“Whatever individual Westerners may think of India, ‘the West’ is thoroughly anti-Indian, and that institutional hatred is getting stronger by the hour,” according to Prof. Salvatore Babones of the University of Sydney, Australia. The author of the recent study of India’s democracy ranking, ‘Indian Democracy at 75: Who Are the Barbarians at the Gate?’ recently shared his views on how the Western world relates to India and the Hindu ecosystem in a short article titled “View from abroad | The spread of Western anti-Hinduism”
Prof. Babones makes the case that global Islamism and Western elites have found a common cause in India-bashing: “For the first half-century of modern India’s Independence, Western anti-Hinduism was relatively muted. But lately, it has broken out in places like Leicester, Toronto, and New Jersey. In all three places, the root cause is the same: an informal alliance between global Islamists and Western elites. Groups linked to Islamist extremism have convinced anti-Hindu Westerners to support their aggression toward Indians and India.”
However, he believes that the aims of the two groups are different: “They [Islamists] have been targeting Indian nationalism for more than a century, and they are not necessarily anti-Hindu. They have political goals, and they are prepared to fight to achieve them.”
On the other hand, the motives of Western anti-Hindu intellectuals are very different: “They can’t accept the idea of a strong and independent Hindu-majority country. They would much rather keep India weak and poor, just as their ancestors did centuries ago.”
He further points out that many Indian intellectuals also find a common cause with the Western anti-Hinduists. “This isn’t because the Indian intellectuals are themselves anti-Hindu or anti-India. It’s because the kind of India that anti-Hinduists want — secular, socialist, and subaltern — is the same kind of India that many Indian intellectuals miss,” he says.
The “respectability” the Western elite provides is crucial for the success of anti-India movements. Using the 2021 Dismantling Global Hindutva conference to illustrate his point, Babones notes: “[The] conference was co-sponsored by dozens of university research institutes…. It was in no sense a normal academic conference. It was an organized anti-Hindu jamboree.”
Drawing a parallel with the “Jews vs. Zionist” duality devised by the anti-Semitic elites to avoid being clubbed with Nazism, Babones notes that anti-Hinduists have anchored their hateful narrative to Hindutva and not to Hinduism to mobilize institutional endorsements to co-opt the mainstream new media in their nefarious enterprise.
However, in labeling the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference “Hinduphobia” on the model of Islamophobia, Babones suggests that the Hindu organizations may have missed a trick. “But anti-Hinduism is not a phobia,” he says, “Many people really are afraid of Muslims; they are not afraid of Hindus” – a point also noted by Hindudvesha.
“Anti-Hindu Western intellectuals do not fear the rise of India; they resent it. Just as Western anti-Semites are offended by the success of Israel, Western anti-Hinduists are offended by the success of India. They can’t accept the idea of a strong and independent Hindu-majority country.”
Hindu Intellectuals Beware
Babones has a word of caution for Hindu intellectuals as well:
“It’s hard to resist the prestige of a human rights residency or a Harvard fellowship, and they might very well think that their enemy’s enemy is their friend.”
They should think again, continues Babones: “The anti-Hindu movement wants to turn India into a pariah state on the Israeli model, and all Indians will be caught up in the catastrophe. Intellectuals on all sides of Indian politics should recognize their common peril — and their common patriotism. While it may be emotionally satisfying to call each other names, Indian intellectuals should recognize that they have more in common with each other than any of them have in common with Western anti-Hinduists.”