A HinduDveshi Professor, A Silent University: The Terrifying Tale of Deakin University, Australia

Unveiling Professor Ihsan Yilmaz’s Bias Against Hinduism and Hindutva

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We all know Harvard University; a beacon of knowledge and prestige. But it’s become a surprising epicenter for Anti-Hindu theories, created with the help of some Indian scholars, activists, journalists, and artists. Harvard now seems to promote anti-India propaganda, a surprising shift from its prestigious reputation. Author and scholar Rajiv Malhotra, known for his book “Breaking India,” claims Harvard’s intellectual power could dismantle India.

Harvard isn’t alone. Anti-Hindu propaganda has spread beyond the United States. Our story takes us to Australia, specifically, Deakin University[1]. Looks like this bias isn’t limited by geography.

Deakin University Rains Money on HinduDveshis (Hindu-haters)

In February 2023, Deakin University started mimicking Harvard. They focused on studying Hindutva, using the debunked Aryan Invasion Theory and Critical Caste Theory.

This has the Hindu community in Australia worried. They’re concerned that this research could increase anti-Hindu sentiments and lead to violence against Hindus, temples, and businesses.

An advertisement[2] on the Deakin University page caught our attention: “HDR Scholarship – Transnational Hindutva Populism in Australia”. The Ph.D. scholarship called for research on the topic, supervised by Professor Ihsan Yilmaz, Dr. Priya Chacko, and Dr Ana-Maria Bliuc.

The research was supposed to take place at the Melbourne Burwood Campus, under the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation. The chosen candidate was to study civilizational populism and digital political mobilization, with a focus on the Hindu nationalist movement and the Indian diaspora in Australia.

The repeated use of “Hindutva” in the ad was like a beacon, signaling a clear bias. Outraged voices from the Hindu communities in Australia and India caused quite a stir. Subsequently, the ad was discreetly removed. Yet, the question remains: has the scholarship vanished as well, or does it lurk, hidden in the university’s agenda?

Professor Ihsan Yilmaz: The Man Behind the Scholarship

Professor Ihsan Yilmaz holds[3] the Research Chair in Islamic Studies at Alfred Deakin Institute in Melbourne. It raises eyebrows to see him suddenly show such interest in Hinduism. A quick glance at his Twitter feed[4] makes his bias quite clear. It makes one wonder, if his curiosity about Hinduism is genuine or if there is another agenda at play.

Of hatred, Oppression, and Discrimination

A tweet by him introduces us to his piece[5], “Hindutva civilizational populist BJP’s enforcement of digital authoritarianism in India”. Yilmaz claims that the BJP’s popularity is tied to a Hindutva agenda reaching not just Indians, but also Hindus abroad. He credits Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s success to his Hindutva-driven leadership, enabling him to justify authoritarian actions. Yilmaz argues that the BJP’s message of hatred, oppression, and discrimination has swayed millions. He presents cyberspace as a hostile environment for ‘others’ due to pro-Hindutva narratives. He also charges the BJP with promoting violence and bias against Indian Muslims.

Furthermore, he contends that the RSS successfully fosters a group identity longing for a bygone golden Hindu era, ended by ‘tyrant invaders’ such as Muslims and the British. Hinduism, according to him, defines the ‘pure’ group, with non-Hindus, especially Muslims, painted as ‘impure’.

Lastly, Yilmaz claims that Modi’s first electoral victory in Gujarat in 2002 was driven by anti-Muslim sentiment, and he gave this message a populist spin in 2010-11 while working towards becoming Prime Minister.

Victims become Perpetrators

Professor Yilmaz seems to take another leap in interpretation with an article that he gleefully shares on his Twitter page. It is titled “Leicester shows Hindu nationalism is no longer confined to India”. This piece reports on the unsettling violence in Leicester where Hindu communities were attacked by unruly Muslim mobs. Yet, Yilmaz’s accompanying tweet takes an interesting twist, suggesting that the incident was a byproduct of Hindu nationalism from India, which he believes, is frequently directed against minorities like Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs.

