A Letter to Concerned Hindu American College Students
Dear Hindu American students and organizations,
How wonderful that Hindu student organizations are on U.S. college campuses. When I was an undergrad in the mid-nineties, they weren’t as prevalent. I wonder how that might have changed my journey, if a sangha could have helped me develop a more nuanced, critical Hindu lens earlier on in life, a lens that the academy still doesn’t offer.
My name is Indu and I am a Hindu American scholar-activist-mom. I’ve spent nearly twenty years in the field of education and I am currently working on my doctorate at Teachers College. My research focuses on the transnational knowledge of second-generation Indian American teachers in NYC. I also teach critical multicultural social studies methods to pre-service teachers as a part of TC’s inclusive education program; the program is dedicated to anti-racist, inclusive pedagogy, acknowledging that teaching is a political act. I graduated from the program right after 9/11. In other words, I spend a lot of time thinking about, writing about, learning, teaching, and researching from anti-racist, anti-colonial theoretical lenses and other critical theories, like transnational literacy.
Recently, I have found myself thinking, reading, researching, and writing about being a progressive Hindu American, the impact of colonialism on perceptions of Hinduism , and the 2019 Indian elections. Despite being a “liberal Hindu American” — and one who is committed to naming and disrupting inequity through my work — my viewpoints are not ones espoused by many others who might identify similarly. I believe that some of this discrepancy can be attributed to media bias, particularly through popular progressive media outlets like The New York Times, NPR, The Guardian, Democracy Now, and The Washington Post. I grew up reading The Times and I agree with their analyses much of the time; but there was a point when some cognitive dissonance began to whisper in my ear about their reporting on Hinduism and India and I could no longer ignore it.
The same goes with NPR. In September, I started a petition regarding NPR’s biased reportage which was signed by over 8,000 people. I followed this with an analysis of the commenters, to gauge if the people who believe NPR is biased…