Striving for a global Hindu presence
Sangh Parivar affiliates have worked overtime in last six months to strengthen their worldwide drive towards stimulating greater vigor among Hindus in different countries. Next year has been earmarked for this goal, with a special focus on regions, where Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh-sponsored outfits currently possess little presence.
Data analysis conducted by the RSS indicates that around 14 crore Hindus live outside India. As we all know, only three countries in the world have a Hindu majority, namely, India, Nepal and Mauritius. In terms of total numbers, India has the most Hindus. However, in terms of the proportion of Hindus to the total population, Nepal has the highest figures.
Hinduism has more than one billion adherents worldwide. It comprises 15 per cent of the world’s population. RSS believes that conflicts between Christianity, that has a 31.5 per cent share in the world’s population and Islam at 23 per cent, will cause a third world war. Consequently, according to members of the RSS, “it is the primary duty of Sangh Parivar to ensure that Hindus remain at a safe distance from any such situation.”
Other countries with more than 500,000 Hindu residents and citizens include Nepal, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United States, Malaysia, Myanmar, Candada, United Kingdom and South Africa. The Sangh Parivar has naturally focussed on these countries for quite some time. Next on its list include countries like Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago and Surinam, with whom India shares an ethnic bond. Other elaborate plans have revolved around Australia and Bhutan, according to sources in the RSS.
South American nations like Guyana, with a sizable Hindu population of 2.5 lakh, East African countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and countries in the Middle East, which possess numbers between 50,000 to 3 lakh Hindus, have also been underlined in the action plan prepared by Sangh Parivar. As per RSS estimates, Philippines has a Hindu population of 20 lakh. With 3 lakh Hindus, Sri Lanka also finds an important place in Sangh Parivar road map. Zimbabwe and countries in the southern regions of the African continent are also going to become preferred destinations for RSS pracharaks. Singapore, with 2.5 lakh Hindus, has also become an area of attraction for the Sangh Parivar.
European nations have also fallen under the Sangh Parivar’s radar. RSS internal architects have even identified countries like Croatia in Balkans, Latvia in Eastern Europe and Luxembourg in Western Europe, which may require “proper direction in times to come and it does not matter if they have a Hindu population of only few hundred at the moments.”
For the last two decades the Sangh Parivar have established a strong presence in Unites States and its affiliates like Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation-USA, Sewa International-USA, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) extend financial support to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Till May 2014, a total of 140 HSS shakhas were set up in the United States and these are listed on its website. Five Sangh-affiliated charitable groups allocated a huge fund of more than $55 million to their programmes in last few years. Most of these funds were sent to Sangh Parivar organisations in India.
Certain reports about the activities of Hindu groups in USA suggest that they have successfully immersed themselves into curricular, administrative and financing arenas of academic institutions, specifically in the disciplines of history, religious studies, Indology and other fields. Sangh affiliated Hindu Students Council (HSC) has a presence in 78 American and Canadian university and college campuses, including those of Duke University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill University, New York University, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Stanford University, Syracuse University, University of California at Berkeley, Irvine, and San Diego, University of Ottawa, and University of Texas at Austin.
Among the Sangh Parivar’s projects in USA, includes the establishment of a religious college, the Hindu University of America. Other projects include a religious studies conference called the World Association for Vedic Studies and funding institutions, such as the Infinity Foundation and the Vivek Welfare and Educational Foundation. The Infinity Foundation has been very active in the last 15 years and has given millions of dollars to researchers, academic associations and academic departments around the world, including the Association for Asian Studies, California Institute of Integral Studies, the Center for the Study of Developing Societies, Columbia University, Harvard University, Melbourne University, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Rutgers University, the University of Hawaii and the University of Texas at Austin. The Sangh Parivar’s ‘internal assessments’ show a very high degree of satisfaction over the fact that in last two decades, Sangh-affiliated organisations have emerged as leaders in Indo-American communities. “A time has come when the same model must be implemented in all countries, where Hindu population has a role to play,” according to the RSS.
It is not difficult to understand the real design behind the Sangh Parivar’s enthusiasm in reinventing its international dream, amidst a changing geo-political situation. RSS has assigned itself with the responsibility of becoming an umbrella to Hindus around the world and does not want them to walk in eternal sunshine. However, whose fault is it if alternate ideologies could not pursue their road maps in the best of times? If even now alternate think tanks can strategise for something better and solid than making empty sounds, Hindu minds all over the world could be fed with a better and more coherent ideological pursuit. In order to fulfil these pursuits, commitment must follow through in action and not words.
Author is editor and CEO of News Views India.