Thursday, 4 August 2022

Corruption

 Corruption in India

Corruption is often observed as a huge problem preventing developing countries from sustainably addressing poverty. Do you agree? If so, what ought to be done about this issue?

Introduction:

Corruption “is an ancient problem (fourth century B.C. in India)”[1]. “Corruption represents a common issue globally. Due to the common perception that corruption hinders economic development and prevents particularly developing countries from sustainably addressing poverty, both emerging market economies and democratically developed countries have begun to seriously consider the economic harm of corruption and have thus begun to invest in resources to prevent and control corruption”[2]. Corruption is like a white ant in the wood. It eats away at the pillars (institutions) of the democratic governance judiciary, executive, legislative, media, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Civilization crumbles unnoticed.

 In this essay, I shall briefly define corruption and the types, practices, motives, and costs of corruption as per literature. I shall then explain methods to combat corruption in developing countries of well-ordered peoples theorized by Rawls and suggested by Brock. I reason corruption can be fought efficiently and effectively by adopting and strengthening institutions of a democratic system with accountability.  Combating corruption from top to the bottom or bottom to the top are two sides of the same coin. Vigilant, non-corrupt media is important to protect basic liberties. “Without a free press, citizens might not even be aware of injustices and violations of basic liberties perpetrated by the ruling powers… in holding their governments to account”.[3] I advocate free press and media, political will, an independent judiciary, transparency, and well-defined powers of administrative powers of executives to combat corruption.

 In a democracy, People ‘deliberate and legitimate’[4] political will to implement rule of law. Institutions so empowered will reinstate political and civil liberties on the ground[5]. Corruption is an economic criminal offense. Brock rightly wrote “No one should be above the law; everyone must feel that they could be held to account for their behavior. A culture of impunity must not be allowed to prevail”[6].

What is corruption:

As per D’Agostino “the world bank settled on - “the abuse of public office for private gain as the usable definition of corruption”[7]. Transparency International defines it as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”[8]. Hellman argues that “corruption is a derivative concept A. in theory and B. in practice ”.[9] The same is explained by Miller.[10]

Types of Corruption:

If we look at the MONIAC Machine[11] and Arthakranti[12] YouTube video, there shall be three different types of leakage. These can be large, small, and wilful leakage by an operator. The same is defined by academic authors as grand, petit, and political corruption. In Bill Phillip’s Machine as explained by Anil Bokil Arthakranti, leakage is corruption. Combating corruption means stopping leakages of the system.

Practices of Corruption:

Brock summarises “Many practices are described as corrupt, including bribery, misappropriation of public resources for private ends, inappropriate use of influence, state capture, nepotism, and some conflicts of interest”[13].

Motives of Corruption:

There are many motives for corrupt actions. It includes desires for wealth accumulation, status and power. Corruption involves corruptor, corrupted and corrupt action.

Cost of Corruption Literature Review

“Corruption distorts priorities, exacerbates inequalities, hampers economic growth, and often results in considerable harm”, is a huge cause of exit and migration, and security challenges”[14], [15]. Bayley explains the harmful and beneficial effects of corrupt acts.[16] I am of the opinion that the beneficial effects mentioned by him are temporary and for the gain of a few individuals. I believe corrupt acts are evil in a society and it should always be combated; though “effects of corruption depend on the extent to which bureaucrats coordinate their rent-seeking behaviour”.[17]  But according to Mauro “Corruption has substantial, adverse effects on economic growth… when corruption is widespread, individuals do not have incentives to fight it even if everybody would be better off without it”.[18]

It confirms that corruption is a huge problem that prevents developing countries from sustainably addressing poverty.  Rawls and Brock provide methods to combat corruption. Brock analyzed and explained in detail[19]. I shall quote mainly Brock and add my comments wherever I think it needs.

