Author Archives: speekout

Promises BJP must keep

OPED | Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Francois Gautier

Sending a clear message to divisive forces, the BJP must come out with a ‘nation first’ agenda of governance and fulfil the promises it has made to the masses

The curse of Hindus has always been disunity and betraying each other to the enemy. Today we see this trend again in the BJP where sometimes the highest party office-bearers can’t even say hello to each other. As far as one can remember, the BJP had three pillars: Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mr LK Advani and Mr Murli Manohar Joshi.

Mr Vajpayee is no longer able to lead an active life due to health concerns and thus Mr Advani and Mr Joshi, who was president of the BJP in the early-1990s and had hoisted the Indian Tricolour in Srinagar at a time when no other leader gave a damn about Jammu & Kashmir, are two pillars of the party today. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has risen to the stature of a national-level leader, not only because he is an ironman but also because he has made his State a model of economic efficiency.

The BJP should make it known that it will really build the Ram Mandir, protect temples, stop Christian conversions, honour India’s gurus and impose some guidelines on media, which have a pre-conceived notion about Pope and Islam but always see Hindu godmen and sadhvis through the eyes of ‘secularism’.

On the external affairs side, the BJP should reaffirm its commitment to keep Arunachal Pradesh, stand-up to China’s bullying, and support Tibet to counteract Beijing, which is propping up Maoist Nepal and covertly using Burma as a military base.

The party should also make it clear that it will keep Jammu & Kashmir with India, hang terrorists (and not translate 11,000 indictment pages into Urdu for terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab), punish Pakistan by launching surgical strikes next time it attacks India through a proxy war and keep the United States at bay as long as America supports and provides arms and ammunition to Pakistan.

But you would say: What about the NDA? The BJP should not bother about its allies who are anyway jumping the ship as they think the Congress will win the election. If Mr Advani stands true to the aspirations of Hindu voters, the BJP can come to power on its own at the Centre and thus be able to implement the changes which India so urgently needs: Adopt a Uniform Civil Code, repeal Article 370, reform the judiciary, and switch over to a Parliamentary system of governance.

The BJP should reiterate that it considers all Indians equal and that it is always attentive to the demands of the Muslim community.

Unfortunately, the media always feels closer to the Congress and flaunts this proximity blatantly. It is gleeful every time the BJP is in trouble. For instance, the media and the Congress have been much more severe with Mr Varun Gandhi than Kasab (the former didn’t say anything provocative while the latter went on a shooting spree).

As for the West’s opinion, French Ambassador Jérome Bonnafont, an otherwise courteous diplomat, summed it up very well when he said: “The RSS and the BJP are dangerous fascists and Muslims in India are persecuted, not having the same opportunities as Hindus.” He also genuinely feels that the burning of Hindus in the Sabarmati Express never happened, but that “the anti-Muslims riots in Gujarat were a crime against humanity”.

As Indians worship their country as the ‘mother’, the BJP should reintroduce the notion of ‘Mother India’ in its election manifesto. If US President Barack Obama can be sworn in on the Bible, then all future Indian Prime Ministers can take the oath of office on the Bhagavad Gita. Those who are Christians can use the Bible and the Muslims the Quran. That should satisfy everybody.

The writer is a senior French journalist who lives in India.

Nostradamus sees Saffron !

