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Red, White, And Saffron: Why American Anti-Fascists Must Combat Hindu Nationalism

More from Sarang Narasimhaiah

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump at the “Howdy, Modi!” rally held in Houston, Texas on September 22, 2019

Ab ki baar, Trump sarkar!” (“This time, Trump government”)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi must have relished this particular moment from the massive held in his honor in Houston, Texas on Sunday, September 22. The Hindu nationalist hardliner, who was reinstated as India’s Prime Minister, backed his American authoritarian counterpart Donald Trump for re-election with a slogan that Trump adapted from one of Modi’s own previous campaigns.

Devised as part of Trump’s effort to woo Indian American voters, “This time, Trump government” is a on, “This time, Modi government,” widely used by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the leadup to Modi’s first general election victory in 2014.

As Modi and Trump swapped slogans, smiled for the cameras, and waved to the crowd of 50,000 packed into the NRG Stadium, they embodied the extent to which Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) is a transnational project with powerful links to the United States.

These links are not without precedent. As members of the lowest-ranking group in India’s caste hierarchy, people from Dalit communities, living in North America, have endured continued exclusion, erasure, and abuse at the hands of upper-caste diasporic Hindus for decades, as exemplified by the Hindu American Foundation’s  to whitewash the horrors of the caste system from Californian K-12 textbooks.

While casteism is by no means exclusive to Hindu nationalists, the latter’s wholehearted of Brahminism—the domination of South Asian society by the highest-ranking priestly caste—has reinforced and exacerbated casteist violence. Furthermore, during the 1990 campaign to the Babri Mosque in Uttar Pradesh — a key event in the Hindu Right’s rise to power over the past three decades — American Hindu nationalists donated bricks for the construction of a Hindu temple in place of the Mosque.

However, the ascendancy of Modi in India and Trump in the United States requires anti-fascists in both countries to unravel the connections between the two authoritarian projects at hand.

As a decolonial anarchist of Indian origin studying in the United States, I am concerned by the lack of knowledge among many of my American comrades about the totalitarian catastrophe currently unfolding in India. This lack of knowledge is all the more concerning because American anti-fascists have the opportunity and thus the responsibility to confront this catastrophe in their own backyards, as part and parcel of their confrontation with American white supremacist capitalism and its settler-colonial state and empire.

A Nation Bleeding Saffron

BJP activists wear Modi masks and shout slogans during a campaign rally on April 3, 2019 in Kolkata.

Traveling to eastern India just a few months after Modi’s re-election, I witnessed Hindu nationalism in full force wherever I went. Modi’s face was everywhere—on billboards, TV screens, shop signs, and temple signs—reinforcing the personality cult he has constructed around himself.

Saffron flags flew from every other rooftop, clogged up roundabouts, and lined street dividers. The  (National Volunteer Organization or RSS for short) — which Arundhati Roy deems the “ of the BJP” — saffron as its official color upon its establishment as a political party in 1951, and, as of today, the latter can only symbolically reaffirm Hindutva, regardless of the other historical meanings it has held and even regardless of the more innocuous cultural meanings that its users might assign it.

The political agenda attached to this symbolic warfare became clear on the night of August 15, India’s Independence Day, when I heard Hindu nationalist goons in the streets chanting, “If someone won’t say, ‘Hail Mother India,’ (Bharat Mata Ki Jai) send them to Pakistan!”

Modi and the BJP belong to the broad family of Hindu nationalist organizations known as the Sangh Parivar, which is overseen by the RSS. The founders of the RSS were by the garb, goals, and strategies employed by Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, writing at length about how they endeavored to replicate the latter’s economic strength, cultural saturation, and sociopolitical domination and extermination of minority populations.

Today, the RSS has gone some way towards fulfilling the vision of its founders: it is a massive paramilitary volunteer organization that counts between five to six million members and, for all intents and purposes, sets the Hindu nationalist agenda; Modi himself is a proud longtime member of the RSS and regularly consults with the RSS leadership on his policy positions.

The ultimate goal of the RSS and the Sangh Parivar as a whole is the redefinition of India — one of the world’s most diverse countries with one of its largest Muslim populations — as a Hindu nation. These organizations have demonstrated their willingness to employ violence to achieve this goal on countless occasions, from the 2002 Gujarat that Modi oversaw as Chief Minister of the state to the now near-daily mob of minority community members, primarily on suspicion of cow slaughter.

