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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