Bytesized nationalism: Mapping the Hindu right in the United States

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of California Davis]On: 26 October 2014, At: 12:47Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture &SocietyPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rrmx20

    Bytesized nationalism: Mapping the Hindu right in theUnited StatesBiju Mathew a ba Assistant professor of business , Rider University , E-mail:b Organizing committee member of the New York Taxi Workers AlliancePublished online: 24 Feb 2009.

    To cite this article: Biju Mathew (2000) Bytesized nationalism: Mapping the Hindu right in the United States, RethinkingMarxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture & Society, 12:3, 108-128, DOI: 10.1080/08935690009359015

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  • 108 Barkin

    mexicana: Presente y futuro, 208-37. Lecturas del Trimestre No. 8. Mexico: Fondo deCultura Econmica.

    Valle Baeza, A., and G. Martnez Gonzlez. 1996. Los salarios de la crisis. Mexico City:Facultad de Economa and La Jornada Ediciones.

    Byte-Sized Nationalism:Mapping the Hindu Right in the United States

    Biju Mathew

    Hum, tho there ajnabi And here I remain a strangerkitni mulakaatoon ke baad after so many meetingskhoon ke dhhabbey dhulengey How many monsoons will it bekitni barsaatoon ke baad before the blood is washed away

    Faiz Ahmed Faiz Faiz Ahmed Faiz

    In the plush offices of downtown Manhattan or suburban Los Angeles, in the shim-mering green and undulating suburbs of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, or on the inter-states that cut cleanly across the country, there is no blood to be washed away. Theblood here has long since been washed away, confined now to the Native Americanreservations and the inner-city ghettos of black and Hispanic communities. Buttoday, in the suburbs of middle-class America, a new form of blood lust is being fo-mented: blood that will drench people a continent away. Hindu nationalism, orHindutva, operates in the bowels of these sparkling, efficient, and serene middle-class havensthe "cleansed" suburbsas it foments its agenda for India. Hindutvain North America is the product of multiple forces, each overlapping and part of theothers: a crisis of diasporic identity, a mode of integration into the dominant whitesociety and capitalist political economy, residual immigrant nationalisms, and home-grown Indian patriarchy. Hindutva works out of a community that does not occupya contiguous space, but instead lives dispersed over the suburban United States. Itscommunicational backbonethe one feature that makes it capable of operating asan organized ideological forceis a set of criss-crossing electronic pathways: theinformation superhighway, or simply the Internet to old-time users.

    This complex of forces that create Hindutva in North America shares some fun-damental aspects with Hindutva in India, but also is separate inasmuch as the socialconditions of its existence and reproduction are vastly different. For the many people

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    in India who battle on a day-to-day basis the ugliness of communalism, this force,located and operating out of a land ten thousand miles away is especially important.1

    Hindutva in the diaspora has, over the last decade, begun to have more and moreinfluence over the fortunes of Hindutva at home for at least one fundamental reason:its material connections with the forces of Hindutva in India (the Hindu dollar, thesaffron greenback) that flow from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America to theVishwa Hindu Parishad in India.2

    I wish to begin my analysis of Hindutva in North America through a focus on twoaspects of its strategy. The first is its electronic network-based communicationalstrategy, without which the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America and its sister organi-zations in North America would be unable to function. The second is its small butcoherent leadership structure that operates outside the electronic pathways but pro-vides the ideological basis for the movement in North America. This analysis of theelectronic networks that connect and create the forces of Hindutva in the United Statesand Canada and its small, coherent leadership can be inaugurated, however, only atanother register, for reasons I will outline shortly.

    From the Suburbs Via Satallite: Long-Distance Nationalism

    In an article written in 1991, about a year before the Sangh Parivar destroyed theBabri Masjid (a prominent sixteenth-century mosque in North India) and massacreda few thousand Indian Muslims, Gyan Pandey reflected on the difficulty of writingabout and making the "ugliness and disorienting" aspect of communal violence vis-ible. On the one hand was the problem of sensationalized reporting of the violencethat fell into the trap of treating it as a mere "aberration" in the otherwise peacefulflow of secular lifesomething unfortunate and out of character that explodes inter-mittently in India without any apparent logic for, after all, the national character ofthe citizenry is one of secularism. On the other hand was the problem of writing outthe ugliness and disorienting aspects of the violence by refusing to sensationalize itand instead framing it within a sanitized and structured academic discourse. Pandeystruggled with that dilemma as he came face to face with the effects of one of themost brutal rounds of communal violence in India since 1947: the Bhagalpur kill-ings of 1991.

    This is highlighted in my mind because in some sense I face the precise converseof the same problematic. How does one, I ask myself, dig out and present the im-

    1. "Communalism" is the word used to denote sectarian hatred and violence, usually on the basis ofreligion. In popular Indian usage, communalism is seen as the antonym of secularism.2. Vishwa Hindu Parishad literally means World Hindu Council. Both in India and abroad it is part ofan array of organizations that constitute the Hindu right in India. The organizations that are part of thisformation include the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps), which is the ideo-logical fountainhead of the combine; the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People's Party), which is theparliamentary front of the combine; the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which is the cultural arm of the force;and the Bajrang Dal (the Army of Hunuman), which is its militant violent front. This combine is alsooften referred to as the Sangh Parivar (or the Hindutva family).

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  • 110 Mathew

    mense violence that Indian immigrant professionals produce ten thousand miles awaywhen, here in the United States, everything they do is hidden behind layers of publicliberal discourse and civil institutions of multiculturalism, that oh-so-genteel effortto live in peace together?

    The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, which is the flagship organization ofHindutva in North America, works silently in the shadow of multiculturalism in theUnited Statesrarely, if ever, emerging into the public spotlight. On the rare occa-sion when it emerges in public spaces, it appears appropriately dressed in the garb ofa "cultural" organization that "opposes all violence" and is simply involved in peacefulcelebration of the "beauty of tolerant Hinduism." This invisibility coupled withmomentary appearances (for instance, where beautiful, young brown girls dressedin traditional silks stand in for them in a parade)3 works sucessfully to mask the well-worked-out engine of violence of which they are part. Let me elaborate.

    The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America began operations in the United Statesin 1970 and registered its first office in New York State in 1974, describing itselfas a cultural organization with the goals of "add[ing] cultural enrichment andcultural awareness to American society, based on time tested Eternal Hindu val-ues" (VHPA n.d.).4 It claims to have active "member families" in forty states, abase it has built up over a decade of work. Its growth in the 1970s can be under-stood within the specifics of the dynamic of Indian immigration. Commenting onthe Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America's growth, a former president, MaheshMehta, characterized the nature of South Asian Immigration into the United Statesas follows.

