CARE Director, Prof. Mohan Dutta’s research article on experiences with Islamophobic hate among Indian Muslims covered in TIME magazine

CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation Director, Prof. Mohan Dutta’s research on experiences with Islamophobic hate among Indian Muslims covered in this article in The TIME magazine.

BY SANYA MANSOOR JULY 1, 2022 3:48 PM EDT

“The thing with a message like Hindu Lives Matter, is that it has to be read within this broader infrastructure of messages that are calling for Muslim genocide,” says Mohan Dutta, professor at Massey University in #NewZealand, who has researched anti-Muslim hate in #India.

Dutta worked on a 2021 report about the experiences Muslims in India have with Islamophobic content on digital platforms. It found that, since Modi’s election victory in 2014 and 2019, “the hate on digital platforms in India and in the Indian diaspora has proliferated exponentially.”

“The content of digital hate driven by Hindutva,” the report notes, referring to an ideology promoting Hindu hegemony, “has been directed at India’s religious minorities, Muslims and Christians, as well as oppressed caste communities.”Dutta says using language mirroring the Black Lives Matter slogan, which is rooted in organizing against racist structures, falsely suggests that Hindus are systematically oppressed in India. “It’s ironic that a majoritarian structure takes that hashtag to deploy hate towards India’s Muslim minority community, which has consistently been targeted by hate,” he says.

#Islamophobia #HinduLivesMatter #India #Hindutva #DigitalHate #CAREMassey #MasseyUniversity

CARE Director’s Opinion: Caste, communication and the tech sector by Prof. Mohan Dutta

A Washington Post story published on June 2, titled “Google’s plan to talk about caste bias led to ‘division and rancor’,” documents the resistance put up by employees at Google identifying themselves as Hindu protesting the platforming of a pedagogy-based lecture by the dalit rights activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the founder and executive director of Equality Labs. Equality Labs is a nonprofit that advocates for Dalits.

What is powerful about the story is the complicity of the infrastructure of Google in de-platforming the event and in targeting the organizer of the event at Google, Tanuja Gupta, who worked as a senior manager at Google News. 

The disinformation campaign organized by Hindu employees targeting Soundararajan called her “Hindu-phobic” and “anti-Hindu” in emails to the company’s leaders.

I am very familiar with these tropes, rooted in disinformation, that are increasingly being deployed by Hindutva adherents to target critics of Hindutva, particularly academics, journalists, and activists.

Over the course of the past year, in response to my scholarship on Hindutva and the support of CARE, the center I direct, for a conference titled “Dismantling Global Hindutva,” I have experienced relentless attacks fuelled by a disinformation campaign labelling me Hinduphobic and accusing me of spreading “Hindumisia” (both Hinduphobia and Hindumisia are terms concocted by Hindutva to silence critics of the hateful ideology). These attacks have taken the forms of letter-writing campaigns directed at my employer, threats on Twitter, sexually violent emails threatening rape, and death threats on digital platforms. 

What is critical to this global disinformation campaign is the role of formally recognized organizations such as Hindu Council and Hindu Youth here in Aotearoa, Hindu American Foundation in the US, as well as professionals and business owners in disseminating the disinformation.

In the context of Google, the disinformation is seeded and disseminated by employees.

In doing so, Hindutva adherents draw on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies, making the claim that the criticism of caste or Islamophobia in Hindutva violates the principles of DEI.

The Indian Institutes of Technologies that both the Google CEO Sundar Pichai (a Tamil Brahmin) and I attended (Pichai graduated two years ahead of me from IIT Kharagpur), and that boast of having trained the leaders of the global tech sector (IIT Bombay alumnus Parag Agarwal is the Twitter CEO, the chairman and CEO of IBM is the IIT Kanpur B.Tech Arvind Krishna, among many other alums who lead the tech sector) were founded on the principle of cultivating the scientific temper and preparing the engineers that will build the newly independent postcolonial nation.

Inherent in the construction of the IITs is a Brahminical structure that privileges specific forms of merit that draw upon the historic hierarchies of caste in India.

The very notion of merit is rooted in and intrinsically intertwined with caste in the Indian context.

That caste hierarchies and the accompanying oppressions have shaped access to learning resources and opportunities for learning are erased from the hegemonic caste formations that shape education, and certainly engineering education, in India.

These caste hierarchies are intensified in the IITs, with their projection of elite education based on the hyper-competitive joint entrance examination.

At IIT, Kharagpur, the Institution I attended, the caste structure played out in the largely Brahmin men, and the occasional Brahmin women, that formed the professorial ranks. The Mukherjees, Chatterjees, Banerjees, and the Bhattacharyas (Bengali Brahmins) made up these ranks, replete with the taken-for-granted practices of inclusion and exclusion, rooted in caste supremacy. In the 1990s when I attended the IITs, it was rare to take a course from a dalit professor. 

