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Hindu Americans And The Art Of Advocacy

Sheetal Shah

Hindu Americans and the Art of Advocacy

“I didn’t know Hindus live outside of India.”

“Are you a Sunni or Shia Hindu?”

“What is Diwali again?”

These are some of the statements leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) have heard from US Congressmen in the past four years.  The misunderstanding of Hinduism and the Hindu American community is widespread not only amongst elected and government officials, but also the media, academics, and average denizens of the US.   

Why is this misunderstanding so prevalent when there are 2 million Hindu Americans?  Because Hindu Americans have not been effective advocates for themselves.  

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a non-profit advocacy organization, is changing that and wants all Hindu Americans to be part of the change.   You may wonder what it means to advocate for Hindu Americans.  For HAF, it means:

•    Establishing a permanent office near DC with a full time Director of Public Policy who  builds relationships with Congressional leaders through weekly face-to-face meetings to discuss issues relevant to Hindus

•    Publishing an annual human rights report focused on Hindus globally and using this report to effectively demonstrate the misuse of US aid to countries with poor human rights records

•    Responding to inaccurate representations of Hinduism in the media by writing press releases and Letters to the Editors; contacting reporters directly to develop ongoing relationships ; and attending national media conferences to ensure accurate coverage

•    Joining faith and interfaith coalitions in federal and state-level litigation in support of the Constitutional right of religious liberty and the separation of church and state

Join HAF for its second annual awareness event in Boston on February 22, 2009 to learn more about its advocacy efforts on behalf of the Hindu American community and how you can help.  Attendance is open to all.  Details are listed below and available online at www.HAFsite.org.

Date:  Sunday, February 22, 2009
Time:  1:30 – 3:30pm
Location: MATCH School , 1001 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215 (note: entrance is on Babcock St)
RSVP: office@hafsite.org or 301.770.7835 by February 2, 2009

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