SAALT Statement on the Rise of Hindu Nationalism

September 10, 2019

SAALT is deeply concerned by the actions of the Narendra Modi government of India and the impact of its Hindu nationalist agenda on not only communities living in the region but also South Asian Americans living in the U.S.  

Religious minorities and vulnerable populations in the region have faced high levels of discrimination and exclusion in India, particularly after Modi’s recent re-election.  In Kashmir, residents are living under a 37 day communications blockade and being stripped of both their political rights and human rights;  in Assam, the government has implemented a citizenship documentation system that deliberately excludes nearly 1.9 million people, mostly Muslims;  and across the country there has been a surge in the number of lynchings of minorities, mostly Muslims, Dalits and Christians, under Modi’s leadership. 

The Modi government is implementing a Hindu nationalist agenda, known as Hindutva, a political ideology that is divergent from the pluralistic practices and beliefs of Hinduism itself.  Hindutva, or right wing Hindu nationalism, is rooted in the alarming notion that Hindus are racially and culturally superior to others. Similar to white supremacy, which South Asians (including Hindus) in the United States contend regularly with, Hindutva threatens the rights, bodies, freedoms, and livelihoods of non-Hindus in India.    

The current situation in India, fueled by nationalism and Hindutva, has global implications. For example, over the past five years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Indian nationals seeking asylum in the U.SPeople seeking asylum from persecution range from Sikh political activists to LGBT activists to those facing caste oppression. They flee to the U.S. seeking refuge from persecution in India, but often face brutal conditions upon arrival to the U.S. SAALT works to support asylum seekers who are caught in a cruel detention system. 

South Asians in the United States have a responsibility to speak up and take action, especially now given the dire situation in Kashmir and the upcoming trip by Prime Minister Modi to the United States. We urge South Asians to raise awareness about the implications and impact of Hindutva, and to lend your voices to the chorus of people raising concerns. We urge South Asian Americans to understand the connections between white supremacy and Hindutva, to unite around human rights, to support policies that uphold dignity and inclusion for all, and to denounce hate violence in all its forms.  

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