Source : Express buzz
First Published : 05 Apr 2009 12:43:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 05 Apr 2009 08:36:50 AM IST
Michel de Nostre-Dame, better known as Nostradamus (1503-1566), was a famous French astrologer whose predictions, which included the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, have proved infallibly accurate.
Last month, unpublished manuscripts of Nostradamus have been discovered (and authenticated) in an old trunk in the French city of Lyon.
Curiously, there are two full pages, which deal at length with India, particularly with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the forthcoming elections.
We are giving here the first words in Latin, the language which he used, along with a rough translation in English.
“Politicus Bharatus Janatus Indicus veni grandus est para Indus cognisant Indica tum est… ” The BJP will represent the aspirations of the Hindus, the overwhelming majority of India.
He goes on to explain who are the Hindus: “Indus terrum nostrum grandus homo manus onum unus familium planetum est. Indicus pax pacis terra est ferrum tempus…” They will be the most tolerant people, even in the Age of Iron, because they will still accept that God may manifest Himself at different times under different names, using different scriptures. Hence all persecuted people throughout the ages, will always found refuge in India, where they will practice their religion in peace.
Then Nostradamus makes his first prediction: “Indus cursum est trahisum nostrum est… Politicum Bharatus Indicus trahisum est…” But the curse of the Hindus will always be disunity and they will betray each other to the enemy again and again. One day, some of the highest bearers of the BJP party will not even say hello to each other.
Next, another prophecy: “Politicus Bharatus Janatus Indicus tri pillarus est, Vajpayum, Advanum et Murlum Joshum Kashmirum drapus levus. Vajpayum maladum est…” The BJP will have three pillars: AB Vajpayee, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. As eventually, Vajpayee will no longer have an active life, Advani will become the leader. MM Joshi, who hoisted the Indian flag in Srinagar, will be his number two.
He goes on: Narendrum Modum supremus chefum, ironus manus est et economicum grandum est…” Narendra Modi in between will raise himself as a national figure, not only because he is an iron man, but also because he has made of his state a model of economic efficiency.
Then comes another forecast, which Nostradamus may have got wrong: “Duo millenum novo, Jesus Christum postum, Advanum racontum narrates est Joshum grandus princeps est et Modum dux ducis rector est, sixtum legatus est…” In 2009 AD, Advani will announce that if his party is elected, MM Joshi will be made External Affairs Minister and Narendra Modi, Home Minister. Then the party will gain an extra 50 seats.
Nostradamus is not done. It goes on: “Politicus Bharatus Janatus Indicus prnonuncio Ramum templum et Christanium consto est et gurum defendo est, kashmirum macto est…” The BJP will also make it known that it will build the Ram Mandir, protect temples, stop conversions and keep Kashmir for India.
Michel has also some forecast about foreign policy: Chinum pugna est, Tibetum sanctum est, proctectiorum, amen ; pakistanus attakum est et ereptor latrunculus iugolo, caido.
The BJP will reaffirm its commitment to eastern states (he probably meant Arunachal Pradesh), stand-up to China’s bullying, and support Tibet to counteract Beijing which is propping-up Maoist Nepal. It will swiftly punish Pakistan next time it attacks India by proxy.
However, added Senor Nostradamus: “Politicus Bharatus Janatus Indicus comes, comitus amicus desertus est congressus victis .” The allies of the BJP will be deserting the boat as they think (the Congress) will win. But if the BJP stands true to the aspirations of its Hindu voters, it can come on its own at the Center.
Why? “Independantum Blancum copium est; necessarus changum indianus cumum facus est”… As India has heavily borrowed from the White Man (British?) at Independence, it will become necessary to “Indianise” the nation so that it may manifest again its true unique soul.
What is it? “Lex legis mutation, presidentum auctorita dato est, confuto desisto lex legis…” Introduce a common civil code, repeal false laws (article 370?), reform the Judiciary, change to a Parliamentary system, which will give true powers to the President who can nominate a Prime Minister from the majority.
Nostradamus goes on to explain why these changes are important: “Congressus niveus domina regnus, Indicus forcus inmicus est. Maurus, Christianus presentum est.” Under the reign of the White lady (Sonia Gandhi?) forces inimical to India have crept in. Madrasas have sprung up everywhere and so have churches that are converting by the thousands, Hindus gurus are jailed and mocked at… As for the foreign diplomatic corps, Nostradamus has this prediction: “Fransiscus ambassadorus, Jeromus Bonnafus, negatum Indus massacrum Sabartinum et supportus Maurus genocidus et accusum Politicum Bharatus Indicus ”.
French ambassador Jerome Bonnafont will deny the burning of the Hindus in the Sabarmati Express and accuse the BJP of being fascists.
Finally, Nostradamus’ ultimate prophecy: “Aurobindus Ghosus Matre Indica realisum est, Indianum Agus ancientus mortum non est…” Under the BJP’s leadership, Indians will worship again their country as Mother India and Sri Aurobindo’s words will echo: “India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken Her last creative word. And that which She must seek now to awake, is not an anglicized oriental people, doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident’s success and failure, but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering Her deepest self ”. 

Religion, Marxism and Slumdog

François Gautier
Source: Express buzz

First Published : 16 Mar 2009 02:09:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 16 Mar 2009 09:35:52 AM IST

WHY did a film like Slumdog Millionaire, which conveys an utterly negative image of India — slums, exploitation, poverty, corruption, anti Muslim pogroms — create so many waves in the West, pre and post Oscars? And why does not the Indian government protest, as the Chinese would indeed have, for a twisted and perverted portrayal of its own reality? There are several answers: When the missionaries began to evangelise India, they quickly realised that Hinduism was not only practised by a huge majority, but that it was so deeply rooted that it stood as the only barrier to their subjugating the entire subcontinent.

