Finding space to be Hindu in the multi-polar world of the Indo-Pacific Partnership

An opinion on why the Australian Hindu diaspora are being silenced from all sides.

A recent series of targeted intimidation campaigns against Australian Hindus since the Australia India Youth Dialogue continues to spread the same form of discord within diaspora communities dealt with in my “Kick Hinduphobia Out of Australia“. Some additional material has been grafted onto the conspiracy theories against Hindus and Hindutva since September 2021 when I first brought these matters to public view. In brief the content of the new conspiracy maps Hindutva onto anti Semitic ideologies by replacing Israel with India, Zionism with Hindutva and Jews with Hindus.

This is nothing particularly new or original. It is the result of an evolving amalgamation of anti-Hindu perpetrators and their propaganda over the past several years. In Australia, proponents of this conspiracy theory draw together Islamists, Khalistanis, Communists, Marxists and Anti-Fa. Some of the main actors and organisations within this lobby are high profile diplomats, politicians, media professionals, registered charities, local and foreign NGOs, academics, student groups, BDS and Anti-Fa activists.

The apparent outcome and agenda of these groups is to isolate Hindus deemed to be supporters of the current Government of India from acceptance by mainstream Australia, by government and political figures in order to break the power that the diaspora hold in the new Indo Pacific partnerships as a means to attack and dismantle what is presented as a ‘Hindutva’ Indian Government. This is not however to ultimately strengthen either country. It is to weaken the integrity of the Indian and Australian alliance for the benefit of fracturing the Indian system and ultimately overthrowing the Indian government. The present scenario however is only temporary as if the goal is reached to remove Hindutva elements from Indian governance, the attacks will continue in a new form as they have for decades prior to the arrival of Modi and his ‘saffron wave’.

The strange bedfellows against the Indian Government in Australia belong to the far right and far left political spectrum. Whereas theocratic supremacists seek an ethno-nationalist state exclusively for either Muslims or neo-Sikhs, the far left are seeking to convert society to Communism or Socialism. Whilst Communists and Socialists are typically opposed to religious or cultural dogmatism, interestingly, the far left and the far right are united by a shared opposition to liberal democracy, capitalism and a radical anti-west ideology.

Whilst it is possible to uphold classical liberal views of democracy whilst acknowledging ideas of diverse ideological perspectives, it is not possible to maintain liberal and secular principles whilst endorsing autocratic ideals at the heart of both far-left and far-right political spectrums. Where one side seeks to remove private property and level cultural differences through Marxist class equality, the other seeks to remove diversity of faith and culture by replacement with monotheistic theocratic political systems in the line of an Islamic or Sikh republic. These are only two of many proposed partitions which are most visible within the Australian political scene. Others are closely related and can be read through a similar lense where these predominant groups align with them.

One may ask, to what end do these political ideologies affirm themselves within Australian society when the theocratic activists seek their objectives in Palestine, Kashmir and the greater Punjab and the others operate within the western system to lobby and pressure within and at the same time against Australian liberal democracy? The internalisation of foreign agendas within the Australian Parliament is a form of foreign interference in that the Australian Government are pushed to reinforce the overthrow of the Indian and Israeli Governments, thus reliant on a fundamental negation of Indian and Israeli sovereignty.

That left activists from the west are engaged in the pressure building begs the question of to what gain for Australian society? How do these actors benefit and if such a state were created would Communists and Socialists of the respective republics be welcomed as comrades with political agency of their own? Clearly the answer is no. There is no agency for non-believers within a theocratic ethno-nationalist state. The liberal democratic principles of multiethnic, multi-faith inclusion and diversity underpinning Australian Multiculturalism have no place either in an ethnonationalist theocracy or a Communist state. It is our system that allows diverse views to flourish within limits and on this ground alone, it is possible to run entire campaigns for political systems in foreign countries that are ultimately mutually exclusive as paradigms. They cannot co-exist here nor there. In this sense Australia is used as a springboard from which to launch replacement governance systems elsewhere.

In the interim, as offshore microcommunities develop, whether by Australia’s permissiveness or ignorance, segmentation of the diaspora communities arises due to the active recruitment of sectors of diaspora into models of ethnonationalist supremacy that exclude non-believers. The intent, at least on paper, of these microcommunities, such as Khalistan and Kashmir separatism would be to later uproot their people and merge with the larger ethnonationalist state upon achievement of partition in India. If it is not preparation to relocate into these states, then it makes little sense to invest entire generations. This does not however account for the membership of the movements who are non-Khalistani or non-Kashmiri Muslims.

For example those who actively push for Kashmiri Muslim ethnonationalism in Australia are not just Kashmiri Muslims. The strong engagement of non-Kashmiris calls to attention how non-Kashmiri Muslim and non-Muslim identities are harnessed and forged into tacit or overt endorsement for a model of Islamist supremacy that openly negates non-Muslim minorities and within that, further erases non-dominant Muslim groups, for example the Shia and Sufi Muslims of Kashmir. Communist and Marxist or Anti-Fa activists who endorse these movements do so perhaps having no concept of their role in the larger picture.