This characterization seems to take the unfortunate event in Leicester and view it through a very specific, and potentially biased, lens. Yilmaz appears to attribute the incident to India’s rising Hindu nationalism, thus ‘exporting’ the tensions abroad.

The narrative of pushing the blame on “Rising Hindutva” was later thoroughly debunked in a report[6] by the Henry Jackson Society.

Hindus – A Global Threat

When Al-Jazeera, an outlet funded by Qatar, published an article on the Leicester violence titled “Hindu nationalists now pose a global problem”, it drew a clear line in the sand, attributing the aggression to Hindus. Most global media outletsMuslims as the instigators or refrained from pointing fingers at any specific community. Yet, Professor Yilmaz decided to share the Al-Jazeera narrative, reinforcing its provocative claim that “Hindu nationalists now pose a global problem”. It seems Yilmaz’s approach doesn’t just hint at a bias, but rather openly embraces it.

India- An Unfree Nation

Professor Yilmaz’s choice of shared articles continues to paint a one-sided picture. Another share, “India at 75” by Ramachandra Guha – a historian often pejoratively referred to as a “distorian” – signals Yilmaz’s inclinations. His accompanying text, “India at seventy-five: Free nation; unfree people” only further amplifies this impression. It appears that Yilmaz selectively picks narratives that echo his own stance, rather than presenting a balanced view of the complex realities of Hinduism and India. In doing so, his consistent bias against Hindus is laid bare for everyone to see.

 Slaying Hindus with Sarcasm

Back in 2016, India suffered a gruesome attack in Uri, orchestrated by four Jaish-e-Mohammed insurgents from Pakistan. The attack, one of the deadliest on Indian security forces in Kashmir in two decades, claimed the lives of 19 Indian soldiers and injured many more. The audacity of the attack compelled India to respond with a daring cross-border surgical strike, demolishing all Jaish launch pads and reportedly inflicting over 110 casualties on the Pakistani side.

Amidst this high-stakes geopolitical conflict, India’s Prime Minister Modi made the bold decision to halt the flow of the Indus River into Pakistan. In response to a tweet from The New Indian Express that read “India’s water will not be allowed to go to Pakistan: Modi”, Professor Yilmaz replied, “Don’t allow India’s air too.”

Yilmaz’s sarcasm cannot hide his unsettling condoning of Pakistan’s terror tactics against India. His sarcastic jibe seems to obscure a deeper bias, one that extends beyond academic critique into territory that appears inimical towards India.

University’s Silence

Professor Ihsan Yilmaz’s social media and public writings showcase a deeply entrenched bias against Hinduism, which seems to color his perception of all things related to India. This consistent bias raises important questions about the integrity of his scholarly work, and whether he can maintain objectivity in his academic pursuits.

Given his public display of bias, one can’t help but wonder how a Hindu student would fare under his supervision. Would they receive the impartial guidance expected in an academic setting? Or would their religious and cultural background become a disadvantage? These are legitimate concerns in light of the professor’s open criticism of all things Hindu.

Moreover, this bias might also be a source of discomfort for Hindu students within the university. They might find themselves navigating an academic environment where their culture and beliefs are under constant scrutiny and criticism, further fueled by the professor’s biased perspective.

What’s more troubling is the university’s apparent lack of action in addressing this bias. Their silence may be interpreted as tacit approval of Yilmaz’s stance, which raises concerns about the institution’s commitment to fairness, diversity, and inclusion.

The scrutiny of Hinduism by academic circles is not the issue. Rather, it is the lack of balance and objectivity in this scrutiny, and the blatant disregard for the principles of fairness and respect, that calls for urgent attention.

[1] Hindutva – Caste – Race: Snakes at Deakin University, Australia

[2] HDR Scholarship – Transnational Hindutva Populism in Australia

[3] Prof Ihsan Yilmaz

[4] Ihsan Yilmaz Twitter profile

[5] Hindutva civilizational populist BJP’s enforcement of digital authoritarianism in India

[6] Hindu-Muslim civil unrest in Leicester: “Hindutva” and the creation of a false narrative

[7] Needed, a fair probe into Leicester violence

[8] Islamist preacher accused of ‘stirring up hatred’ in Leicester

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