Pale Fires Don’t Scorch

col_franco_20090209Deviants of Mangalore and Malegaon are demonised fallaciously   
 Francois Gautier  

When I began reporting, I went to interview the RSS leadership in Delhi, expecting, from what I had heard, a few bloodthirsty fascists. I was surprised to meet those old daddies with their long khaki shorts, who would not hurt a fly. Twenty-five years later, the word ‘Hindu Talibanisation’ is being heard amidst the clamour following the odious pub episode in Mangalore. Such incidents should be condemned, as it has no precedent in Indian history—from Prithviraj Chauhan to Shivaji, Hindus respected the women of even their enemies. Yet, I beg to disagree: this is not about the Talibanisation of Hindu groups, it is about their demonisation.

British colonisers in league with the Christian missionaries realised 200 years ago that the biggest obstacle to fully subjugating India was Hinduism, as it was ancient, woven into the fabric of life and held the country together. They set upon defaming Hinduism, by dwelling on what they perceived as its negatives: castes, sati, superstition, etc. Simultaneously, they created in a span of two or three generations a class of Indians who looked up only to the West.

Macaulay, the architect of the scheme, summed it up in his Minute on Education: “We must do our best to form a class of persons, Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” Macaulay despised Indian culture: “Hindus have a literature of small intrinsic value, hardly reconcilable with morality, full of monstrous superstitions….” The demonisation of Hinduism was apace.

As a result, these Anglicised Indians became ashamed of their own culture. This Western/anti-Hindu outlook was handed down from generation to generation, right down to our age, where many of India’s brilliant and articulate Hindu-Marxist intellectuals, products all of institutions like jnu, or St Stephen’s, keep on repeating, as if by rote, what their hoary forebears were taught by the British. And unfortunately, they pass it back to their friends from the West, neatly marking a full circle. How else could a film like Slumdog Millionaire, made by an Englishman, which literally craps on India from the very first frame, be feted by most of India’s intelligentsia? How else could India specialists like Christophe Jaffrelot peddle to his gullible French readers the spurious theory that there is a “Hindu tradition of terror”?

Politically, the Congress just took over from the British, as I explain in my new book (A New History of India, 2008, Har Anand), and used its English-speaking press to present Hindu social and political parties as fanatical and ridiculous. The goal was to corner the Muslim vote, which was—and still remains—achieved. It does not help today that the supreme leader of India is a Christian. Whether her aides or her ministers (many of them capable people in their own right) rush to gratify her in true bhakti spirit or whether she directly speaks her will, one does not know. But what better way to please her than by equating Hindu fundamentalism with the Muslim one and to turn the flak on to small Hindu outfits which are amateur lambs compared to the Islamic ones?

There are two standards today used by India’s media and intelligentsia. One for minorities and the other for Hindus. It is totally illogical: if 4,00,000 Hindus are hounded out of the Kashmir Valley which has always been their home, nobody protests; but New Delhi has been rooting for Palestinians for four decades and recently donated a million dollars for their welfare. When blast after blast wrecks Indian markets, when trains are bombed, hotels attacked by men worse than animals, intellectuals blame it on Babri Masjid (where nobody was killed) or Gujarat (triggered by the burning of 59 innocent Hindus).But when a few Hindus plan to establish a Hindu rashtra and plot a clumsy, small-scale revenge, they are equated with deadly fundamentalists. A universal theorem is made of their single act, which should stand out as isolated, because Hindus have been for thousands of years tolerant to the point of cowardice. Our intellectuals never theorised when, in Kashmir, militants used to throw acid on women who did not cover up, but now devote reams to the goons of Mangalore.

Finally, to be fair, one has to say that a lot of prudishness has seeped into India because of the Islamic purdah and, later, Victorian stuffiness. Yet, Hinduism always enjoined its adherents to live life fully, including its sexual aspect. We do not want an Indian youth which blindly apes the West: drinking, drugs and promiscuity. But the Hindu political leadership should also shun rough, prudish and moralistic acts which will only alienate its young voters.
(Francois Gautier is the editor-in-chief of the Paris-based La Revue l’Inde)

9 responses to “Pale Fires Don’t Scorch

  1. Francois,

    India is becoming a land of hooligans who first look for umbrellas and excuses to execute their personal agendas. This time, the umbrella these hooligans chose was that of “Our culture”. If one digs deeper into the Hindu spiritual books, or the Hindu system of thought, one won’t be able to point out any single fundamentalist statement which says “Our culture is limited to only this. Everything else is to be condemned.” It’s disheartening to see that the main stream media, instead of realizing this and calling the hooligans’ bluff, chose to add fuel to a non-existant fire. More than anything else, it indicates the shallowness of the mainstream Indian media, which tries to look at every incident through the spectacles of it’s own agenda.

