• Monday, June 24, 2024

Diaspora

Hindu groups upset over Democratic think tank’s annual event in US; here’s why

The groups have expressed concerns over inclusion of individuals and organisations allegedly involved in targeting Indian-American candidates and officials, in the ‘Desis Decide’ gala.

US vice president Kamala Harris speaks at an event in Washington DC on May 15, 2024. (PTI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

SEVERAL Hindu groups in the US have voiced discontent over an annual event hosted by a Democratic think tank, citing worries about inclusion of individuals and organisations allegedly involved in targeting Indian-American candidates and officials.

Specific objections were directed at two panellists from the Indian-American Muslim Council and Hindus for Human Rights.

The two-day event which kicked off on Wednesday (15), is titled ‘Desis Decide’, is organized by the think tank Indian American Impact. Eminent Indian American Deepak Raj is among the co-founders and funders of the think tank, which has gained significant influence in Democratic circles.

The first day of the event saw the presence of US vice president Kamala Harris, a woman of Indian and African heritage.

Read: Indian Americans in elected offices not reflecting their rising numbers: Harris

On the eve of the event on Tuesday (14), various Hindu groups said to see individuals and organisations with a “questionable past is frustrating for them as these organisations have publicly attacked Indian American candidates and elected officials”, news agency Press Trust of India reported.

Read: How Hindutva became popular among India’s diaspora

“Where Impact’s core mission is building Indian American political presence at all levels, it’s frustrating and confusing that Impact would platform organisations which have publicly attacked Indian American candidates,” Rajiv Pandit, a Hindu American PAC board member, said, according to the report.

“Two groups on the panel, in particular, have targeted several Indian American political leaders that Impact itself supports!” he said.

The panel in contention is “Building Bridges, Amplifying Impact: Interfaith Advocacy.” The Hindu groups also raised objections to two of the panellists — Safa Ahmed from Indian American Muslim Council and Ria Chakrabarty from Hindus for Human Rights.

Pandit said the the attacks have ranged from holding Indian Americans to double standards to xenophobic accusations of dual loyalty, and include individuals such as Raja Krishnamoorthi, Sri Kulkarni, Shri Thanedar, Niraj Antani, Padma Kuppa, Jenifer Rajkumar, and Bhavini Patel.

HinduACTion said that the only “Hindu” organisation being invited to “Desis Decide” – the voter mobilisation summit in Washington DC — is a non-profit that targets Democrat members of Congress who dare to speak up for American Hindus.

“You know that there is a problem of anti-Hindu bigotry in sections of the Democrat think-tank,” it added.

“It’s shocking to see Impact’s Desis Decide brochure maligning India and its current government of discrimination towards Muslims,” said Tahir Aslam Gora, president of Progressive Muslims’ Institute of Canada.

“Prime Minister Modi’s today India is uplifting Muslims of India along with other communities. Today’s India seems determined towards developing Indians of all origin. Bharat happened to be a holy land in terms of accommodating people from all over the world for centuries and the today’s Bharat carrying on this fabulous legacy,” Gora was quoted as saying by PTI.

Hindu activist Geeta Sikand said that Impact Summit has kept out all authentic Hindu organisations including CoHNA, Hindu Action, and Hindu American Foundation.

“I am appalled at the bias in this session as all the invited speakers are from groups that are one-sided in this session. Hey, there is Hinduphobia. So why was no Hindu advocacy organisation invited? Why was there no conversation on the increase in Hinduphobia in the United States?” Sikand alleged.

“The FBI report shows anti-Hindu hate crimes have doubled in the past year. Yet, none of the three organisations are supporters of HR 1131, and condemn the attacks on Hindu places of worship and anti-Hindu bigotry. In fact, HFHR wrote to oppose HR 1131,” she said.

(With PTI inputs)

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