Reinvigorated by their —  — landslide victory in the 2019 general election, the BJP and Sangh Parivar have gone from strength to strength — or, rather, show of strength to show of strength — in the past few months. In August, the BJP-controlled lower house of the Indian Parliament Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, which guaranteed some measure of political and economic autonomy to residents of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

This move and the brutal crackdown that has followed have opened up the possibilities of the abrogation of, which contains vital protections for several tribal-majority northeastern states, or the introduction of a, which would provide a single law to govern all personal matters for all religious communities. In Assam, the BJP has published that excludes almost two million residents of the area, a move accused by many of targeting the state’s sizeable Muslim minority and one that could soon spin into a nationwide initiative.

On September 17, Modi celebrated his 69th birthday by visiting the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat, the BJP its filling-up, of which threatened to displace thousands of villagers in the region. On September 20, thugs from the BJP, the RSS, and the ABVP (the RSS’ youth wing) Jadavpur University in Kolkata, West Bengal, critically injuring students, setting fire to several parts of the campus, and vandalizing long-standing shops at the traditionally left-leaning institution.

The crisis in Kashmir notwithstanding, most progressives and radicals I have engaged in the United States seem unaware of what is happening in Modi’s India. They are appalled when I recount the horrifying developments listed above, but they nonetheless view these developments as the machinations of a far-flung authoritarian regime, with corresponding oppositional action in the United States limited to awareness-raising campaigns, displays of solidarity in spirit, and calls for action by elected representatives and diplomats.

Uncovering Yankee Hindutva

The saffron seeds of Hindu nationalism have taken root in American soil for some time now, cross-pollinating with American capitalism, white supremacy, settler colonialism, and imperialism in the process. Anti-fascists and anti-authoritarians in the United States have to join the fight against Hindutva for all of the following reasons:

1. Hindu nationalist organizations in India receive a significant amount of funding and support from the Indian diaspora in the United States. These organizations, in turn, provide financial and logistical support to sister organizations and key American figureheads who spread their message and share their interests.

Attendees at the 2018 World Hindu Congress in Chicago, Illinois verbally and physically assaulting anti-Hindutva protesters

In September of 2018, a group of progressive South Asian activists the World Hindu Congress in Chicago, organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) of America (VHPA). choked, kicked, and spat on these protestors, with BJP lawmaker and foreign ambassador Vijay Jolly yelling, “We should have bashed them up!”

This sequence of events and the very fact that they unfolded in the American Midwest may appear bewildering at first. However, they make perfect sense in light of how the RSS and its affiliates have sought to spread their influence not only to every corner of India but also to Indian diasporic communities around the world, especially in the United States.

The VHP the United States in 1970, just six years after its foundation in India; the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the American counterpart of the RSS, maintained 172 branches in the USA as of 2016; and the American branch of the (OFBJP) has some 4,000 members and up to 3,00,000 supporters.

At first glance, these organizations seem to spend most of their time on relatively harmless or even beneficent cultural programs and charitable campaigns, such as yoga sessions, prayers, and food donation drives. However, a published by the South Asian Citizens Web in 2014 reveals that these and other largely tax-exempt nonprofit Hindu nationalist organizations pour millions of dollars into the Sangh Parivar’s on-the-ground efforts to ‘Hinduize’ India.

Between 2001 and 2012, five Sangh-affiliated charitable groups from the United States allocated more than $55 million to projects mostly in India; two of these projects were the post-earthquake construction of a Hindu-exclusive village in Gujarat and the creation of teacher schools for indoctrinating Indigenous people into pro-Hindu militarism. Indian elections, like these nonprofit organizations, tap into the considerable social and economic clout of the Indian American diaspora.

The BJP considers Non-Resident Indians — above all Indian Americans, who are the richest ethnic group in the United States — its individual donors, and Modi has gone out of his way to court overseas Indians, encouraging them to engage in “diasporic diplomacy.” This courtship seems to have made its mark: numerous Hindu Americans phone-banked for Modi prior to the 2014 and 2019 general elections.

The Sangh Parivar does not rely solely on its own sister organizations, proxies, and individual supporters in the United States to protect its image. Its defenders have attempted to make inroads into the most prestigious quarters of the American higher education scene. Between 2001 and 2013, the Infinity Foundation set up by Rajiv Malhotra, one of American Hindutva’s most ardent intellectual promoters, gave $1.3 million in funding to researchers, academic associations, and academic departments around the world, including at Harvard, Columbia, and UT-Austin.