    The first generation of Indians who settled in the USA in the I960's were mainly stu-dents . . . Or immigrants who received visas based on their professional status... Thus,the earlier [sic] Hindu community in the USA consisted primarily of highly educatedpeople, mostly young . . . By the late 1970s the composition started changing [sic] dueto the arrival of dependent immigrants who started small businesses. Although this grouphad disadvantages of language and lack of higher education, they have generally beenhard-working. (VHPA 1994, 3)

    The wave of largely professional immigrants that started in the 1960s (the Kennedywave of immigration) continues to contribute, even today, the most significant com-ponent of immigration into the United States from India. Products of elite and, morerecently, semielite urban institutions, these immigrants are themselves products ofNehruvian modernism and thus relatively adept at interfacing with the dominant white

    3. I use this image of young girls standing in for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America deliberatelyto quickly point to the centrality of a defined role for "women as upholders of tradition" that the Hindutvadiscourse in the United States promotes.4. This profile and other documents are available on the Global Hindu Electronic Network (http: //www.hindu.org/). This provides the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America's Net-based, elaborate andcolorful publicity concerning its activity as well as archives for two Internet/Usenet newsgroups:alt.hindu and soc.religion.hindu.

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  • Remarx 111

    society.5 However, the petit bourgeois element (small businessmen, traders) that en-tered the immigration channels in the late 1970s was different not only in that it did notenjoy the same easy passage into Anglo-Saxon America and its corporate cultural form,but also because of the nature of its profession. It remained far more ghettoized thanthe professional community. While the professional community was dispersed all overthe United States within universities and corporations (based on the spread of suchinstitutions), small businessmen were often located in close quarters in metropolitanareas or the immediate suburbs. Their physical and cultural ghettoization gave the earlybasis for growth of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America.

    The 1970s thus saw its slow growth with two more certified offices in Connecticutand Illinois. However, the 1980s saw an enormous proliferation, with ten officesestablished between 1980 and 1990.6 Documents written in the 1980s show someevidence of the group's initial petit bourgeois basis; for instance, the English used insome of the early documents indicates that they may have been produced by thenonelite small businessmen who had "disadvantages of language." Apart from itsextensive network of certified offices, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America alsohas a student wingthe Hindu Students Council, which functions in many ways asthe most visible flagship organization of Hindutva in the United States. The growthof the Hindu Students Councils in the United States has been far quicker than that ofthe parent organization. In many ways, it is possible to say that when the viabilityof this student wing became evident in the late 1980s, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad ofAmerica itself stopped opening new offices unless absolutely necessary and insteadchose to invest in the propagation of Hindu Student Councils. The oldest, at North-eastern University, dates to 1987. By 1995, there were forty-five student chaptersspread all across the United States and Canada.

    The shift toward opening Hindu Student Councils rather than organizational of-fices points to multiple facets of the growth of the Hindutva movement in the UnitedStates. Primarily it is a departure from an earlier mode of organization, concentratedin the immediate vicinity of large metropolises, to a larger dispersal of the organiza-tion, albeit in the different form of student organizations. In addition, it points to theorigin of the electronic networks as a primary communicational strategy for a dis-persed organizational structure. Also, the dispersal of Hindutva across the U.S. land-scape meant that the leadership structure would now begin to show signs of incorpo-rating the professional-bourgeois element of the diasporic community while stillretaining a strong component of the petit bourgeois element. Overall it can be seenas a novel solution to the problem of a small and committed leadership that was not

    5. The distinction between elite and semielite I am making is just to point to greater diversity in thebackgrounds of the professionals who have been entering the United States over the last ten years orso. If, in the 1960s, the elite Indian institutions like Indian Institutes of Technology were the primary"exporters" of professionals, this base had been widened by the 1980s to include Indian Institutes ofManagement and many Regional Engineering Colleges and smaller university colleges.6. A recent conversation with a Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America national coordinator suggests thatthe number of "official and unofficial" chapters currently stands at twenty-four.

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    mobile and, culturally, was at a disadvantage. As it was impossible for such a lead-ership to exist dispersed all across the North American land mass, the Hindu StudentCouncils and the electronic networks emerged as unique solutions to the problem ofgrowth.

    The typical Hindu Student Council is organized and run in most cases by a first-generation, male graduate student who has, in significant number of cases, somereal connections to the Sangh Parivar in India: either a parent who is part of theRashtriya Swayansevak Sangh or Bharatiya Janata party, or a family with a his-torical link to one of those organizations or its earlier incarnations such as the JanSangh. However, in what is a growing trend, many new Hindu Student Councilsare now being organized and run by second-generation Indian Americans, eithermale or female, who have immediate family connections in the Vishwa HinduParishad of America. Each Hindu Student Council is organized along strictly hier-archical lines, with a president and general secretary at the local level who reportdirectly to a regional coordinator. The regional coordinators (normally also thepresidents of the largest chapter in an area) report to the National Council of Chap-ters that runs out of the Hindu Student Council headquarters in Needham, Massa-chusetts. The insistence on hierarchy reveals much as it often translates into localleaders (especially the second-generation students) deferring to their "superiors"on any decision that involves directing the organization. While in nomenclaturalterms these are two distinct organizations, it is far more correct to read the VishwaHindu Parishad of America as the primary organization, run by an older genera-tion of petit bourgeois Indian men who control all the resources and give ideologi-cal direction to the complex. With some ideologically committed members at thehelm, the Hindu Student Councils work toward the presentation and further propa-gation of the complex.

    The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America thus finds through the Hindu StudentCouncils and the electronic networks a fascinating solution to its problem of growth.The truly mobile and widely dispersed segment of the Indian immigrant populationis the professional middle class. Within this segment, the most available group tocarry out the organizational project of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America is theimmigrant student population, on the one hand, and the second-generation IndianAmerican, on the other. Each has his or her different reasons but is perfectly locatedand in tune with the broad ideological objectives of the Hindutva movement.

    In addition to these two main organizations, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of Americaoperates through multiple fronts, some of which are created for some purpose andthen allowed to fade away while others have a long-term functional utility. Suchorganizations include the Concerned Non Resident Indians, a group formed imme-diately after the destruction of the Babri Masjid by a set of activists from VishwaHindu Parishad of America essentially to take care of urgent public relations workneeded as damage control immediately after the incident. Other, more longstandingorganizations include the Friends of the Bharatiya Janata party, which often playshost to the many visiting political figures from India and plays a role during other

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  • Remarx 113

    special occasions such as elections,7 and small-town Mahila Samaj organizations("women's" support groups) that are organized in conjunction with the local chapterof the Vishwa Hindu Parishad for "dealing" with problems of women (primarilydefined as "rearing children with traditional values").

    With such an extensive organization, one would expect the Vishwa Hindu Parishadof America to be a far more public institutionif not in the general space of whitecivil society, then at least within spaces that are marked by a preponderance of SouthAsians (South Asian neighborhoods, temples, conferences, commercial districts, etc.)Yet, despite a registered office in New York City and a working office in Berlin,Connecticut, it does not figure in the telephone books of either, not even as an un-published number. It simply does not exist. If one were to investigate on the Nets,surely one would expect to find both telephone numbers and addresses for VishwaHindu Parishad of America in each city. However, these phone numbers and addresseswould lead us not to an office, however small, in the cultural or commercial districtsof the town, but to a suburban mansionburied away and isolated, not easily acces-sible for more than simple reasons of being in the suburbia but also because one goesto the door of a suburban house only upon being invited.

