HSC (Hindu Students Council) organized a virtual conference titled ‘Understanding Hinduphobia 2021’ on Friday discussing the history of discrimination against Hindus and how it has manifested itself in present times. Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) also became the first US student body to not just recognize Hinduphobia but also pass a resolution adopting a scholarly definition of the same.
BREAKING NEWS: Rutgers-New Brunswick becomes the first campus in the U.S. whose student government recognizes Hinduphobia, including a scholarly definition of #Hinduphobia institutionally. Details:#UnderstandingHinduphobia2021 pic.twitter.com/OSXWLsyCgK
— HinduStudentsCouncil (@HinduStudentsC) April 23, 2021
The resolution passed by RUSA defines Hinduphobia as “a set of antagonistic, destructive, and derogatory attitudes and behaviors towards Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) and Hindus that may manifest as fear or hatred”.
The RUSA resolution also states that in addition to recognizing the above definition, any amendments or adjustments made to the same within 14 days from the day of the conference would be recognized as the working definition of Hinduphobia.
The conference featured Hindu scholars, community activists, students, and administrators. The aim of the conference was to educate participants on the Hindu religion and on the types of discrimination Hindus.
Website NJ.com quotes HSC member Krishna Desai “During these times when there are hate crimes against the Asian community and then, you know these bigoted comments perpetuate Hindu-phobia and that’s the last thing you want, especially during this time.”
It also quotes the HSC Director of Advocacy, Parth Parihar, who said “Everything that’s been happening at Rutgers is part of a larger phenomenon of Hindu-phobia, which is why we decided we wanted to discuss and analyze this phenomenon in totality.”
We reproduce below some of the points put forward by speakers during the conference as posted by the Twitter handle Rutgers HSC:
Kaya Mindlin talks about “YogaLand and Hinduphobia.” “What is happening in most of YogaLand is a simultaneous rejection of traditions, of indigenous Hindu people; distorting, reforming, and redefining, while still using the word Yoga and Sanskrit words (often mispronounced) to sell products.”
Tanya Rodriguez from Global Decolonization initiative shares her words of allyship in the recognition of hinduphobia: “Hinduphobia- a deep rooted colonial fear of the other, of a culture that is so majestic”
Sandeep Dedage: “A group of academicians calling themselves SAFG is, under the pretext of protecting my children’s heritage, seeking to objectify and thereby obliterate us all together and erase Indian civilization and Hinduism from the textbooks. These academicians and their allied groups such as SAHFA, believe that my children’s ancestors, saints, and sages hailing from peasants communities, often categorized as Shudras, or sometimes even outside the varna system, should be removed from the curriculum.”
Gary Bogle from Art of Living shares on Hinduphobia: “If I had to describe Hinduphobia it uses a way to silence any discourse by using words like casteism and nationalism.”
Several other important points were raised by other speakers including the need for protecting Hindu students against Hinduphobia, stories of persecution faced by Kashmiri Hindus, and media as well as institutional bias against Hindus thereby contributing to Hinduphobia.
Hinduphobia being officially recognized by a western university’s student body is a big first step in dealing with Hinduphobia on campus. As Rutgers HSC external President Prasiddha Sudhakar said “the first step in any community struggle is to be heard. Many continue to deny Hinduphobia and related events to this day and it’s not easy to be Hindu when so many misconceptions are tied to our identity.” This conference is possibly the first step in removing the misconceptions.
(Featured Image Source: HSC Website)
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