It has all the while maintained ties with a range of Sangh-affiliated organizations, with Malhotra harassing and encouraging the harassment of his secular critics both in India and the United States. In 2015, the University of California at Irvine turned down a $1.5 million from the Dharma Civilization Foundation, in response to student and faculty complaints regarding the Foundation’s ties to the RSS and HSS, as well as the endowment’s stipulation that recipients should not be “confused and distorted by secularism.”

The Sangh’s forays into the American political arena present perhaps the most visible and immediate concerns for American progressives and radicals seeking solidarity with their Indian counterparts. Modi developed a with Barack Obama during the 44th American President’s last two years in office. Among other things, this friendship translated into India’s designation as a for the United States, with the Trump administration subsequently signing a agreement to supply surveillance technology to India in 2018.

However, no single figure perhaps epitomizes the Sangh’s influence upon American politics more than Tulsi Gabbard. Though her 2020 presidential campaign may have petered out, Gabbard is still regarded as a rising progressive star within the Democratic Party. Progressive South Asians, on the other hand, deem her the “Princess of the RSS” — and for good .

Though Gabbard is not of Indian or otherwise South Asian descent, she was raised in a reactionary Hare Krishna splinter group and began publicly identifying as a Hindu early in her political career. Encouraged by the support she subsequently began to receive from the HAF and OFBJP, among other American Hindu nationalist entities, she further enamored herself to the Sangh by opposing a 2013 House Resolution that highlighted incidents of mass violence against religious minorities during Modi’s tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Touched by her vote of confidence, Modi personally invited Gabbard to visit India in 2014 and even sent her a personal greeting and gifts on her wedding day. In the years since her adoption by the Hindu Right, Gabbard has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for her congressional campaigns from RSS and other Sangh affiliates. She has also spoken at several conferences organized by these affiliates and was in fact scheduled to speak at the 2018 World Hindu Congress before pulling out at the last minute.

Unlike Gabbard, Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Democratic House Representative for Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, did speak at the 2018 World Hindu Congress. So did Rajiv Malhotra. And Mohan Bhagwat, the Sarsanghchalak or Supreme Leader of the RSS. The WHC cannot be dismissed as a one-off event disconnected from the overall American political landscape, with the protests against it going down as an internal matter for the Indian American community to handle by itself.

On the contrary, these flashpoints highlight on a multi-million dollar economic, social, and political network decades in the making, linking some of the most powerful individuals, associations, and institutions in India and the United States through philanthropy, education, and elections.

Even more worryingly, many Stateside members and supporters of this network have sought alliances with reactionary political forces with whom American anti-fascists and anti-authoritarians may be much more familiar.

2. Many Hindu nationalists and American white supremacists draw inspiration from and collaborate with each other, reinforcing anti-blackness and casteism in the process.

Donald Trump with members of the Republican Hindu Coalition at the “Hindus for Trump” charity concert held in Edison, New Jersey in October of 2016

I am a big fan of Hindu, and I am a big fan of India!”

Donald Trump’s grammatical error could not quell the enthusiasm of the diasporic Indians and Indian Americans attending the Republican Hindu Coalition  at which Trump was the honored guest in October of 2016. Trump’s promise to combat “radical Islamic terrorism” both in India and the United States was music to their ears, as were his guarantees of lower taxes to protect their wealth, his celebration of Indians as a model minority, and, of course, his endorsement of the Modi regime.

Since Trump took office, Hindu chauvinists, bothin  and the United States, have lavished praise upon his Muslim ban and other abhorrent policy moves. The Hindu Sena, a New Delhi-based right-wing Hindu organization, performed a hawan or fire ceremony to bless Trump while he was the prospective Republican nominee and has his birthday every year since he came into office.

To be clear, Trump-loving Hindu nationalists by no means represent the Indian diaspora in the United States in its entirety. On the contrary, a y conducted by Karthick Ramakrishnan of the UC Riverside School of Public Policy in 2016 determined that 79 percent of Indian Americans viewed Trump unfavorably, with this group also displaying the greatest likelihood among all Asian American populations to identify as Democrats instead of Republicans. However, these tendencies perhaps speak more than anything to the debilitating centrism of the Democratic Party and its resultant eagerness to protect — multiracial and multicultural — bourgeois wealth; being good liberal citizens also does not automatically prevent Indian Americans from backing Modi and the Sangh Parivar.

