As they were a few negative comments about my tweet on the Indian craze for the US, I thought that this article woul be appropriate. FG

WHAT IS IT TO BE AN INDIAN ABROAD TODAY ?

 San Francisco. What is it to be an Indian today? What is meant by Indian-ness ? What is it to be an Indian abroad – in the United States, for instance ? How much of yourself do you give to your American identity – and how much space do you preserve for your Indian-ness ? These are the questions that Indian expatriates should ask themselves today. For we see many of the children of Indians who settled in the US twenty or thirty years ago, merge themselves totally in the American way of life, speak with an American accent, eat Mac Donald, think American… and in the process forget all about their wonderful Indian culture…

 What is it in the American way of life, which fascinates so much Indians ? The fast life ? Right: fast is exciting; but Americans live so fast, eating their breakfast in their cars on the way to work, gulping down these huge amounts of meat and French fries at lunch or dinner, always on the move, that not only they often grow immensely fat, but also catch ulcers and get heart attacks by the time they reach sixty five. What else dazzles Indians in the American way of life ? The lights? True, New York is a fascinating city, with its illuminated skyscrapers, its million of pulsating lights, its giant electronic billboards, its fancy bars, that one feels a kind of throbbing vitality entering oneself as one walks the streets by night. But what a waste of energy, when the world is fast losing its sources of energies; and is isn’t this a kind of artificial vitality, that fades away when one wakes-up in the morning, with a hangover and one has to face the reality of life ? What else ? America’s Nature ? No doubt, the United States boasts some wonderful pieces of nature and Americans have shown us what it means to plant trees and live in a green environment: even Washington is densely wooded. But Nature can also be an illusion here: a highway is never very far from the forest, with its thousands of cars pouring out millions of cubic feet of carbon dioxide, which annihilates natures’ bounty, as the Los Angeles smog amply demonstrates. Besides, America is an unending suburban concrete jungle, with its boring repetition of mega stores, parking lots, and KFC’s. And when you have seen a city, you have seen them all. What else ? The “quality” of American life: barbecue parties, beaches, tattoos, fun and frolic? Yes, except that one out of three American couples divorce within three years, one out of four Americans consults a psychiatrist for depression, bulimia, schizophrenia or plain boredom, and American children regularly indulge in shooting other children, just because they are exposed to so much violence…

 

Is this the legacy you want to bequeath to your children, O Indian brothers and sisters, who are longing so much for the American way of life ? For this great brain drain, this bleeding of India’s heart and lungs, which has been going for so long, does not affect only the ordinary middle and upper class “secular” Indian, but also many good Hindus, who put their children in the best US universities and accept the fact that these children will settle in the American way of life and will probably never go back to India. True, their kids get heftier pay checks in the US , better facilities, they escape the Indian bureaucracy, red tape, corruption, slowness… But what are they going to bequeath to their own children in the long run: insecurity, violence, divorce, depression and above all their offspring, unknowingly, will be afflicted by a loss of identity : they will not know, nor feel anymore in themselves, as their grandparents did, this natural space of Indian-ness, which automatically confers certain qualities. What is that Indian-ness ?

 

Firstly and foremost: “I accept you; I accept that you may be White or Black, Red or Yellow, Christian, Buddhist, or Muslim”. Not only that, “but I am even ready to go and worship in a church or a mosque, besides my temple.” “I accept that my Gods are avatars, incarnations of the Divine, but so is Jesus Christ, and also Buddha and even Mohamed”. This an extraordinary statement and a marvellous instrument towards world peace, at a time when the two great monotheist religions of the world, Islam and Christianity still say: “there is only one true God in the world – mine- and if you worship any other god, you are an Infidel and a Pagan and it is my right to convert you by any means, or even to kill you”. The 11th September 2001 attacks are nothing but a result of that dangerous theorem. As a result, Indians adapt easily wherever they go, particularly in the West, as they are very open to western culture. Of course, Indians also go to the other extreme: “not only I accept you, but I am going to become exactly like you – no even Whiter than the White: I am going to denigrate my own culture, spit on my religion, belittle my countrymen”. This is why you come across so often in the US in negative articles on India written by Indians – nay by Hindus. The Gujurat massacres were actually a great opportunity for these Hindu haters, such as Pankaj Mishra, to come out full blast and prove to the world that India is a land of Hindu fundamentalists where nobody is safe, particularly the Muslims “who are regularly victims of pogroms”. P.Mishra conveniently forgot to mention that India is an extraordinary country of freedom, where all persecuted religious minorities in the world have found refuge over the centuries, whether the Jews, the Parsis, the Syrian Christians, or today the Tibetans.