They therefore decided to demonise the religion, by multiplying what they perceived as its faults, by one hundred: caste, poverty, child marriage, superstition, widows, sati … Today, these exaggerations, which at best are based on quarter-truths, have come down to us and have been embedded not only in the minds of many Westerners, but also unfortunately, of much of India’s intelligentsia.

We Westerners continue to suffer from a superiority complex over the socalled Third World in general and India in particular. Sitting in front of our television sets during prime time news, with a hefty steak on our table, we love to feel sorry for the misery of others, it secretly flatters our ego and makes us proud of our so-called ‘achievements’.

That is why books such as The City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre, which gives the impression that India is a vast slum, or a film like Slumdog Millionaire, have such an impact.

In this film, India’s foes have joined hands. Today, billions of dollars that innocent Westerners give to charity are used to convert the poorest of India with the help of enticements such as free medical aid, schooling and loans.

If you see the Tamil Nadu coast posttsunami, there is a church every 500 metres. Once converted, these new Christians are taught that it is a sin to enter a temple, do puja, or even put tilak on one’s head, thus creating an imbalance in the Indian psyche (In an interview to a British newspaper, Danny Boyle confessed he wanted to be a Christian missionary when he was young and that he is still very much guided by these ideals — so much for his impartiality).

Islamic fundamentalism also ruthlessly hounds India, as demonstrated by the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, which are reminiscent of the brutality and savagery of a Timur, who killed 1,00,000 Hindus in a single act of savagery.

Indian communists, in power in three states, are also hard at work to dismantle India’s cultural and spiritual inheritance. And finally, the Americanisation of India is creating havoc in the social and cultural fabric with its superficial glitter, even though it has proved a failure in the West. Slumdog plays cleverly with all these elements.

Many of the West’s India-specialists are staunchly anti-Hindu, both because of their Christian upbringing and also as they perpetuate the tradition of Max Mueller, the first ‘Sankritist’ who said: “The Vedas is full of childish, silly, even monstrous conceptions. It is tedious, low, commonplace, it represents human nature on a low level of selfishness and worldliness and only here and there are a few rare sentiments that come from the depths of the soul”.

This tradition is carried over by Indologists such as Witzel or Wendy Doniger in the US, and in France where scholars of the state-sponsored CNRS, and its affiliates such as EHESS, are always putting across in their books and articles detrimental images of India: caste, poverty, slums — and more than anything — their pet theories about ‘Hindu fundamentalism’.

Can there be a more blatant lie? Hinduism has given refuge throughout the ages to those who were persecuted at home: the Christians of Syria, the Parsees, Armenians, the Jews of Jerusalem, and today the Tibetans, allowing them all to practise their religion freely.

And finally, it is true that Indians, because they have been colonised for so long (unlike the Chinese) lack nationalism.

Today much of the intellectual elite of India has lost touch with its cultural roots and looks to the West to solve its problems, ignoring its own tools, such as pranayama, hata-yoga or meditation, which are very old and possess infinite wisdom.

Slumdog literally defecates on India from the first frame. Some scenes exist only in the perverted imagery of director Danny Boyle, because they are not in the book of Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat, on which the film is based. In the book, the hero of the film (who is not Muslim, but belongs to many religions: Ram Mohammad Thomas) does not spend his childhood in Bombay, but in a Catholic orphanage in Delhi. Jamal’s mother is not killed by “Hindu fanatics’, but she abandons her baby, of unknown religion, in a church. Jamal’s torture is not an idea of the television presenter, but of an American who is after the Russian who bought the television rights of the game. The tearful scene of the three children abandoned in the rain is also not in the book: Jamal and his heroine only meet when they are teenagers and they live in an apartment and not in a slum.

And finally, yes, there still exists in India a lot of poverty and glaring gaps between the very rich and the extremely poor, but there is also immense wealth, both physical, spiritual and cultural — much more than in the West as a matter of fact.

When will the West learn to look with less prejudice at India, a country that will supplant China in this century as the main Asian power? But this will require a new generation of Indologists, more sincere, less attached to their outdated Christian values, and Indians more proud of their own culture and less subservient to the West.

