Vaahan reports from the World Hindu Congress in Chicago and uncovers the truth behind the fake news being published about the event.
The second World Hindu Congress (WHC) took place in Chicago on the 7th – 9th September and brought together Hindus from over 60 countries. The mission of the Congress was to provide a global platform for Hindus to connect, share ideas, inspire one another, and impact the common good. The WHC marked 125 years since Swami Vivekananda’s great speech in Chicago and included conferences on economics, education, women, media, politics and an organisational conference. High profile speakers and dignitaries attended the WHC including Vice President of India the Honourable Venkaiah Naidu, Sarsanghchalak of the RSS Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat, Padma Bhushan Anupam Kher and Vice President of the Republic of Suriname the Honourable Ashwin Adhin.
Every attendee that I spoke to was passionate about the injustices towards Hindus such as the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir but also targeted attacks towards Hindus and Hinduism through the media and NGOs.
The WHC was well attended with over 2,500 participants and more than 200 volunteers who helped with the smooth running of the conferences. All strands of the Hindu community came together to discuss important issues affecting the community, share experiences and work towards a common goal. Every attendee that I spoke to was passionate about the injustices towards Hindus such as the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir but also targeted attacks towards Hindus and Hinduism through the media and NGOs. Some of the members of the audience were Hindus from Kashmir and told us horrifying accounts of how they were left isolated by both the state and national government and had to flee with their young children and elderly parents unarmed against an armed and funded insurgency. A young Hindu couple with a baby girl from Pakistan had travelled to the WHC and were hoping to seek asylum in the United States due to the constant fears of abduction, rape and forced conversion of young Hindu girls.
I spoke on the “Current and Future Trends of Print Media” in the Media Conference and on the “Media’s Portrayal of Hindu Women” in the Women Conference. Delegates were all in agreement that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being depicted negatively in the global media and India is falsely portrayed to be a violent patriarchal nation towards women. In the Women Conference, women spoke out about these misconceptions and there were many groups who campaigned for Prime Minister Modi’s election campaign.
In the Media Conference, it was discussed how the current narrative needs to change for the better. It was inspiring to hear from Bollywood Film Director Vivek Agnihotri who felt angered about the negative portrayal of Hindus. He explained that on YouTube and online, there is hardly any information of our great Hindu history and accomplishments and that he wants to make it his mission to rectify this. He will also soon be releasing a film “The Tashkent Files” about uncovering the reasons behind Lal Bahadur Shastri’s suspicious death.
Outside of the conferences, the hallways were full of posters and stands showing the great work of various charities. Members of charities explained how particularly in South India, Christian organisations provide food and medical aid to the needy in return for converting to Christianity. This has become a serious issue and Hindu charities are now trying to reach out to those vulnerable in rural areas who may fall prey to these missionaries.
Whilst the Congress was taking place, Avaaz Foundation took out a full-page advertisement in The Chicago Tribune against the WHC. The advertisement is alleged to have cost them around $26,000. Avaaz also hired a mobile advertisement van stating to “boycott” the conference which kept circling the hotel car park. Attendees of the conference were advised not to travel alone outside of the vicinity of the hotel due to protestors. Two female protestors also infiltrated the main hall, however security swiftly removed them from the event and they were arrested.
It was disappointing to see that not only are these well-funded protest groups present in London, India and Chicago, but when speaking to fellow participants, they are present throughout America, Canada and the rest of the world including South Africa. The media are quick to pick up on negative and fake paid news believing it to be true, but the reality is very far from this.
Despite the above, the World Hindu Congress had a huge amount of positive energy and showed the Hindu community at its best. Its tagline “Sumantrite Suvikrante – think collectively, achieve valiantly” was achieved whereby groups from different parts of the world have connected with each other and are working on charitable causes, education, empowerment and promoting the truth.