 

What else ? “I have inherited from my ancestors the tools to become a better man, whatever my religion, ethnicity and profession: a better Christian, a better Hindu, a better Muslim, carpenter, or CEO, IT engineer, or sailor”. What are these tools ? Hata-yoga, India’s gift to the world, which has been copied and imitated everywhere (although Time magazine did a story on yoga without mentioning the name “India” once). What else ? Meditation, this extraordinary technique of coming back to one’s Self, of settling the mind and the body, which is today practiced by millions around the world – another bequest of India to humanity. Pranayama, the science of respiration, perfected by Indians for three millenniums. “Does the breath have any religion”, asks Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living movement, which has spread today in 150 countries ?

 

What first generations Indians in the States should ask themselves today is “How can I repay my debt to India” ? After all not only they got a nearly free education in India which was good enough for them to obtain well paid jobs in the US, but did they not also inherit that certain Indian-ness, which has been a great help to adapt to the American way of life? As for second, or third, or even fourth generations Indian Americans, what they should tell themselves is “”what can I do for my country” ? “In what way can I contribute to this great nation which is India, which is so maligned and sidelined in the United States” ? And the first thing they can do is to counteract the highly unfair and biased press coverage which India gets in America by writing to editors, or challenging the shameful coverage of New York Times (which went all out against Mr Narendra Modi a few months back), or canvassing their elected representatives.

 

Finally, Mr Obama thinks that the problem will be over once he fully withdraws his troops from Afghanistan. He makes a big mistake there: he should have given India a bigger say on the post Afghanistan scenario. By implicitly trusting Pakistan, who actually created the Taliban, he will leave chaos behind him. Afghanistan will be again the prey of the Taliban and jehadis will be free to fully direct their terror towards Kashmir and India – and eventually against the US, which they bitterly hate. Is it not time for Indians in the United States to exert influence on the US Congress and convince them that India is the natural ally – pro-western, democratic, liberal – in Asia, preyed by Islamic fundamentalism and hegemonic China? But for that, Hindu groups should start regrouping themselves under one single “Indian American” banner. They would thus become a powerful lobby, in the way the US Jewish influence American politics…

François Gautier

FOREIGNERS AND INDIA

India says it needs foreign investment and that it welcomes foreigners on its land. But before even arriving in India, the hapless foreigner will have to queue for hours at Indian consulates to get a paltry three month visa – even if he has been visiting India for the last 30 years. The first impressions of a western businessman landing in India might very well have a bearing on whether he is going at all to invest here. However, he has again to queue for at least an hour at Immigration and deal with surly officers; and the moment he comes out of the airport, he is assailed by touts and his prepaid taxi is in such a bad condition, that he shudders at every corner ! Henceforth, at each step, he will be made to feel that rather than being welcomed, he is a cow to be milked ! Five Star hotels, for instance, will charge him exorbitant prices: from 400 $ a night (Imperial / Delhi), to (500 $ (Oberoi / Bombay). Compare this to the 150 $ a night charged by the Shangri-La in Singapore, a fabulous hotel, which boasts many more facilities than all the Oberoi and Taj of India, or the 120 $ of the Colombo Hilton. Is he decides to go to Hampi or Mahabalipuram, he will also be made to cough-up 40% more than Indians, to have a glimpse at the Taj Mahal in Agra (and only 50 Rs ) ! Can you think of a more flagrant discrimination ? No wonder China gets 10 more time visitors !

