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On the centenary celebration of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya at the University of Lisbon

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A Note on the ‘Debate sobre Antyôdya: Transformar a Índia pela emancipação do povo’, to be held at the Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa (FLUL)

As academics linked to India, we note with concern that the Centro de Estudos Indianos, housed in the FLUL is going to celebrate the birth centenary of RSS member Deen Dayal Upadhyaya with the support of the Indian embassy by conducting a discussion on ‘Antyôdya’ or ‘integral humanism’, a term used by him, as a framework within which to discuss poverty alleviation efforts in India, a goal which it aligns with the objectives of the UN.

We are unaware of whether the Centre de Estudos Indianos is an autonomous centre, or whether its mandate and programmes are dictated by the government of India, but we would like to bring to your attention the fact that Deen Dayal Upadhyaya from 1937 on, was a full-time member of the RSS, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The RSS is not only the organizational core of the right wing Hindu movement in India, it also openly espoused and cultivated links with European fascism, and its former member, Nathuram Godse, murdered Gandhi.

 Through the decades of the anti-colonial struggle, the RSS and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya had little to contribute to the national movement. In the 1950s, Upadhyaya was involved in organizing the electoral party, the Jana Sangh, which preceded the BJP, the party that heads the government in India today. He has never disavowed his affiliation to the RSS in any manner.

The poster for the forthcoming programme suggests that Antyôdya, a term used by him, is a form of holistic humanism, termed ‘integral humanism’ by those trying to propogate this ideology. This form of humanism opposes the expression of caste or gender or class rights as a threat to social and societal unity. It also speaks of the dangers of the welfare state, of socialism and of the UN to the idea of familial, non-compartmentalized social unity. It upholds dharma over the Indian constitution and over the legislature and judiciary. It reproduces an explicit bias against Muslims as a collectivity. These statements are quite clearly expressed in four speeches by Upadhyaya, and in a book that paraphrases his work in the absence of substantial writing by him, despite claims that he was a philosopher and ideologue.

 There have been attempts in the recent past in universities in Brazil, the US and Canada by supporters of Hindutva (right wing Hindu ideology) to discredit support to lower caste and minority rights as anti-Indian activities, and to take control of South Asia and India studies departments either through funding, or by vociferously opposing current programmes. We hope the current programme is not an attempt to extend this into Portugal.

 The seemingly innocuous programme announced by the Centre de Estudos Indianos is an attempt to gain legitimacy for the fascist tradition in India and to indicate public and academic acceptance of it. We would be sorry to see academics whose life work has been committed to studying different aspects of India coopted under this umbrella, and to see the Universidade de Lisboa linked to a fascist organization. Lastly, Upadhyaya’s writings are not only simplistic in the extreme, they offer a false dichotomy between eastern and western cultures and deceptively employ notions of harmony and benevolence to conceal the existence of social and political oppression.


Rochelle Pinto, independent researcher, India

Jason Keith Fernandes, (FCT Postdoctoral researcher, CRIA, ISCTE -IUL)

Anjali Arondekar, UCLA, USA

Amita Kanekar - The Al-Zulaij Collective, Goa

Lynn Mario T. Menezes de Souza, Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Sociais, Universidade de São Paulo

Ananya Chakravarti, Assistant professor of South Asian and Indian Ocean history, Georgetown University, USA

Alito Siqueira, Formerly Associate Professor, Goa University

Kaustubh Naik, Research Scholar, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU New Delhi

Dale Luis Menezes (Doutorando, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU - Nova Deli, e Al-Zulaij Collective, Goa)

Maria Paula Meneses (Investigadora coordenadora do Centro de Estudos Sociais da Universidade de Coimbra)

Ines G. Županov, Co-directrice du CEIAS, L’École des Hautes Etudes, Paris
Raghuraman Trichur, Department of Anthropology, California State University, Sacramento, USA


Helder Garmes - Professor da Universidade de São Paulo

Peter Ronald de Souza, Professor, CSDS, New Delhi 


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