  2. Excellent article Mr. Francois. Hats off to you. We, Indians are sick of the double standards practiced by the pseudo secular government at the center.

  3. A very well articulated piece. I just hope we can spread this message to as many people as possible.

  4. Relativism. It has become popular, and a perversion of liberal tolerance. Gautier, here is an article that compares the three Abrahamic religions, and is relevant to this topic:

  5. It isn’t only Indian who suffered. Wherever Islam went the native cultures were put down:

  6. Dear ML,
    Go over to the and search for christianity and you will find the same over there. In fact Chinese react with even more virulence then the Hindu Taliban. Singaporean PM perhaps has said something to the same effect. But just the way the pseudo secular media is peddling ghosts, the RSS subsidiaries are also doing the same.

    Sometime back i came across an Old Sri Lankan Postage Stamp of a Tamil Hindu Lady. She looked healthy, well fed and happy. She also was not hiding her breasts. The history had an openness and men folk were not salivating for the neighbours wife. The reason was that the men folk did what they had learnt was their duty. The Islamic people covered there women because they needed to. These RSS subsidiaries are not joining the dots. The moral upliftment is a self driven process not something imposed by the outsider. The so called hindu parties are not about the development of India (social and/or economic), that is why they are getting rejected and nobody is defending them. Let BJP stand on its own two feet and they will get the same support that the people of this country have given to Gandhiji in politics, Sankara in Religion & Philosophy and Shah Rukh Khan in entertainment.

  7. etc. will remain etc. because it deserves to be etc.

  8. Verdict:
    Godhra train fire verdict prompts tight security measures

    Officials in Gujarat fear inter-communal violence after 31 Muslims convicted of the deaths of 60 Hindus in 2002

    * Jason Burke in Delhi
    *, Tuesday 22 February 2011 11.44 GMT

    The Godhra train fire killed 60 Hindu pilgrims and activists in February 2002 The Godhra train fire killed 60 Hindu pilgrims and activists in February 2002 and triggered some of the worst communal violence in India in decades.

    India has imposed tight security measures across much of the western state of Gujarat following the conviction of 31 Muslim men for setting fire to a train in which 60 Hindu pilgrims and activists died nine years ago.

    The incident, which took place in the town of Godhra in February 2002, triggered some of the worst inter-communal violence in India for decades. More than 1,200 people, mainly from the minority Muslim community, were killed as groups of Hindus rioted in Muslim neighbourhoods and towns across the state.

    Gujurat security officials fear a repeat of the violence following the verdict.

    Public gatherings of more than four people in areas seen as prone to violence have been prohibited, local media have been asked not to broadcast images of the clashes that followed the attack on the train, and around 15,000 extra police have been deployed.

    The families of the more than 60 people acquitted of taking part in the train attack have been given police protection.

    Those convicted are to be sentenced later in the week. Many have been in jail for years, arrested soon after the violence.

    Special public prosecutor JM Panchal said he was satisfied with the verdict.

    The case has become highly politicised, reflecting deep divides in India.

    The chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi – a rising star in the rightwing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) – has been repeatedly accused of failing to stop Hindu revenge attacks.

    Modi has always denied such claims, but they have tarnished his image and that of the state, one of India’s most successful in economic terms.

    A BJP spokesman said after the verdict that “law and justice has prevailed”, adding: “There were elements who were trying to belittle [the case]. There have been politicians who tried to abuse it.”

    An investigation by a judge six years ago had concluded that the train fire had been an accident. However, a separate inquiry found it had been pre-planned and that the train, having been doused in petrol, was deliberately set alight by a mob.

    Commentators say that inter-communal strife following the verdict is unlikely. Last year, calm followed a controversial court decision over the disputed religious site of Ayodhya in northern India which granted many of the demands of Hindu religious groups, leading many to conclude that the days when sectarian issues could explode into street violence are over.

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