Opposing the Far-Right in India… in New York City

i just finished listening to this great interview with Biju Mathew, an anti-capitalist and anti-fascist Indian activist living in New York City. Mathew was interviewed by Montreal radical journalist Jaggi Singh about the connection between neo-liberalism, migration and the rise of the Hindu fundamentalist far right within the South Asian diaspora. The original interview aired on CKUT’s South Asian Community News show, which can be downloaded from Radio4All. (it took me over an hour to download the show, so i have excerpted just the interview and uploaded it to my blog here)

The interview with Mathew is one of those pleasant treats – hearing a community activist discuss anti-fascism with a class perspective, always honing in on what elements of society are most susceptible to far right ideas and why.

Mathew explains that the Hindu far-right draws most of its support from the well educated professional middle class. Not surprisingly, this is in direct contradiction to the liberal myth that it is the “backwards” and poor classes which are drawn to fascism – while i certainly don’t want to pretend that the global far right is homogenous, there are many many other examples of fascism growing within the most “advanced” and “modern classes,” regardless of the traditionalist drag they may hid behind.

This professional, modern base for Hindu fascism creates the complex background in which far right ideology is much more widespread amongst the Indian diaspora than in India itself. As Mathew explains

There’s a particular way in which Hindu nationalism is more alive […] more virulent and vigorous here in the diaspora, than even back at home. Because if i stand on s street corner in Bombay and stop the first ten people who are going by me and ask them what they think of Hindutva or Hindu nationalism… i can be almost certain that i won’t find more than 1 or 2 adherents to the ideology. Whereas if i stand in Queens’ Jackson Heights or Oak Tree Road in New Jersey which is the Indian hub, and stop the first ten people who come by me i’ll find the density of Hindutva adherents to be a lot more. And i think it’s just the class composition more than one in ten people.

Tying in into class once again, Mathew notes that Hindutva is less dominant in Canada, where most Indian immigrants tend to be more solidly working class.

This interview is a really good complement to discussions on fascism here in North America. Obviously, far right tendencies within “minority” communities are not going to have the same importance for most North American anti-fascists as white nationalist groups like the Klan or boneheads. Nevertheless, for people living within these communities fascist elements can be of utmost strategic and personal importance. As Mathew explains, much of the support for Indian anti-fascist action in New York City comes from young Indian women, “Essentially second generation women who have in a certain sense taken the brunt of the kind of neo-fascist traditionalism that has crept into the ‘upper class Hindu’ households.”

In terms of solidarity work, the international activities of these different fascist movements are well worth disrupting. Fascist activists here in North America can play an important part in supporting and funding the movement for genocide in India, and one of the campaigns Mathew has been deeply involved in has been to expose the activities of the India Development and Relief Fund. The IDRF claims to “to support volunteer-based, honest and highly experienced non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in India in serving their populations’ critical needs around education, healthcare, and welfare, without regard to religion, caste or creed.” But in actual fact eighty percent of the funds the IDRF sends to India go to the fascist Hindutva movement.

It is genocide in India – the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in particular, and the most brutal subordination of all women – that is being funded by these fascists. Again: by this movement of the well-educated modern professional middle class…

Anyway, enough bla bla by me… just listen to the interview!

(and check out the Stop Funding Hate website for more info on the campaign against IDRF)


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