Hate works through the seeding of disinformation. The creation and circulation of disinformation propels this agenda in the hate factories of India.
Those that spread hate profit from repetition of disinformation. Those that produce hate bank on the idea that if you repeat the disinformation enough number of times, it will somehow stick.
Unfortunately, it seems the High Commission of India has fallen into the same trap.
In an article, “Indian diplomats weigh in on Hindutva spat”, published by Newsroom, the High Commission of India defends its decision to share a disinformation-based video piece done by Roy Kaunds 4and published on Apna TV.
“Primary among the insidious narratives Kaunds employs is the false conflation of Hindutva (Hindu Nationalism) with Hinduism, Hindu peoples, and Indian New Zealanders in order to obfuscate, distort the matter of facts, and ultimately aims to silence the critique of Hindutva. Kaunds’ report is unjustifiable. It misconstrues what is at stake in NZ Herald’s articles and the scholarship of Prof. Dutta, which is the unmistakable presence of Hindutva (Hindu Nationalism) in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the circulation of Islamophobia.”
In multiple analyses since the white paper came under attack by Hindutva ideologues, we have pointed out categorically that the attacks have been driven by this strategic conflation of Hindutva and Hinduism, meant to serve the Hindutva agenda.
In another analysis of the initial press release by Hindu Youth that started the campaign targeting Prof. Dutta and CARE, we pointed out the mischief being played by Hindu Youth to strategically confuse the audience, accusing a criticism of Hindutva as a criticism of Hinduism and by extension, an attack on all Hindus in New Zealand:
“The only false equivalence at play is in the press release of Hindu youth council, a nugatory exercise to equate Hindutva and Hindu Nationalism with Hinduism and Hindus. Projecting this lie allows Hindu Youth then to play victim, throw in the label Hinduphobia, and then demand apology.”
We had asked Hindu Youth, a recipient of crown funding, to “explain their position with regard to the right-wing political ideology of Hindutva.”
In another analysis of the campaign being orchestrated by the Hindu Council (international arm of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, recognised earlier as a militant extremist organisation by the CIA and part of the Hindutva structure), we showed how the campaign targeting CARE was carrying out the Hindutva agenda.
We were not surprised when we saw Roy Kaunds generate and amplify this disinformation. After all, he is the producer of Talanoa Sa’o and appears on the platform Counterspin Media founded by the key architect of disinformation in the West, Steve Bannon, voicing hate content targeting Māori and spreading disinformation in Aotearoa.
But we were shocked and disappointed that the High Commission of India shared the video. We had noted:
“That the HCI shared this video is deeply alarming since this official body is supposed to be aligned with the Constitution of India. However, the HCI’s active endorsement of Kaunds’ video is seen as a signal that the HCI intends to shift away from a commitment to the principles of secularism, which is at the heart of both the Indian and New Zealand democracies. Instead, it demonstrates the HCI’s complicity in the promotion of a “Hindu Rashtra,” as envisaged by the ideologues of Hindtuva such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishva Hindu Parishad.”
Rather than reflect on its decision in the interview to the Newsroom, the High Commission decided to repeat the same disinformation that has been targeting Prof. Dutta. The High Commission stated that the Apna TV clip was shared “with the objective of promoting understanding and [a] balanced point of view”, arguing the video was not critical of Dutta’s work but “tried to remove some misconceptions about Hindus living in New Zealand”. It is concerning when the High Commission has to resort to a disinformation-laden view to give a 'balanced' point of view.
The spokesperson of the High Commission then goes on to state that most people of Indian origin were hurt by Prof. Dutta’s white paper, which it frames as “selective and one-sided in depiction of the truth” and accuses it of having “attacked the entire Hindu community”. Observe here how the same lie that is distributed by the online trolls, Hindu Youth, and Hindu Council is also repeated by the High Commission purporting to speak on behalf of all Hindus in a monolithic voice to produce this false account of hurt. Framing a white paper on Hindutva as attacking the entire Hindu community.
The facts are, many Hindus are deeply concerned about Hindutva and its hate politics that is spreading here in Aotearoa and fanning divisiveness. Many of these Hindus, including several of us, are concerned about our own safety, security, and access to India, to be able to speak up against the Hindutva organisations and the High Commission.
We ask, has the High Commission spoken to all Hindus living in Aotearoa? We ask, is it the High Commission’s role to go against the Constitution of India? We ask if the High Commission of India has actually made an effort to listen to the voices of Indian minorities who have been raising publicly, including on the High Commission’s own page, concerns about Islamophobia and Hindutva?
The spokesperson adds, “People who disrupt this harmonious relationship existing between the communities by hate speech or provocative statements should not be encouraged.”
Let’s break down this statement carefully. One is the irony of the insinuation here, that an academic analysis and accompanying media reports documenting Hindutva, a fascist ideology driven by hate, are labelled as hate speech and provocative.
Second, the use of the word harmonious. It is fascist code for order. An order that does not allow the questioning of authority and where conformity is considered ‘peace’. For the High Commission, Indian migrants living ‘in harmony’ in Aotearoa means not only not showing concern about their people suffering under Hindutva, but also not engaging with democracy and the right to dissent while benefiting from it at the same time. It implies keeping your head down (*unless it is to cry anti-Indian racism only against themselves).
Seeking validation from colonial whiteness and upholding the power of that whiteness is a deep desire of Hindutva. VD Savarkar, the Hindutva idol, wrote multiple petitions to the British, seeking mercy and promising not to oppose the colonial government. While he may has started out as a violent ‘revolutionary’, provoking others to kill British officials, he could not face jail himself and chickened out. That pardon from the British, and the subsequent loyalty to them has continued within Hindutva adherents to this day.
It seems that the harmonious relationship the High Commission seeks is the Hindutva version where the diaspora voices of Muslims experiencing Islamophobia or Sikhs facing hatred and violence will be erased or will have to get into line with the Hindutva ideologues.
Finally, the High Commission fails to recognise the long history of protest and struggle for social justice by the tangata whenua of Aotearoa, groups like the Polynesian Panthers and the mass opposition to the Springbok Tour. Resistance that has had Indian allies.
Thus, for the High Commission, a harmonious relationship is a suppliant relationship. Of silencing dissent against the toxic forces of Hindutva.
The irony takes the cake toward the end of the article where the High Commission states it does not support the online trolls who have harassed and continue to harass Prof. Mohan Dutta, and places the onus on New Zealand authorities “to investigate any allegations about Hindutva and Islamophobia in the country”. Here it seems, the High Commission does understand the concepts of Hindutva and Islamophobia and seeks to distance itself from the online trolls.
If that is indeed the case, and the High Commission does understand the concepts of Hindutva and Islamophobia, why is it propagating disinformation based on a lie that paints a critical analysis of Hindutva as an attack on all Hindus in Aotearoa? The High Commission must recognise that it feeds the armies of trolls when it regurgitates the disinformation being spread by the Hindutva machinery.
More importantly, given the evidence that has now emerged of the presence of Hindutva and Islamophobia in Aotearoa, what is the High Commission going to do to address the growing concerns about the divisive forces of Hindutva that are being expressed by Indian minorities here?