With the recent coordinated global campaign to whip up passions about the Punjabi agricultural middlemen protests and the subsequent leak of a ‘toolkit’ document by one of the celebrity activists, one thing was clear. BDS has come to India and it is only going to get worse from here. 

Many Indians, especially in India might not know what BDS is. The “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel” movement was founded in 2005 by Palestinians with aim “to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era”[1].

Clifford Smith of the Middle East Forum, a think-tank, had warned last year about the BDS movement of Palestine starting to target India the way it targets Israel[2]. Their efforts had started to intensify post the revocation of Art. 370. In India’s case, there is also coalition of Pakistan funded Islamist organizations which have started to employ the same tactics of BDS.

These are the main methods of BDS: 

  1. Use same tactics used against Apartheid South Africa to pressure, ostracize and marginalize Israel. 
  2. Academic boycott of Israel:
    1. Forcing “Divestment” of financial holdings like endowments
    2. Forcing boycott of collaboration with Israeli academic institutions and boycott of Israeli academicians
  3. Economic boycott of Israel: boycott of Israeli products
  4. Cultural boycott of Israel: boycott of Israeli cultural activities, projects and personalities 

The reason they give for what they do is that Israel is an “occupier” and “colonizer” of Palestine. 

After the revocation of Art. 370 several Islamist organizations, not just from the subcontinent but also West Asia have started propagating the same slogan that India is a “colonizing” force in Kashmir. Kashmir is not just Pakistan’s issue but a Pan-Islam issue since it was seen as the gateway for Ghazwa-e-Hind. Pakistan’s nibbling away of Kashmir leading to its eventual fall would have opened the floodgates for further Islamic grab of India, a goal which Pakistan’s military-intelligence complex fantasizes as Mughalistan. Thus, their efforts have intensified since then. 

Unfortunately, unlike for Israel, there are too many native collaborators in India, both wittingly and unwittingly. The BDS of India operates with the “bleed by a thousand cuts” method. The revival of Khalistan movement, collaborations with Dalitist and far-left activists makes it a multi-pronged attack. Thus, the added message has been that India is a “colonizing force” not just of Kashmir but also of Punjab. 

Cultural boycott of Indian diaspora in the west, especially on university campuses has also been initiated. Last year in the US, there was a boycott call against the Hindu festival of Holi. This was led by a “native collaborator”, a person of Hindu-Indian origin. Similar cultural boycott of Hindu-Indians was also attempted by a group called Equality Labs which tried to smear Hindus in Silicon Valley with the bogey of caste and damage the reputation of Indians in the field of technology. 

From the accidental posting of the ‘toolkit’ document by a celebrity activist, all this became clear. There is a call to divest from Indian businesses, especially Ambani and Adani owned ones. 

In India, it is taken beyond just divestment to active sabotage. In the farm middlemen protests in Punjab, Reliance’s cell phone towers were specifically targeted and destroyed. The goal of targeting Reliance is clearly to destroy India’s indigenous industry.

Another leaked document from a Khalistani organization called “Poetic Justice Foundation” calls for creating negative public perception of India by attacking its cultural elements. 

Like the BDS movement, the aim here is to create a cultural boycott of India in the world, especially in the west. 

The flanking of India on social media, notably on Twitter post the insurrection at the Red Fort on Indian Republic Day is actually an act of war. This is modern warfare – cyber and information warfare. Indian intelligence agencies seem clueless about it. The ‘toolkit’ document clearly shows that it is not really about farmers but has a larger goal to defame India by employing the same tools used by BDS against Israel, and also to inflict damage on the ground in India in the form of riots. 

It is also high time Indians in the diaspora as well as in India wakeup and organize. Indians need their own Anti-Defamation League (ADL). ADL has been fighting anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic propaganda like that of the BDS movement. The battle would be several orders of magnitude harder for India due a well established and well oiled machinery at home, churning out Hinduphobic narratives, compounded by total cluelessness of Indians. 

If Indians don’t take action now to set up their Anti-Defamation organizations and start the battle against global propaganda, it would be a very chaotic decade to come for India. Expecting the secular state of India to act would be foolishness given their track record. 


  1. BDS: The Global Campaign to Delegitimize Israel. www.adl.org/resources/backgrounders/bds-the-global-campaign-to-delegitimize-israel.
  2. Smith, Clifford, et al. “BDS and the Islamic Lobby in US Has Found a New Target after Israel — Democratic India.” ThePrint, 29 Oct. 2020, theprint.in/opinion/bds-and-the-islamic-lobby-in-us-has-found-a-new-target-after-israel-democratic-india/532861/.

Image credits: Hindu American Foundation, Asia Times

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