 

By not welcoming foreigners as honoured guests, an old Hindu tradition, the Indian Government seems to forget that foreigners have made significant contributions to India. One immediately thinks of Sister Nivedita, Vivekandanda’s disciple, who not only gave her life for the upliftment of women in India, but also played an active role in India’s early independence movement. Today, scholars like American David Frawley , keep reminding Indians about the greatness, past and present, of their country and how India still has an important role to play in the world. Of course, there are also the “misguided” – but good-willing foreigners. Max Mueller was one of them: he is the first westerner, after William Jones, to have discovered the genius of Sanskrit. Unfortunately, Mueller is also responsible for many of the biases of today’s Indian history, such as the postdating of the Vedas, or the ridiculous theorem of an Aryan invasion of India, which all recent archaeological and linguistic discoveries disavow. Mrit, murli manohar joshi, @other Teresa could also be labelled in this category: she worked tirelessly for India’s poor, but never cared to counterbalance the very negative image of India she was incarnating, by a more positive one.

 

Finally, you have the ignorant and arrogant foreigners. English colonisers must have been the first of them : not only did they wilfully leave behind them a mess, which triggered Partition, but they also bred many generations of “Macaulay’s children”, who today look at their own culture as the British once looked at India. Sonia Gandhi may be another of these “conceited” foreigners: all her life she has been cloistered in Delhi, either because she led the life of an upper class Indian before her husband became PM, or because she is supposed to be under security threat. She has thus no idea about the genius of India, which lies in its countryside – and not in arrogant and superficial Delhi. Yet she chose to head India’s oldest party… and has led it to its downfall, its lowest electoral tally ever ! Is President Obama, or French President Hollande, who always put pressure on India to negotiate Kashmir without knowing anything about the complexities of the situation and India’s rightful preoccupations?

 

Much of Japanese ancient culture – Zen Buddhism, its martial arts, Bonsai – was saved from total extinction by the foreigners’ (read US) interest in them. Will the same thing happen to India ? Today, there is a massive outcry from the Indian intelligentsia, every time this government tries to switch from a westernised and Marxist India to a more Indianised one, a culture much-much older than any Western ideology. This is exactly what Smriti Irani might try to do, thereby earning the ire and the scorn of the “secular” Press. They will mock her, like they ridiculed Murli Manohar Joshi twenty years ago, when he tried to introduce the singing of Vande Mataram in schools! Does it need then a westerner to tell India that it boasts one of the greatest and oldest Books of Wisdom – the Vedas – which might even contain the keys to the future of humanity ? Or the UN to point out that it is high time India adopted a uniform Civil Code, which does not discriminate between religions ? Or to clamour that Hindus have been the most oppressed minority in the world for the last ten centuries ? Wake up of Ô India, Thy time has come !

 

FRANCOIS GAUTIER

THE BIG SCAM OF NGO’ S

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) report on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is right up to the point.

You think that the most corrupt organizations in India belong to the Government? But you may be wrong, because some of the biggest scammers in this country could be the Non Governmental Organizations, or NGO’s, and it is all done in the name of the poor of India.

In the old times, the leaders of NGO’s used to be working in the field, dressed simply, lived in humble dwellings, and had minimal salaries, sufficient for their most essential needs. But nowadays, the new breed of NGOs you meet in Delhi, or Bombay, is smartly dressed in jeans, he or she usually comes from India’s upper elite class, carry the latest laptop and often travel around in a/c cars. These NGO’s spend half of their time abroad, in London, Paris, or New York, doing smart presentations, with mesmerizing slides and Excel spreadsheets, in front of gullible westerners, always ready to shed a tear for the poor “downtrodden Indians”, so as to convince them to grant more funds.

And what is usually all about? 70% of the time “woman empowerment”, or “uplifting” the villagers. It is nowadays fashionable in India to always highlight the downtrodden condition of Indian women and their underprivileged place in Indian society. But no country in the world has granted such an important place to women in its spirituality and social ethos. And even today, behind all appearances – arranged marriages, submission to men, preference of male children in some rural areas (but girls are loved in India like nowhere in the world) – it can be safely said that very often, from the poorest to the richest classes, women control –even if behind the scenes – a lot of the family affairs: the education of their children (men in India are often “mama’s boys”), monetary concerns, and husbands often refer to them for important decisions. Countries such as France or the United States, who are often preaching India on “women’s rights” never had a woman as their top leader, whereas India had Indira Gandhi ruling with an iron hand for nearly twenty years; and proportionately they have less MP’s than India, which is considering earmarking 33% of seats in Parliament for women, a revolution in human history!

