Op-Ed: Ro Khanna Rejects Hindutva, Launches New Debate for South Asian Americans

There was a political shift in the South Asian American community last week which arrived quietly but will have consequences for years to come. It reverberated from its origin in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party with implications for the United States, India and world geopolitics.

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) tweeted the following on Aug. 29: “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist & Christians.”

The quote seems innocuous without context, therefore, a brief political summary follows.

The history of the South Asian subcontinent is complex with language, religion, ethnicity and caste that predate America by several millennia. The Indian democracy has been managing this complexity with mixed success since its colonial independence in 1947. In fact, violence against minorities has often been a path to electoral success. Although there are many examples, the most recent and infamous are the 1984 Genocide of Sikhs in Delhi and the 2002 Gujarat Massacre of Muslims.

In recent years, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won elections by pairing violent political rhetoric with virtual impunity for those that engage in the rape, torture, murder and oppression of Indian Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Ravidassias, and Hindu Dalits. (See the US Commission on International Religious Freedom Reports for detail.) Modi’s political party (BJP) and its cultural counterpart organizations (RSS, VHP, etc.) form the backbone of the Hindutva movement. However, in deference to the complexity of India, we should note that this is not simply a religious conflict. Hindutva is a fascist and supremacist movement similar to white supremacist movements in the US. It mobilizes around a virulent religious ethno-nationalism, holding that India is a homeland for only Hindus and uses violence to intimidate compliance around its economic and political policies.

Every organ of Indian democracy is in crisis under Hindutva and progressive movements across South Asia have been mobilizing to ask the world for solidarity as they continue to bravely resist the volatile conditions in the region. Further, Modi and the Hindutva movement have set upon a path to influence U.S. policy from within the American political system, which brings us to recent events.

Last month, Caravan published a longform exposé by South Asian analyst, Pieter Friedrich. The article sourced and detailed decades of Hindutva organizing in the US and their development of political allies. At the top of that list is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, also a candidate for the US presidency, who has cultivated deep ties to the Hindutva movement. She attends their events in India and the US, solicits money from American Hindutva organizers, and even invited their leaders to her intimate wedding ceremony. As an apparent term of that bargain, she does not engage in criticism of the Indian government and often advocates its positions during US policy debates.

On Aug. 12, the author of the Caravan article tweet-replied to a Gabbard campaign post, providing a link to the piece. Khanna also replied. The exchange is provided below:

Khanna’s statement was immediately recognized by South Asian politicos as a seismic shift in Indo-centric politics. He is the highest ranking American elected official of Indian origin, with a deep understanding of and connection to South Asian politics, and, yet, he stated in decisive moral terms that the dominant political ideology of India must be rejected as a matter of fundamental human rights.

This is brave new ground for South Asian policy discourse in the US.

Khanna’s statement incited a torrent of hate and criticism from pro-Hindutva and pro-India political supporters, balanced by progressives and anti-Hindutva activists heralding his courageous stance. However, the full measure of Khanna’s words is yet to be felt.  Modi and the Indian government are certain to be dismayed by this challenge to the inroads they have made within certain sectors of the Indian community in the US.

In the coming months, we will see a debate within the South Asian American community and the Democratic Party regarding the morality of Hindutva and how the party can reach consensus given the political crisis in India. Khanna’s statement goes to the heart of this debate by laying bare the obvious hypocrisy of Hindutva’s American supporters.

South Asian Americans simply cannot claim to support civil rights and equality for all Americans while simultaneously advocating for religious supremacy that results in the rape, torture, murder and oppression of minorities in India.

If white supremacist hate crimes against South Asians in America are reprehensible and corrosive to society, then Hindutva supremacist hate crimes against Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians in India must also be condemned.

Khanna’s statement breaks new ground for South Asians and for all in the progressive movement. He is joining progressive South Asian Americans and our allies around the world in standing against oppression. His rejection of Hindutva encourages us all to embrace the principles of fundamental human rights that bind us together as Americans.

Amar Shergill is an attorney, executive board member of the California Democratic Party (CDP) and Chair of the CDP Progressive Caucus. He also represents Sikhs in many organizational roles, including as a Board Member of the American Sikh Public Affairs Association. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].

