Diaspora

Say No to ‘Hindus for Trump’: India Civil Watch Tears into the Bigotry of US Hindus Supporting Trump

Even as ‘Hindus for Trump’ rally behind the US president’s policies on immigration and his infamous border wall, others part of the Indian diaspora slam the group’s policies for being bigoted and vindictive.

Credit: Facebook

With the world witnessing the rise of a new generation of nationalist leaders who sprung up from the sidelines to win power in various countries, including in India and the United States, it wasn’t particularly surprising in 2016 when a certain section of the Indian diaspora in the US – the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) – threw its weight behind Donald Trump, vocally supporting the key issues of Trump’s platform.

In a statement released this week, members of India Civil Watch (ICW), a civil society collective of “Indian-Americans committed to furthering progressive politics in the US and India” slammed the group ‘Hindus for Trump‘ (HFT) for “their offer to pay for President Trump’s proposed wall at the Mexican border”, claiming it stank of “unequivocally the rank opportunism”.

In fact, just last week, the RHC held a rally in front of the White House and declared its support for Trump’s immigration proposal to implement ‘merit-based’ immigration and eliminate ‘chain immigration’.

According to the website India Abroad, the slogans raised at the rally “said ‘We Love Trump’, ‘Trump Loves Hindus’, ‘Trump is not a Racist’, ‘Trump bringing Ramrajya’, ‘End Chain Migration’, ‘End Chain Reallocate to Skilled’ and ‘End Country Limit: Bring the Best and the Brightest’.”


Also read: Understanding the ‘Hindus for Trump’ Phenomenon


“The enthusiastic support of HFT’s members – immigrants or children of immigrants themselves – for Trump’s racist anti-immigration policies is the worst kind of political expediency. Supporting thus the bigoted and vindictive policies of an administration that openly expresses racist contempt against immigrants, minorities, and non-white populations of the world is an affront to South Asian communities in the US, a diverse population which often shares with other Americans of colour their struggles for dignity and a stable livelihood,” reads ICW’s statement.

On January 30, Trump, in his first state of the union address, had said, “It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system, one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.”

It shouldn’t be forgotten that in its bid to help Trump win the election against Hillary Clinton, Shalabh ‘Shalli’ Kumar, the founder of the RHC, personally donated close to a million dollars to Trump’s campaign, making him one of Trump’s biggest financial backers. The event RHC sponsored in New Jersey in October 2016, in fact, was an event framed around raising money to combat “radical Islamic terrorism”. This even got the Hindu Sena, a fringe phenomenon in India, excited about Trump, leading them to performing a havan for Donald Trump on his birthday.

Trump himself has also praised India’s role in fighting “radical Islamic terrorism”. By doing so, Trump strikes at the heart of the Hindu nationalist narrative: anti-Muslim anxiety.

Krishna Bansal, the national policy and political director of the RHC, told India Abroad that by holding the rally, the RHC has “once again demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that Hindu Americans under the leadership of the RHC, have come to love this businessman-turned-politician (Trump) who is bold, speaks the truth and is a man of action”.

Taking the opposite stand, the ICW statement points out how Trump’s “merit-based” immigration system is consistent with their fight against reservation in India.

With Hindutva forces taking control of the daily narrative in India under the Narendra Modi regime since 2014, the statement says “it is not surprising that HFT is an avid supporter of the Islamophobic and casteist policies of the Indian prime minister, who, inspired by Hindu Supremacist ideology (Hindutva) sees non-Hindus and oppressed castes as permanent second-class citizens”.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and RHC’s Shalli Kumar light a ceremonial diya at a Bollywood-themed charity concert in New Jersey in October 2016. Credit: Reuters

Pointing out just how contradictory it is for Indian immigrants to support such policies considering the history of the Indian diaspora where “Punjabi farm workers labouring in the fields of California made common cause and built community with Mexican immigrants working alongside them”, ICW says that it solidarity is the only way forward.

The group offers “the shining example of the drivers from the New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance who staged an impromptu strike at JFK to protest against Trump’s Muslim ban”.

“A community that has produced a Ravi Ragbir who stands for the rights of the undocumented, should not have to settle for a Shalli Kumar (founder of ‘Hindus for Trump’), who seeks to ingratiate himself to white supremacists for a shameful seat at the table of injustice,” the statement ends.

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  • Ek Aur India

    If one were to shake-up these so called Hindu fronts in the US upside down many family chains of low-skills workers will fall down, particularly from Gujarat who are now raising the slogans of “End Chain Migration’, ‘End Chain Reallocate to Skilled’”. Thousands and Thousands of Gujarati migrated to US and then brought over their families legally as well as illegally and now they have the audacity to lecture on migration to Spanish speaking population from Mexico and South America.

  • Ek Aur India

    You do have a valid point. I think its expected, like you stated, from an organization like wire to state the opposing view from same group. However, i’m not sure about “numerically insignificant” point. For instance, a group could have very few number of people but that can have a pretty significant grip over policy matters.

  • Ek Aur India

    Point to provide citation for Organizations mentioned in the article is pretty valid and i think you are right in calling out Wire for this. But failing to do that shouldn’t lead us to question their intent. The fact that you and I are here in a proof in itself we are looking for fair reporting.