But this obsession of NGO’s with women and village empowerment (usually they take one village and make it like a showcase, for the benefit of visiting donors from abroad) has completely eclipsed the burning issue that would require NGO’s attention with the tremendous amount of funds they attract from abroad : afforestation, as there are hardly any forest worth the name left today in India. Take the Himalayas for instance, and a region like the lovely Kumaon hills. Less than forty years ago, people in Almora, the ancient capital of the Kumaons, still remember the beautiful blue cedars forests. Today, there are no forests left around Almora – they were cut down in the early 70’s by contractors from the plains with the full knowledge of the Government – except commercial pine forests, which impoverish the soil and do not hold it properly. Yet, there is terrible shortage of water in Almora, the climate has warmed-up considerably in the last twenty years and wood is fearfully expensive.

There are literally hundreds of NGO’s in the Kumaon hills, who are doing lots of women empowerment, lots of village uplifting, lots of weaving this and weaving that… but absolutely no tree planting. Why? “Because the others do not do it”, is the usual answer, when you ask some of the NGO’s or :“because it is too hard work”. But the beauty of the Kumaon hills around Almora is fast going: more and more hotels are coming up, cutting more trees, like near the Kassar Devi temple, above Almora, where Vivekananda is supposed to have meditated and which has been bought to make into a resort by a non- resident Muslim who is suspected to have links with Ibrahim Dawood.

Most of the big NGO’s are funded by Western countries; but what is not always known is that they often get the bulk of their budgets from big Christian organizations, such as Christian Aid, or Oxfam. There is no doubt that Christians are doing selfless work in India and that they still provide the best in health care and education (work which Hindus should do themselves). But it may so happen – more in the case of American Protestants than European Catholics, who are more tolerant – that there is a slight catch, a string attached to the money donated, not only because there is always that western obsession with “woman empowerment” and the “exploited” low caste Indian (by the Brahmins, of course), but often also, these charitable organizations have a downright bias against Hindus and even towards the BJP ! Some of them even had posters advising people not to vote for the BJP in the last elections. Can you imagine an Indian NGO asking Indians settled in France not to vote for some pro-catholic party? They would be immediately kicked out!

This is not to say that there are no selfless NGO’s who are not fattening themselves on money meant for the poor. Some of them do bring drinking water to remote villages in the Himalayas, or like the Young India Group, teach villagers to stand for their own rights. But there has to be a shift away from empowerment, to fight the real burning issues which are affecting India such as afforestation and water collection (there is no Government policy for collecting the tremendous amounts of water India gets from monsoons, which would save millions of gallons of precious ground water which is fast depleting). And the Government, while leaving to NGO’s the freedom of expression they already have, should make it mandatory that they have a certain percentage of their activities dedicated to these two areas. Our NGO, FACT (fact-india.com) is building a Museum of (true) Indian History in Pune near the airport. Needless to say: no foreign agency ever got interested to it and we find it even difficult to raise funds with Indian companies, who prefer to donate to the politically correct, such as health and education….

FRANCOIS GAUTIER

 

SMRITI IRANI & INDIANIZING EDUCATION

As a lover of Indian culture and spirituality, I am sometimes appalled at how westernized education is in India. I can only hope that the new Human Resources Minister will take-up the job to « Indianise, nationalise and spiritualise » education in India. Of course, she will be criticized by the secular media and intellectuals who will call it « a hidden Hindu agenda » she has already been attacked anyway, because she formed a committee to study the ancient literary works like the Upanishads and the Vedas and single out appropriate texts emphasizing the Hindu contribution to science, mathematics and philosophy. Reportedly, the officials have been asked to create study materials “encapsulating’’ the glories of the Hindu “golden age’’.

So What ?

 With 800 millions souls, Hindus constitute the majority of this country. Why should Hindus then be ashamed of a « Hindu » education ? Traditionally and historically, Hinduism has always been the most tolerant of all religions, allowing persecuted minorities from all over the world, whether the Jerusalem Jews, the Parsis from Persia, Christians from Syria, or even Arab merchants, to settle in India over the centuries and practice their religion in peace. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of India’s invaders, be it the Muslims, who ruthlessly tried for ten centuries to stamp out this most peaceful of all religions; or the Christians missionaries, who used every means at their disposal to convert Hindus to the « true » religion (and are still trying today).

