As a third example of cultural interaction, Malhotra talks about a "U-Turn Theory", which is related to both "digestion" and the "Pizza effect". Here, native people receive what they think are aspects of a foreign culture, but these are nothing but their own artifacts that have been stripped of all traces of their origin and packaged in the trappings of the foreign culture. It is a tragedy when civilisations disown important elements of their own culture, only to accept them in an unrecognisable alien form. "Cultural genocide" is perhaps too strong a term for it, but it is nevertheless worthy of condemnation.
- Howard Gardner took Sri Aurobindo's "Planes and Parts of Being" along with the Rasas of NatyaShastra and turned them into "Multiple Intelligences"
- Herbert Benson took Maharshi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation and turned it into "Relaxation Response"
- Jon Kabat-Zinn took Buddhist Vipassana and turned it into "Mindfulness Meditation"
- Steven LaBerge took Yoga Nidra and turned it into "Lucid Dreaming"
Needless to say, Malhotra's conflation of Hindu-ness and Indian-ness appeals greatly to the Hindu right, who have made this their foundational ideological plank. Hence, although Malhotra is too erudite and sophisticated to be associated with the jingoistic saffron movement (he has often referred to himself as a "non-Hindutva Hindu"), he has been co-opted by the more literate section of the movement which has been hungering for a respectable ideological basis for its collective insecurities.
I also suspect it is this privilege-blindness that causes him to deny an ethnic or cultural basis for the differences within Hindu society.
I don't believe in privileging either "insiders" or "outsiders". Anyone should be able to contribute a perspective without being denigrated, and while believing Hindus should be able to rebut views of their religion that they disagree with (without resorting to threats), critics should also be allowed to present their views (no matter how offensive they may be to believers).
Having said that, Malhotra's more outlandish conspiracy theories need to be called out and ridiculed. His one-size-fits-all "Hindu Universalism" that stems from his own privilege blindness is in need of overhaul. And his call for an Indian "grand narrative" should be heeded, although formulated in a more socially inclusive way than he himself has done.