The lives of Sri Aurobindo

François Gautier

Source: Express buzz

First Published : 27 Feb 2009 03:52:00 AM IST

There is no greater mystery than the Divine incarnating Itself upon earth, what in India is called the Avatar or the Guru concept. It is also a story of Ultimate Sacrifice: Jesus Christ was crucified physically, but every guru is crucified by his or her disciples, even if he or she does not end on a cross. It is the mysterious alchemy of how the All-Perfect, the All-Powerful, agrees to don a human body, along with not only the suffering that goes with it, but also the imperfections a human life is endowed with, which makes it so powerful. Peter Heehs, an American historian, who lives in the Sri Aurobindo ashram, Puducherry, has attempted to recount the life of 20th century’s greatest avatar, in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo (Columbia University Press, May 2008). It created a furore even before it was released in India, as extracts were circulated on the Net. This led to a lot of unpleasantness for Heehs.

Someone slapped a case against him in Orissa, stopping the book from being published in India. He was asked to leave the archives of the Sri Aurobindo ashram, where he worked for two decades; and it is rumoured that he was even assaulted by a student of the Sri Aurobindo school. All biographies of gurus and saints face a painful choice: should they paint over human blemishes and glorify them, as it helps the devotees better focus on the divine? Or should they give the entire picture of a journey from the human to the perfect? Most religious texts and scriptures have chosen the first option. But Peter Heehs went for the second one — and we are grateful for that. For his work will be regarded by future generations as the absolute biography of Sri Aurobindo, avatar extraordinary, poet, revolutionary, philosopher and yogi. Not only is the book remarkably well researched but, as the title indicates, he has really covered all aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s life. When an Avatar or a Master comes upon earth, he or she delivers a teaching adapted to the times, the language and the mentality of the period, for they always live in the present moment. But when the Master goes — and sometimes even during his or her lifetime — the disciples start the process of making a religion out of their teaching and make him or her in their own little image. Thus many of the sadhaks of the Mother have swept under the carpet Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary years, which are very important, as he is the true father of the Indian nation, being the first to openly ask for outright independence.

Most of today’s disciples in the ashram or Auroville do not know, for instance, that Sri Aurobindo allowed his brother Barin to manufacture bombs in his own house and secretly endorsed early assassinations of select Britons, thereby re-enacting 5,000 years later Krishna’s message to Arjuna. But how does that tally with ideas about spirituality, which we basically associate with non-violence? This aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s life, protecting dharma, standing for what is good and true and noble, by force, if necessary, is today ignored and not applied to the enemies of modern India. It is difficult to write about something close to us, as one often tries to make a distance by being too critical. It is thus true that Heehs is harsh in some of his assessments — but not where he has been pilloried by disciples of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Like most Western Indologists, for instance, he has a deep suspicion of Hinduism. He therefore glosses over the famous Uttarpara speech, where Sri Aurobindo clearly defines what he calls the Sanatana Dharma, as the spirituality which is contained in the Hindu religion: “That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, because it is the universal religion which embraces all others”.

But Peter only mentions that “left wing critics use the Uttarpara speech as a proof that Sri Aurobindo’s nationalism was Hindu to the core; and right-wing enthusiasts regard the speech as an expression of the imperishable Indian spirit” (p.187). Heehs also passes some judgments on Sri Aurobindo, which are at best puerile: he calls him “intransigent”, which tended “to limit his effectiveness” (p.212); he also finds “his poetry and prose outdated” (p.414). But Savitri, Sri Aurobindo’s Magnum Opus, will be read hundreds of years from now, and compared to the Iliad and the Odyssey, with the prophetic and supramental element added. This stated, I have to say that reading this book has been one of the most uplifting literary experiences: it has refreshed and upgraded my relationship with Sri Aurobindo. I have understood better the extraordinary mystery of avatarhood and the terrible sacrifice made by all great gurus of all religions.

The rhythms of that book accompanied me in my sleep, primed my mornings and touched my heart to the deepest. Thank you, Peter Heehs. I hope some sensible judge will quickly lift the ban and that all your detractors will have the courage to read this remarkable biography and change their opinions.



Translated from Original French article (google translate)

New Delhi, March 3 2009

Mr. President,

The bombings in Lahore team against Sri Lankan cricket has only emphasized the explosive instability of Pakistan. They also call into question once again, the French foreign policy in South Asia, which constantly tries to equate Pakistan, a small country on the brink of bankruptcy, which could be eaten at any time by Islamic fundamentalism the hardest, and India a great nation democratic, liberal, pro-Western, which is likely to supplant China as a superpower in Asia (and world) during this century.