Methods to combat corruption

 As per Rawls

 “Liberal peoples have three basic features: a reasonably just constitutional democratic government that serves their fundamental interests; citizens united by what Mill called “common sympathies”; and finally, a moral nature. The first is institutional, the second is cultural, and the third requires a firm attachment to political (moral) conceptions of right and justice[20]… What institutions and practices might be necessary to keep a constitutional democratic government reasonably just, and to prevent it from being corrupted, is a huge topic … that it is necessary to frame institutions in such a way as to motivate people sufficiently, both citizens and government officers, to honor them, and remove the obvious temptations to corruption”.[21]

I agree with Rawls that institutions can implement the agenda of the government. He assumes that ‘political principles for a reasonably just constitutional regime allow us to deal with a great variety of cases [including corruption], if not all.”[22]

Democratic system, political will, rule of law and basic liberties are key requirements to combat corruption. All are important to combat corruption. Institutions (legislative assembly, judiciary, executives like bureaucrats, inspectors) implement laws and rules of well-ordered peoples. “Public reasoning aims for public justifications”[23] Press and media, NGOs help in educating people and developing reasoning for justifications.

 “Deliberative democracy also recognizes that without education in the basic aspects of constitutional democratic government for all citizens, and without a public informed about pressing problems, crucial political and social decisions simply cannot be made”.[24]

Press and media play an important part.

As per Brock “Authors agree that there is something akin to a universal understanding of what corruption is, and all dispute the idea that corruption may simply be in the eye of the beholder. However, there are also sharp disagreements – for example over whether corruption is best eliminated from the top down, or whether bottom-up approaches are more effective”[25]. I believe top-down or bottom-up approaches are two sides of the same coin and both must act simultaneously to combat corruption effectively. Top-down means from the president / prime minister/ chief minister downwards to a government worker. The bottom-up approach means “public deliberation about the issues that need to be addressed and the options for resolving them”[26] [ in democracy].

Let me explain it more in detail.

To combat corruption there should be political will, which can be propagated by media and NGOs. Brock mentioned, “In 2003, it was found that 17 percent of the world’s population live in countries with a free press, 40 percent have a partly free press, and 43 percent have a press that is not free ... These figures do show a considerable decline over recent years”[27]. Transparency International noted that democratic countries are the least corrupt. People deliberate powers to politicians. Due to this, political will (top to bottom) is the first step. This political will shall set the agenda for the media and activities of NGOs.

In many countries, media and NGOs create rhetoric to combat corruption. This rhetoric may support corrupt politicians who may support their evil masters or elites. I add that some corrupt media, NGOs, legislators, and bureaucrats are cunning (extra/over intelligent) to hide their motives and support corruption till exposed by competing media, NGOs, and non-corrupt institutions.

I agree with Brock that media does not play a constructive part in all societies. She mentions “Having a free press is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the adequate protection of basic liberties.”[28] She further writes that “press freedom must be balanced with press responsibility”[29] and explains several common reasons why a free press is not enjoyed in corrupt societies: Reasons are usually given that “Media is a mouthpiece for the ruling regime”, “violence against journalists”, “legislation and financial pressures”, “threatening tax audits” etc[30]. In addition, media is controlled by elites in some countries.

Brock quote Vogl.

“It is not governments that are leading the anti-corruption charge, instead it is a grand adhoc coalition of civil society activists, journalists, philanthropists, and scholars. And in the years to come, it will continue to be the case that these forces will set the agenda, press governments with mounting vigor and impact reforms and monitor the measures announced to see that they are effectively implemented.[31]

Broc adds Vogl viewpoint that a “powerful combination of forces is steadily amassing, helping national anti-corruption movements grow in strength every day”[32]. I agree it is true but not in all cases. Indian example (from 2014 till today) indicates that most media and NGOs are setting an agenda in favor of corrupt politics which may create unrest in a developing country like India. This happens more vigorously during an election year (Indian elections are due in 2019). This instability shall be exploited by international capital elites.

 Brock clarifies “Freedom of speech does not entail that we may say whatever we like, wherever we like. Clearly, such ‘freedoms must be constrained by others’ freedoms”[33].

According to her “some cultures embrace ways of life that seem not to value liberty”[34] I am of the opinion all cultures value liberty. Only some rulers of those cultures do not value liberty. Those who are financially or circumstantially dependent on such a ruler value obedience. Personal freedom is wanted but under compulsion, obedience is accepted. She clarifies my reasons as “to be able to engage in such activities one must typically enjoy a number of basic liberties, such as freedom from coercion, attack, and torture”.[35] This may be why slaves were not allowed to vote in some countries. If slaves would have been allowed, then either these slaves would have voted in favour or against the owner. In both cases democratic representation would not have been correct.  This doubt was cleared by Vogl which is quoted by Brock by stating that ‘no known culture “values dishonesty and unfairness”.[36] No culture likes corruption[37].