    Indeed, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America takes care to make itself as unnotice-able as possible. McKean (1994), one of the few scholars to study it in some depth, ar-rived at a similar conclusion. In 1993-4, the "centenary" of Vivekananda's much pub-licized address to the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1893, the VishwaHindu Parishad of America made a conceited effort to appropriate Vivekananda as theirpatron saint. Yet as McKean, reporting on the 1993 parliament, observed: "The VHP ofAmerica was listed on the program as a co-sponsor and its delegation marched in theopening procession. However, the program neither listed any sessions as sponsored bythe VHP nor indicated that the Hindu Host Committee had members who are VHP sup-porters. For those unfamiliar with the way that the Hindu nationalists construct and dis-seminate propaganda, the VHP's presence would have been far more subtle" (1994,93).

    The electronic Nets were, however, abuzz with Vivekananda. AltHindu (recentlyconverted to Soc.Religion.Hindu, an electronic bulletin board started by one of the old-est and most dedicated Hindu Student Council workers on the Net in Cincinnati, selec-tively serialized Vivekananda from the beginning of 1993 until well after the centenaryparliament,8 Soc.Culture.Indian, another bulletin board on which Hindutvavadis are a

    7. For instance, just a few months before the May 1996 elections in India, the Overseas Friends of theBharatiya Janata party, a diasporic organization that supports the Bharatiya Janata party's activities inIndia, began intense activity on the Nets distributing the party's election manifesto and soliciting fundsthrough their newly created Web page "Kamal Darshan."8. The resources dedicated to Hindu Student Council activity on the Net are astounding. It includes adedicated host machine called rbhatnagar (named after one of the earliest Hindu Student Council ac-tivists on the Net, who probably owns the whole machine) which is the central location for all GlobalHindu Electronic Network resources. The comparison that will indicate the nature of the resources thatare dedicated to Hindu Student Council work is that no nonprofit organization in all of New York thatI know of has a dedicated host. The capital investment required for setting it up would be anywherebetween ten and fifty thousand dollars, depending on the machine, not to mention the software engi-neering work required to make it all work.

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  • 114 M at hew

    vocal presence, was the site of a three-month-long barrage of continuous discussions onthe relevance of Vivekananda to modern Hinduism. Soc.Culture.Indian also saw theemergence (in the year preceding 6 Dec. 1992) of long and extended discussions onsuch topics as "Why are Muslim men bad in bed?" and "Are Muslims dirty?" Suchquestions can be read in the context of a resurgent Hindu nationalism in India that re-volves around notions of Hindu purity and its violation by Islam as well as the centralicon of the post-1980s wave of Hindu nationalism, Hindu manhood. In the months thatfollowed 6 Dec 1992, Vivekananda was liberally mixed with discussions on such top-ics as "Eating beef and the sexuality," "Muslim rates of procreation," and "Have wetaught them a lesson?" (referring to the battle cry of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leadersin India who were out to "teach Muslims a lesson"). These discussions continue spo-radically to this day on the Nets.

    Outside the nets, the season of death and carnage following 6 December was cel-ebrated by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America with their World Vision 2000conference of March 1993. The razing of the mosque itself elicited only a strongsilence. However, many of its front organizations were active during this phase. On16 January 1993, a group euphemistically called Concerned Non Resident. Indianspublished an advertisement in India in Indian Express claiming to represent "900,000of the 1 million NRFs living in the US" who "call Bharat their mother." They calledupon "brothers and sisters in India" to pressure the Indian government to lift the banthat had been imposed on "nationalistic organizations" such as the Vishwa HinduParishad and Rashtriya Swayansevak Sangh. Similarly, the numerous announcementsfor World Vision 2000 were publicized by Hindu Student Councils and other frontorganizations but rarely by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America itself, except forthe sponsorship line in the announcements.

    The picture that emerges is remarkably skewed. On the one hand we have an or-ganization that rarely if ever steps into the public light. Many of its activities areconducted through either fronts that have no explicit link to it or individuals who donot identify themselves as with either the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America or HinduStudent Council in their notes on the networks. Its most open appearance was and istoday as a sponsor for the Hindu Student Councils in various universities; its nameappears at the bottom of some announcements.

    Why, we may ask, does an organization like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of Americaprefer to remain in the shadows, especially when the right fringe of white societyhas itself gone more and more mainstream? Apart from the straightforward organi-zational imperative of growth, why does it prefer to operate on the Nets? Why aridhow does a student organization (namely, the Hindu Student Council) become itspublic face? And finally, how successful has the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of Americabeen in both expanding its base in the United States and, even more importantly, inproviding material help to the Sangh Parivar in India. To answer these questions ofvisibility/invisibility, the electronic networks as the medium of choice, and studentpolitics as mode of growth, one needs to go beyond a simple analysis of what hap-pens on the Nets and look at the specifics of how the Indian immigrant class is posi-

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  • Remarx 115

    tioned in the United States. In other words, one needs to look precisely at that nexusof the politics of race, class, and diaspora in the United States.

    Minorities, the Question of "Value," and the Electronic Networks

    It was Fanon who said "the negro is comparison . . . Whenever he comes intocontact with someone else the question of value, of merit arises." But how, one mayask, is the question of a colonized Antillean subject connected to the immigrant Hindu?One answer lies in Anderson's (1994) explanation of nationalism. Though he worksfrom models of European nationalism, he makes the valuable point that both thecolonized and the immigrant are similar inasmuch as both are in a state of exile, henceproducers of nationalist discourse; his argument is especially useful in the analysisof immigrant nationalism, at which he himself is far more adept. If indeed this is onestrand of continuity between the colonial and the postcolonial, then the paranoia thatFanon identifies as central to the subjectivity of the colonized is also a significantaspect of the subjectivity of the immigrant exile. As many scholars of postcolonialityhave pointed out, the departure of the imperial authority from the colony has meantonly that the imperial authority has been "replaced by a function that has outlivefd]the figure itself (Prasad 1992).

