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IS HINDU-PHOBIA REAL ?



Hindu-phobia is a term, a concept which many people especially those with leftist leanings would find very absurd, but I personally think that it exists, at least to an extent. We should not compare it with islamophobia - the behaviour might be similar but the nature of particular communities targeted in each of these phenomena are very different and the consequences of the same are also very different. Hindus are mainly concentrated in India and Nepal and are also found in places like Bali. In the rest of the world, due to major waves of Indian diaspora over the periods of time, we find the presence of Hindus in different parts of the world today.


However Hindus are not a major political force in most of the world today, they are a minority, and are under continuous threat in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Bangladesh as well. The recent riots at the Durga Puja pandal in Bangladesh, the killings of Hindus and also Sikhs in both Pakistan and Afghanistan over the years and these people having no choice but to seek refuge in India, the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 90s and also the recent killings of Hindus - both Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus from "outside" who were in the Valley to work. Two glaring and traumatising historical incidents - Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 and also the formation of Bangladesh in 1971, make the strongest points to justify the concept of Hindu-phobia. In all of these instances, we see a deliberate targeting of Hindus in order to suppress them, their voice, instil fear to the point that they dare not unite and potentially wipe out their population from a particular area and region. These are the common trends.


But we have to make two things clear at this juncture - it does not justify a Hindu committing atrocities against anyone, including a Muslim, there is no need to repeat the cycles of the past and also that the Hindutva politics has been and is fully exploiting this fear among the Hindus for their own benefit and further dividing India rather than actually contributing to solve the problem. Regressing to conservative views would do much more of harm than good. However at this juncture, we have to understand, what is the problem. The answer is in one word - radicalisation. Radicalisation of both Hindus and Muslims is a major hurdle to be able to combat both Hindu-phobia and islamophobia - in whatever form or extent they may manifest - especially in the Indian context. History has some uncomfortable truths within it Hindus have been persecuted in huge numbers when Muslim rulers made inroads to the Indian subcontinent and the overwhelming presence of this trend is enough to make one sceptical even if in reality that peril danger does not exist anymore.


Hindus are wary of Muslims and Muslims do not trust Hindus either – this becomes the source of life for communalism in Indian politics and the politicians, even after Independence want this scenario in order to maintain their vote base – the infamous concept of vote bank politics. This is coming at the cost of lives of people and their lost identity and culture but also a volatile state of communal harmony. Another reason this sense of fear, insecurity and identity crisis is still able to prevail over Hindus is because they are divided among themselves. Unlike Muslims and even Christians, Hindus don't enjoy a big united community life, since they are too diverse and divided amongst themselves and the word Hindu is basically a loose term to refer to a bunch of people having their own culture and way of life, who live east to the River Indus.


Hinduism is not a religion, like Islam and Christianity are. The philosophy of the "Hindu" people which guides them is the term Dharma, it is often mistranslated as religion, but it actually means duty in Sanskrit. In other words, Hindus, technically have no religion – as per the western conception and for someone who is familiar with the western society, it is a mind boggling experience therefore there is a high chance that they would view this understanding of way of life as very "uncivilised" and "uncultured".


And, I do believe that there are people who view Hindu-phobia as a phenomenon which has a much larger manifestation than what might actually be the case. This is also why we see the consolidation of caste system in India over the periods of time and the increasing presence of social norms and institutions – it was an attempt of the elites to be able to set up their sources of power and unite at least the people of a particular region – who also share a common local culture, and language. This is a process which can be seen even today – with RSS and other Hindu outfit organisations trying to revive the ‘glorious past’ and uniting the Hindus against those who want to harm them. Though I do believe that due to the evergreen opportunity of gaining political benefits the Hindu fringe groups do exaggerate the idea of Hindu-phobia at least to some extent, it is not completely baseless either. On a concluding note, I will say this – Hindu-phobia is very contextual in nature.


Though it may seem a farce to people whose communities have not become targets of atrocities in the recent past and an overexaggerating stance for Hindus who live in Hindu majority areas, it is a glaring reality for those who live in areas where Hindus are a minority and for those who have a link to the past where atrocities were inflicted upon Hindus – leaving a scar for generations to come. For instance, I am myself a descendant of people who had to leave their homes during Partition and come to India and start everything from scratch. Even though I didn’t exist in 1947 to be able to experience that for myself, just the retelling of the experiences of my grandparents is enough for me to feel that sense of fear, danger and trauma they have lived their lives with.

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