 But Hinduism, never tried to convert anybody, never sent its armies or missionaries to neighbouring countries, to impose its religion and ways of life – not even by non-violence means, as the Buddhists did all over Asia.

It should also be said that Hinduism is much more than a religion, IT’S A WAY OF LIFE, a universal spiritual outlook, which has allowed numerous sects, branches, philosophies, to develop within its fold, as long as they were faithful to the central truth of Hinduism : DHARMA. It even recognises the truth and validity of other creeds – and it’s perfectly normal for a Hindu to have pictures of Guru Govind, Christ, Buddha and Krishna in their homes. For are they not both avatars ? And is that not true secularism (and not the opportunistic secularism of India’s politicians, which has divided India along caste and religious lines) ?

 Then why should Hindus not be proud of Hinduism ? It has not only shaped the psyches of Hindus, but also of Indian Christians, Jains, Parsis, even Muslims, who are like no other Muslims in the world. And why should Indians be ashamed of their own civilisation whose greatness was foremost Hindu? Why should they refuse to have their children read the Vedas, which constitute one of the great fountains of spiritual wisdom, or the Bhagavad Gita, which contains all the secrets of eternal life ? Or the Ramanaya and the Mahabharata, which teach the great values of human nature : courage, selflessness, spiritual endeavour, love of one’s wife and neighbours…

 Are the French ashamed of their Greco-Roman inheritance? Not at all ! On the contrary they even think that civilisation started only with the Greeks. Would you call the Germans or the Italians « nationalists » because they have Christian Democrats Parties? Christianity is the founding stone of Western civilisation and nobody dares deny it. Clinton goes to the mass and swears on the Bible and none finds anything to say. We French are brought-up listening to the values of Homer’s « Iliad », or Corneille’s « Le Cid ». It is true that in France there has been a separation of the State and the Church; but that is because at one time the Church misused its enormous political power and grabbed enormous amounts of lands and gold. But no such thing ever happened India. The much maligned Brahmins never interfered in politics and today they are often a neglected lot.

 When they took over India, the British set upon establishing an intermediary race of Indians, whom they could entrust with their work at the middle level echelons and who could one day be convenient instruments to rule by proxy or semi-proxy. The tool to shape these « British clones » was EDUCATION . In the words of Macaulay, the « pope » of British schooling in India: « We must at present do our best to form a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions we govern; a class of persons, Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellects ». Macaulay had very little regard for Hindu culture and education : « all the historical information which can be collected from all the books which have been written in the Sanskrit language, is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgement used at preparatory schools in England ». Or : « Hindus have a literature of small intrinsic value, hardly reconcilable with morality, full of monstrous superstitions »…

 It seems today that India’s Marxist and Muslim intelligentsia could not agree more with Macaulay or with Charles Grant (1746-1823), Chairman of the East India Company, who said : “we cannot avoid recognising in the people of Hindustan a race of men lamentably degenerate and base…governed by malevolent and licentious passions…and sunk in misery by their vices”.

For the dream of Macaulay has come true: nowadays, the greatest adversaries of the « Indianised and spiritualised education » of Mrs Smriti Irani, are the descendants of these « Brown Shahibs » : the « secular » politicians, the journalists, the top bureaucrats, in fact the whole Westernised cream of India. And what is even more paradoxical, is that most of them are Hindus.

 It is they who upon getting independence, have denied India its true identity and borrowed blindly from the British education system, without trying to adapt it to the unique Indian mentality and psychology; and it is they who are refusing to accept « an Indianisation, nationalisation and spirtualisation » of India’s education system, which is totally western-oriented and is churning out machines learning by heart (Indian children must be amongst those having most homework in the world) boring academics which are of little usefulness in life. And what India is getting from this education is a youth which apes the West : they go to Mac Donald’s, thrive on MTV culture, wear the latest Klein jeans and Lacoste T Shirts, and in general are useless, rich parasites, in a country which has so many talented youngsters who live in poverty. They will grow-up like millions of other western clones in the developing world, who wear a tie, read the New York Times and swear by liberalism and secularism to save their countries from doom.

