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Thursday, July 18, 2024

51 percent Hindu students face hatred in schools, reveals Henry Jackson Society’s report on anti-Hindu hate in UK

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The Henry Jackson Society, which is a centre on social and political risk, based out of the UK, in its latest report, written by Charlotte Littlewood, talks about anti-Hindu hatred rampant across schools in the United Kingdom. The key findings of the same reveal that 51 percent parents of Hindu students who were surveyed, reported that their child had experienced anti-Hindu hate in schools.

On the other hand, less than 1 percent of the schools which were queried through Freedom of Information (FOI), having Indian students, reported any sort of anti-Hindu-related incidents in the last 5 years. The report further reveals that the teaching of Hinduism has been reported by some participants of the study as fostering religious discrimination against Hindu students.

Further, 19 percent of the Hindu parents who participated in the survey believe that schools are able to identify anti-Hindu hate, and 15 percent of the parents are of the opinion that schools adequately address anti-Hindu-related incidents.

The foreword to the report has been given by MP Ben Everitt, who has stated that he welcomes this pioneering national study into the nature and extent of discrimination that young Hindu people are facing within the education system of the UK.

“The findings in this report are damning and shed light on the varying themes and forms which anti-Hindu discrimination materialises in the classroom. This nuanced, highly detailed approach highlights that anti-Hindu discrimination is in fact, multifaceted”, Stated Everitt.

He further mentions, “We see how this type of discrimination can take the form of anti-Hindu slurs, but also in how a problematic approach to teaching Hinduism may be feeding into prejudice, and whether incidents of bullying and discrimination are being adequately dealt with by each individual school”.

Talking about the false narrative of ‘Hindutva extremism’ and ‘Hindu terrorism’, the report also suggests that tensions can escalate ahead of the 2024 general elections in India, and that the conspiracies about ‘Hindutva dominance’ are likely to increase dramatically in the coming months, along with violence.

The study also mentions the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI)’s report which was prepared after the Leicester violence of September 2022, which primarily focused on anti-Hindu hate and narrative on social media.

NCRI’s report summarises, “Hindu phobic tropes–such as the portrayal of Hindus as fundamentally heretical, evil, dirty, tyrannical, genocidal, irredeemable, or disloyal–are prominent across the ideological spectrum. Despite violent and genocidal implications of Hindu-phobia, it has largely been understudied, dismissed, or even denied in the public sphere”.

The HJS report chooses to use the term anti-Hindu hate rather than the still-unfamiliar ‘Hindu-phobia’ to make clear to the general reader that it is concerned with discrimination against, rather than fear of, the Hindu people for their perceived culture, norms, religious practices and politics.

The report also mentions that a working definition of Hindu-phobia was developed in 2021 at the ‘Understanding Hindu-phobia conference’ held at the Rutgers University. This definition, along with an understanding drawn from the relevant NCRI and HJS reports, has been used as an aid to answer to what extent there is anti-Hindu hate in schools.

The definition describes Hindu-phobia as a set of antagonistic, destructive, and derogatory attitudes and behaviours towards Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) and Hindus that may manifest as prejudice, fear, or hatred.

It further states, “Hindu-phobic rhetoric reduces the entirety of Sanatana Dharma to a rigid, oppressive, and regressive tradition. Prosocial and reflexive aspects of Hindu traditions are ignored or attributed to outside, non-Hindu influences. This discourse actively erases and denies the persecution of Hindus while disproportionately painting Hindus as violent”.

These stereotypes are used to justify the dissolution, external reformation, and demonization of the range of indigenous Indic knowledge traditions known as Sanatana Dharma.

The complete range of Hindu phobic acts extends from microaggressions to genocide. Hindu-phobic projects include the destruction and desecration of Hindu sacred spaces; aggressive and forced proselytization of Hindu populations; targeted violence towards Hindu people, community institutions, and organizations; and ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Some rampant examples of Hindu phobic acts, as mentioned in the report are- calling for, abetting, or normalizing the killing or harming of Hindus as a result of an extremist and illiberal view of religion and history; kidnapping Hindu women and children in acts of forcible marriage and religious conversion; outright denying or accusing Hindus or any people of inventing or exaggerating the persecution of Hindus, including genocide; calling for the destruction and dissolution of Hinduism on the basis of its allegedly inherent irredeemability.

