Hindus: majority yet minority
Author: Francois Gautier
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: December 4, 2000
Hindus, who comprise the majority population of India, boasts of one the oldest cultures of the world. Sanskrit is often thought as the mother of all languages; Hindu philosophy has to considerably fashioned Greek mythology and Celticlore (as demonstrated by French Indianist Guy Deleury); and these two traditions represent the foundation of all European culture.
We all know that the zero concept originated from India, but it is not so well known that the Egyptians used Hindu arithmetic concepts to build their pyramids, that Hindus inspired Pythagorean mathematics, or what an 18th century French astronomers Jean-Claude Bailly had remarked: ‘Hindu calculations of the position of the stars and of solar eclipses were so precise that we are still using them today’.
Thus the Hindus, inheritors of an immense, noble and age-old culture, constitute 85 per cent of India and represent the social, religious and cultural majority of this emerging Asian superpower of the 21st century. And yet, their voice is rarely heard in India. They are respected neither in home, nor abroad; and they generally lack self-confidence.
Could it be that Hindus are a psychological minority in India, whereas minorities, such as the Christians, which constitute only 3 per cent of the population, wield an enormous moral power in this country, thanks to the quality of their schools and hospitals and because of the pride they have in their own religion and moral standards?
All European children, Italian or German, are brought-up on Christian values and Greek philosophy. It would be impossible, in France for instance, for the Muslim minority – immigrants from French ex-colonies such as Algeria or Morocco to impose their views and culture on the government. In fact, Muslim girls are not allowed to wear a veil when they go to French school: ‘you are in France, you have been given the French nationality, so behave like a French first and like a Muslim second’, they are told bluntly.
Would that be possible in India? Would any Indian except the much-maligned RSS, have the courage to ask Muslims to be Indians first, and Muslim second? Or tell Catholics and Protestants that they have to revert to a more Indianised Christianity, such as the one that existed in Kerala before the arrival of the Portuguese Jesuits? And see how stridently Muslims and Christians backed by most of the media – react when the Human Resources Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, wants to teach Indian children a little bit of the greatness of their culture.
There are two sets of standards used in India amongst intellectuals; one for the Christians or the Muslims; and one for the Hindus. When the Australian missionary Graham Stains and his two sons were killed the Indian and foreign press spent weeks – if not months – in eulogizing Graham and making Nazis of all Hindus held responsible for his murder. But if a few days later 20 labourers, as innocent as Stains’ two sons, are savagely assassinated by separatists in Kashmir, it will only warrant a few lines in Indian newspapers, without any of the outraged comments which followed Staines murder.
When the Ayodhya mosque was brought down, it was as if eternal shame had descended upon India. ‘Death of secularism’, ‘Hindu fundamentalists have taken over the country’, ‘a Black Day in the history of our democracy’, the newspapers screamed. However unfortunate the Ayodhya episode was, nobody was killed there; but the terrible Bombay blasts which followed, orchestrated by Indian Muslims, with the active help of Pakistan and the silent approval of Saudi Arabia, which took the lives of hundreds of innocent Hindus, never warranted the kind of moral indignation which followed Ayodhya.
Hindus are ironically chased from their own ancestral lands. There were one million of them in Kashmir in 1900 but only a few hundred today, the rest having been made to flee through terror. In the North-East, Hindus are being outnumbered by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and terrorized by pro-Christian separatist groups, such as the Bodos or the Mizos. In Karnataka, a bill will bring more than 43,000 Hindu shrines and maths under the commissioner’s control. This act does not apply to Christians and Muslims. The Indian government still sponsors the Haj pilgrimage.
Hindus should become a little prouder of themselves: there is ample talent and brains in India today. Hindu children regularly top their schools and universities in the US, they are the best programmers of this planet and are are amongst the richest people in UK, the US or Canada. Why can’t the majority of this marvelous, diverse, ancient and extraordinary country stop behaving as if it was a moral minority?