The three-day international online conference, “Dismantling Global Hindutva,” held between September 10 -12 discussed a range of political, socio-cultural, and economic issues with the conclusion that Hindutva is a violent and vile ideology that must be pushed back.
Over 44 speakers including Anand Patwardhan, Christophe Jaffrelot, Meena Kandasamy, Mohammad Junaid, and P. Sivakami spoke on various panels over three days.
The organizers claimed on the website that the conference brought to one platform many brilliant speakers, both academic and non-academic, that have different and sometimes seemingly contradictory approaches to this urgent challenge of dismantling Hindutva. It claimed that more than 70 “cosponsoring entities from 53 universities,” supported the event.
Christophe Jaffrelot, French political scientist and Indologist explained the term global Hindutva and the evolution of the RSS and the Sangh Parivar and its growth in the U.S.
Anand Patwardhan, a well-known documentary filmmaker called Hindutva, “a casteist protect, in which a Brahmanical elite recruit the powerless in an endless war against imaginary demons,” which is “staunchly different than the composite culture of Hinduism.” He noted that the fighters against Hindutva should be armed with “ideas and culture, knowledge, reason and compassion.”
Meena Kandasamy, a poet, fiction writer, translator and an activist from Tamil Nadu, spoke on the evolution of political Hindutva and broke down the toxic compound of Hindutva into its elemental form, the two fundamental inequalities built into its system, into its philosophy, and its daily practice: the oppression of caste, and the oppression of women.
“I say this in the feminist, caste-annihilation tradition of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, the revolutionary Dr. Ambedkar, or Periyar and most recently Thirumavalavan, all of whom view the Hindu social order, or Hindutva, as a combination of caste inequality and male chauvinism,” Kandasamy thundered.
P. Sivakami, an Indian Dalit-feminist writer, a former IAS officer and activist predominantly writing in Tamil brought an activist perspective into the discussion.
Leena Manimekalai, an Indian independent filmmaker, poet, and actor said “Women’s bodies have been turned into a battlefield, and asserted how rape was used “as the subjugation and humiliation of communities.” “The politics behind rape should worry us more than the act,” she stated.
Akanksha Mehta, lecturer in Gender, Sexuality, and Cultural Studies and the co-director of the Centre for Feminist Research at Goldsmiths at the University of London said; “I emphasize, without hesitation, that Hindutva is inseparable from Hinduism. And arguments that Hindutva is not Hinduism is deeply dangerous and will not lead us to the future we want.”
Sunita Viswanath, women’s rights and social justice activist and advocate said; “because others have brought this aberration of my faith into the streets, I have no choice but to meet them there. We cannot deny that proponents of Hindutva are doing so as Hindus, in the name of a monolithic Hinduism. She was glad that “practicing Hindus” were involved in the discussions and since the majority of Indians are Hindu, “it will be impossible to annihilate caste and defeat Hindutva forces if Hindus are not part of the struggle.”
Tamil musician, activist, and author, T.M. Krishna, presented three windows of perception that are open to “inter-move, but would broadly define the way the words ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Hindutva’ are perceived within the Indian community.”
Raja Gopal Bhattar, Assistant provost and executive director of the Center for Identity + Inclusion at the University of Chicago, said, Hindus were once a temple community, which has grown out of its tradition and has become Hindutva and that really requires collective liberation.
The three-day international conference, “Dismantling Global Hindutva” discussed the threat and power of Hindutva, its historical development, the fascist dimensions of the ideology, its alignment with other supremacist movements. Panel discussions were held on the political economy of Hindutva; caste and Hindutva; Hindutva, Science, and Healthcare; Hindutva Propaganda and the Digital Ecosystem; and Islamophobia, White Supremacy, and Hindutva.
Panelists discussed different viewpoints on whether Hindutva is part of Hinduism or not and during the discussion, they brought in different perspectives that threw light on Hindutva. There was total unanimity that Hindutva is a violent and vile ideology that must be pushed back.