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Faces of Hindu Supremacy

Is there just one face to Hindu supremacy? Gayatri Sethi doesn't think so.

There’s a popularly promoted notion afoot these days that the supporters of Hindu supremacy are “all the desi uncles.”


People I respect and admire are claiming that we need to stop our uncles. We are repeatedly told to talk to them about their bigoted support of the ruling party. Celebrities tweet or make art or memes to this effect.  I find this widely perpetrated trope to be a dangerous form of dissociation that allows those who actively promote or silently support Citizenship Amendment Bill that perpetuate genocide to get a free pass of sorts.


Let me tell you what I have observed in my own circles, the face of Hindu supremacy at the root of the current upheaval in India is not only the “desi uncle.” Let me tell you about some of the faces that I know well and intimately in my life:


It is the privileged diasporic desi people who selectively claim their Indian roots while we reside outside the sub-continent.

It is the white aunties married to desi uncles who raised their children to distance themselves from desi-ness.

It is the college students who dread the consequences of opposing fascism, the uber wealthy cousins who donate dollars to parties that actively promote hatred and genocide or the young brown folks who were taught financial success is reason enough to be silent to protect individual privileges.


It is the diaspora that claims India does not concern them.


It is those who claim a liberal or democratic voting identity where they reside off Indian soil while supporting Hindutva on Indian soil.


It is the social media savvy millennials who tweet opposition to hashtags aplenty but turn a blind eye to their parental votes for the ruling party.


It is all the Desis who grew up fearing “what will people say” and will therefore, stay silent as neighbours are violently attacked, removed or ended.


It is the Guru who creates a global following based on Hindu philosophies and yoga promoting peace while supporting an Indian state for Hindus only.


It every person who does #Yoga, but cares nothing about the roots of Yoga.


It is those who were fed by didis, aunties, mothers and cousins on a steady diet of rice, daal and Islamophobia.

It is the Indians who actively vilify Sikhs and Muslims as we chant Sanskrit mantras from the Vedas. 


It is the sisters and cousins and friends who disown their own people for marrying outside the caste or religion.


It is the Nani who mistreats her Muslim grandchildren.


It is the Desis who tolerate “others” in the name of secular democracy while teaching our children to conform to caste hierarchy which is systemic Hindu supremacy, the Desi uncle who votes for bigots, and it is equally the aunties who stand idly by while their sons turn bigotry into a way of life, the cousins, nieces and relatives who distance themselves from those of us who do not support blind patriotism as Hindu supremacy.


The seeds of hatred that explode on to the streets, homes, houses of worship, and courtrooms of India justifying citizenship based on religion or occupation in the name of patriotism, implicate all of us.


Our  cultural norms and society (“log”) silence us into complicit silence and aversion to accountability. It is time for us to shed our bigotry, silence, and resulting violence. We must own up to our own part in today’s Indian tragedy unfolding as fascism.


All of us are the faces of Hindu supremacy.


We need to begin our accountability by confessing this truth: Hindu supremacy exists because we breed and allow it. There are many faces of Hindu supremacy.


Let us begin with the one in the mirror.

About the author

Dr. Gayatri Sethi is an educator and writer who muses about social justice themes. A former professor and academic advisor, she consults and teaches about global studies, social justice, anti-racism and decolonizing education. She is of South Asian descent, born in Tanzania and raised in Botswana. Some of her work has previously been published in Brown Girl Magazine, The Dissident Voice and the Aerogramme. Instagram: @desibookaunty  | Tweets: @gayatrisethi



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