 But then, what does makes India unique? Nr Narendra Modi set the right tone when he performed aarthi in Varanasi after becoming PM. The last BJP Human Resources Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, wanted to make Sanskrit compulsory in school. Great idea ! Sanskrit is the Mother of all languages, so intricate, so subtle, so rich, that no other language can equal it today. And moreover, it could become the unifying language of India, apart from English, which is spoken only by a tiny minority. “Sanskrit ought still to have a future as the language of the learned and it will not be a good day for India when the ancient tongues cease entirely to be written or spoken”, admonished 50 years ago Sri Aurobindo, India’s great Sage and Seer .

A dead language, you say ! Impossible to revive?

But that’s what they argued about Hebrew. And did not the Jewish people, when they got back their land in 1948, revive their “dead” language, so that it is spoken today by ALL Jewish people and has become alive again?…

The same thing ought to be done with Sanskrit, but as Sri Aurobindo points out: “it must get rid of the curse of the heavy pedantic style contracted by it in its decline, with the lumbering impossible compounds and the overweight of hair-splitting erudition”. Let the scholars begin now to revive and modernise the Sanskrit language, it would be a sure sign of the dawning of the Renaissance of India. In a few years it should be taught as the second language in schools throughout the country, with the regional language as the first and English as the third. Then will India again have its own unifying language.

 Why should anyone object to Saraswati, the Goddess of learning, She who bestowed so much Grace on India. In 1939, a disciple had said to Sri Aurobindo that: “there are some people who object to the singing of Vande Mataram as a national song; Sri Aurobindo had replied: “in that case Hindus should give up their culture”. But the disciple had continued: “the argument is that the song speaks of Hindu gods, like Durga and that it is offensive to Muslims”. Said Sri Aurobindo: “but it is not a religious song, it is a national song and the Durga spoken of is India as the Mother. Why should not the Muslims accept it? In the Indian concept of nationality, the Hindu view should be naturally there. if it cannot find a place, the Hindus may as well be asked to give-up their culture. The Hindus don’t object to “Allah-Ho-Akbar”.

 It is then obvious that Education in India has to be totally revamped. The kind of Westernised education which is standard in India, does have its place, because India wants to be on par with the rest of the world, and Indian youth should be able to deal confidently with the West: do business, talk, and relate to a universal world culture. But nevertheless, the first thing that Indian children should be taught IS THE GREATNESS OF THEIR OWN CULTURE. They should learn to revere the Vedas, they should be taught the genius of the Mahabharata and the Ramanayana; they should be told that in this country everything has been done, that it was an unsurpassed civilisation, when the West was still mumbling its first words, that Indian civilisation reached dizzying heights, which have been since unsurpassed. But overall they should be taught early that India’s greatness is her spirituality her world-wide wisdom. INDIA’S NEW EDUCATION HAS TO BE SPIRITUALISED; IT HAS TO BE AN INNER EDUCATION, WHICH TEACHES TO LOOK AT THINGS FROM THE INNER PRISM, NOT THROUGH THE WESTERN ARTIFICIAL LOOKING GLASS.

India’s Dharma, her eternal quest for truth, should be drilled in the child from an early age. And from this firm base, everything then can be taught -from the most modern forms of mathematics, to the latest scientific technologies.

 Finally we can only end by echoing the words of Sri Aurobindo who was India’s most ardent revolutionary and an avatar, who foresaw Humanity’s next stage of evolution : ” Whoever wishes to cut of the nation from its past, is no friend of our national growth. Whoever fails to take advantage of the present, is losing us the battle of life. We must therefore save for India all that she has stored up of knowledge, character and noble thoughts in her immemorial past. We must acquire for her the best knowledge that the West can give her and assimilate it to her own peculiar type of national temperament. We must introduce the best methods of teaching humanity has developed, whether modern or ancient. And all these we must harmonise into a system which will be impregnated with the spirit of self-reliance, so as to build up men and not machines”. Dear Mrs Irani, you have a long and tough task ahead of you. Be ready for the brickbats…

 FRANCOIS GAUTIER

LETTER TO AN AMBASSADOR

This letter was written to the Irish ambassador in India, after my wife was nearly denied a visa to Ireland, but it could be addressed to all the ambassadors of the Delhi diplomatic enclave, as most of them fall in the same category.