Theory without practice is sterile and practice without theory is blind. I shall now explain methods adopted in India to combat corruption. BJP government won 2014 parliament elections. It is to be noted before 2014, there was a congress party in India that was not only corrupt but was supporting corrupt political parties and used to purchase media journalists.[38] India meets all my assumptions. It is a democratic country. Instrument of politics were mostly corrupt. Corrupt media, NGOs, bureaucrats, police, sales tax, income tax, and even judiciary as chief ministers, including the ruling congress party president, were also corrupt. Corrupt media favored corruption and corrupt in India.

 But some in all instruments were not corrupt. Narendra Modi was not corrupt. People believed and trusted him and voted him to power in the 2014 parliament elections. He got the majority and started combating corruption by implementing steps like demonetizing currency, smart cards, transparency, tax reform, auditing of bank and government departments by independent auditors, checking illicit financial flows by routing all finances through banks, procurement reform, utilizing new technology, creating transparent systems, making judiciary independent (judiciary was independent but due to all around corrupt practices many judges of the supreme court also became corrupt), selecting non-corrupt chief ministers and parliament ministers.

Corrupt media often created rhetoric against political decisions in favor of the corrupt. But the majority of reasonable people did not follow the media blindly. This proves[39] that corruption can be combated from top to bottom, but the fact remains people delegated power to Modi which he could exercise. If there would not have been a proper non-corrupt alternative, people would have delegated powers to the wrong person and corruption would not have been combated.

Slowly Modi tightened corrupt media, NGOs, judiciary, executives etc. But again, it was not possible without non-corrupt media, executives etc. Corruption can be combated by the top (leadership) with the help of the bottom (people- who delegate the power to top leadership) and both are important. In addition, it is only possible in a democracy.

This example confirms methods to combat corruption stipulated by Rawls for well-ordered peoples, and methods advocated by Vogl, Rotberg, and Varraich summarised by Brock are worth implementing.

Brock quotes Varraich “without a reasonably competent, impartial, uncorrupted, honest, and effective public administration, representative democracy is unlikely to deliver or increase human well-being”[40] Brock also quotes Vogl: “Much of the corruption on this planet stems from the willingness of the governments of rich nations to provide exceptional support to corrupt overseas leaders in exchange for arms deals; rights to oil, gas, and mining resources; and strategic relationships”[41]

I agree as media and NGOs owned by multinational companies (MNC) supported the corrupt congress party. MNCs controlled media through cumbersome shareholding structures and obliged some NGOs by paying huge amounts. Brock also quoted Rothstein and Varraich stating that corruption “usually occurs at the intersection of public and private spheres”.[42] 

Examples are many in India. Nationalized banks gave a loan to big industrialists, who did not pay the amount and migrated outside India.[43] World Bank emphasizes enhancing transparency, implementing anti-money laundering, and tax reforms.[44] As an example, it explains how corruption could be combated in Nigeria, India, and the Dominican Republic.

Conclusion:

Combating corruption is a systematic, comprehensive, and persistent effort. I reasoned corruption is least in democratic countries and can be removed from the top to bottom by strengthening democratic institutions like the judiciary, executives, and legislatures. Media and NGOs convince/educate people that corruption causes poverty and conflicts, then people may / will elect non-corrupt legislators/members of parliament. The political will / legislative power will create institutions that will implement rule of law in executive functioning with modern gadgets which may promote transparency. This may minimize corruption if not eliminated. As corruption corrodes society slowly, in the same way corrupt practices of the community can be controlled/minimized by the continuous persistent will of people including non-corrupt NGOs, media, and elected representatives. It is a slow process as the habits of the people/thinking of people cannot be switched on and off like an electric bulb.


Read also https://unnwo.blogspot.com/2021/04/corruption-in-india.html

www.jaipaldatta.com 

Bibliography:

“Combating Corruption.” The World Bank. September 26, 2017. http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/governance/brief/anti-corruption.