And although Indian Americans can preach good liberal values in their adopted home while embracing authoritarian rule in their homeland, the resonances and connections between Hindutva and white supremacy could draw them closer to the social and philosophical substance of Trump’s nativist project, if not its electoral face. After all, these links have certainly drawn many members of Trump’s white supremacist base closer to their Hindu nationalist counterparts.

Both the Sangh Parivar and America’s so-called Alt-Right broadly their genocidal visions of the future upon Indo-European or Aryan supremacy. Many in the latter camp have embraced India’s Sanskrit civilization as evidence of shared ancestry and thus an ideological and geopolitical kinship with upper-caste Hindus. Neo-Nazi poster boy Richard Spencer, white nationalist statesman Steve Bannon, and other Alt-Right figureheadsSavitri Devi, a French-Greek mysticist who worked as a spy for the Axis forces in India during World War II and traveled around the country promoting Hindutva and Nazism as natural bedfellows.

San Francisco-based white nationalist publishing house Counter-Currents, whose claim that Hitler was an avatar of Hindu god Vishnu has also inspired a Nazi-normalizing semi-parody religion called “.” The transnational fascist information, communication, and mobilization network in which American white supremacists are embedded only magnifies the influence of Devi and other past and present proponents of the Sangh Parivar.

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik — the Alt-Right icon who has inspired several other white supremacist terrorist attacks in the United States and elsewhere —  Hindutva over and over again in his now-notorious manifesto.

The prospect of a full-fledged alliance between Hindu nationalists and white supremacists is terrifying. Countless documented instances of anti-blackness and casteism in South Asian diasporic communities suggest the devastation that this alliance could wreak. On the one hand, South Asian Americans are themselves minoritized racial subjects, as evidenced by the brutal police upon Sureshbhai Patel in 2015 and the overall in hate crimes against South Asians since Trump’s rise to power.

On the other hand, the American state has constructed Asian Americans, including South Asians, as a model minority precisely to pit them against other racially marginalized populations, above all else Black people. Tantalized by the false promise of inclusion into the American nation or more cynically seeking to leverage its social hierarchy, a number of typically older South Asian Americans have internalized this : they perpetuate white supremacist stereotypes of Black persons as lazy drug-dealers from broken homes and sanction the latter’s systematized persecution by the police.

Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, and Dinesh D’Souza are the most extreme manifestations of this tendency. By encouraging its followers to consolidate their political, economic, and cultural supremacy by any means necessary — including alliances with Islamophobes who also tend to be pro-capitalist racists, militarists, and xenophobes — Hindutva multiplies the unjust spoils promised by model minority discourse to diasporic South Asians. In doing so, it deepens South Asian American complicity in Black oppression and racialized class warfare against other oppressed peoples in the USA.

If Hindu nationalism indirectly promotes anti-Blackness, it directly justifies casteism in South Asian diasporic communities. The caste system — the 3,000-year-old system of religious division, exclusion, exploitation, and abuse codified by Hindu scripture — is neither relegated to the past nor geographically limited to South Asia. In fact, by South Asian community technology organization Equality Labs found that one in four of all Dalit respondents living in the United States had suffered caste-based verbal or physical assault, while two in three had endured mistreatment at their workplace, and one in five felt that local businesses had discriminated against them.

When asked about the report, a representative of the Hindu American Foundation  that it “alienates Hindus by scapegoating them,” reiterating the same claim that the HAF made against Dalits, Sikhs, and others who challenged its attempted saffronization of Californian K-12 textbooks. The parallels between the narratives of self-victimization spun by Hindu nationalists and white supremacists are as striking as the violence they inspire is alarming.

Just imagine if those narratives were to converge more than they already have.

3. Combating Hindu nationalism is part and parcel of combating transnational capitalism in India, the United States, and the world as a whole.

Modi receiving the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Gatekeepers Award from Bill Gates himself on September 25, 2019

On September 25, 2019, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation honored  for his controversial (Clean India) Campaign at a glittering ceremony in New York City. The Foundation received a petition with over 100,0000  demanding the withdrawal of the award on the basis of the Modi regime’s litany of human rights violations — most recently in Kashmir and Assam — but decided to roll out the red carpet for the “Butcher of Gujarat” anyway.

In many ways, the fact that the world’s second-richest man is vouching for Modi is all-too-fitting: during their time in power, the Indian strongman and his saffron colleagues have become the darlings of transnational capitalist powerbrokers both at home and the world over.

India’s leading corporate dynasties have by and large maintained a stranglehold on the country’s economy ever since independence, a trend for which the opposition Indian National Congress is in no small part responsible.

