, have been targeting us with their nefarious agenda against the vulnerable, Hindu micro-minority. What these “progressive” academics do, like their ilk in Britain or Western Europe, or their collaborators in the US and Canada, is to ignore the Islamist/Muslim acts of violence in their lands, the demographic designs of Muslims and the calls from mosques to go forth and breed and conquer, and the legacy of violence of the Abrahamic faiths. Hindus are now easy targets because Hindus pose an existential threat to their closed and diseased system of thought and belief.

Some of the aims of the project outlined are alarming and have serious implications for the safety of the Hindu diaspora in Australia. It aims to analyze how “gendered Hindutva populist narratives (whatever it means according to the fetid imagination of these academic jihadists) interact with race, class, caste, race, and age”! They want to make “caste” responsible for the “race” problems they have created and the “racial discrimination” they have practiced. These anti-Hindu narratives packaged in garbled gobbledygook is then strategically fed to the media, the political establishment, their own students, and society in general to blame Hindus for everything under the Sun, and for their own collapsing social, moral, economic, and political order. For example, when Hindu temples were attacked in Leicester, UK, mainstream media like the BBC, the Guardian, and Labor Party scumbags portrayed “Hindutva” and “Hindu nationalists” as fuelling the violence in that city overrun by Muslims. Left-wing bigots have no qualms collaborating with violent jihadists as both are members of genocidal and violent cults who cannot bear to see the diligent, disciplined, intelligent, and sage Hindus succeeding in life. They want Australians to forget that Islamists have targeted and sought to terrorize Australia: Faheem Khalid Lodhi, a Pakistani-Australian architect, was accused of plotting to bomb the national electricity grid and defence sites in Sydney in 2003. A former Buddhist, who converted to Islam, Abu Khaled al-Cambodi was linked to terror threats, the killing of a police officer, and later fled to Syria to become a senior recruiter for ISIS. In yet another case, Khaled Cheikho, Moustafa Cheikho, Mohamed Ali Elomar, Abdul Rakib Hasan and Mohammed Omar Jamal were found guilty of conspiring to terrorize Sydney. They were jailed in February 2010. And the radicalization of Muslims is going on so brazenly that it is said the “radicalisation of homegrown would-be terrorists occurs more frequently in Australia than in most other Western countries”. For readers interested in the many, many more Islam-inspired terrorism in Australia, just visit the Wikipedia page on “terrorism in Australia”. Interestingly, in an attempt to quell the cognitive dissonance in their minds about the real acts of terrorism and the real plans of Muslims to commit terrorist acts and the wish to be considered “liberal” and “progressive,” they then fulminate about Islamophobia, trying to distract the ordinary Australian about the real threats faced by Australian society by creating the “Hindu nationalist” strawman.

The other aim outlined in the Deakin project is to assess the impact of “Hindutva civilizational populist narratives on the Indian diasporic communities in Australia in terms of inter-group conflict and social cohesion”. This is a dangerous proposition as it permanently pushes Hindus into the corner and prevents them from dissenting against the injustices against them. For example, use of the Swastika symbol in a Hindu household as a sacred symbol may be termed Hindutva extremism. Chanting “Jai Sriram” at a religious event or in a community procession will be labelled the “war cry” of “Hindu extremists”. Recently Sikh radicals, those flying the Khalistan flag and driving their cars, trucks, and HumVees, attacked Hindu temples multiple times in Australia. The subsequent protests by a handful of Hindus against the attack were termed as the result of Hindu nationalism by some local media which deliberately sought to spin their anti-Hindu stories but failed to name and shame the real culprits. We can surmise a couple of things here: the left/progressives, the Islamists, the Khalistanis, the Christian fundamentalists, the radical feminists, and every other kind of warped, violent, supremacist, and extremist group are aligned against and opposed to Hindus, for, to repeat, Hindus, by their disciplined approach to life and to community well-being, shine a light on the true nature of these destructive ideologies and violent activists.

In closing, let us point out that Deakin University itself is not devoid of controversies. Alfred Deakin was a man of high intellect but believed in White supremacy and was the founding father of White Australia in 1901. Deakin visited India and wrote two books on India – “Temple and Tomb in India,” and “Irrigated India: An Australian View of India and Ceylon”. Being a Christian, however, he wished to convert the whole of India to Christianity and argued that Hindus should be proud of being colonized by the British. When the Commonwealth of Australia was established in 1901, he excluded all colored people, including the oppressed “Coolie Hindu” diaspora. Deakin had predicted that the dark aboriginal race in Australia would become extinct, but it has not come true yet, and not because white Australia did not try. At this point, Australians saying “sorry” to all the horrors they inflicted upon the Aborigines has not made much of an impact on the lives of the Aborigines. They now want to distract them, we can suppose, by saying “look, we are the good people, and if you really want to find out who discriminates based on race and birth, it is the Hindus!”

Shashi Holla

Shashi Holla is a health professional in Australia