LETTER TO AN AMBASSADOR

Dear Mr Ambassador,
Wanted to thank you for my wife’s visa, as I have no doubt the sanction ultimately came from you.

At the same time, allow me a few comments, as I have been living in India for 45 years and that probably entitles me to my own opinions, however wrong they may be.

New Delhi remains very much a British capital, far away AND CUT from the rest of India – and the diplomatic enclave of Shanti Path / Chanakya Puri, a luxury ghetto, where it is even more difficult to have a clear idea of what India is really about, as the same clichéd ideas are repeated at every diplomatic cocktail and every journalists’ parties.

The capital i is full of young arrogant diplmomats, such as Arnaud Mentre, the Press Attaché of the French embassy, who think that in 2 or 3 years,they know everything about India, but actually go back with all the prejudices they came with, without having learnt anything (of course, there are exceptions: Peter Vrooman, the ‘sympathique’ Press Councilor of the US embassy is one)

The British, your erstwhile enemy, created an entire class of Indians, which formed their buffer middle zone, so as to govern this country through proxy. In this way, their army was mostly constituted of Indians – and you know,that a million of them fought during the Great War (1914-1918), a hundred years ago, in a conflict that did not concern them.
I find that the foreign embassies in Delhi have replicated the same system: from your security guards, to many of the visa officers, Indians unfortunate enough to seek a visa, often have to deal with Indians.

It is sad that those Indians, these brown ‘sahebs’, as those created by the British, often want to be more British than the British, more Irish than the Irish, or more French than the French, in the case of the Pondichery Tamils, rejecting their Indian roots, though in truth, they are never fully accepted as one of their own by their white masters. Thus they have to make a show of being tough with those of their brothers and sisters seeking a visa. In the case of my wife’s visa, while Peter Frisby, you consular head, seemed pretty open, it is your Indian visa officer, Mrs Dass, who created the problems for my wife and wanted to apply the rule to the letter, even though we had submitted an online application which she retrieved, as she called my wife on the mobile mentioned in the application. It’s only become I am myself a foreigner and a fairly well known journalist, that she ultimately got it. An ordinary Indian would have been rebuffed.

It seems to me that foreign embassies in India act as if they are doing a favour by granting a visa. But it is actually the opposite: my wife, as millions of Indians, is going to spend her money in your country, travel by your airline, stay in your hotels and generally grace you country. It however breaks my heart when I see the long lines of Indians queuing at the UK or US embassy, the biggest brain drain in the world ever. That they are badly treated by the embassies, made to wait long in the heat, to come back repeatedly and their visas often denied, is another matter.

It has been my belief for long, that as in the case of China, one day it will be westerners who will queuing for employment opportunities in India, the next superpower in the world, for it is everything that China is, plus democracy, legality and friendliness to the West.

Awaiting this day, please rest assured of my best feelings
Yours truly,
Francois Gautier
Correspondent South Asia Valeurs Actuelles
Editor in Chief La Revue de l’Inde, Paris
Author The Guru of Joy/ A History of India as it Happened