    Indian immigrants in the United States (like many other immigrant communities)work through this equation of comparison not simply because of a disfigured butalive colonized subjectivity, but also because the dominant political economy insertsthem in a space of "competition." The idea of a model minority is not simply one ofeach minority and its specific relation with the ruling white class. It is in contrastwith the idea of competition between two or more minority communities conductedconstantly under the aegis of the ruling white society's definition of value in thecapitalist political economy of the United States. In other words, the Indian im-migrant's position is defined not just by the field of racial politics into which he orshe enters, but also by the relation between that politics of race and the specificitywith which it molds what we know as American capitalism. The distinctions madeamong the histories of oppression of Black, Hispanic, Chinese, Caribbean, and In-dian Americans involve "dividing up the past so as to keep alive the possibility ofcomparison" (Prasad 1992). The cultural value of a community is measured by drag-ging it through a history and calibrating it against the present, thereby assigning presentsocial value to one community but not to another.9 This dynamic, which makes forthe survival of multiple minority communities within U.S. capitalism, is based onimmigrants' capacity to dig into their historythat "backyard" strewn with the rav-

    9. Here I must also acknowledge my debt to Anannya Bhattacharjee (1992) for pointing to what Iconceive of as the ontological status of the term "model minority." She points out that the word"model" directs us to a "standard of excellence, set by the dominant class, which is predominantlywhite and wealthy" and also invites us to join them in achieving "model"ness, but simultaneouslyundercuts the invitation through the term "minority," thereby consigning one to the constant orbitof the colored "not-majority."

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    ages of a few thousand yearsand from within it to produce an array of objectsrelics and artifactsto put out on display. Without discounting immigrants' felt needto reproduce their "cultural heritage" (more on this shortly), we must acknowledgethat it is also the market that discovers, nay defines, the category of the ethnic in manywaysplacing value, so to speak, on the shade of darkness, by virtue of what thegroup is capable of displaying as its "heritage."10 The "spread" that multiculturalismputs out is also therefore the entry of capitalism in a new mode into at least the labormarket, not to mention the commodified ethnic pleasures we have at our disposaltoday.

    To speak of producing that "array of objects to put out on display" is also to speakof the Nets in an empirical way. The Hindutva apparatus enters the electronic spaceprimarily to speak to this need that the immigrant community feels. The Nets becomethe most compact and efficient mode of producing the symbolic capital requiredby the immigrant community that is largely made of technology professionals. Ifwe were to follow a "few discussion threads" on newsgroups such as Alt.Hindu,Soc.Culture.Indian, or Soc.Religion.Hindu more recently, we would immediatelyrealize that these networks provide the most efficient but fundamentally ahistoricaldiscourse on "Hindu" cultural forms. We must note at the outset that the Indian En-glish-educated professionals (especially those from elite or semielite engineering,medical, or business schools in India) are a fundamentally dispossessed lot. Theyoften arrive with an extremely sketchy knowledge of the history and cultural formsof India and, consequently, the complexity of the social relations that constitute In-dia today. Products of their own uniquely narrow family prejudices, thrown into resi-dential institutions at an early age, they remain "protected" from the social worldoutside but have been instructed through the Nehruvian dream that to be technicallycompetent is to be part of building the nation. This package of narrow social con-sciousness and technical arrogance is what the United States imports every year fromIndia. However, arriving as they do from the Indian Institutes of Technology, Re-gional Engineering Colleges, and Indian Institutes of Management, they have no basisfor meeting either the alienation felt in entering a different cultural space nor thedemand placed on them to produce their difference for the market. Further, the spa-tial dispersion of the diasporic community ensures that the Nets are their only realmode of renegotiating this problem of identity, produced from both within and with-out. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America/Hindu Student Council responds to sucha need. If one looks at the Web pages of the Hindu Student Council and the VishwaHindu Parishad, they offer a series of cultural information packages. These includeseveral artifacts of Hindu culture (such as a database of Hindu names); a collection

    10. Two issues occur to me here. The first is that I use the word "ethnic" not as a sociological categorybut more as one encounters it in the marketplace daily (the ethnic foods section of a supermarket, forinstance, which has no clean equation with how a sociologist would define ethnic). Also, when I al-lude to placing value on the shade of darkness, we must remember the oldest of capitalist practiceswherein indentured labor for the plantations would be differentially priced based on their ethnicity (seeGhosh 1994).

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    of articlesall answering the question, "Who is a Hindu?"written by Hindutvaideologues such as Golwalkar; an English version of the Bhagawad Gita; and selectedwritings of Vivekananda.11 Apart from such "packaged" information, the "open"discussions that ensue on the nets are equally instructive. They often unfold as a seriesof notes that work out the details of one small aspect of a larger issue. Rarely does adiscussion stay focused on the larger issue that may have been the starting point of a"thread." For instance, a seed article that analyzed caste politics in India would veryquickly be subjected to a series of positivist tests on its "truth claims" and also wouldproduce a series of only peripherally connected discussions on topics as wide andvaried as "the origins of caste" (most often explained through the Aryan-Dravidianrace theory or through a sketchy sociology of the social division of labor), "the Mandaicommission" (which would proceed through multiple stages of the "end-of-merit"argument),12 or how Indians abroad should not talk about caste for it is divisive. Mostif not all of these responses would be suffused with references to hypotheses, assump-tions, axioms, and logic.

    This mode of conversation in which a text is fragmented into a set of hypotheses,axioms, assumptions, and "facts" immediately after it is put up, and where only thoseaspects that are "convenient" are picked up for discussion with the rest abandoned,are discussed by Janaki Nair.

    Popular challenges to questions of history, judging from just a sample of assertions onemail in the USA, are increasingly being mounted by Indian professionals of a scienceand technology background, who express open distrust for the methods of historians,and who are convinced that they are better equipped by the positivist traditions of sci-ence to make decisive assertions about Indian history . . . The new positivist knightsrescuing history from its practitioners produce a version of history that bears curiousresemblance to a balance sheet. (1994, 5)

    Not only is this mode to be understood as simply positivist as Nair points out (whichit is), but it also deploys a particular discursive strategy of fragmenting texts that fi-nally not only produces an ahistorical picture, but also gives its practitioners an in-ventory of isolated cultural packets that work successfully as symbolic capitaltheitems in the "balance sheet" that Nair points to being precisely that. Further, thequestion of bad history is elaborated by Nair: "Such assertions wear a cloak of spu-rious scienctificity, flourishing 'evidence' from discredited colonial sources or makingextrapolations from thin bits of linguistic evidence. The recent claim that 'Hindu Kush'

    11. The extent of the packaged cultural information packages put out by the Vishwa Hindu Parishadof America on the Nets can be gauged through this partial list of neatly packaged items available: theEnglish translation of Manusmriti, a set of readings on the "ideological basis of Hindutva," a set ofarticles explaining the Parivar's position on the Ram Janma Bhoomi/Babri Masjid controversy, and apackage of readings on "terrorism in India" (read Pakistan/Muslim bashing), to name but a few.12. In 1992 the Mandai Commission, a state-appointed investigative body, recommended further

    extensions of the affirmative action programs in India. This led to widespread rioting by the upper castesof India who felt that their "merit" was not being sufficiently rewarded.

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    means 'Hindu Killer' and refers to a period of genocide of Hindus by Muslim invad-ers is a case in point" (5). While Nair suggests that "discredited" or "thin" evidenceis used, the mastery of the Hindutva lobby also lies in the fact that it "constructs"evidence. For example, Nair found that several of the "references" that the articleused to demonstrate that Muslims had engaged in genocide of Hindus in the pastsimply did not exist! Those references were introduced in the "correct" format andcontributed an air of scientificity more than anything else. The fact that sources arerarely checked out, or that the form of their presentation is often their only marker ofauthenticity, has been thoroughly exploited by the Hindutvavadis, especially giventhat the Internet is not a refereed space.

