Academic Conference about Hindu-Nationalism Harassed by Hindutva

Christian is to Christian fundamentalism, Islam is to Islamic fundamentalism, as Hindu is to Hindutva. In a feature article published by the Association for Asian Studies, Arvind Sharma called Hindutva "Hinduism on steroids," while also explaining that Hinduism is a religion while Hindutva is a political idea. Hindutva was first posited from the work of V.D. Savarkar and has been adopted by far-right political groups in India like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The contemporary adaptations of Hindutva departed from its original political view and evolved into something more sinister. Fascist and militaristic groups, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, have worked hard towards an all-Hindu India.

To address this issue, academic institutions in the US have organized a conference to discuss Hindutva and its global implications. The Dismantling Global Hindutva: Multidisciplinary Perspectives conference intends to discuss Hindutva as an "academic endeavor… that aims to examine beliefs and actions that constitute Hindutva."

Since the conference was announced more than three weeks ago, the organizers and the invited speakers have been harassed and intimidated by different Hindu right-wing groups. These right-wing groups call the conference a gathering of Hinduphobic individuals.

In a Twitter post, one of the speakers announced by the organizers, Dr. Meena Kandasamay, shared screenshots of online harassment. "First, character assassination; next, target your kids," she wrote on Twitter. "This is the textbook Hindutva approach," Dr. Kandasamay explained to Aljazeera, adding that they've gone as far as targeting her children, "asking if they were born to one father."

One of the organizers, an associate professor at Santa Clara University, Rohit Chopra, said that "the level of hate has been staggering." "Organisers and speakers have received death threats, threats of sexual violence, and threats of violence against their families," he added.

The universities and other institutions in the US and Europe were also not spared. The email servers at Drew University in New Jersey crashed after more than 30,000 emails were sent to the university in less than an hour. The faculty members at Princeton University, one of the conference's co-sponsors, also received hate mail and are being accused of being anti-Hindu.

On the conference's official website, organizers announced that despite all the harassment, the "support for this timely conference on Hindutva ideology has only grown." The online conference is scheduled from September 10, Friday, until September 12, Sunday.

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