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Hindu-Americans must make room for everyone

By VINEET CHANDER
November 09, 2020 19:58 IST
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Vineet Chander, Director of Hindu Life, Princeton University, offers his take on the US presidential election: What it means to him and what he believes it might to the community.

IMAGE: An art teacher paints a portrait of United States President-elect Joe Biden on a pavement outside his art school, which is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in Mumbai, November 8, 2020. Photograph: Kunal Patil/PTI Photo
 

I feel incredibly hopeful and enthusiastic to see our nation moving forward in a positive direction.

On a personal note, as the American-born child of Indian immigrants, the historic election of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris resonates with me.

I can see myself and my experiences in her, and I feel that her election is a vindication and affirmation of Indian-Americans, South-Asian-Americans, African-Americans... all of us who are hyphenated, who exist in realms of hybridity and liminality.

As someone who identifies strongly as a Hindu-American and tries to serve the Hindu-America community, I know that our community has suffered the same division that has engulfed the country as a whole.

I know of Hindu-Americans who supported President Trump because they saw him as good for US-India relations, or better for the economy, or for whatever other reasons.

I respect their right to make their own choices, and try to appreciate and empathise with their underlying needs or concerns even though I personally disagree with them.

The Hindu-American community must make room for everyone on the political spectrum, Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative.

Our ideological diversity is a strength, not a weakness. But there can simply be no place for hatred, prejudice, dishonesty, greed, and abuse of power.

What I have found deeply problematic about the past four years is the way in which these things have been legitimized and normalized.

To me, it has very little to do with belonging to this or that party.

It transcends partisan politics.

It is about basic decency and what it means to be a dharmic person, a person with integrity.

With due respect, I simply cannot square hurtful rhetoric, self-serving actions, and irresponsibly ego-driven leadership with the core values of my Hindu faith -- values like satyam (truthfulness), ahimsa (non-harming), karuna (compassion), and ekatva (unity).

My wife and I heard President-Elect Biden's speech last night and were quite moved.

We heard a sincere and authentic call to rise above division and a plea to reconcile and heal this nation.

We hope to answer that call ourselves, and pray that others in the South Asian, Indian, and Hindu-American communities -- regardless of how they voted in the election -- will do so as well.

Please note: Vineet Chander's institutional affiliation is only listed for identification purposes. His views are not intended to represent those of Princeton University or the program he directs.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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