For example, neither Khalistan nor a Kashmiri Islamic State can expect to uphold diversity and inclusion of non-Sikh or non-Muslims respectively, and due to this, strict cis-sexual and cis-gendered binary roles and patriarchal social norms would be imposed. Whereas Anti-Fa on one hand reject homophobia and transphobia, Islamophobia and racism, the inclusion of such activists in the long duree of the ethnonationalist theocratic agenda for Khalistan and Kashmir is impossible. They are known by critics of these movements as ‘useful idiots’. They are tolerated only temporarily for medium range interfacing and normalisation of Islamist and Khalistani propaganda within the Australian left activist movements.

It is within this context, and due to the combined ‘movement of Palestine and Kashmir’ within this set of activists that there arises necessity to legitimate ideological agendas that are radically opposed to multi-ethnic, multi-faith, Multicultural Australian values. To obtain this agenda, in post-colonised Canada, Australia, New Zealand and America, the activists have appropriated and tokenised theories of ‘settler colonialism’ from indigenous activist movements and convinced the left, who support the self-determination of first nations peoples, that both Israel and India are essentially settler-colonising the lands of indigenous Palestinians and Kashmiris, or of Dravidianists in South India, and are in that respect labelled as ‘the occupiers’. It is within this framework that Israel and India become the enemy occupiers of their ancestral lands and a system of alleged religious supremacy is crafted to explain how Jews and Hindus are capable of what is being brandished as ‘Nazi-esque’ ethnic cleansing or genocide of non-Jews, Muslims and other ethno-religious minorities.

Theories of Orientalism such as the ‘othering’ of Said and so forth are deployed to cast Jews and Hindus alike as the arbitors of violent xenophobic hate presented as intrinsic to both Zionism and Hindutva but never to either Islam or Khalistan which are distinguished as moderate as opposed to terrorist ideologies. There is no moderate Zionist or Hindutva in contrast. And all those who do not actively denounce both are deemed to be not only sympathisers with these straw men, but extremists, supremacists and even Saffron terrorists themselves by mere association.

When these groups speak about democratic or multi-cultural principles, when it comes to issues within the Australian diaspora, they do so not to uphold them, but to reframe the constituents of what is acceptable in democracies, to criticise the system by attacking it as flawed, and to claim the system is inherently prejudiced, that Australian multiculturalism and democratic principles are failing. This, without firm comprehension of the basic principles of the integrative model, instead, frequently imposing an out dated assimilative model for example, by stressing regressive values be imposed on immigrant Hindus in order to ‘comply with’ a misconstrued set of ‘Australian values’.

For example, if Hindus do not comply with the anti democratic principles established by these activists to eventually overthrow Indian democracy, they must be inherently bigoted, supportive of Hindutva Government and on those grounds, be stripped of their visas. Aside from the absurdity of this threat in pragmatic terms, it engages in anti-immigrant mentality that can be readily picked up by racists, as ‘brown people’ are seen to legitimate their existing racial hatred. In effect, if Hindus do not stand with Palestine, with Kashmir and Khalistan which are patently anti-pluralistic and contradictory societies to the Hindu paradigm, then they must be themselves supremacist, theocratic bigots seeking to impose a ‘Hindu Rasthra’. This too without any protests, marches or demonstrations from Hindus, amid extensive lawful demonstrations in support of Khalistan and Kashmiri separatism in Australia as well as local endorsement of violent, militia and terrorist agitations in the sub-continent.

Presenting India as like Israel, as ‘oppressive and colonising of indigenous Muslims’, whilst conflating the political dynamic as contiguous to post colonial first nations movements, a familiar ideal of decolonisation, self determination and indigenous sovereignty is overlaid onto the mentality of the already conditioned anti-racist Australian left. This mode of critique is used to affirm and to perpetuate anti-western narratives that extremist proponents use to exploit disillusionment and schisms within society, to recruit and to infiltrate only to hijack and redirect existing activist movements.

In the long duree, these groups cannot sustain their alliances and are only capable of maintaining superficial bonds to obtain limited agendas due to fundamentally incompatible aspirations. Shared perceived enemies are sufficient to make ideological opposites however, temporary friends. Friends that can overlook incompatibility until each assists the other to obtain their agendas. Where the far-left seek to ‘visualise industrial collapse’ and the breakdown of neoliberal western capitalism; the far-right seek to dismantle the integrity of India. The left realises its global agenda post-partition when what is left of balkanised India as a secular socialist but religiously plural democracy is erased of all cultural and neoliberal elements to be replaced by Communism- whether Marxist or Maoist.

It is therefore unconvincing that such activists in Australia whenever held to account by Hindus who resist their coercive agendas, or when centre-right conservatives press them on their ideological principles must deploy dogwhistles of ‘Zionist’, ‘Hindutva’ or ‘far-right extremist’ to argue that somehow critiquing this horseshoe phenomenon is an attack on democracy, academic freedom, freedom of speech or religious freedoms. There are parallels here with other complex extremist movements who rashly and insensitively reach for terms like ‘Nazi’ to insist their critics are simply fascists that cannot tolerate difference whilst in fact insisting that the difference of opinion is erased.

In this way, the complex set of actors within the far-left and far-right aggregate harness the civil rights capabilities of the liberal western system to effectively shut down academic freedom, freedom of speech or religious freedom to those who question, critique, threaten or oppose their own paradigm. It is within this framework of the transfer of hatred of a perceived ‘Hindu’ government of India to Hindus including those in diaspora, that these strange bedfellows are attempting to disenfranchise Hindus in Australia of their human rights, namely freedom of expression, freedom of association, academic freedom and the exercise of their religious freedom as equal participants within a culturally diverse democratic system.

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