51 Comments

  1. > If white supremacist hate crimes against South Asians in America are reprehensible and corrosive to society,

    WHAT white supremacist hate crimes against South Asians in America?

    Fake news.

    Stop making things up.

    > Amar Shergill is an attorney, executive board member of the California Democratic Party (CDP) and Chair of the CDP Progressive Caucus.

    The California Democratic Party is really a nest of anti-white bigots.

    The Democratic Party USED to speak to and for the white working class. Those days are GONE GONE GONE.

    Kamala Harris is GONE GONE GONE.

      • No Bubble, Kamala Harris is HOPE, HOPE, HOPE. Have you noticed the same ones you have pointed up are those supporting Bernie Sanders and Omar, AOC, so on. This is why these people trash KAMALA. Kamala has never had a chance with these group of “progressive” democrats. They are extremists. They do not represent the Kamala Harris’ supporters. This Ro guy is the chair of Bernie Sanders! They are the democratic bigots! Google finances their political ambitions. If these democratic radicals are not neutralize, it is the Democratic Party that will be GONE GONE GONE! I dislike these democrats as much as I dislike trump, the left and right extremism!

          • Google directly contributes to the campaigns of these politicians including a LICCARDO. If you would know their social circles, then you will know all are connected to google. This is the old fashion corruption. Google finances the political careers and fundraising of local agencies. This way Google advances its agenda by means of money and social connections. These people go for the top positions and will support only those that advance their agenda. Sanders, Warren, AOC, Omar, Tulsi, so on. These people are more interested in promoting United States leaves dictatorships alone. Kamala Harris is the traditional all American politician that truly cares about the working class and their social economic status and social struggles. For this, they attack her as the cop tough on crime. They infiltrate all those circles of influence making themselves appear as the all concern about the poor and immigrants. These are the very people they discriminate. They are only interested in getting their votes. Kamala is the only democratic candidate that can bring some balance to this out of control Democratic Party. These people know Kamala is not going to take their sh!t! She is tough and her own mind. IF NOT KAMALA HARRIS, DEMOCRATS DESERVE FOUR MORE YEARS OF TRUMP! If not Kamala, I will stay at home on Election Day! SAY NO TO [email protected] EXTREMIST DEMOCRATS!

    • I know that some people also think the Nazis didn’t kill any Jews, but here is an incomplete list of white supremacist hate crimes against Indians in the US:

      September 15, 2001: Sikh man in Arizona in aftermath of 9/11, where shooter was hunting for someone wearing a turban (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Balbir_Singh_Sodhi)
      July 11, 2004: Sikh man on Long Island beaten after assailants ridiculed his turban (https://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/13/nyregion/li-man-charged-in-bias-assault-of-sikh-leader.html?module=inline)
      August 5, 2012: Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four others at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_Sikh_temple_shooting)
      Sept 25, 2016: Two men assaulted a Sikh man in Richmond, CA and cut his hair under his turban (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/18/us/hate-crime-sikh-man-california.html?module=inline)
      March 6, 2017: Sikh man shot in his driveway near Seattle after shooter says, “go back to your country” (https://www.cnn.com/2017/03/05/us/washington-sikh-shooting/index.html)
      July 1, 2018: Sikh man in Turlock, CA beaten after being told, “You don’t belong here.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/06/us/sikh-hate-crime-turban.html?module=inline)

      • The ones that do not believe [email protected] Nazis killed Jews are Omar and her friends. Right now a group of people are being exterminated in India. There are lots of people and human rights violations happening every where. [email protected] WHITE SUPREMACY, Nazis, and those following the Caste system are more of the same. The Dalits have always been the oppressed people in the Indian culture. Indians in this county are the ones who are discriminating others most likely due to their Caste and “world talent” beliefs. In this country there is free of religion for everyone but no one can use their religious beliefs to discriminate and inflict pain on others! Not all Indians are this way. It is clear which ones are. Not all Muslims are extremist, but it is clear who are those that are! HELLO RO KHAANA!

        • I live in India, I don’t support the ruling party but I know that nobody is being exterminated in India.