    Thus, the packaged "knowledge" (positivist and fragmentary history, and outrightincorrect history) that the Hindutvavadi doles out on the Nets gives immigrants boththe mode of dealing with alienation and the cultural capital needed to work withinthe market of multiculturalism. This mode of resolution to the problem of culturalauthenticity is what I often call the marginal efficiency of the Nets.

    Race, Multiculturalism, and the Hindu Student Councilin the Liberal Academy

    Having thus argued on one count for why the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America/Hindu Student Council uses the Nets, we are still left with the question why the HinduStudent Councils are the specific mode of external relations for Hindutva in the UnitedStates.

    After having linked the notions of exile and nationalism, Anderson goes furtherto note that capitalism "directly or indirectly" produces "new types of exile." Thisobservation on multiple types of exile is, for me, a beginning for connecting nation-alism and class in diasporic communities. By way of drawing out this relation, let usconsider Stuart Hall's statement on Caribbean identities. Hall points out that the fash-ioning of identities (in exile) is "not in any sense separate or removed from the prob-lems of political mobilization, cultural [and] economic development" (1996, p. 9).

    Here, Hall seems to be pointing to the specificity of the different types of exile, drawingout their differences in terms of the relation of exile to issues of political and economicdevelopment. In other words, he is arguing that building identities is "no mere redis-covery of roots" but always a reworking of cultural material in the light of some "futuregoals" of "political and economic development." Though Hall stays off the notion ofclass (and I don't know why!), one reading of the above analysis may connect the ques-tion of identity politics to the material idea of future political and economic goals asfollows: in immigrant communities, the nature of the identities built and the process ofbuilding such identities are class-specific phenomena, for the future economic and po-litical goals are indeed identifiable as specific to classes rather than to entire immigrantcommunities. Once the question of class is located as central to dealing with the speci-ficities of immigrant identity formations, we can begin to say why the Hindu StudentCouncil has become the mode by which the Hindutva agenda is promoted.

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    The Indian immigrant to the United States, whether professional bourgeois or petitbourgeois, arrives already interpellated by the Great "White" American Dream. Suchimmigrants' relation to nationalism and identity is therefore not just a product of thenationalist construction of India (Pandey 1991), but also is continuously mediatedby their link to the American dream. From within such a configuration of social de-sire, the immigrant Indian is forced to accommodate his or her nationalism and iden-tity in such a fashion that it always remains contained within the sphere of "white"cultural hegemony. It is this contradiction that produces the discourse of model mi-nority.13 We must here note that the model minority is as much a construction of thedominant white society as it is an understanding of the self that Asians deploy con-stantly. From within the landscape of race politics, the dominant white society with-out doubt seeks out the Asian as a model against the black, who stands condemnedby the "success" of the recently arrived immigrant. However, for an Asian to be amodel minority, he or she must not just distance him or herself from the Black Ameri-can, but also and far more importantly, must integrate him or herself with the model"white." Here, as Anannya Bhattacharjee suggests, the Barthesian notion of ex-nomination may be valuable in understanding this dynamic of integration into whitesociety. The bourgeoisie, Barthes suggests, prefers to remain "unnamed" and attemptsto "postulate itself as the univeral" (Bhattacharjee 1992,21). So also, the immigrantbourgeoisie prefers to remain unnamed and to integrate itself with the larger "white"model but is faced with a fundamental contradiction; because of its very status as im-migrant it always "risks being named" and finds itself in a "position defined by differ-ence" (22). How successful would an organization like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad ofAmericawhich speaks in the name of "all" Hindus in a non-Hindu landbe at re-maining "unnamed?"

    It is in this context that I wish to offer my first proposition that the Vishwa HinduParishad of America remains outside the spotlight precisely because the process ofex-nomination fails it as the larger white society marks any such formation througha politics of race. No organization that claims to be Hindu without paying attentionto how this Hindu can be both distinct from the Black American and part of the white,liberal structure of value can hope to work effectively. It therefore projects itself, onthe one hand, through Hindu Student Councils and, on the other, through individu-als in electronic space where the individual can be read back into different discoursesof universalismprofessional or engineer or scientistas so often are marked in theelectronic spaces by headers (att.com; intel.com; columbia.edu) or footers (elabo-rate plan files which often include quotes from some "great" thinker on questions oftruth and falsity) or by the general structure of his or her argumentation (the scien-

    13. For those readers not familiar with the literature on model minority constructions in U.S. diasporicpolitics, it is sufficient to note here that Asians (Chinese, Koreans, South Asians) are often presentedby the white establishment as hard working and thus deserving in contrast with the black Americanwho is presented as the "problem," lazy and thus undeserving of any assistance. For a good review ofmodel minority discussions see Mazumdar (1989).

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    tific/positivist structure).14 The Hindu Student Council is an organization uniquely suitedto the task of ex-nomination by virtue of its capacity to integrate itself into the liberalideology of multiculturalism. The liberal academy in the United States is the strong-hold of multiculturalism, and it is into the liberal universalism of multiculturalism thatHindutva vanishes in the liberal academy. It is important to note here that the HinduStudent Council and Hindutva have flourished notably in the most liberal of universi-ties in the United States. Their primary sites of growth in the early 1990s were not thehundreds of universities that dot the landscape and that cater to middle America, butinterestingly, were the Ivy League and other superelite institutions such as Harvard,the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia, Tufts, Boston University,Carnegie-Mellon, and Princeton. It was only after this initial burst, when it estab-lished itself in nearly all of the elite Eastern seaboard institutions, that it spread.

    On numerous occasions, the Hindu Student Councils have made full use of multi-culturalism to draw in a diverse body of people and thus to legitimize itself. On nearlyevery campus, they begin their activities with an "ethnic food festival" or popularfilm screening. These events not only draw in an audience but, inasmuch as the whiteestablishment can participate in this consumption of culture, the Hindu Student Coun-cils emerge legitimized by such interactions. Simultaneously, however, Gita readingsessions also are planned, which initiate the uninitiated and remain a "learning event"within the framework of multiculturalism.

    The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America/Hindu Student Council clarity on howmulticulturalism can be used as an effective tool in organizational growth is exem-plified best by a document called "Opening a Chapter of HSC," circulated on theNets by Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America activists to any interested party whoshows some willingness to open a Hindu Student Council chapter on their campus.This five-page document takes the interested individual through a step-by-step pro-cedure on how to go about opening a chapterin other words, how best to use thestructure of liberal multiculturalism to its advantage. The services offered include apre-prepared "Statement of Objectives" or "Constitution" from the national councilof chapters of the Hindu Student Council. This national council offers advice to chap-ters on how to meet the multicultural definition of a religious student group in uni-versities, how to choose a faculty adviser, how not to sign any modifications to theconstitution unless cleared by the national council, and modes of circumventing theminimum number of signatories required to achieve the status of a legitimate stu-dent group. The awareness that this document exhibits multiculturalism's definitionswithin the liberal academy is illuminating. The mission statement of the Hindu Stu-dent Councils frames multiculturalism as one of its central principles.

