Settled in America for the past four decades and observing the way Indian culture is presented in the academia of the West by Western scholars of theology triggered in him to present a counter view or rather the Indian perspective. On his latest book launch Rajiv Malhotra, speaks to Financial Express about his journey so far and the way ahead.
“Academic Hinduphobia”- Do you see this happening in the West alone or is it prevalent in India as well?
In India it is happening more. It would not be possible for the west to attack our culture consistently had it not originated here in the homeland. If indigenous people had enough pride and self esteem and were clear of their identity then the west would not insult such a large number of people and their faith. They are doing it only because a section of Indian’s finds it very fashionable to demean Hinduism.
When did this systematic assault of Hinduism emerge?
It has been happening for a long time but I started to respond to it in the 1990s, especially in the U.S. where I found it in their textbooks, media and etc. The worst part was I found a lot of Indian leftists supporting our opponents. Then I realised that this was prevalent in India as well.
Indian higher education and media often used to and still now they do take pot-shots at Hindu gurus, symbols, caste system, festivals or our way of life. They treat other faiths as sacred but the same does not apply to Hinduism.
Where did Indian education lose its path?
It started during the British era by Macaulay and others, but because they did not want to lose the empire, it was indirect and subtle. However, many elitist Indians developed inferiority complex about their own heritage and culture. This self-hatred is worse than what the westerners are doing.
So what according to your opinion can be done to right this?
I am trying to spread awareness as best as I can. But unfortunately our leaders are either in a denial or they actively support the other side. By leaders I don’t mean only political leaders, it also includes religious leaders intellectuals, academics and media leaders. They seem to be confused about the dynamics of identity.
But the same is not so in the case of Islam because the authority in Islam is very solid except for the fringe liberals. The liberals who want to reform Islam are not the ones in power. The liberals in Islamic countries do not have authority and control over important institutions like they do in India.
Through your book ‘Breaking India’, you blew the whistle about the nefarious designs of some of the foreign funded NGOs. Now that the government has banned several of them will that be of any help?
Some of the same forces have infiltrated through other channels. Many NGOs are bodies which are unaccountable to anybody. Their power comes from the fact that the international agencies protect them. So if you do anything against them they give it back to you. They have enough clout in the United Nations (UN), the European Union, US Congress. They often depose before the US congress against India on human rights. They provide all the ‘atrocity literature’, which is undermining our country.
How much of the activities of these foreign funded NGOs are costing India economically?
As per various expert economists the activities of these entities potentially cost a couple of percentage of our GDP. Also the risk factor for any business increases because these NGOs could create many problems.
It also brings down India’s soft power and its credibility. Whether we want a permanent seat in the UN Security Council or join the NSG, people who want to bring us down can easily raise these allegations that the NGOs have made – such as caste, human rights, religious freedom etc. The NGOs are dangerous in the sense that they are sitting in our country, they are Indians and they supply all the negative data because they are sold out.
As per several accounts of Vice Chancellors of Indian universities, a section of youth is dissociated from the interests of the nation. How do you see this situation?
There is a problem as the Indian youth is very confused and chasing the pop culture of the West. The very idea of success has remained restricted to materialistic acquisitions.
How is it possible for India as a nation to maintain diplomatic relations amidst all of this?
Country to country relations have to be maintained no matter what. The problem has worsened because we never complained. Look at China – they assert their sovereignty.
Why did you pick up a fight with Wendy Doniger long back in the 1990s?
The mind set of our people is that if a western professor writes about Sanskrit or if a white person writes about Hinduism we are supposed to be very happy, without even carefully reading what the person has written. People like Doniger constantly try to portray Hinduism as some sort of erotic religion and our own people are silent about it, which amazes me.