      • > I know that some people also think the Nazis didn’t kill any Jews, but here is an incomplete list of white supremacist hate crimes against Indians in the US:

        Yes,

        And where is your list of hate crimes by Indian supremacists against non-Indians in the U.S.?

        What? You’re saying Indians in the U.S. don’t hate anyone and don’t commit crimes?

        Part of your brain is missing. But the anti-white bigotry part still seems to be intact.

        • “What white supremacist hate crimes against South Asians” and “Yes” when faced with such a list of hate crimes are two contradictory statements.

          And if you have a “list of hate crimes by Indian supremacists against non-Indians in the U.S.,” let us know.

          • > I know that some people also think the Nazis didn’t kill any Jews, but here is an incomplete list of white supremacist hate crimes against Indians in the US:

            You are endorsing the proposition that “hate crimes” are a consequence of “whiteness”.

            “Whiteness” is a consequence of DNA.

            Therefore, “hate crimes” are a consequence of white DNA.

            If it’s in white DNA, nothing can be done. Except, maybe, to holocaust all white people. Is that your solution?

  2. Ro Khanna is always getting himself in front of a camera or a microphone what office is he aspiring to now? Feinstein’s senate seat?

      • Bernie will pick either Nina Turner, who tours with him, or Tulsi because she is the most favorite candidate of conservatives.

      • Bernie’s not going to go with Khanna for Veep. He’ll look for a gender-mixed ticket. Nina Turner is just not that well-known nationally, outside of progressive circles and as Bernie’s co-chair; and Tulsi’s hated by the Clintons. Liz Warren would give a slightly centrist balance (because Liz is nowhere the progressive Bernie is and would be acceptable to Clintonites, not having challenged Queen Hillary in 2016). And a Sanders running-mate doesn’t have to be a current presidential candidate. Stacey Abrams would love to get it. Or if Bernie wants a veteran, what about Tammy Duckworth (born in Thailand of a Thai/Chinese mother, but her father was a U.S. citizen, which probably qualifies her as “natural born” constitutionally)?

        Tulsi’s no Hindutva-ist. She’s spoken consistently and often for religious tolerance. She’s dropped out of Indian cultural events when they’ve gotten too tied in to Indian politics. Her relationship with Modi is no different from Obama’s. Khanna, though, seems to have decided that there’s only room for one Hindu in the upper echelons of the Democratic Party and that that Hindu’s going to be Khanna.

        Not to say that Khanna couldn’t get a nod as Veep. Gender, ethnicity, and religion would make him a nice match for Liz Warren. Bernie had better watch out for his co-chair’s scheming behind the scenes.

        Seems like the Bernie camp is starting to realize just how far Khanna’s loyalty extends. Khanna’s tweet came out August 29. The very next day Nina Turner tweeted, “Sending Aloha, ❤️and light to my sister @TulsiGabbard.”

        • Good luck with your Alice in wonderland story with a green new dream. I rather endure four more years of crazy Trump than the crazy far left cucu klan. [email protected] Bernie, Sanders, Warren, Omar, Khanna and the rest. You are right on something;I supported Hillary. It is KAMALA or no one for me! The independent crazy Sanders should not be part of any democratic events. He should form his own extreme lefties’ party!

  3. Well this is not simple religion. It is radical religion when some believe my religion is the only one that matter and the rest is BS. The caste sh!t is even affecting people here since the Indians who believe are of higher caste, google people, politicians, and so on are discriminating everyone. I would make my last Christian mission to go to India and convert all the Dalits to Christianity. Where is the adulterous Omar and the rest of her cucu club when this, Bacha Bazi, concentrations camps in China, and other atrocities are happening?

  4. It is disturbing that in a progressive place like San Francisco Bay Area, Ro Khanna’s thinking is so tunnel visioned on communal lines. Instead of seeing the issue around standard and quality of living (where Modi has stated publicly that his and his party’s vision is to drive to a $5T economy by 2025) Ro is obstinately stuck to Hindu vs Muslim communal thinking. Moreover, his fear of Hinduism/Hindutva en-mass is misplaced as minorities have come to exist in India not because of secularism but because of the inherent pluralistic tenet of Hinduism. When Jews, Parsis and even sects of Muslims were getting exterminated the world over, they found refuge in Hindu India and thrived.