“Corruption.” In International Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, Edited by William A. Darity, Jr., 2nd ed., Vol. 2, Macmillan Reference USA, 2008, pp. 143-146. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3045300467/GVRL?u=learn&sid=GVRL&xid=2e115481  

Arthakranti AD. “Arthakranti – what is it?” Filmed Month Year not known. Youtube Video, 4:59. 21 March 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ile1zmBD2rQ

Bardhan, P. “Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues”. Journal of Economic Literature 35, no.3(1997): 1320-1346. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2729979

Bayley, D.H. “The Effects of Corruption in a Developing Nation.” The Western Political Quarterly 19, no. 4 (1966): 719-732. Retrieved from  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/106591296601900410  

            Blackburn, K., and Forgues-Puccio, G.F. “Why is corruption less harmful in some countries than in others?” Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organization 72, (2009): 797-810. Retrieved from http://doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2009.08.009

Brock, G. “How Should We Combat Corruption? Lessons from Theory and Practice.” Ethics & International Affairs 32,  Special Issue no.1 (27 November 2017): 103-117. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0892679417000508

Brock, Gillian. Global Justice A Cosmopolitan Account. New York: Oxford University (2009).

D’Agostino, G., Dunne, J.P.,and Pieroni,L. “Government Spending, Corruption and Economic Growth.” World Development 84, (2016): 190-205. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2016.03.011

Dzhumashev, R. “Corruption and growth: The role of governance, public spending, and economic development.” Economic Modelling 37, (2014): 202-215.

Hellman, D. “Defining Corruption and Constitutionalizing Democracy.” Michigan Law Review 111, (2013): 1385-1422.

Huang, Chiung-Ju. “Is corruption bad for economic growth? Evidence from Asia – Pacific Countries.” North American Journal of Economics and Finance 35, (2016): 247-256

Ionescu, Luminita. “The Role of Government Auditing in Curbing Corruption.” Economics, Management and Financial Markets; Woodside 9, no. 3 (2014): 122-127.

Mauro, P. (2004). “The Persistence of Corruption and Slow Economic Growth.” International Monetary Fund Staff Papers 51, no.1 (2004): 1-18. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/30035860

Meon, P-G., and Weill, L. “Is Corruption an Efficient Grease?” Word Development 38, no. 3 (2010): 244-259. Retrieved from http://dx/doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2009.06.004

Miller, Seumas. “Corruption.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy/ Spring 2011 Edition. Edward N. Zalta (ed.) Assessed on 26 February 2018 from URL=<Qt http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2011/entries/corruption/

Rawls, John. “Two Concepts of Rules.” The Philosophical Review 64, no.1 (1955): 3-32. Assessed on 11 March 2018 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2182230

Reservebankofnz. “Making Money Flow: The MONIAC.” Filmed date unknown. Youtube video, 4:37.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAZavOcEnLg

Xing Ni, J.M. (2008). “Toward a clean government in China: does the budget reform provide a hope?” Crime Law Society Change 49, (2008): 119-138. Retrieved from http://doi:10.1007/s10611-008-9101-0

Notes / References

[1] Bardhan, “Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues,” 1.

[2] Huang, “Is Corruption bad for economic growth? Evidence from Asia-Pacific countries,” 1-2.

[3] Brock, Global Justice A Cosmopolitan Account, 161.

[4] Brock,100.

[5] Brock, 157.

[6] Brock, 166.

[7] D’Agostino, Dunne and Pieroni, “Government Spending, Corruption and Economic Growth,” 190.

[8] Transparency International Home, “What is Corruption”

[9] Hellman, “Defining Corruption and Constitutionalizing Democracy,” 1391 and 1396.

[10] Miller, “Corruption”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

[11] Reservebankofnz, “Making Money Flow: The Moniac” Youtube Video.

[12] ArthakrantiAD, “Arthkranti - what is it?” Youtube Video.

[13] Brock, “How Should We Combat Corruption? Lessons from Theory and Practice,”103

[14] Brock, 105

[15] D’Agostino, Dunne and Pieroni, “Government Spending, corruption and Economic Growth,” 190-205. They prove empirically that corruption effects growth negatively.

[16] Bayley, “The Effects of Corruption in a Developing Nation”,724 and 726. It may be good in a developing nation but once allowed politicians and civil servants constitute an elite and slowly gangsters and mafia takes over good intentions of elites.

[17] Blackburn and Forgues-Puccio, “Why is corruption less harmful in some countries than in others?” 797.

[18] Mauro, “The Persistence of Corruption and Slow Economic Growth” 1 and 17.

[19] Gillian Brock, “How Should We Combat Corruption? Lessons from Theory and Practice,” Ethics & International Affairs 32, Special Issue no. 1(2017): 103-117.

