The Samprajña Institute Newsletter – HMEC Conference and Other News
By Krishna Kirti Das
Dear Friends and Supporters, Namaste and Hare Krishna.
All of us at the Samprajña Institute wish you and your family a happy and auspicious Diwali. Please read and enjoy the Samprajña Institute’s latest newsletter, as published below.
Krishna Kirti Das
The Samprajña Institute Newsletter
HMEC Conference, 2009
On September 11 – 13th, the Samprajña Institute was represented at the Hindu Mandir Executives Conference, 2009, in Linthicum, Maryland. The event was organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America and sponsored by a number of Hindu-American mandirs and organizations.
Krishna Kirti Das and his wife, Urmila Devi Dasi, were among the conference attendees. In a panel discussion on interracial marriage, Krishna Kirti delivered a presentation titled “Marriage and Multiculturalism: Does a multiculturalist approach to thinking about religion inevitably weaken Hindu-Americans’ identity as Hindus?”
As per the presentation, previous studies have concluded that between 54% to 66% of Hindu-Americans marry non-Hindus—figures that understandably have the Hindu-American community concerned about its future. Here is a short excerpt from the Samprajña Institute speech:
— quote –The gradual disappearance of race and ethnicity from American immigrant families leaves religion as the strongest possible link future generations of Hindu-Americans could have with their Hindu ancestors. Since religion for Hindu-Americans will grow in importance as a marker of self-identity—especially as successive generations in America find it increasingly difficult to indentify as Hindus in terms of race or ethnicity—it is necessary for Hindu-Americans to more carefully examine how they themselves think about religion. How they think about religion will in turn affect much of the rest of their lives. — end quote–
(A copy of the speech and PowerPoint presentation is available in our publications section at http://samprajna.org)
Thanks to the excellent presentations of all the copanelists, the workshop on interracial marriage was among the liveliest of the seminars at the conference. Although the workshop lasted for two hours, it was necessary for the moderator to cut short the extended question and answer session. The workshop could have continued for another half-hour to an hour with high-levels of audience participation.
Aside from the conference’s many informative and stimulating presentations, the conference was also an excellent opportunity to network with others and find out more about their projects and activities. The Samprajña Institute humbly thanks the VHP of America for organizing the event.
Social Science on the Cheap at the Samprajña Institute
The Samprajña Institute is presently conducting a study on marriage in Indian cinema. The purpose of the study is to produce positive definitions about Hinduism that can be used as indices to identify and investigate mainstream Hinduism.
At this time in the public policy and social science fields, definitions of Hinduism tend to be negative. For example, India’s Hindu Family Act defines as a Hindu anyone living in India who is not a “Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jew.” Reliance on such negative definitions, however, makes social science directed at Hindus more susceptible to researcher bias. Increased levels of researcher bias in these studies has on numerous occasions ended up creating more “heat” between researchers and the Hindu community than “light.” Through its own research efforts, the Samprajña Institute aims to develop positive definitions and measures of Hinduism that will aid researchers and reduce tensions between researchers who study Hinduism and the Hindu community.
One of the surprising aspects of this particular study is its estimated cost: only U.S. $300. The study involves viewing a representative sample of films from Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Tamil cinemas and recording the number and type of marriages. Trained volunteers who are native speakers for each respective language group will view the films and record the data.
As this project shows, social science need not always be an expensive undertaking. Because the Samprajña Institute is free-market policy think tank, we cannot depend on government largesse to fund our projects. Therefore at the Samprajña Institute we have to be creative and efficient in our efforts in order to effectively achieve our goals.
The Future of Christian-Hindu Conflict
The Samprajña Institute has published the first part of a four-part series that investigates the future of Christian and Hindu conflict. Much of the conflict between Christians and Hindus centers on conversion and proselytizing from Christian missionaries within predominantly Hindu geographical areas.
Although many studies have been conducted on this very topic, the problem most of these studies have is that few of the researchers conducting them have in-depth knowledge of the theologies of both religions. This lack of expertise in theology makes problematic studying what is fundamentally a religious conflict.
In this regard, the Samprajña Institute’s in-house expertise and experience in this area aims to shed new light on the conflict between Christians and Hindus. The first part of the Samprajña Institute study has been published at the website of Voice of India, the historic think tank founded by Sri Sitaram Goel, and it is also available at the Samprajña Institute website under its publications section.
To Our Donors and Supporters
We humbly thank you for your patronage and support. Without your help, none of our efforts so far would have been possible. The Samprajña Institute is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Your contributions to the Samprajña Institute are tax-deductible under the U.S. IRS tax code.
As the end of the year is approaching, we humbly request you to remember us in your charitable giving for the end of the year. In order to fulfill our mission, we aspire to take on more in-depth and comprehensive research and studies. With your help, together we can meet these goals and make lasting contributions in the areas of dharma and public policy.
With best wishes for the holidays. . .
Krishna Kirti Das
+1 505 459 1271