Angana Chatterji

Angana Chatterji is a Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS).[1]  Ironically, CIIS was established to bring the integral teachings of Hindu spiritual giant Sri Aurobindo and his Integral Yoga (Purna Yoga) in the US.[2]  Chatterji uses her position in CIIS to basically do the opposite – i.e. to demonize Hinduism and the Indian state.  One wonders how Chatterji, a rabid anti-India/anti-Hindu advocate, can even be associated with CIIS.

Prior to joining CIIS, she worked in policy and advocacy research for the Indian Social Institute (ISI).  This is an organization run by Jesuits and founded by Fr. Jerome D’Souza, Jesuit Priest and educationist[3].  On its website, the ISI, among its role and identity, mentions: For advocacy, the institute also bends its research methods in order to inflate the magnitude of the social problem [emphasis added] described, and thereby suggests social action to address the issue[4]. In other words, ISI feels quite comfortable showing one-sided research and inflating numbers to show the ‘human rights violations’ done by ‘Hindu extremists’ against Dalits, minorities, women and children.  This is not surprising, since many of these types of NGOs (run by Christian organizations) tend to pump up the data and cast Hinduism/India in a negative light to strengthen their case of religious conversion in the name of human rights.  Problems of discrimination are largely blamed on Hinduism, even though caste issues are prominent among Indian Christians[5] and Muslims[6]. Indeed, amongst the publications of the Institute is one book called Human Rights in Indian Situation by Joseph Benjamin, a professor at St. Francis de Sales’ College in Nagpur, India.[7]  The book claims to ‘holistically’ document the human rights violations against Dalits, women, etc. by the Indian government and by the Hindu Caste System.  What’s more, such data is used by other organizations (especially Christian organizations) across the world to highlight the ‘bad news’ about Hinduism.  America Magazine, a prominent Catholic magazine, cites the ISI in the following sentence: “According to New Delhi’s Indian Social Institute, recent Hindu-Muslim riots and attacks on Christians are instigated by affluent, elite, high-caste Hindus who are trying to expel threats to the brahminic caste system, or Varna—the Hindu ideology of superiority and inferiority based on birth, profession, pollution and purity”[8].  Thus, Hindus are depicted as a violent lot that aims to rid anyone who challenges their social structures and systems.

Chatterji is also involved in the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH), another organization founded by members of FOIL and other Indian Leftists/Communists.  Chatterji provided ‘critical assistance’ to a highly libelous and unsubstantiated report that damned a US-based Indian charity organization, India Development Relief Fund (IDRF), alleging that they were funding hatred and atrocities against Indian minorities.[9]  The driving force behind this was that IDRF’s schools in Indian rural and tribal areas were providing a successful alternative to Christian missionary schools involved in conversion, and Chatterji was brought in to defame the non-Christian competition that IDRF provided.[10]  More information about CSFH is provided later in the report.

Malhotra and Neelakandan state that “while she finds US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan to be a violation of those countries’ civil rights…she still wants US intervention in India’s affairs, for example, through the US Commission on International Religious Freedom”.[11]  In fact, “Chatterji provided testimony before the United States Congressional Task Force on International Religious Freedom on violence in Orissa, chaired by Congressmen Trent Franks and Joseph R. Pitts, both with strong right-wing evangelical connections.”[12]  “She also sent an unsolicited testimony on Orissa to the Government of India, in which all her data came directly from the report by the All Indian Christian Council.  Her data was so one-sided that she completely ignored some well-established facts about the aggressive evangelism involved and the nexus between Christian evangelists and Maoists in the state.”[13]

“She describes the social services done by Hindu organizations, as ‘conscription into Hindu activism’, even as she praises the same kind of social work in ‘health care, education and employment offered by Christian missionaries”.[14]

She is the co-convener of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir[15].  The Tribunal seeks to analyze the conditions in Kashmir wrought by Indian military occupation and the subjugation of movements for self-determination, as well as the cycles of violence they produced, including and the earlier armed militancy of 1990s until 2007.[16]  Curiously, this Tribunal is ruthlessly focused on the Indian state and the ‘Hindu extremist’ support against Islamist terror.  It completely ignores the human rights violations against Hindu Kashmiri Pandits and the situation in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), thought it’s really meant to be an ‘International’ People’s Tribunal.  She was invited to a conference on Kashmir, organized by the Pakistani Students Association at George Washington University, the Embassy of Pakistan, and Pakistan’s Minister of Kashmir Affairs and spoke of the “growing concern among civil society groups about human rights crisis in Indian-occupied Kashmir in the areas of social, political, cultural, religious and economic rights.  She accused Indian of ‘continued occupation of [certain areas of] Kashmir.”[17]

Malhotra and Neelakandan further discuss observation of Muhammed Sadiq, a Muslim and the editor of a Kashmiri news portal, on Chatterji’s lopsided statements and activities that find place in the hands of Islamic terrorists:

[Angana Chatterji] announced the formation of the ‘International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian Administered Kashmir’ on 5 April in Srinagar.  Interestingly, this organization too insists that the focus of HR investigations should be on the Indian side of Kashmir and not in PoK too.  Moreover, this is a fault-finding mission.  Its only aim is to slam the Indian security forces, further highlight HR issues and vitiate the situation.[18]

Thus, such academics continue to portray India as a land of Hindu savages and undemocratic state policies and try to erase the lines between the very real Islamic terrorism and what they call equally horrible ‘human rights violations’ against Muslims, Christians and Dalits.  This seems to justify terrorist attacks on India as well-deserved.[19]  Malhotra and Neelakandan remark the views of Julian Duin, the religion editor of Washington Times in the aftermath 2008 Mumbai terror attacks on India:  “The terrorist assault – this time by Muslims – on Mumbai later in the year, highlighted the powderkeg (sic) India has become and how often in this Hindu-majority country, the oppressed don’t get a lot of justice.  The perpetrators in Orissa have gone unpunished.”[20]

Thus, biased research by the likes of Chatterji fluidly translates into the view of mainstream media.


[1] See entry for Chatterji on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angana_P._Chatterji, accessed June 18, 2011

[2] See entry for CIIS on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Institute_of_Integral_Studies, accessed June 18, 2011

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Caste system among Indian Christians”, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_among_Indian_Christians, accessed June 18, 2011

[6] “Caste system among South Asian Muslims” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_among_South_Asian_Muslims, accessed June 19, 2011

[7] Joseph Benjamin, “Human Rights in Indian Situation”, Indian Social Institute, http://www.isidelhi.org.in/contents/pub-11.pdf

[9] Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan, Breaking India. Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines, (India: Manipal Press Ltd, 2011), 264

[10] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 264

[11] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 264

[12] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 264

[13] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 264

[14] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 264

[15] See entry for Chatterji on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angana_P._Chatterji, accessed June 19, 2011

[16] Ibid.[6]

[17] Ibid.[7]

[18] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 265

[19] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 265

[20] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 265

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