[20] Rawls, The Law of Peoples, 23.

[21] Rawls,, 24.

[22] Rawls, 25.

[23] Rawls, 155

[24] Rawls, 139.

[25] Brock, “How should We Combat Corruption? Lessons from Theory and Practice,” 117.

[26] Brock, Global Justice A Cosmopolitan Account, 100.

[27] Brock, Global Justice A Cosmopolitan Account, 162.

[28] Brock, 161.

[29] Brock, 161.

[30] Brock, 163.

[31] Brock, “How Should We Combat Corruption? Lessons from Theory and Practice”,109.

[32] Brock, 109

[33] Brock, Global Justice A Cosmopolitan Account, 153.

[34] Brock, 154.

[35] Brock, 155.

[36] Brock, “How should We Combat Corruption? Lessons from Theory and Practice,” 113.

[37] Brock, 113.

[38] “68 Journalists, writers and bureaucrats given 2.5 lakh/month to write against PM Modi through Cambridge Analytica!”, April http://postcard.news/68-journalists-writers-and-bureaucrats-given-2-5-lakh-month-to-write-against-pm-modi-through-cambridge-analytica/

[39] World Bank confirmed, that smart card played an important part to combat corruption in India. “Combating Corruption,” The World Bank, September 26, 2017, http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/governance/brief/anti-currpution

[40] Brock, “How Should We Combat Corruption? Lessons from Theory and Practice”, 110.

[41] Brock,, 110.

[42] Brock, 110.

[43] Nirav Modi, Mallya and bank cases in India. Examples are also mentioned by Brock of five largest banks of wall street.

[44] World Bank, “Combating Corruption”.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Dismantling Global Hindutva

      Swami Narayan Temple of Hindus in Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand.

30 July 2022

ॐ सर्वमंगल मांगल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके। शरण्ये त्रयम्बके गौरी नारायणी नमोस्तुते ।।




JSD wrote on his Facebook blog https://www.facebook.com/Vedicteacher/posts/pfbid02b2QvsZVCz61F25jEqAaJcWV3fkQ3yFMEQGKjXpT12D1B8iYNNSUC8TeqHATsZv7el

“Hinduism preaches nonviolence and means to minimize conflict. Hindutva is a political tool to achieve Vasudhaive Kutumbkam for peace and prosperity. In Kaliyuga deterrence is necessary to infuse, inculcate, ingrain, and sow the seed of love and affection.

Hindu is the body and Hindutva is the aura of Hinduism. To understand I quote in Hindi व्यक्ति (Vayakti - person) and वयक्तित्व / वयक्तित्व (vayktitva - personality). Hindutva is the aura, personality, fragrance, culture, and attitude of Hindus who follow Hinduism. Due to this conceptual cognizance, some scholars write Hindutva is difficult to explain. I add Hindutva is as difficult to explain as Hinduism. Hinduism is spiritual or religious dogma or system known as Hindu Dharma.

Dharma is not a religion as written by Sarvpalli Radha Krishna. Hinduism derives its power from Srimad Bhagwat Geeta, which is again difficult to understand as Gita is always new and its Shlokas can be interpreted differently. Interpretation of the Gita depends on the knowledge of the reader and analyzer.

Read my book on technical and scientific analysis of Srimad Bhagwat Geeta, in which I wrote there is no God. Exploiters use the name of God to exploit others. It directs that each author writes differently about Gita, in other words, Hinduism.

Hinduism is the sea. Hindutva is only a droplet of a sea. Hindus are the different rivers joining together. Hindutva cannot preach Adharma (अधर्म ), in other words, violent Ideology or extremism as propagated by many authors which are included in my blogs and websites.

https://teachingsofgeeta.blogspot.com/2017/12/chapter-1.html

https://twitter.com/Jaipaldatta/status/1551300282780631040

Today is Guru Purnima. Indians (Hindus) respect teacher (Guru) more than God, for Guru is not an ordinary man. His knowledge is his wealth. Chanakya says "if my knowledge has strength I shall create Kings to support me." Teachers, known as Gurus, academics, or brahmins, are selfless workers who create nations. "A teacher is never an ordinary person; the creators and destroyers both play in his lap." Academics change the road map of the nation for the good and bad.
Swami Narayan Temple of Hindus in Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand.