what is true universal #Hinduism by #francoisgautier

I was a born and brought-up as a catholic and knew absolutely nothing about India, Hinduism and Hindus. When I was a young Frenchman of 19, I had the privilege to hear about the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, through a friend, whose father was the last Governor of Pondichery. My friend told me that a caravan of 5 cars was about to drive from Paris to Pondichery. On a hunch, I joined this caravan.
Upon arriving in Delhi after driving trough nine countries, I felt I had come home and that this country was a very special place.
I lived in the Pondichery Sri Aurobindo ashram for seven years. These were wonderful times: the Mother was still alive and everything looked new, everything seemed possible. One read Sri Aurobindo, of course, as he was the Master and the inspiration of the place, but one either did not understand or felt disconnected to his political writings.
Then, having done some journalism and photography in France, I started freelancing in South India and I discovered the Hindus. What I chanced upon was that their religion was not in their heads, as it is for us Christians – “I must pray, I must be good, I must not sin” – but that it was rather something they lived: they seemed, for instance, to accept me, a Westerner, a non Hindu, as they seemed to accept all other religions. This discovery would never leave me, even when I became a political journalist in Delhi for major French newspapers.
Thus slowly, I became acquainted with the eternal principles of Hinduism:
• A Hindu is one who searches for the Ultimate Truth.
• Unlike other religions, Hinduism refuses to sanction the monopoly of one God, or one Scripture as the only way to salvation.
• Hinduism is the eternal faith, Sanataana Dharma, or the universal law by which all humans are governed.
• Hindus believe that the soul takes birth in a physical body, dies, gets reborn, until it has attained Perfect Divinity.
• Hindus believe that one can cleanse oneself from karmas through yoga practices, such as pranayama, meditation or asanas.
• One can be a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, or from any other religion and still practice Hinduism. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has shown the way: breath has no religion and pranayama can be practiced by anybody, whatever their creed.
In that sense, I consider myself a Hindu
François Gautier

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CASTE SYSTEM

As the Congress and the Media float all kind of accusations against Narendra Modi, to utilize the ‘caste card”, I thought it would be appropriate to republish an article of mine on castes:

Even more than the Aryans-Dravidians divide and the Vedas, the caste system has been the most misunderstood, the most vilified subject of Hindu society at the hands of Western scholars and even today by “secular” Indians that is the Congress, the leftists intellectuals and its instruments, the Media, particularly NDTV and TOI.

But ultimately if one wants to understand the truth, the original purpose behind the caste system, one must go back to the Vedas. “Caste was originally an arrangement for the distribution of functions in society, just as much as class in Europe, but the principle on which this distribution was based was peculiar to India. A Brahmin was a Brahmin not by mere birth, but because he discharged the duty of preserving the spiritual and intellectual elevation of the race, and he had to cultivate the spiritual temperament and acquire the spiritual training which alone would qualify him for the task. The Kshatryia was Kshatryia not merely because he was the son of warriors and princes, but because he discharged the duty of protecting the country and preserving the high courage and manhood of action, and he had to cultivate the princely temperament and acquire the strong and lofty Samurai training which alone fitted him for his duties. So it was for the Vaishya whose function was to amass wealth for the race and the Shudra who discharged the humbler duties of service without which the other castes could not perform their share of labour for the common, good”. (Sri Aurobindo)

Many Indian sages have even gone even further than Sri Aurobindo, arguing that in the occult relation India had with the Universal Force, each one was born in the caste CORRESPONDING to his or her spiritual evolution. There are accidents, misfits, errors, they say, but the system seems to have worked pretty well untill modern times when it got perverted by the vagaries of materialism and western influence. Can one accept such a theory? Sri Aurobindo, while praising the original caste system, does not spare it in its later stages: “it is the nature of human institutions to degenerate; there is no doubt that the institution of caste degenerated. It ceased to be determined by spiritual qualifications which, once essential, have now come to be subordinate and even immaterial and is determined by the purely material tests of occupation and birth…
By this change it has set itself against the fundamental tendency of Hinduism which is to insist on the spiritual and subordinate the material and thus lost most of its meaning. the spirit of caste arrogance, exclusiveness and superiority came to dominate it instead of the spirit of duty, and the change weakened the nation and helped to reduce us to our present condition…(India’s Rebirth, p 27). And the Barbarians came !

But finally, have the people who dismiss caste as an Aryan imposition on the Dravidians, or as an inhuman and nazi system, ever attempted to understand its original purpose and genius? Is it really worse than the huge class differences you can see nowadays in Europe or the US? And can you really exclude it today off-hand, when it still survives so much in the villages – and even in more educated circles, where one still marries in matching castes, with the help of an astrologer? Does the caste system need to be transformed, to recapture its old meaning and once more incarnate a spiritual hierarchy of beings? Or has it to be recast in a different mould, taking into account the parameters of modern Indian society? Or else, will it finally disappear altogether from India, because it has become totally irrelevant today ?

At any rate, Hindus should not allow it to be exploited shamelessly against them, as it has been in the last two centuries, by missionnaries, “secular” historians, Muslims, and by pre and post-independance Indian politicians -each for their own purpose.
FG