More examples include accusing those who organize around or speak about Hindu-phobia (including the persecution of Hindus) of being agents or pawns of violent, oppressive political agendas; maintaining that all inequity in Indian society, including but not limited to sati, caste, misogyny, communal violence, and destruction of places of worship, stem from and are ‘inextricably bound up with’ Hinduism; using or enacting symbols and actions that evoke historical attacks on Hindu society (e.g., iconoclasm, killing cows, conversion) in contemporary discourse to intimidate Hindu people.

Some other examples listed are- making unsubstantiated claims about the political agendas of people who are simply practicing Hinduism; drawing a causal link between antisocial behaviours and Sanatana Dharma – this can manifest as attributing individuals’ motives uniquely to Hinduism, selectively sampling data to create the perception of a phenomenon, and/or falsely linking observed or apparent phenomena to Hinduism.

Caricaturizing Hindu scriptures, including unrepresentative curation from and misinterpretation/mistranslation of texts and exaggeration and distortion of their roles in historical and contemporary Hindu life. These caricatures are falsely cast as emblematic of the entirety of Sanatana Dharma; claiming that Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma does not exist as a valid, cohesive category of spiritual traditions.

Erasure of the Hindu civilizational imprint, including the denial of Hindu contributions to specific histories, knowledge systems, geographies, culture, etc., and the superimposition of Western civilization norms; conflating diasporic Hindu identity with Indian citizenship, ethnicity, and patriotism; and erasure of colonization, including, but not limited to, calling Hindus ‘the white people of South Asia’.

The next part of the report focuses on the teaching of Hinduism in schools. It has been stated that there is no set national curriculum for Religious Education (RE) in the UK, but all maintained schools must follow the requirement to teach a broad and balanced curriculum, which includes RE. For maintained schools, the RE curriculum is determined by the local authority’s SACRE, which is responsible for producing the locally agreed syllabus for RE. The agreed syllabus is designed by a local authority’s Agreed Syllabus Conference. Section 375(3) of the Education Act 1996 requires the RE syllabus to reflect “that the religious traditions of Great Britain are in the main Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain”.

Schools with a religious nomination may prioritise one religion in the RE curriculum, but all schools must recognise the diversity of religion and belief both locally and across the UK. Hinduism is one of the religions that can be covered in religious studies in England. However, research conducted into education on Hinduism in schools has identified a lack of adequate religious education teaching in general and a poor approach to Hinduism in particular.

It has been mentioned in the study that a report by the Commission on Religious Education (CoRE) suggested that since subject inspections ended in 2013, quality and provision of religious education has dropped. It found that a lack of adequate training and support for teachers has resulted in a religious education that is sometimes “reduced to crude differences between denominations” and that “has sometimes inadvertently reinforced stereotypes about religions, rather than challenge them”.

Noted was a need to pay particular attention to Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism which were found to be disproportionally neglected and misrepresented in religious education. The authors argue: “Teachers often lack confidence in teaching Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism as well as non-religious worldviews. This may mean that these areas are either not covered, or covered less well, leading to an unbalanced curriculum”. The report proposes a renamed and refocused subject, more sensitive to diverse faith traditions, to be known as “Religions and Worldviews”.

With the aim to investigate the prevalence of anti-Hindu hate in schools in England and the extent to which the schools have the capacity to tackle the same, a mixed-method approach was used by the Henry Jackson Society, which involved a Freedom of Information (FOI) request sent to the schools, and a survey of Hindu parents.

988 Hindu parents participated in the survey anonymously, and FOI requests were sent to all the schools which were identified as having South Asian students, via the Department for Education (DfE) census. The schools were asked to share their incident-reports of anti-Hindu bullying in school between the years 2017 and 2022.

The HJS believes that these parental reports of bullying may well underestimate the true extent of anti-Hindu incidents in schools. Evidently, not all children tell their parents about every negative experience in school. DfE findings also indicate that young people from Indian (and other Asian and African backgrounds), as well as those who associate themselves with a religion, are significantly less likely to report such experiences, for cultural or other reasons.

It has also been found out that young people of Asian and African ethnicities are least likely to report being bullied.

Sonakshi Datta
Sonakshi Datta
Journalist who wants to cover the truth which others look the other way from.

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