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णु गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः।
गुरुः साक्षात् परब्रह्म तस्मै श्री गुरुवे नमः।।
जीवन को सार्थक बनाने वाले सभी गुरुजनों के चरणों में सादर प्रणाम।
गुरु पूर्णिमा के पावन पर्व की आप सभी को हार्दिक
बधाई
एवं शुभकामनाएं।

Hinduism is not unipolar. It is multi and multi-polar. There is no starting and no end. It is confusing for many but simplistic for some.
Sadguru tweets
#GuruPurnima is most significant for those on the spiritual path. On this day, Adiyogi reminded Human Beings they are not a fixed life. For those willing to strive, every door in Existence will open. May you strive joyfully & know the Grace of #Adiyogi. Blessings. -Sg

सर्वमङ्गलमङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके । शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तुते ॥🙏🏻 नमः पर्वतिपतये नमः🌷🌷 ॐ साम्ब शिवाय नमः🚩🙏ॐ गौर्ये नमः🚩 ॐ नमः शिवाय📿🙏 जय श्री राम 🌼🙏

Dismantling Global Hindutva: A Hinduphobic conference - The Daily Guardian 

Dismantling Global Hindutva:  

https://www.facebook.com/Vedicteacher/posts/pfbid0ArUCV974PnceZxPpDQcaHZeD8kCEontHnu1oZqA2f9hwWqZavzvcYhMeFB93bQoml 

Ernest Renan said that three things constitute the spiritual principle of the unity of a nation; memories from the past; the desire to live together; and the perpetuation of the heritage. Thus, the cultural centredness that “the west” has ascribed to itself is in question.

"This conference is an Audrey Truschke-generated-and-led white supremacist attack on Hindus; and she is willingly accompanied and sheltered by a raft of brown decoys, also called sepoys. The pusillanimous Truschke is an associate professor at Rutgers University. In quite jejune sleights of hand, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Slate , and The Atlantic, for example, regularly publish fallacious and belligerent anti-India pieces, written by the aforementioned decoy brand of Indians, or people of Indian origin. Thus, Priyamvada Gopal, a militant scholar, who teaches in the UK, puts out a rabid tumbril tweet: “Really am at the point where I would like to invite Western countries to block naturalization for Hindus. Snatch their precious little H-1Bs. Sickos.” Witness her elitism – even as she battles elites at her university – and her scabrous condescension towards India’s H-1B visa holders.  US immigration authorities are not likely to pay heed to her unsolicited advice. Another example of a participant in the thrall of an obscene obsession with the anatomies of Hindu gods is one Meena Kandaswamy.

These are the latter day colonists who fabricated, and wish to continually fabricate, the colonized Hindu subject. But the Hindus have fared forward, and in ways incomprehensible to them: they have protested and dismantled the claustrophobic constraints that have been imposed on them for centuries.

Armed with incontinent hate, vile rhetoric, and frothing and fulminating, the participants in this three-day online conference are seized of a particular brand of megalomania: they wish to legislate the world, and one of the roads they will traverse in their pursuit is by dismantling global Hinduism (this agile cat has leapt out of the bag, as their pretence about only attacking Hindutva has fallen to powder). Its participants wish to decolonize the world. Decolonization is a good thing (and the subject of not one, but several future articles): it is warranted, in many fields; but if solo university professors— or a clutch of them— declare, in a hissy fit, that they will decolonize the world, that is not such a good thing, because it is far from being realistic or attainable.

In the interim, however, the conference will certainly generate dangerous xenophobic hate and violence towards Hindus, Indians, and India, through strident misrepresentation, distortion, and malignancy. Notwithstanding multiple, sustained, and anguished pleas from the distinguished Non Resident Indian (NRI) community in North America, as well as US and Canadian citizens of Indian origin, this conference is insistent about disseminating myths and falsehoods, and, thereby, puts millions of innocent Hindus, and, in particular, our numerous bright and diligent students, in a harm›s way.