However, since Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, India’s tycoons have increasingly joined forces with him to reap the rewards of plutocracy: Ratan Tata, the venerated patriarch of the $100 billion group,  that Modi is “what the country needs at this point in time,” an opinion no doubt aided by Modi’s crucial assistance to the conglomerate’s car manufacturing division in Gujarat.

Nandan Nilekani, the billionaire co-founder and non-executive chairman of tech giant Infosys, was  to the Modi government’s rollout of Aadhar, the biometric identification system that could very well enable mass surveillance on an unprecedented scale. Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries and the world’s 13th richest person, has accompanied the man he  “our beloved prime minister” on a number of foreign trips.

India’s oligarchs very much show their appreciation for Modi in kind: following the removal of a cap on corporate donations and the allowance of anonymous donations through “electoral bonds,” corporate donors provided 92% of all  received by the BJP in the 2017-’18 fiscal year.

That India’s economic and political elites are gorging themselves on the fruits of their plunder while unemployment soars, displacement becomes , and commit suicide in droves, should be sufficient to move American anti-authoritarians to solidarious action. What makes this action all the more imperative is the growing global presence and power of India’s foremost private corporations: approximately 100 companies of Indian origin have invested $17.9 billion in the United States alone, with Infosys recently opening a design hub in and Reliance resuming  in the US.

Indian corporate heavy-hitters have been even more proactive south of the border: the Aditya Birla Group — accused of providing a ₹250 million to Modi while he was Gujarati Chief Minister —  $2 billion in revenue from its activities in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, citing the devastating devaluation of local currencies and assets under neoliberal regimes as key draws.

As the Amazon burns, the fact that Indian agribusiness company UPL Limited —  of producing electronic poll propaganda for the BJP — earns 26 percent of its total revenue from the LAC also catches the eye. Indian companies sourcing crude oil and minerals from Africa, meanwhile, have made the news for,, violating labor and environmental standards, and doing business with autocrats.

Even when they lack the personal ties that Tata, Nilekani, and Ambani have established with Modi and even when they may not express support for his regime, Indian corporations almost unequivocally benefit from the “business-friendly environment” that the reigning Prime Minister has built on a foundation of nationalist terror, enjoying the significant impunity that it affords them wherever in the world they choose to do business.

In addition to homegrown tycoons, Modi has gone out of his way to woo the pre-eminent vanguards of global capitalism. On the sidelines of the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, Modi of Unilever, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Pepsi, and 37 other global corporations by encouraging them to invest in India’s digital securitization and make the most of the goods and services , widely blamed for grinding the economy to a halt.  and , the Indian CEOs of Microsoft and Google, have been among Modi’s most vociferous American corporate cheerleaders.

India, as I have elsewhere, is under weaponized, religiously sanctioned economic occupation, with its occupiers coming for their pound of flesh from near and far, by invitation of its political gatekeepers. India’s similarities to Israel in this regard are far from a coincidence.

4. Confronting Zionism in its totality necessitates confronting India’s occupation of Kashmir and its ever-closer relationship with Israel.

Modi with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Olga Beach in Haifa, Israel in June of 2017

When Modi became, Israeli Premier Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed him by saying, “Prime Minister Modi, we have been waiting for you for a long time, almost 70 years … We view you as a kindred spirit.”

I’ll bet.

India’s attitude to Israel has drastically changed in recent decades. Despite recognizing the state of Israel in 1950, India’s political leadership in the decades after independence, albeit largely to curry favor with Arab states and, ironically, to gain their support for its claim to Kashmir. India even voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 3379, which recognized Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination.

However, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberalization of India’s economy catalyzed India’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. Since then, India has become one of Israel’s top trading partners, with a particularly troubling emphasis focus on the fields of defense, counter-terrorism, and intelligence: India is Israel’s arms market, receiving aircraft, air defense systems, and missiles amounting to around $1 billion annually.

India’s turn towards Israel has very much been a bipartisan venture, for which the BJP and its primary opponent, the Indian National Congress, have both been culpable. That said, this turn has particularly gratified the Sangh Parivar. The Sangh’s Nazi-loving founding figures were simultaneously enamored of the early twentieth-century Zionist movement; their successors see Israel as, from its formalization of second-class citizenship for religious and ethnic minorities to its promotion of majoritarian migration.