    14. Further, the Net is suited for such invisibility. We need to maintain a critical distance from thepopular notion that the Nets are these wide open spaces where every one encounters every one else. Anewsgroup called Soc.Culture.Indian would rarely, if ever, be visited by those not interested in India.A Web site called the Hindu homepage would largely attract only those who have reasons to go there.In such a sense, therefore, the Nets are spaces of private conversation within groups with a fairly nar-row range of interests.

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    And so the saffron stays in the shadow and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of Americamelds away into the inaccessibility of the suburb to emerge primarily through theHindu Student Council. The latter arrives in public not with an ideological labelwritten across its forehead like a caste sign, but more appropriately painted in themultiple shades of multicultural red, white and blue. The Vishwa Hindu Parishadof America, we can be sure, will stay in the shadow of the Hindu Student Councilsuntil it finds a universalism into which it can fade. At the margins, one can observethe constant effort to find such a universalism. The most recent attempts to pro-duce the Hindu as the most oppressed community in the history of humanity. Sto-ries of holocaust have been steadily constructed (the one about the Hindu Khushmountains [see Nair 1994] being only one among many). Most recently the HinduStudent Councils sponsored a long discussion on Soc.Culture.Indian and otherNets on the number of Hindus killed in the 1971 war that created a separate Bang-ladesh, in the process quoting everything from U.S. intelligence reports to RashtriyaSwayansevak Sangh literature and producing figures of dead Hindus as high as eightmillion. In the recent past there has been a proposal voiced in private circles tobegin lobbying for a space in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. to com-memorate Hindu victims of alleged genocide (or at least for a similar space in thenational capital).

    We have this far looked at the communicational strategies of the Hindu right inthe United States and the context within which such strategies work. However, thereis an equally important role that Hindutva organizations play in fund-raising amongthe Indian professional community residing in the United States. This fund-raisingis very innovatively positioned to appease the guilt of the diasporic middle class bymerging nationalism with charity. Thus, an "Indian" subject gives to an Indian "cause"and the coffers of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and related organizations in India con-tinue to swell.

    The Mobility of the Saffron Dollar in the Age of Globalization

    Over the past decade, many activists and journalists have suggested that the VishwaHindu Parishad in India receives a sizable volume of funds from the Vishwa HinduParishad of America through "illegal" channels as the RBI has explicitly rejectedthe VHP's application seeking permission for foreign exchange donations (Patward-han 1990). While we cannot even begin at this point to hazard a guess as to the vol-ume of "illegal" transfers into India, we can possibly make a beginning by lookingat what are seen as "legal" transactions between the Vishwa Hindu Parishad ofAmerica and the multiple front organizations of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in In-dia. The former operates four major programs under which it could possibly transfermoney to India: the family support program, the Seva or humanitarian services pro-gram, services for youth, and cultural programs. In outlining its mission that leadsup to these four programs the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America is careful to leaveout any reference to India, except the lines "Our InspirationBharat Mata." All di-

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    rect references to India were purged from Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America docu-ments after December 1992.15

    A careful analysis of the organization's funding structure reveals that it does makevoluminous transfers of funds to India. Two of its primary modes of transferringmoney to India are the Vanvasi Seva (Tribal Peoples Service) program and the Sup-port-a-Child program. The Vanvasi Seva and Support-a-Child programs are impor-tant for they reveal some of the names of nonprofit institutions like nongovernmen-tal organizations that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has set up in India for the transferof funds. Moreover, within the funds transferred to India, it seems fairly reasonableto suggest that though money flows from the United States earmarked for organi-zations such as Vanvasi Seva, it is more than just a possibility that a significantvolume of such funds gets diverted to party coffers for other purposes. Further, theVanvasi Seva and the Support-a-Child programs also indicate a standard RashtriyaSwayansevak Sangh strategy of attempting to bring marginalized populations intoits ideological fold. These populations have had a history of standing outside the paleof Brahminical Hinduism and historically have resisted it. The Rashtriya SwayansevakSangh, we must remember, began one of its most aggressive endeavors in fighting"the communists" in two specially earmarked tribal belts of India, the Thane districtin Maharashtra and the Jharkhand belt in Bihar.

    In the ten-year period between 1984 and 1993, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad ofAmerica had a total income in excess of $4.7 million of which it disbursed approxi-mately $1.2 million under its Seva program. These figures have been extracted froma wide variety of organizational documentation. I have two primary objectives in theanalysis of these figures. The first is to provide some kind of an index of how muchmoney has flowed between the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America and the VishwaHindu Parishad in India. The second is to spot changes in funding trends in the former.

    In the Name of the Poor and the Party

    The documents studied suggest that the SEVA program is the primary head un-der which the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America transfers money to India. It ef-fects these transfers through various social service front organizations that functionas fund recipients. After the Reserve Bank of India refused permission for the VishwaHindu Parishad itself to gather funds from abroad, the Seva program seems to havebeen identified as a potential mode of making such transfers.

    A straightforward analysis would suggest that $1.2 million had found its way intoIndia. However, this figure is lower than the amounts that actually have been trans-ferred to India. For one, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America's own documenta-tion suggests that Seva accounts for only 27.06 percent of its total expenditure. This

    15. However, it still continues to make loose references to contacts outside the United States saying,for instance, that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America is a "National organization of Hindus enjoy-ing Global Contacts [sic]" and that it "enjoys contacts with many other sister organizations."

