Not India’s first woman saint

Francois Gautier, Pioneer

Indian media went into a tizzy while covering the canonisation of Sister Alphonsa, an obscure nun, to prove its secular credentials! Indian journalists forget that this country has had other women saints too.

As a Frenchman, I was coached right from childhood that logic, what we in France call cartesianism, is the greatest gift given to man and that one should use one’s reason to tread in life. Thus, I taught to my students in a Bangalore school of journalism, the SSCMS, that the first tool of a good reporter is to go by his or her own judgement on the ground, with the help of one’s first-hand experience — and not go by second hand information: What your parents thought, what you have read in the newspapers, what your caste, religion, culture pushes you into…

Yet in India, logic does not seem to apply to most of the media, especially when it is anything related to Hindus and Hinduism. One cannot, for instance, equate Muslim terrorists who blow up innocent civilians in market places all over India to angry ordinary Hindus who attack churches without killing anybody. We know that most of these communal incidents often involve persons of the same caste — Dalits and tribals — some of them converted to Christianity and some not.

However reprehensible was the destruction of the Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process. Compare that with the ‘vengeance’ bombings of 1993 in Mumbai, which killed hundreds of innocent people, mostly Hindus. Yet Indian and Western journalists keep equating the two, or even showing the Babri Masjid destruction as the most horrible act of the two.

How can you compare the Sangh Parivar with the Indian Mujahideen, a deadly terrorist organisation? How can you label Mr Narendra Modi a mass killer when actually it was ordinary middle class, or even Dalit Hindus, who went out into the streets in fury when 56 innocent people, many of them women and children, were burnt in a train?

How can you lobby for the lifting of the ban on SIMI, an organisation which is suspected of having planted bombs in many Indian cities, killing hundreds of innocent people, while advocating a ban on the Bajrang Dal, which attacked some churches after an 84-year-old swami and his followers were brutally murdered?

There is no logic in journalism in this country when it applies itself to minorities. Christians are supposedly only two per cent of the population in India, but look how last Sunday many major television channels showed live the canonisation ceremony of Sister Alphonsa, an obscure nun from Kerala and see how Union Minister Oscar Fernandes led an entire Indian delegation to the Vatican along with the Indian Ambassador. It would be impossible in England, for instance, which may have a two per cent Hindu minority, to have live coverage of a major Hindu ceremony, like the anointment of a new Shankaracharya. What were the 24×7 news channels, which seem to have deliberately chosen to highlight this non-event, trying to prove? That they are secular? Is this secularism?

The headline of the story “India gets its first woman saint”, run by many newspapers, both Indian and Western, is very misleading.

For India has never been short of saints.

The woman sage from over 3,000 years ago, Maithreyi, Andal, the Tamil saint from early in the first Millennium CE and Akkamahadevi, the 15th century saint from modern-day Karnataka, are but a few examples of women saints in India.

What many publications failed to mention in the story is that this is the first woman Christian saint — not the first Indian woman saint.

This statement is ok, when it comes, for instance, from the BBC, which always looks at India through the Christian prism (BBC ran a few months back an untrue and slanderous documentary on Auroville), but when it comes to the Indian media, it only shows the grave lack of grounding in Indian culture and history of most Indian journalists.

As a result, they suffer from an inferiority complex.

This inferiority complex, as expressed by television’s live coverage of the canonisation of Sister Alphonsa, is a legacy of the British, who strove to show themselves as superior and Indian culture as inferior (and inheritor of the ‘White Aryans’, a totally false theory).

Is it not time to institute schools of journalism, both private and public, where not only logic will be taught, but where students shall be made aware of Indian history and of the greatness of Indian culture, so that when they go out to report, they will use their own judgement and become Indian journalists, with a little bit of feeling, pride and love for their own country?

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20 responses to “Not India’s first woman saint

  1. an awesome article, francois ji … thought-provoking indeed..

    i shared it with lots of people..

    do u publish these articles in any newspaper/magazine ?

    we are also working towards fighting this pseudo-secularism.. including sending protest mails to newspapers like TOI and NYT..

    we aren’t surprised that we didn’t receive any response from them.

    we’ll be in touch with you soon to guide us on our next step..

    JGD !

  2. I am very impressed with the deep thought in this. The TV channels and the news papers being the most impacting media is projecting wrong and false pictures which in turn has been affecting the normal public.

    As a citizen of India, kindly provide me some ideas which I can personally do towards controlling the big media’s carelessness.

    My heart felt thanks for the article.