The organizers of the conference have run into some serious issues with credibility, and, as a result, it is looking more jerry-built than ever. Their website initially displayed the logos of some 40 universities, which they untruthfully declared were sponsors. Alas, upon being apprised of the Hinduphobic nature of the conference, as well as the harm that might well be unleashed on the Hindu diaspora— comprised of successful, hardworking, and brilliant students; and a peace-loving, professionally outstanding, and most highly educated and admired community across the United States and Canada— a bunch of universities wrote to Truschke asking that their logos be removed. It turns out that these universities were never sponsors of this conference: departments or lone faculty members in these institutions were. Harvard University, for example, wrote to Hindu organizations in the USA, offering an apology for being a party— albeit unwittingly— to Hinduphobia, and is exploring the legality of the use of its logo. Similarly, Stanford wrote in, and many universities followed, and, therefore, the credibility of the conference has taken a fair and irreversible beating. It has only become more amateur and ad hoc, as new names are added each day.

A few days, and a little bout of hustling later, other logos were up on the conference’s website, which, Houdini-like, appears and disappears. There is no transparency about this conference, no call for papers, and no scholars who might proffer a support of Hinduism: there is only a line-up of immaculately vicious Hindu- and India-haters as speakers. One of them is a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, which has never won a parliamentary seat in its history and has a trajectory of staggering violence and brutality. She writes rather poor prose and is likely to be found wherever there is a protest in India that might grant her fifteen minutes, or a little more, of Warholian visibility.

Ironically, this conference does not represent a billion Hindus, and its white and brown-sahib speakers – as well as their colleagues across the world – are guilty of “being buttressed by a cultural discourse relegating and confining the (Hindu) to a secondary racial, cultural, ontological status.” (Said) Thus, they are wilfully exercising privileges, via interoperating codes, through which they now want to be the architects of societies, and guide and misguide them.

They wish to exercise their privilege and power over a billion Hindus without their permission. A billion Hindus do not speak their convoluted language, and I don’t believe they would ever wish to. How can you presume to speak for one-eighth of the population of the world which has never heard of you, and doesn’t comprehend – and will likely never comprehend – your theories and your arcane language? What is it that entitles a supremacist claque to tamper with one of the oldest and most beautiful faiths in the world?

In this welter of hate, untruths, bullying, and shrill self-righteousness, a beautiful poem by the great medieval Kannada Virashaiva saint-poet, Devara Dasimayya (Translated by AK Ramanujan) :

To the utterly at-one with Shiva

there’s no dawn,

no new moon,

no noonday,

nor equinoxes,

nor sunsets,

nor full moons;

his front yard

is the true Benares,

 O Ramanatha.

The Virashaiva saints are nirguna bhaktas, relating personally and passionately to the Infinite Absolute.

From the sublimity and beauty of Ramanujan, you fall many miles to Audrey Truschke, who first shot into the limelight by stating that Sita, the wife of the beloved Hindu god, Rama, calls him a “misogynist pig and uncouth.”  She mischievously and erroneously cited a translation of the Ramayana by the great scholar, Professor Robert Goldman of the University of California at Berkeley, to support her own lurid translation. Goldman refuted her and called her out: 

“I find it extremely disturbing but perhaps not unexpected to learn that AT (Audrey Truschke) has used such inappropriate language and passed it off as coming from Valmiki. Neither the great poet nor we used such a vulgar diction and certainly Sita would never have used such language to her husband even in the midst of emotional distress. Nowhere in our translation of the passage do we use words you mention AT is using… she is in no way quoting our translation but giving her own reading of the passage in her own highly inappropriate language.”

The conference is predicated on an essentialization: the Hinduness of the Hindus; (also, on the Indianness of the Indians, the inherent backwardness of the backward Hindus).  But the Hindus have resisted, and provided a counter-articulation to the centuries’ old bullying, and badgering, and misrepresentations. A most sought for outcome of endeavours such as this conference is the galvanizing of Hindus into uniting. Eventually, the Sanatana Dharma will survive these slings and arrows, and stay strong: for it does not convert, it does not proselytize, and it has no hard and fast rules. It regards the peoples of the world as one large family, the Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (we are all of the family of the god Vasudeva); and it relies on magnificent and abiding truths such as: 

Ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti 

There is but one Truth; the wise speak of it in many ways. 

Hindus have resisted hard-left politics and the contagion of its bullies and their questionable behaviour. And, finally, after the unspeakable brutalization unleashed on them by invaders, they gravitate towards a collective capacity to speak and treasure the miraculous beauty, wisdom, and strength of their dharma."

The author is a Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University since 1990, and advises world leaders on public policy, communication, and international affairs. The views expressed are personal.