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    would mean that 64.42 percent of its expenditures (after adjusting for administrativeexpenses) is on non-Seva projects. While the documentation lists a few other projectssuch as annual youth camps and conferences, Bal Vihar programs, and a magazinecalled Hindu Vishwa, it does not document the expenditure of this 64.42 percent ($3.1million) of their income. It is therefore possible that while 27.06 percent of theirincome does go to India via the Seva program, there are other, unreported projectsunder which further transfers occur. There are good grounds for believing this to bethe case. Apart from the fact that it is common knowledge in the United States thatthe Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America activists and visiting Sangh Parivar leadersconstantly carry back to India large sums of money and other convertible commodi-ties (everything from gold to watches), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America docu-ments themselves suggest other possibilities. In an overview document on its finances,the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America claims that the aggregate split of money usedin the United States relative to that used in India is in the proportion of 44 percent to56 percent. This figure of 56 percent does not correspond in any way to the 27.06percent they have published elsewhere. It is therefore a reasonable initial proposi-tion that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America finds other modes of transferringfunds between the United States and India. Taking their own figure of 56 percent (of$4.7 million), we arrive at a figure of $2.6 million (approximately 80 million rupees)for the money legally transferred to India over the last decade. In the documents thatI managed to extract, there are many other program titles mentioned but with nocorresponding accounts. For instance, the documents mention a community devel-opment program, but no funds are accounted for under the program in either theUnited States or India. Further, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America also trans-fers money for "emergency relief" to India (interview with Seva coordinator) and,in spite of repeated requests, no one figure was given to me on how much moneyhad been transferred. Also, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America undertakes to useits nonprofit status in both countries to transfer money for any party to India for "good"causes. In other words, if I wanted to send, say, $20,000 to my old school in India towhich the Vishwa Hindu Parishad was in no way connected, Vishwa Hindu Parishadof America would gladly undertake the task. It would transfer the money to the VishwaHindu Parishad in India who would, in turn, hand the money over to my school, allfor a service cost of 5 to 7 percent of the principal amount (interview with VishwaHindu Parishad of America personnel in New Jersey, 1996). Thus, there are mul-tiple, seemingly aboveboard operations that remain unaccounted for in the 80 mil-lion rupees that we estimated as the amount transferred to front organizations in India.Finally, there remains the question of unaccounted for illegal transfers. It is com-mon knowledge among the progressive sectors who have been fighting the VishwaHindu Parishad of America over the last five years that apart from bulk transfers ofmoney, any Vishwa Hindu Parishad functionary traveling to India often carries cashor any easily convertible material into India. If we were to put all this together, thefigure of 80 million rupees that we calculated could be actually the smaller fractionof what is transferred.

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    Corporate Dollars: The New Strategy

    Eighty million rupees is a sizable sum of money anywhere in the world. What is,however, even more important to note is that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America'scapacity to raise funds seems to have jumped exponentially over the past few years.It is my contention that it has changed its fund-raising strategies in the recent past.

    In the period between 1984 and 1992, it would be reasonable to assume that theVishwa Hindu Parishad of America collected most of its funds from individual do-nations. However, beginning in 1993, its strategy seems to have changed to drawcorporate America into its funding strategies. That conclusion is supported by mul-tiple pieces of evidence. On the one hand, a simple comparison of figures from 1990-2 with those from 1993 tells an important tale. The organization's total income inthe first three years was $342,388 in 1990, $322,149 in 1991, and $490,000 in 1992,yielding an average return per year of $385,462. In comparison, the 1993 total was$1,057,147, which represents an increase of 175 percent. What accounts for such anexponential leap in contributions? Surely it cannot be accounted for by an increasein either the size or the base of personal donations. Evidence exists that the organi-zation has turned its attention to corporate funding sources.

    One of their most important efforts in such direction was uncovered in 1993, in-volving an arrangement with telecommunications giant American Telephone andTelegraph. In mid-1993, a number of progressive groups in the United States wereinformed by a civil rights activist in Toronto, Canada, that the Vishwa Hindu Parishadof America had entered a funding partnership with AT&T. This arrangement wasstruck under AT&T's Association Benefits Program. Any organization registered withthe Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit cultural organization can sign up withthis program, which allows AT&T customers to designate the organization a recipi-ent of 1 percent of his or her monthly telephone bill. This meant that any VishwaHindu Parishad sympathizer could switch his or her telephone services to AT&Tand then proceed to divert 1 percent of his or her telephone bill to the Vishwa HinduParishad of America without any additional costs to him or herself and, more im-portantly, without affecting the "giving power" of the already existing, dedicateddonor base. A month-long campaign organized under the auspices of the newsgroupAlt.India.Progressive, and the electronic mailing lists of the Alliance for DemocraticSouth Asia and India Alert, resulted in AT&T cancelling its agreement with theVishwa Hindu Parishad of America. Our own conservative estimates during the cam-paign pointed to the possibility of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America generat-ing an additional quarter-million dollars per year under the arrangement.16

    While the deal with AT&T collapsed, that was not the only effort to tap corporatesources. Since 1992, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America has been working outarrangements with United Way. United Way works by setting up donor accounts forindividual nonprofits under its large account head. Its primary fund-raising strategy

    16. This figure would represent 1 percent of a $200 monthly telephone bill for ten thousand subscrib-ers (1 percent of the immigrant Indian population).

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    is through corporations. Many organizations, from medium-sized businesses to largemultinational corporations, run an annual United Way fundraiser, where individualswithin corporations donate money to specific United Way accounts and the corpora-tion in question matches the funds with equivalent dollars. In 1993-4, Vishwa HinduParishad of America worked out an arrangement with United Way of Central Con-necticut. The two arrangementsAT&T and United Way of Central Connecticutcould have accounted for the 175 percent increase in income. What is even morealarming is that between 1993 and today, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of Americahas expanded its United Way network to many more states. In 1998, it is estimatedto have established over forty United Way accounts. Further, in the interim period1994-9, it has successfully established control over other diasporic Hindu organiza-tions such as the Hindu Heritage Fund and the Hindu Encyclopedia Project as wellas some development-oriented nongovernmental organizations in the United Statessuch as the India Development Relief Fund. Such a broadening in the diversity offunding structures continues as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America and otherrelated organizations find innovative modes of tapping into the largesse of diasporiccommunities.

    The Saffron Dollar as Capital Investment:Liberalizing the Welfare Economy

    Progressives view the growing globalization of the world economy and the trendstoward liberalization of the Indian economy with much trepidation. Over the pastfew years, and especially since 1991, multinational corporations have substantiallyincreased their investments in India, as have developmental agencies such as the WorldBank. Such long-term investments are predicated upon the capacity of the Indianeconomy to ensure continuous capital flow both in and out of the country. As morepower is garnered by international capital, this process affects the very structure ofthe economy and thus its political future. If each of these investments were one-timetransactions, they would have no long-term effects on the nature of the political for-mations in the country and apprehensions would be minimal. The shift in VishwaHindu Parishad of America's strategy toward corporate funding in the United Statesand the overall trend toward liberalization provides, in my analysis, a perfect envi-ronment for strategic investments in the "development/welfare" segment of the In-dian economy that has, as its basis, a long-term political project. One of the primaryeffects of liberalization in India is the gradual withdrawal of the state from the wel-fare function. This in turn would mean that the welfare sector would be starved forfunds, creating a particularly attractive domain for ascendant political formations tobuild grass-roots support provided they had the capacity to ensure long-term invest-ments in projects. The Sangh Parivar has always recognized that the success of itspolitical project hinges on the incorporation of marginalized groups within its "Hindu"fold. The Rashtriya Swayansevak Sangh ashrams from the 1950s onward in the tribalbelts are indicative of this strategy. The success of the Shiv Sena in the Bombay met-

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    ropolitan area is at least partially due to their control over the "welfare" economythrough an intricate network of local initiatives. Non Resident Indians investmentsin India in the period 1990-5 amount to approximately $90 million. If the VishwaHindu Parishad of America and its European counterparts can produce tens of mil-lions of dollars each year that enter the "development/welfare" segment of theeconomy (not to mention the leakages into straightforward party activities that is alsobound to happen), then a political project that has thus far not shown signs of com-plete hegemony may well be on its way to becoming the single hegemonic force inIndian politics. When a multinational corporative or an expatriate Indian invests incorporate expansion in India, we have little trouble in seeing the obvious connec-tions between such an investment and emergent political directions in India. When itcomes to "welfare," however, the equation is never drawn so strongly, especially whenits point of entry into the economy is into tribal welfare or Support-a-Child programs.As subjects of Nehruvian modernism, we make an unnecessary distinction betweenindustrial capital and welfare capital. Nowhere could we be more wrong.

