As Sonia Gandhi has filed her nomination for the 2014 elections, from Rae Barely, which will probably reelect her, I thought it would be appropriate to republish this article of mine. ..
Like Sonia Gandhi, I am a Westerner and a brought-up catholic. My father, a very good man, was a staunch Christian; my uncle, whom I doted upon, was the vicar of the Montmartre Church, one of the most picturesque landmarks of Paris. Like Sonia Gandhi, I have lived in India for more than 40 years, and I have had the good fortune to be married to an Indian.
But the comparison stops there. I did land in India with a certain amount of prejudices, clichés and false ideas, that most Westerners pick-up here and there (Tintin, Kipling, the City of Joy, Slumdog Millionaire, today) and I did think in the enthusiasm of my youth to become a missionary to bring back Indian ‘pagans’ to the ‘true God’. But the moment I stepped in India I felt that not only I had nothing much that I could give to India, but rather, that it was India which was bestowing me.
In fact, in 40 years, India has given me so much, professionally, spiritually, sentimentally. Most Westerners, who come here, still think they are here to ‘give’ something to a country, which, unconsciously of course, they think is lesser than theirs. It was true of the British, it was true of Mother Teresa, it is true of Mrs Sonia Gandhi.
It is a fact that Sonia brought discipline, order and cohesion into the Congress party. But the amount of power, that she, a non-Indian, a simple elected MP, like hundreds of others, possesses, should frighten her: a word, nay a glance of her is sufficient to trigger action by her entourage, using any means. Thus, the instruments of power have never been so perverted in India. The CBI blatantly and shamelessly quashed all injunctions against Quattrochi and even allowed him to get away with billions of rupees which he had stolen from India. Yet, without batting an eyelid, and with the Indian Media turning a blind eye, it went ruthlessly after Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the most efficiently run state, the most corruption free, where there is electricity 24 hours, when half of India is in darkness, where there is unlimited water supply whereas a drought-like situation is evolving in many states. Now that Mr Modi, is the BJP’s Prime ministerial candidate, he has of course acquired some shine in the Indian Media, though the western Media continues to bash him ruthlessly and untruthfully, as recently Gardiner Harris did in the New York Times.
Are Indians aware that their country has been for the last few years in a state of semi-autocracy, where every important decision comes to a single individual, residing in her fortress of Janpath, surrounded by dozens of security men, an empress of India. Are they aware that she controls tens of billions of rupees of the taxpayer’s money, which she uses to keep her party in power? Do they know that the huge amounts of the scams, whether the 2G, the CWG, or the Adarsh one, did not go into politicians pockets (only a fraction), but to the coffers of the Congress for these general elections, and more than anything to please Sonia, who is trying to install her son on the throne of India? The Congress, with Sonia’s overt or silent consent, has paid during two tenures hundreds thousands of crores of rupees to buy MP’s to topple non-Congress governments. Her governors shamelessly hijacked democracy by twisting the laws. Thank God, the Judiciary here still holds some independence!
Nobody seems to notice what happened under the reign of Sonia Gandhi. That many leftist intellectuals, such as Teesta Seltawad, or Manu Joseph, were allowed to preach secession in India, whereas on the other hand the Congress Government has been going after the army, the last body in India to uphold the time ancient values of the Kshatriya –courage, honour, devotion to the Motherland, they who alone today practice true secularism, never differentiating between a Muslim or Hindu soldier, and who, for a pittance, give daily their lives to their country. First it was the attempt of a caste census, a divide and rule ploy if there is one; then there are the many signs that the Government was thinking about thinning down the presence of the Indian army in the Kashmir Valley, which will suit Pakistan perfectly.
One hears from persons who know her well, of Sonia’s’ qualities of honesty, courtesy, or personal care. But would be impossible, in France for example, to have a non-Christian, say an Hindu for instance, who is a non-elected president or PM, to be the absolute ruler of the country behind the scenes, superseding even the PM. There are many capable people in the Congress. Why can’t a billion Indians find one of their own, who will understand the complexity and subtlety of India, to govern themselves? Not only that, but her very presence at the top has unleashed forces, visible and invisible that are detrimental to the country. There is nothing wrong in espousing the best of the values of the West – democracy, technological perfection, higher standards of living – but many of the institutions are crumbling in the West: two out of three marriages end in divorce, kids shoot each other, parents are not cared for in their old age, depression is rampant and westerners are actually looking for answers elsewhere, in India notably.
One does not understand this craze at the moment to westernize India at all costs, while discarding its ancient values. Mrs Gandhi should have remembered while in power that there still are 850 million Hindus in India, 1,2 billion worldwide and that whatever good inputs were brought by different invasions, it is the ancient values of the spirituality behind Hinduism, which have made India so special and which gives her today her unique qualities, making an Indian Christian different from an American Christian, or an Indian Muslim different from a Saudi one.
Every opinion poll says the Congress will suffer debacle in these elections, but if you talk to many of the simple countryside people, whether in UP or Tamil Nadu, they say that they are going to vote for Congress ‘because my husband tells me’, or because ‘Rahul is related to the Mahatma Gandhi’…
The tragedy of India is that it was colonized for too long. And unlike China, it always looks to the West for a solution to its problems. Sonia Gandhi, whatever her qualities, is just an incarnation of that hangover, an Empress of India in new clothes.
The author is editor in chief of the Paris based La Nouvelle Revue de l’Inde (lanouvellerevuedelinde.com) and the author of many books, amongst them The Guru of Joy (Hay House, 125.000 copies in seven countries)