Over the last few weeks, Hindus in Aotearoa have been shocked to find out about a publication by Massey University promoting Hinduphobia and Hindumisia. The paper titled ‘Cultural Hindutva and Islamophobia’ was authored by Prof. Mohan J. Dutta, Dean’s Chair Professor in Communication, School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University. The paper was a part of the CARE White Paper Series published by the School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing.
In the publication, Prof. Dutta has made several accusatory, and unsubstantiated assertions against Hindus and in particular the Hindu community living in Aotearoa. He has drawn many false equivalences which attack the cultural and religious practices of Hindus and painted the Hindu community in a very poor light.
Hindus advocate for free speech, academic freedom and inquiring into the truth as these are all fundamental values for the Hindu community. These expressions in society are important as it allows for improvement, reform, objective critiquing and ultimately contributing back to the community.
In New Zealand, the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, in her capacity as the Prime Minister of New Zealand, at the 1st National Hindu Conference in 2007 acknowledged the significant contribution of Hindus to New Zealand. More than a decade later in 2019, the Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, in his capacity as Acting Prime Minister of New Zealand once again made the same acknowledgement at the 5th New Zealand National Hindu Conference.
It is well known Hindus are a contributing, socially cohesive, peace promoting community all over the world. Working with government agencies, various ethnic groups, youth, women, elders and Tangata Whenua, promoting pluralism, cohesion and celebrating the diversity of our community are what Hindus are doing in Aotearoa. Below are a few instances of this contribution that have been picked up by New Zealand media..
When at various levels of New Zealand society, Hindus are acknowledged and appreciated for their contribution to Aotearoa, Prof. Dutta has defamed Hindus by portraying them as inherently bigoted and dangerous. It is obvious that his publication is a clear example of Hindumisia – outright Hindu hatred.
The publication by Massey University indicates Hindus are trained to commit vigilante violence against other communities; New Zealand Hindus are brainwashed to become supremacists; Hindu art and cultural elements promote Islamophobia – which are false narratives the publication attempts to paint as real.
When the Hindu community has reached out to the Vice-Chancellor and senior leadership of Massey University, not only have they not responded but have not even acknowledged the emails from various concerned Hindus and organisations. Students have reached out to Prof. Dutta and the University on numerous occasions through formal channels as well as Social Media platforms. Prof. Dutta has ignored, deleted, blocked and personally attacked people in these interactions. Any thought or expression that did not align to the narrative Prof. Dutta had been trying to peddle had been suppressed online, ironic as Prof. Dutta is Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication at Massey.
What is more shocking is that Massey University is co-sponsoring a highly controversial and Hinduphobic conference ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ – a conference aimed at vilifying the global Hindu community. Many reputable University’s names have been tarnished because of the association of their department’s participation in this conference. There have been numerous requests from various Universities globally to take down their logos, multiple edits to the ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ website as universities withdraw, a legal challenge from Harvard University for using its name to scam people. This is the kind of conference that Massey University is co-sponsoring. Seeing Massey University endorse a conference such as this is a blot on the legacy of the University and demonstrates the University’s endorsement of Hindumisia.
The hateful publication and Massey University’s participation in the Hindu hating conference has led to a sense of fear and foreboding in the Hindu community in New Zealand. It especially puts Hindu students at risk. They are becoming increasingly concerned about having to discard their Hindu identity for the fear of being vilified by staff who are promoting such bigotry. Prof. Dutta’s work which aides profiling Hindus as terrorists is likely to incite violence against Hindus due to strong correlation between hate speech and hate crime. Promoting lies like this could lead to physical attacks on Hindus.
Alumni of Massey University and Hindu students in New Zealand have expressed their disgust at what can only be termed as outright Hindu hatred. The non-engagement and apathy from Massey University clearly shows their position on the matter.
“The last thing Hindu Youth New Zealand wants to be doing is trying to inform more than 150,000 Hindus in New Zealand that Massey University endorses Hinduphobia and Hindumisia and Hindu students should look to alternative institutes of higher education where they will not be marginalised and can feel safe” said Murali Krishna Magesan, President Hindu Youth New Zealand.
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