  5. These democrazies have long since stopped representing sanity The democratic party has been taken over by sharia loving bolsheviks spouting cultural marxist, postmodernist gibberish in order to cause revenge seeking divisions in society. Hindus especially should be beware that their intersectional wokemon points are pretty close to zero, only slightly more than hetero white males. The democrats here resemble the congress party in India: a coalition of far left wing riff raff, along with islamists, and in India, christian bigots. All united by their hatred of Hindu society. In the US, it is a similar coalition of various sundry “minority” groups (minus the Christian bigots) united in their hatred of so-called “white” society. This ain’t Martin Luther King’s party anymore. High time Indian Americans started voting Republican, and get on the Trump train.

    https://medium.com/@RamKumar1133/why-hindu-americans-should-vote-for-trump-3d10e57f672b

  6. Come to the middle Ram! #KamalaHarris2020 In the United States it should not be hard to be a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, or atheist… We should all stand together against extremist left and right. When we deny one group their freedom of religion, we deny all of theirs. It is obvious though some of these so call progressives have their faith agenda as a priority not service to all the people they represent. The extremist left and right politicians do not represent all democrats and republicans. They simply make more noise. These extremist left politicians are helping Trump win. They are good at dividing the Democratic Party. This is what Bernie Sanders did last time. He divided the Democratic Party and Trump won!

    • There is no middle. Trump is the middle now. Any “middle” democrat is simply going to nurture the left-wing snakes and give them positions of authority so that they can do their SJW jihad everywhere. This is what congress did in India as well, giving the commies control of all education and culture and institutions. Naive to now vote for a democrazy “middle”. Without Trump, the left wing scorpions will turn on “centrist” democrats faster than you can say “socialism”. According to the aoc-talib wing, Pelosi is a racist fascist as well. Lol. Kamala Harris is just another opportunistic SJW jihadi who wants open borders.

      • If you support Trump there is really nothing I can do to change that and do not intent to. Do you wonder though why these people want Sanders or Warren? Those two have hired antisemites to ran their campaigns. These people support Hamas and claim Jewish have dual allegiance. However, they are the ones promoting the Muslims majority. It is clear to me that in India and Muslim states there is no freedom of religion. The Islam majority Engages in killing those from the ‘wrong’ branch of Islam and India promotes Hinduness. I find quite conflicting that Khanna is on one end asking the US to stay away from any international involvement while at the same time asking US citizens to do this and that about India’s matter. What are you really trying to communicate Khaana? In the United State every person is free to practice and promote their religion. No one is free to impose that religion on others and use political position to advance his own beliefs. Bernie has engaged in praising China. Imagine a US where Bernie is the president! #KamalaHarris2020

      • About Kamala, she is a Christian. She does not believe on open borders but borders that treat humans as such. She has said it. She will have a system where those seeking refuge have a speedy process to show if they qualify. Those who do stay and those who don’t have to go back. The current systems foster the existence of private detention facilities. For those who own these facilities retaining people as long as they can is a business. I truly believe you are a Republicant pretending to be a democrat. That is your right. You should know that not all democrats are created equal. I can never be a follower of Omar, Bernie, Khanna. It is clear to me their motives are based on their religion beliefs and advancing that religion. I belief in freedom of religion, opinion, and thought! To conclude, Kamala is no opportunistic. She has the educational and professional training required for the job. #KamalaHarris2020 Bernie Sanders and his cucu klan are the pros at dividing the Democratic Party. That is for sure your expertise RO KHANNA, and you are even better at diving your own Indian community! All this in the name of Islam. Is it hard for you to understand that Indians in this country have a right to be Hindu or Muslim. You will finds lots of resistance trying to push your religion beef! This is a free country and we have no king. We voted you in Khanna, and we can vote you out too! WE THE PEOPLE!

        • I voted for Obama twice, so hold the “republican pretending to be democrat” bit. In 2016 I saw the writing on the wall and went with Trump. Everything I wrote then about the democrats is even truer today. The only democrat I would consider is Tulsi Gabbard but she is of-course being relentlessly tarred and feathered by the sharia bolsheviks.