It would be worthwhile to examine the caste composition of the Professoriate in the IITs in 2022.

Caste practices play out in the oppressive treatment meted out to oppressed caste students.

Marked as “quota students,” dalits are subjected to racialized slurs challenging their intelligence and their right to be in the IITs. These racialized slurs were often uttered by peers and reinforced by Professors.

The power of the caste infrastructure is held up through communication, through gossip networks that undermine, through racialized slurs, and through practices of touch and body that exclude.

In 2021, an IIT Kharagpur Professor was video recorded bullying and verbally abusing dalit students. This recording offered an account of practices of casteist violence that are deep-seated in the institutions.

The toxicity of the caste structure is manifest in the negotiations of mental health among dalit students, reflected in the disproportionate suicide rates among dalit students. Students report experiencing discrimination on the basis of caste and religion, holding the religious and caste biases of the IITs as the underlying reasons for suicides.

Caste-based inequality flows from education into the technology sectors, with discriminatory practices around touch, racialized verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of opportunities to dalits built into organizational structures.

Global technology organizations such as Google have large representation of South Asians, with a strong presence of Indians. 

For Indians in such tech organizations, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) forms a key resource in addressing the challenges of organizational bias and structural racism. 

Hindutva-espousing professionals within organizations such as Google then communicatively invert caste, on one hand, erasing the presence of caste, and on the other hand, claiming that any discussion of caste in Hinduism is Hinduphobic and will result in discrimination of Hindus. The erasure of caste oppression then is incorporated into the discursive architecture, denying caste oppression while perpetuating it. 

Salient in the farewell note of Tanuja Gupta to Google is the following account:

“Of all the organizing I have done at this company, I think many are surprised that fighting for caste equity was the lightning rod issue that took me down. But I have an Indian CEO and SVP who both know exactly what’s going on and tacitly approve of everything that’s  happened. I know this because multiple VPs and Directors confirmed that in Sundar’s  Leads meeting, they discussed the need for a new universal vetting process of speakers to ensure this doesn’t happen again. So my hope is that Googlers start to understand the magnitude of this issue, and the threat that their greater understanding poses to the South Asians in power.”

The discussion of caste in global tech organizations threatens the power consolidated by upper caste Indians within these organizations. The discussion of caste disrupts the carefully crafted model minority narrative that is essential to the upward mobility of Indians in the tech sector and to the perpetuation of the meritocratic myth that fuels the tech sector. The discussion of caste threatens to reveal the misogyny, violence, and racism that forms the communicative infrastructure of a cross-section of Hindu society. 

Paradoxically, the claims to DEI serve as tools for shutting down necessary discussions of caste violence in tech.

The silencing of the voices of dalits within organizational structures is violence that perpetuates Hindutva. Moreover, the erasure of conversations on caste in tech forecloses critical conversations on the role of caste in shaping algorithms and platform infrastructures. These are critical questions as the speak to the organizing role of a racist ideology in shaping platform algorithms and search engines. Critical conversations on caste led by dalits is vital to building just platform architectures.

Professor Mohan Dutta is Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication. He is the Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), developing culturally-centered, community-based projects of social change, advocacy, and activism that articulate health as a human right.

Google #ThenmozhiSoundararajan #EqualityLabs #Dalits #IITKharagpur #IndianInstitutesOfTechnologies #Hindutva #CAREMassey #CAREMasseyNZ #CARECCA

Article & Image Source: Massey News

CARE White Paper Launch – Hindutva, digital networks of hate, and implications for democracy: A critical analysis of responses to the Chief Censor’s Review of The Kashmir Files in Aotearoa

with Prof. Mohan Dutta and New Zzealand activist Anjum Rahman

Join us LIVE for the White Paper Launch with Prof. Mohan Dutta and NZ activist Anjum Rahman on Hindutva, digital networks of hate, and implications for democracy: A critical analysis of responses to the Chief Censor’s Review of The Kashmir Files in Aotearoa

Friday 25th March 2022 @ 11.30 am NZDT

Livestream link: https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/368615111797393

CARE Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1583656381990700/

#Hindutva #DigitalNetworks #hate #democracy #KashmirFiles #Aotearoa #NewZealand

News: Massey research paper on Hindutva leads to trolling, persecution and threats via NZ Herald

Massey research paper on Hindutva leads to trolling, persecution and threats via NZ Herald

CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation stands in solidarity with its research team members Richa Sharma, Balamohan Shingade, and others (Indigenous women and women of colour) not mentioned in this report for their courage in documenting extremist #Hindutva nationalism and in building culture-centered preventive interventions rooted in dialogue, peace, and voice.

