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World Hindu Congress ends with calls for Hindu unity, resolves to fight 'fake news'

Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu addressing the Indian Community in Chicago on Saturday. PTI  

The three-day World Hindu Congress (WHC) organised by Sangh Parivar affiliates concluded on Sunday with calls for Hindu unity and resurgence. Several delegates called upon Hindus to produce more children to protect their “social and territorial” integrity. The media track of the convention resolved to “fight fake news” and “fake narratives” in the mainstream media and create alternative narratives with a “Hindu perspective.” At least one speaker -- François Gautier -- called for the use of force by Hindus, who most speakers said were under attack.

“Only Hindus bought into the foolish thought of population control that was propagated. If the Hindus do not reverse this trend, this will be disastrous, and every Hindu should take pride in having more and more children,” said Sadhu Madhu Pandit Dasa, president of ISKCON Bangalore, who was a speaker at one of the plenary sessions along with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat. The “dwindling Hindu population” remained a theme throughout the WHC.

The WHC on Sunday evening pulled down from its website posters that derided interfaith marriages, created by Dilip Amin, identified on the WHC website as HAF Dharma Ambassador, USA. The posters, which were not part of the exhibition at the venue, questioned Sharmila Tagore’s marriage to Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi in 1969, and wondered whether their son Saif Ali Khan would force his wife, Kareena Kapoor, to convert to Islam. The posters were titled, ‘Interfaith Marriages: Silent Holocaust of Hindus.’

Mr. Amin runs a campaign in the U.S, against “love proselytisation,” and warns followers of Dharmic religions to be careful about falling in love with those from Abrahamic religions. In a 2017 YouTube video, where he discusses the issue with Rajiv Malhotra, who is another speaker at the WHC, both agree that Dharmic followers are trapped into conversions by their Christian, Muslim, and Jewish lovers in America. Mr. Malhotra was also a featured speaker at the Indian embassy in Washington D.C last year. Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu addressed the convention on Sunday and government sources sought to distance themselves from the controversy. “We are not aware of any such poster on display when VP was present,” an official said. The Hindu American Foundation's Jay Kansara told The Hindu in an email that "Dilip Amin is not an officer, nor ever has been, of HAF."

Swami Paramatmananda Saraswati, secretary general, Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, called for correction of the UN Human Rights Charter that he said favoured “aggressive religions” that “proselytise.” “The charter of human rights of the UN was drafted in Scandinavian countries. They talk of the freedom of religion. Right does not mean the right to convert others…by terrorism or allurement. This charter of human rights needs correction,” he said, adding “they are rejecting all traditional systems as primitive.”

“I hear that Hindus are very accommodative and tolerant. No, I am not tolerant. I won’t let you step on my toes. I respect you, we have to teach that mutual respect,” he said, referring to other religions.

“Fake news is one problem that we have to deal with…by digging out facts and challenging the news. But more than fake news, we discovered that we have to deal with fake narratives, because they are seemingly based on facts. We need to create another narrative to counter the fake narrative. Narratives sustain while news perish. So we need rigorous journalists who create narratives,” said Sushil Pandit, who coordinated the discussions on media, at the valedictory plenary.

Earlier in the media track, participants cited the creation of the ‘urban naxal’ narrative -- broadly, the idea that people who are raising civil rights issues are closet supporters of Maoist insurgents — as the model to emulate. Vivek Agnihotri, creator of the title ‘urban Naxals’, was congratulated by delegates and speakers at a session on media, where he was also a speaker. Mr. Agnihotri screened a 10-minute clip of a forthcoming film that he said explored the “mysterious death of Lal Bahadur Shastri.” “Nehru did not like anything Indian,” he said, to applause.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 9:44:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world-hindu-congress-ends-with-calls-for-hindu-unity-resolves-to-fight-fake-news/article24918501.ece

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