          • Well Ram, Tulsi is not a democrat. She is a third party spoiler just like Bernie Sanders, and she is also an Assad’s apologist! I can see those who like Tulsi dislike democrats and not really like Trump. Tulsi is a Democrat by name but truly a Republicant. Contrary to Reps though she has a fascination for dictatorships that is part of the far left democrats. She is also anti-LGBTQ. Wow! She has the best of the two far left and right. Far left and right like Tulsi. Those who like Bernie and Trump! THAT IS SOMETHING! She is going to bring Bernie and Trump’s supporters together. This is a unique combination, ha ha. She for sure can be president. Then she will force Hinduness in America. I pass! I am a follower of Jesus super start! GO JESUS!

        • > About Kamala, she is a Christian.

          Just curious. How do you know this?

          Mommy was an Indian (Hindu?). Daddy was a Jamaican (Christian? Voodoo? ??)

          > Bernie Sanders and his cucu klan are the pros at dividing the Democratic Party.

          So there are “good Democrats” and “bad Democrats”? What do the “good Democrats” believe in?

          Why should anyone believe what they say they believe in?

          > We voted you in Khanna, and we can vote you out too!

          No. We can’t.

          This is California. We don’t have real elections. The results are in for 2020. Incumbent Democrats win!

  7. Even US has lot of casteist gas bags who share admiration for godse the killer of Mahatma Gandhi.These manuwaadis should find no place in US polity because they are immoral and unethical and are more aligned to lying ways than the ways of truth.Imagine them supporting lynchings in India in the name of cow protection.OBC PM should refrain from taking support from these hate filled gas bags.Due to their foolishness they are doing all this in India without knowing that the tide may turn in favour of indegenous people to rule and for them to face music and get delegitimised.

    • Sitting pretty amidst the cosy support you derive from the most bloodthirsty regimes & ideologies , you are preaching your hatred of Hinduism in the guise of speaking for indigenous people of India.

      We , the Hindus , are the indigenous people of India .

      Moreover our claim to being indigenous , does not prevent us from accommodating peace loving people from anywhere in the world. More than what we can provide in terms of physical space , we have the wonderful knowledge of birth, death & rebirth , the cycle of samsara , how to escape from hell by doing virtuous deeds.

      Hinduism is inherently non-Violent . Part of that spirit of non-violence is our protection to Cow . From the protected cow , we evolved the system of Propitiating Devas through yajnas , which will promote global peace by changing the mindset of violent people.

      Please don’t pretend to be Gandhi Bhakt . You are not . None of the western govt. have the sincerity to practice Gandhian Non – Violence.

      Gandhi was a convenient tool used by the empire to demoralize Indian freedom fighters. He converted the debate from Right and Wrong to Violent and Non – Violent .

      Finally , it was the devastation caused by ww2 and the revolt by their own airmen in Jabalpore Combined with INA & Naval uprising , that forced the empire to relinquish.

      It was not Gandhi , it was not Congress , which forced the Brits out. But , being darlings of the empire , Congressis , especially Nehru was handed over the — POWER TO PUT DOWN INDIANS , through continued policy of MACAULAYISATION & MARXIZATION .

      Hindu revival is the need of the hour , not just for India , but for the survival of Humanity . The evil of Roman Imperialism , has spread like cancer and engulfed the planet . The west, devoid of a proper understanding of Life and Death , has brought Humanity to the Brink of Nuclear Holocaust.

      STOP BEING NEO-ROMAN IMPERIALISTIC STOOGE

  8. He should probably learn from the “progressive” politicians from Canada who over the years have not only lent their enthusiastic support for a separate state carved out of India based on religious lines but have actively participated in glorification of known terrorists who have blown up Canadian airliners.

    There is not a single Canadian “progressive” politician I have heard of who has openly denounced the idea of creating a state along religious lines. These sermons of multiculturalism are reserved for Hindus in the US. Most of us agree that he can write down his morality lectures on a piece of paper, then fold the paper neatly and then shove it!

