WASHINGTON DC — In the decades since 1960s a large number of well educated and accomplished Indians have arrived in US and have made it their home away from their home in India. They have adapted well to the tolerant and composite multi-religious and multicultural American culture. They have progressed more compared to other immigrants and have contributed more to US.
An overwhelming majority of Hindu immigrants from India are diverse and tolerant. However, in the last five to ten years a few organizations of sectarian and narrow minded Hindus in India, have started exporting the virus of religious intolerance and conflict to the Indian-American community in US. In the name of protecting the ethos of Hindu faith they are spreading hatred against India’s religious and ethnic minorities. They are trying to capture the many diverse Indian-American community organizations and transform them into Hindu-American organization.
It is because of the diverse and tolerant nature of the Indian-American community that in the last few years, one Indian-American has been elected to the US Senate and four have been elected as members of the US House of Representatives. But now the recently arrived Hindu-sectarian organizations in US are trying to make these leaders of the community in the US Congress and other activists in the community, kowtow their anti-minority policies.
Thus recently when most of the Indian-American members of US Congress spoke out to protect human rights and legal rights of minorities in India, the Hindu-American Foundation (HAF), that is now heavily influenced by RSS, tried to intimidate these Indian-American leaders. It was amazing to see HAF claim that it represents 260 Indian-American organizations, most of them being organizations of professionals like doctors, engineers, scientists, lawyers etc when HAF confronted some US Congressmen on their pro-human rights activities.
Indeed the very policies of HAF, that used to be egalitarian about ten years ago, are being rapidly changed into that of a sectarian nature. Some media reports have indicated that the sectarian Indian group, RSS is the major force orchestrating such negative changes in the political policies of the Hindu-American community. Instead of the long living pluralistic thinking of the community that encourages the growth of all in a democratic America, they are trying to sway the community towards the politics of some extremist White American groups. Recently we saw how these groups have enthusiastically supported the right-wing Trump faction of the Republican party.
Indian-Americans being about one to two per cent of the US population, are basically a minority community in US. Their welfare lies in forming common cause with other minorities, not only in US, but all over the world, and for emphasizing the human rights of religious and ethnic minorities everywhere.
(The writer is a senior aerospace engineer at NASA. He is also the Executive Director of the Association of Indian Muslims of America, Washington DC.)