A new variant of Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism, is finding mainstream recognition in Britain, writes Edward Anderson in the journal Contemporary South Asia (Vol. 23, No.1). What Anderson calls “neo-Hindutva” is different from “orthodox” Hindu nationalism, represented by the Rashtiya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in that the former is less tied to Hindu majoritarian politics and tends to propagate high-tech, virtual expressions of conservative Hinduism for a global following. The author traces this shift to two groups in England, the Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB) and the web- and protest-based group Hindu Human Rights (HHR). Both groups became more prominent after they led protests against a 2006 art exhibition in London by Indian Muslim artist M.F. Husain. Since then, the British government has recognized both groups as leading representatives of the Hindu community in its “increasingly faith-focused, multicultural ‘cohesion’ policies.”
The RSS and other Hindu nationalist groups in India and abroad are not known for their interfaith activities, and the British government avoids connections with them in fear of jeopardizing their multi-cultural policies just as they do with radical Islam. Because the HFB and HHR also tend to disassociate themselves from these more militant groups and support interfaith and ecumenical involvement, they are seen as more suitable partners for the government, Anderson writes. But more liberal Hindus in the UK particularly criticize the more activist HHR for its conservative “homogenized” (if globalized) Hinduism that often agitates—with its large Facebook following—perceived enemies to the religion, and still lead protests and boycotts against museums showing Husain’s allegedly anti-Hindu artworks. The HFB has also been active in criticizing and seeking a boycott against American Hindu scholar Wendy Doniger for her portrayal of Hinduism in her book The Hindus.
(Contemporary South Asia, http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/ccsa20/current)