  9. I have to tell you something Bubble. I have been discriminated more for being a Christian than for being a female. If you are a female and a Christian people automatically gives you the stupid card. Thus, I do not blame Kamala for not being fully opened about her Christianity in the past particularly in a law male field. If you are a male and a Christian, Mayor Pete, then you are more appealing. Then people talk about Kamala’s romantic history but not about the males’ romantic history. God blessed me with a father that has been quite wise about this female condition. He made me a feminist. He taught me how to fight men, how to hurt them, to ride horses, fishing…these are the type of men I like and love and the ones that are hard to find. KAMALA is also discriminated for being of mixed race, “not black, not Indian,” or for describing herself as simply an American. Lots of sh!t to chew in a lifetime isn’t? #KamalaHarris2020

  10. > or for describing herself as simply an American

    Well, if she wants to describe herself as an American, it would give her more street cred if she liked the American Constitution.

  11. It’s fine and well that Khanna has made a statement against Hindutva. But what about the hundreds of thousands of Sangh leadership dollars that have filled his campaign coffers? Seems if he’s sincere about separating himself from Hindutva, he should separate himself from their contributions as well.

  12. @Bubble:

    You are over complicating this to the point of ridiculousness, and you know it. Nobody said hate crimes are a consequence of whiteness. But hate crimes committed by white supremacists who express race-based hatred in the course of committing violent crimes against non-whites ARE a consequence of white supremacist beliefs. Or are you saying that never happens, and if it happens, it’s fake news?

    If those are not hate crimes, would anything qualify as a hate crime in your universe? Would Nazis killing Jews qualify? You mentioned Indian supremacists committing crimes against non-Indians in the U.S. based on race or ethnicity. I doubt you have any actual examples, but if you did, would those qualify as hate crimes?

    No self-impressed, too-clever-by-half, elliptical answers masquerading as wit. Really answer these questions if you can.

    • > Nobody said hate crimes are a consequence of whiteness.

      Wrong. Someone IS saying it:

      > But hate crimes committed by white supremacists who express race-based hatred in the course of committing violent crimes against non-whites ARE a consequence of white supremacist beliefs.

      YOU’RE SAYING IT!

      Or, are you proposing that there are non-whites masquerading as “white supremacists”? You may be right.

      • It took you a day to come up with this? Normally you have a 5-minute turnaround. Were you out coon-huntin’ in the back woods of Mississippi? Or is this the kind of mind bending doublespeak that even you have to think through?

        There are white people who openly express the supremacy of white ethnicity and nationality. Some of them commit violent crimes against non-whites, and in the course of committing those crimes, openly express hatred based on race and nationality.

        Not all hatred is a consequence of whiteness. Not all hate crimes are committed by white people. But yes, the hatred of the people mentioned in the last paragraph is a consequence of their white supremacist beliefs. Even they would tell you that.

        In other news, the sun is hot and water is wet.

        You may think your mindf*** is effective propaganda, but noone actually buys out. You don’t even buy it yourself.

  13. Why exploit your speech rights to get more publicity? As American, we all have freedom to live our lives and beliefs. Respecting others is Hinduism. How cow is different just because it’s animals. We respect every living and non living as Hindus. Your base argument is not about cows. Your expectations of others is only your point of view. Please be respectful of your religion and others, if you have any beliefs. This is really sad.

  14. It is illogical and against historical evidence to say that Hinduva is anything but acceptance of pluralism. To defend one’s own society & culture from cannibalistic attacks is no crime. Totalitarians are in the habit of shifting attention from their own crimes by blaming innocents.

    Christianity has a record of billion genocide & million torchings. Islam has a matching record. Americans obliterated native indians. Commies did similar genocides in Russia & China. It is prurile to blame Hindus for defending their own culture

  15. India is secular because the culture in India is based in Hinduism (sanatana dharma) which inherently supports pluralism.
    There were differences and atrocities committed in the name of caste and sex. They have been over-come and still being over-come. Hindus don’t try to convert to be saved from the clutches of hell unlike Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam. You face the consequences of your actions no matter what. Moron in the op-ed should write about what happened and continue to happen in neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh for minorities. They rapped, killed, and converted at the time of partition and it continues to happen till today. Ro Khanna should be booted out of congress by next election by all means necessary.

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