    It is also important at this point to focus momentarily on the ideological unity thatis visible in the United States between forces that are involved in the promotion ofglobalization and Hindutva. In the past five years, there has been tremendous growthin institutional forms that the diasporic community has put out. On the one hand thereare proliberalization groups such as India-Net and India-Info that aim at ensuringcontinued liberalization of the Indian economy. However, though their primary thrustis liberalization they, too, construct the equation India = Hindu in nearly every docu-ment, based on the idea of an ancient heritage that must be put to use in liberaliza-tion. In addition there are formations such as the Dharam Hinduja Foundation (andthe Hindujas have always been soft on Hindutva) which has sponsored a Vedic StudiesCenter at an institution like Columbia University.17 Over the past five years, the In-dian community has become active across the United States in at least one other Vedicstudies project and three other India chair projects and, in each of these, the India =Hindu equation stands out. At least two high circulation, diasporic newsppapers (NewsIndia Times and India Post) have unabashedly promoted the Hindutva ideology whileother, more liberal ones such as India Abroad and India Tribune have been comfort-able with the same. Needless to say, the investment-generating potential of each ofthese institutional forms is sizable. The proliferation of institutional forms unifiedby a broad ideological ground that sees India as Hindu along with the politicalmainstreaming of Hindutva in India provides for a condition where the forces offascism will emerge in the very near future as a complex whole that combines liber-alization with Hindutva agendas.18

    17. Relentless lobbying by progressives forced Columbia University to rename the Vedic Studies Centeran Indic Studies Center.18. As a precursor to this, we can note that most recently the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America onthe West Coast split with a small splinter group that renamed itself Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh andhas an antiliberalization platform.

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  • Remarx 127

    Private Fantasies and the Reproduction of Hindutva

    The Indian diaspora is in the United States as a professional work force. Inasmuchas it is the dream of a suburban house with a two-car garage that brought the immi-grants this far, we must also understand that they will not necessarily subjugate thatgoal to Hindu nationalism. They cannot, under any circumstances, allow their con-victions about Hindu nationalism to affect their individual goals of upward mobil-ity. They have no choice but to work those ten to fifteen hours each day to keep thatdream alive. Surplus-value extraction never takes a holiday. This means that after aten-hour day and a two-hour commute to their suburban condos, they need an effi-cient mode of "re"-articulating their identity in the individualized and racially markedU.S. society where integration with white society is still not on the anvil.19 As dis-cussed above, the Internet offers them that "private" medium. For about two hourseach day, many male Indian professionals surf the Net and converse with other In-dian mentalk nostalgia, talk spiritual, and talk India. They all share a languagedeveloped in their years in elite and semielite technical institutionsa language witha unique tenor of scientific arrogance, one that is sharply honed with witty meta-phors of subtle racism, homophobia, and sexism. In this language they talk to eachother each day and rearticulate a more purified notion of themselves as Hindu-Indian.It is a two-hour fix: an extremely efficient, ephemeral space that "realigns" them asHindu-Indians and makes them ready for the demands of the marketplace each day.It is, once again, into this liminal psychological space that the Vishwa Hindu Parishadof America enters. It enters into that equation by offering further possibilities of re-maining a Hindu-Indian in newer ways.

    Go out each day and contribute to the wealth of the multinational corporation;come home as night settles over the lush suburb. Cast off the feeling of alienation,that feeling of being ruled, by establishing contact with the mother country eachnightby responding with wit on why Hinduism is the greatest religion in the world,on why Muslims are inherently violent. . . by lashing out at a few Pakistanis whoare there for the same reasons and doing exactly the same things . . . experience asense of peace by reading three passages from the Gita and then putting out yourscientifically considered thoughts on how to interpret the passages . . . and finallypush a button on a Web page to send ten dollars to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad ofAmerica who, after all, offers you those hundred opportunities for yourself and yourchildren to remain Hindu-Indian. One does not have to be a raving Hindu fanatic todo this. One has only to be located in this cusp of global capitalism and diasporicidentity battles to do this.

    19. Here it is important to connect to the work of Vijay Prashad (2000), who analyzes the social con-sciousness of the Non Resident Indian community through notions of Girmitiya, the eternal promise ofretirement in India after one's labor has been extracted in the United States, and how this produces asharp distinction that most Indians make between the world of work and the world of home which re-main air-tight compartments that never interact.

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  • 128 Mathew

    Capital, it has been argued, has no inherent link to any project of fascism. In con-trast, we must remember Gramsci's alternative proposition that capital cannot beassumed to be a homogenizing and secularizing force. The electronic space is a warmcocoon of connections and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America button on the Webpage the easiest political statement without having to stand up and shout, which themiddle class hates doing anyway. The diaspora caught between the American dreamand Indian nationalism is probably the most peculiar example of Gramsci's under-standing of a globalized workforce marked by ethnicity, where capital itself remakesthe ethnic identity to recreate a distinct labor market. These are all the cultural formsof, in Raymond Williams's memorable phrase, "an ascendant class," and each "re-flects the mood" of ascendance. And it is a perfectly safe, middle-class space! Noneof the ugliness ever bursts through the Web page; it always remains captivatinglybeautiful and so cheerfully colorful, even as the blood of Shahid clots on his door-step in Sion, Bombay, and when Seema lies senseless after being raped multiple timesin the next room (from Father Son and Holy War, a film by Anand Patwardhan).There are no monsoons on the Nets to wash away the blood, for there is no blood tobe washed away. If it were there, if somehow a streak of blood splattered across thescreen, then one would just have to simulate the rain to wash it away. Fascism, it ispossible to say, has a new aesthetic!

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    United States. South Asia Bulletin 9 (1): 47-55.McKean, L. 1994. The transnational context of communalism. Paper presented at the semi-

    nar series, "Communalism in South Asia," fall, at the University of Pennsylvania.Nair, J. 1994. Notes of a historian reading e-mail. Sanskriti 5 (2): 7-8.Pandey, G. 1991. In defence of the fragment: Writing about Hindu-Muslim riots in India today.

    Economic and Political Weekly, March, 559-72.Patwardhan, A. 1996. Father, son and holy war. A documentary in two parts on religious

    violence and patriarchy, Bombay.Prasad, M. 1992. Comparison/competition/compensation. Sanskriti 2 (3).Prashad, V. 2000. The karma of brown folk. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.VHPA (Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America). 1994 Souvenir. Published out of VHP of America

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