  3. hi this is a very good article plz do write these type of articles in the news papers!! i think we HINDUS should start our own media !! so the catholic owned news media which is causing such a wrong note about our beautiful and very scientific culture will understand whats the truth is!! What they are doing is really confusing we youth,making us not to believe in our culture !! so sad!!also everybody are saying they are the minority here!! if they can get the recent reports we are minority here!! alos i want to ask the govt what the hell they are doing the money ehich they are getting from temples providing it minorities for haj and there own development what we hindus should do!! its our BLOOD earned money!! and its for our own development not for the pleasure trip of others they should give our money to us not for “MINORITIES”

  4. very good that you have pointed this out to us. jgd!

  5. Dear Francois Gautier,

    Thank you very much for showing the concern towards us, the Hindus.

    I totally agree with you not just as a Hindu but also as a Secular Indian.

    I would like to add one more point is that, India is Secular becuase of Hindus (by default Secular).

    I respect the saints of all faiths. Saint is Saint. Spirituality should take lead.

    Thanks,

  6. Chidananda yogi

    Great article! It should be sent to all the Indian press and to Madam Soniyaji.

  7. In the name of secularism the media should not give wrong picture to the public. India is the rich land of spirituality, so media should not pass such image to the world. Instead media can be the ambassador of peace and love to bring peace in the world.

  8. What Mr. Gautier makes lot of sense. I wish our Indian journalists can also be as sensible as him.

  9. truly said!!!an eye opener…

  10. hey francois!

    what a brilliant article!!
    why dont you add some digg, facebook etc buttons so i can add this article as a must read on those sites as well

    love
    khurshed

  11. Dear Francoisji,
    What you have brought forth to the ground is really mindblowing, as far as the intellectual life of the Indian people are concerned. What we lack here, as it seems to me, is strong public opinion on the events that happen here from time to time.A nation like India, which carries with it its rich cultural and historical legacy that dates back to about 6000 years, should feel proud of its own cultural back up and heritage.Instead, what an average Indian citizen gets is the obliterated facts in the form of manipulated pieces of news through the so called media, who can create sensations from time to time. The end result of this practise is that we lack knowledge of unbiased truth behind every event.
    What you have pointed out is really thought provocating, Francoisji. What I infer from this article is that every person who is having patriotic sentiments should really think of what Mr. Francoisji had brought forth through his article.

  12. An eye opener indeed! Thank you for writing such a thought provoking article Monsieur Gautier. It sure puts things in perspective. It is high time I believe, that people take a good hard look at themselves and see what they are doing.

    Is there any way we can read more of your articles?

  13. Definitely Indian media is not mature enough….its kind of under control of the pseudo secularists who would make up useless sensation stories rather have the truth.

  14. Great article!! Great thinking!! 🙂

    i sure am going to put it in my blog 🙂

  15. It would be impossible in England, for instance, which may have a two per cent Hindu minority, to have live coverage of a major Hindu ceremony, like the anointment of a new Shankaracharya. What were the 24×7 news channels, which seem to have deliberately chosen to highlight this non-event, trying to prove?

    Glad to know that people like Francois exist in this world! Thank you Mr. Gautier!

  16. Chandra Shekhar Khunteta

    Dear Gautier
    Thanks for providing a great insight facts,i endorse your article and will be doing all possible efforts to protect the Hindu culture which is very well a universal culture of VASUDEV KUTUMBH

  17. This is the hard truth which we indians have to bring to the knowledge of these journalists which have sold themselves to other (american/england) countries. These people always claim a small hindrance to minorities / protest against them is a very very big issue.

    India is never short of saints whether it is women / men. This is the land where every body is given equal independence.

    The most unfortunate thing of this land is that the people to whom we call as leaders are all selfish and they thing only of their own selfish goals like vote banks. If this continues in India I think that one day every hindu will have to run on street for protest.

    The days are not too far.

    Better thing is that let political leaders and journalists and mass media people understand this.

    JDG

  18. Indeed it is a great article and your views coming from a Christian Background would not be taken adversely by Indian Media as Hindu sponsored views.

    If any one talks about Great Indian Culture and cultural values he is branded as a person having RSS leaning.

    In some of the countries like Malaysia YOGA is branded as HINDU culture whereas it is scientifically proved that It’s a science and many Western Medical Schools have adpted as a classic way of Health management

    I fervently hope that people from Print and E- Media takes cognizance of your views and gives appropriatew coverage

  19. Thanks

    I will appreciate your feed back and listing on your blog

  20. Pingback: NOT India’s first woman saint. « The Candid Eye

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