Nowhere is the Hindu Right’s aspiration to emulate Israel more obvious than in Kashmir. Indian-occupied Kashmir, with its decades-long history of massacres, mass disappearances, mass incarceration, torture, and rape, has arguably resembled the Occupied Palestinian Territories for some time now. However, Modi and the BJP have taken these parallels to another level with the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A. The carried out by Indian security forces to enforce this legislative move are

The same goes for the far-less publicized removal of property acquisition restrictions, which could allow corporations to flood the Kashmir Valley in much the same way that they have the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. As the icing on the cake, Indian security forces have implemented the BJP’s mandate in Kashmir “field-tested on Palestinian bodies.”

Kashmir and Palestine do not simply parallel each other: they are sites of occupation joined by the American-backed global Israeli military-industrial complex’s river of blood, justified as part of New Delhi, Tel Aviv, and Washington, D.C.’s ongoing crusade against “radical Islamic terrorism.” The allegiances between Zionists and typically anti-semitic white supremacists add yet another dimension to the deeply unnerving prospect of a Fascist International. The image of the Hindu Right, the American Alt-Right, and the Zionist Right walking hand-in-hand is as surreal as it is, perhaps, closer to the contradictory realities of the global fascist upsurge than many would assume or care to admit.

American anti-authoritarians would do well to pay attention to the long-standing between Kashmiris and Palestinians: they know better than anyone that the settler-colonial Zionist project is also an imperialist venture, the abolition of which necessitates an anti-imperialist alliance between its multiple points of origin and impact.

Fight Saffronization Everywhere

I wrote this piece out of desperation.

India is currently facing its most profound political crisis since the de facto authoritarian rule of the mid-1970s Emergency periods. As a revolutionary anarchist of Indian origin, I cannot stand idly by as it burns — and neither can anti-fascists, anti-authoritarians, and people of conscience in the United States for that matter.

Hindu nationalism should be of utmost concern to American progressives and radicals of all kinds: voters and community organizers, college students and faculty members, people of color and their white allies, anti-racists and anti-capitalists, and anti-Zionists and anti-militarists.

Thousands of progressive South Asian community members and organizations in the United have courageously confronted high-level representatives of the Sangh Parivar, from Tulsi to Malhotra to Modi himself.

They could use some backup.

I understand that my Stateside comrades might hesitate to confront Hindu nationalism as ferociously as they confront white supremacy: it claims a religious tradition to which they probably do not belong and about which they may not know much. The transnational Hindu Right, for its part, has conjured the boogeyman of “Hinduphobia” to dismiss any and all criticisms directed against it.

This defense is as hollow and hypocritical as the Zionist charge of anti-Semitism against anyone who dares to criticize it. Hindutva enshrines the very worst aspects of Hinduism by suppressing whatever internal diversity, dynamism, and subversive potential the Hindu tradition might contain: it is far more of an enemy to the vast majority of global Hindus than its opponents will ever be.

That said, I would certainly urge reflexivity and sensitivity when interacting with diasporic South Asian youth who buy into Hindutva: many of the latter have unwittingly turned to Hindu supremacy because parasitic, well-camouflaged entities like the HSS and the VHPA have offered them a sense of cultural belonging that they are in many ways denied by America’s white supremacist settler colony.

A new generation of left-leaning Asian Americans is blossoming, and I have high hopes that they will build upon critical conversations already occurring in South Asian American circles about Islamophobia, caste, race, class, and migration.

American anti-fascist solidarity with Hindutva’s Indian and American targets cannot be an ill-informed First World rescue mission or a mere add-on to the prevailing anti-racist agenda. Rather, it must be a joint undertaking that confronts Hindu nationalism as a transnational project inextricably interconnected with American capitalism, white supremacy, settler colonialism, and imperialism.

The specifics of this solidarity must be determined by the local landscapes into which the Sangh Parivar has inserted itself. Moreover, they must be determined through rigorous dialogue with the South Asian,, and who have taken on the thankless and often dangerous task of documenting and resisting the Indian and American Sangh.

Whatever forms solidarity takes, any popular front against fascism in the United States — or anywhere else, for that matter — will be incomplete to the extent that it fails to confront Hindutva. This article might focus on the United States, but its call to action extends to every part of the world that Hindu nationalism has infiltrated, from the United Kingdom to Kenya to Australia and beyond.

As an existential threat to oppressed populations and their ways of life wherever it ventures, Hindutva must be defeated at all costs by any means necessary if we are to cultivate another world, a world in which many worlds can fit.

Note: This article was originally published as “Hindu Nationalism Must Be Defeated- Also in the US” in ROAR Magazine on October 25, 2019. 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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