Massey University researcher Richa Sharma. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Full article:

Richa Sharma was doing research on religious extremism in Aotearoa when she got a call from her mother. Her aunties and uncles, close family friends who have known her since she was born, were convinced she was a terrorist.

For a few months last year, Richa Sharma did not go out after dark, always making sure she had safe ways to get around for work and meetings.

The 18-year-old was interning at Care, a Massey University research centre that was copping online abuse for publishing a white paper about the far-right nationalist ideology known as Hindutva and its creeping presence in Aotearoa.

There were calls for centre director Professor Mohan Dutta to be sacked, even burned alive. Police said the trolls were overseas, but an Auckland-based Indian news site published a piece calling Dutta a “left-leaning bigot under the garb of an academician”, and part of “a gang of some smelly rats”.

The Hindu Council and Hindu Youth New Zealand chimed in with nearly identical statements, condemning the paper for “accusatory and unsubstantiated assertions” that made the Hindu community look bad. Hindu Youth said it was “outright Hindu hatred”.

Most of the vitriol was directed at Dutta but his team, some of them South Asian and female, were not spared. Their profiles were public on the Care website and social media pages.

“We had to watch our steps carefully,” said Sharma, now 19. “I really didn’t feel safe. We had a police file open.”

Shortly after, an auntie and uncle reached out to Sharma’s mother back home in Palmerston North. They were not related by blood but it was custom in the community to address close family friends as auntie and uncle.

Over tea, Sharma’s mother was told her daughter worked for an anti-Hindu outfit and was urged to intervene. Auntie and uncle were convinced Sharma was a “left-wing, radical terrorist”.

Another auntie sent text messages condemning the white paper, including a petition against Massey University to take it down.


Source: NZ Herald

#CAREMasseyNZ #MasseyUni #CARECCA #CultureCenteredApproach #Solidarity #Hindutva #Nationalism #Aotearoa #NewZealand

Tune in to RNZ’s Saturday Morning programme hosted by Kim Hill on Saturday 4 December 2021 @ 8.10 with Prof. Mohan Dutta: the worrying rise of right-wing Hindutva thinking

Twitter: @SaturdayRNZ

Follow this podcasthttps://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday

On today’s show:

A strain of Hindu nationalism, Hindutva, has grown in global prominence since 2014 under Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party. Now tensions are rising in the Indian community, both here and internationally, between those supporting Hindutva, and those concerned it promotes racism and Islamophobia. At the centre of the row in New Zealand is Massey University Professor Mohan J Dutta. He has written on how Hindutva thinking is being used to create a sense of pride in the Indian diaspora, yet is also leading to prejudice. Dutta has been the subject of online abuse, and a petition has been circulating, asking that Massey University and Dutta cease such publishing. Dutta is himself a Hindu and says supporters of Hindutva wrongly conflate it with hinduism, which is a far broader church.

#CAREMassey #MasseyUni #RightWing #Hindutva #RNZSaturday Morning #rnz

CARE PUBLIC TALK- A Strategic Silence: Hindutva Blindness In India’s Security Community with Amit Julka

CARE PUBLIC TALK- A Strategic Silence: Hindutva Blindness In India’s Security Community with Amit Julka

Thursday, 7th October 2021 @ 9 PM NZDT

Watch the PREMIERE on Facebook @caremassey

Watch the premiere on : https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey

Talk Abstract:

The antecedents of India’s security community – comprising academics, policy analysts, and ex-officials from the diplomatic core and the armed forces – can be traced back to the late colonial era. Over the course of its history, it has focused its attention on numerous actors and movements, including Maoist insurgents, ethnonationalist groups, Islamic fundamentalists, and external rivals such as Pakistan and China. Curiously absent from this list however are Hindu extremist groups. This absence is particularly noteworthy given their long history of challenging India’s constitution, orchestrating pogroms, as well as systemically perpetrating acts of violence that would otherwise be labelled domestic terrorism if performed by non-majoritarian groups or individuals. In this talk, I argue that this absence is not accidental – it arises from disciplinary socialization, and a denial that is rooted in what Gramsci calls mass common-sense. This invisibilization of majoritarian extremist violence and its subsequent effects is also exacerbated through the material precarity that junior researchers face in terms of limited employment opportunities and low wages, should they want to speak up about such ‘controversial issues’. As a result of these ideational and material pressures, the security imaginary that is produced through this discursive silencing is one that aligns with interests of dominant groups both within and outside the nation. By decoupling the two and questioning the ‘object’ of what is being securitized and against whom, I intend to conclude the discussion by showcasing the invisible impact of this silence, namely, how it makes us (the strategic community) complicit in furthering majoritarianism, both at the state and the societal level.

#HindutvaBlindness #India #Hindutva #CAREMassey #MasseyUni

© 2021, Center for Culture-Centered Approach for Research & Evaluation (CARE). All rights reserved

CARE Op-Ed: The communicative strategies of Hindutva

by Prof. Mohan Dutta, Massey University

Professor Mohan Dutta, director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) at Massey University.

Hindutva, a political ideology that seeks to construct India in the structure of a Hindu nation (Hindu Rashtra), draws its conceptual tenets from the organising framework of fascism. As a modern project, Hindutva is rooted in the desire to create a Hindu nation that is organised on the principles of the European nation-state through cultural hegemony that homogenises the population, simultaneously erasing the rights of religious minorities.

The fascist root of Hindutva is evident in the writings of one of the key architects of the concept, MS Golwalkar, who writes: “German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races – the Jews … a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

Note here the deep interplays of the ideology of Hindutva and white supremacy. The purity of race and culture that forms the hate structure of white supremacy is mobilised in the political formation of Hindutva. Hindutva embodies the colonial imposition of a politics of purity through the purge of the ‘other’ organised by the state.

One of the key architects of Hindutva, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, wrote the book Hindutva in 1923, outlining the concepts of a common nation (rashtra), a common race (jati) and a common culture or civilisation (sanskriti). Note the parallels here with the ideology of the German Nazi party, anchored in ein volk(one people), ein reich (one nation), ein Fuhrer (one leader).

At the heart of this ideology is the production of the ‘other’ that is outside of the nation. Similar to the construction of Jews as the outside of ein volk in Nazi ideology, Muslims and Christians are constructed as the outside of the Hindu rashtra in the ideological construction of Hindutva.

The effects of this ideology are evident in the hate and violence that have been directed at Muslims. The ongoing political project of disenfranchising Muslims through the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is a reminder of the Nuremberg Laws passed in Nazi Germany to strip German Jews of their citizenship.

The communicative infrastructure of Hindutva is deployed through the articulation of a monolithic ‘Hinduness’ as the basis for organising the political project. To belong, one has to declare their ‘Hinduness’ and allegiance to the Hindu Rashtra, as defined by the political project of Hindutva.

To dissent from this monolithic vision of Hindutva is to be anti-Hindu. Within the organising structures of India, to dissent against the ideology of Hindutva is to be anti-Indian. The political project of Hindutva threatens the pluralism, polymorphism, and democratic ethos of Hinduism.

The celebrated Indian film-maker Anand Patwardhan, observed at the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference, “If Hindutva is Hinduism, then the Ku Klux Klan is Christianity.”

The recent attacks on me, the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), Massey University, and on academics globally writing on and debating about the pernicious effects of Hindutva, are reflective of the hegemonic communicative infrastructure of Hindutva. At the heart of this hegemonic infrastructure is the silencing of dissent while imposing a monolithic ideology. In this instance, Hindutva proclaims to speak for all Hindus as it carries out this fundamental attack on academic freedom.

From trolls reproducing digital hate, to hateful propaganda published in diaspora digital portals, to letter writing campaigns targeting the university, to petitions attacking the university for steadfastly supporting academic freedom, forces of Hindutva draw on a wide range of strategies. Hindutva deploys bullying and rhetorical fallacies to silence dissent because it lacks the tools of argumentation to appeal to reason.

Referring to these forces of Hindutva at work to silence academic freedom in the form of the organised attacks on the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference, Professor Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History at Princeton University, observes: “The extraordinary thing about the conference was the massive disinformation campaign by those seeking to prevent the academic scrutiny of Hindutva. The campaign launched against this conference was concerted, comprehensive, and entirely without scruples. As has been covered in the Guardian and Al Jazeera, many participants received threats, including death threats. We know that, as a co-sponsoring institution, you also faced overwhelming pressure to pull out from this conference. The threats include nearly every threat to academic freedom listed on the AAUP’s (American Association of University Professors) website.”

Of particular concern in western democracies are the threads of foreign influence and interference into academic freedom and the fabric of pluralism.

In western democracies, Hindutva seeks to silence criticism by communicatively inverting the violence perpetuated by the political ideology of Hindutva, while simultaneously playing to the ethos of superficial western multiculturalism. It projects a narrative of fragility, constructing references to Hinduphobia, in seeking to assert its cultural hegemony in the diaspora, while simultaneously silencing dissent and articulations of social justice. Hindutva actively erases the voices of adivasis (indigenous people), oppressed caste communities, women experiencing gender violence, gender diverse communities, and minority communities in seeking to establish the hegemony of its monolithic values.

In our work at CARE that seeks to co-create spaces for the voices of the ‘margins of the margins’ to be heard, we will continue to pursue our justice-based scholarship in spite of the organised forces of hate seeking to silence these voices by policing the term Hindutva. We are empowered in this work by the steadfast support of the leadership of Massey University in safeguarding our academic freedom, and in the protections offered by the Education Act 1989.

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Article Source: Massey University News


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(CARE). All rights reserved.