It seems to us, Mr. President that you are badly advised by those same people that the state pays to tell us about India. I refer, of course, researchers in South Asia of CNRS, and its affiliates, such as EHESS. These are the researchers, often “Islam” rather than the Indians (ie they are specialists in the Mughal period), which, for example, are taxed at the outset the party of the Bharatiya Janata Party ” fascists “, or at best of” Hindu nationalists “. Can be done most glaring contradiction? Hinduism has shown throughout its history a remarkable tolerance to the Christians of Syria, Arab merchants, the Parsees of Zoroaster, the Jews of Jerusalem, persecuted at home, to settle in India and ‘practice their religion freely. This is a very French arrogance that also apply to India, a country totally different from ours, criteria such as the separation of State and the Church, which are only valid at home. Not only because Hinduism has never tried to meddle in government, but there are still 800 million Hindus in India (and a billion by the world).

And even if our Indian tolerate the diversity of views. But no, there is intellectual terrorism: the slightest deviation from other colleagues of the “politically correct” about India, we reply with force applications Rights Response outraged letters to the editor, or even by not switching very ethical aimed to muzzle the impertinent. The result is that they still hold the monopoly of the Indian English, because each time a newspaper or magazine wants to comment on India’s remote and forbidding par excellence, we turn to CNRS or its affiliates … always hear the same sound of a bell.

In terms of French foreign policy towards India, one can also notice the negative effects of Indian thought: your diplomatic adviser, Jean-David Levitte, during his recent visit to Delhi, a ‘suggested’ the Government India to resume the composite dialogue on the Kashmir issue, while India had to suffer the terrible Islamist attacks in Mumbai.

This has not rained in New Delhi. And with some reason: Kashmir has always been part of Indian nationhood, it is the birthplace of Saivism and the philosophy of Advaita. The fact that part of the valley of Kashmir (the Ladhak are Buddhist and the region of Hindu-majority Jammu) was suddenly converted to Islam in the 16th century does not change anything. Today, 400,000 Hindus were driven out by the terror of their ancestral lands in the valley of Kashmir, and some still live in refugee camps in Jammu or Delhi, probably the largest ethnic cleansing of our era.

So why should we Acharnon us to sell arms to Pakistan and we neglect in India, a continent of freedom and democracy in Asia suffering from Islamic fundamentalism and the attempt to Chinese hegemony? It is true that at present it is much easier to do business in China and India, as there is there will a centralized autocratic means to achieve its ambitions, whether to impose birth control or to draw highways expropriating smallholders (India sometimes it takes seven years of litigation). Yet not only India, “the other” Asian giant has managed to preserve its democratic frame from 60 years, but it offers good working conditions than the Chinese giant: India has such a legal system that protects contracts (which is not the case in China), English is spoken throughout the country, (ditto) and the lid of the pot was removed long ago. So since Independence, all separatism, rebellion, too, have bubbled to the surface, without affecting the democratic fabric of this country, if evidence is to the future stability of India, which will ensure security and profitability foreign investment. Also, like the West Indians and accept the diversity of ‘the Other’, unlike the Chinese.

Everyone expects miracles from Obama. But I do not think its foreign policy in South Asia is no different than Bush. Americans continue to stubbornly believe that supporting democracy in Pakistan, they will be able to contain terrorism, but it is a big mistake, as the attacks against the Sri Lankans come to prove it.

You, Mr. Sarkozy, have shown that you knew to go beyond the conventions and beaten. If you want France to resume its place in India and does not – once again – tamp the pawn by the Americans, who are using India to counter China, the recognition in New Delhi its suzerainty over Kashmir strike a blow: we all win Indian hearts, all we could in India. It also would restore some parity between the two giants of Asia, a dictatorship, with a ‘black karma (from the one million Tibetans occis since 1959, Chinese leaders eliminate two million of them), and l other democratic, with a ‘good’ karma (Indian, throughout their history have never invaded another country militarily). Perhaps then, the great dream of Dupleix is it going to happen.

Read: Un Autre Regard sur l’Inde (Tricorne Publishing, 1999), François Gautier.

Caravan interior by Francois Gautier (Les Belles Lettres, 2005)


De François Gautier, ancien correspondant du Figaro en Asie du sud, rédacteur en chef de la Revue de l’Inde (

New Delhi, le 3 mars 2009

Monsieur le Président,

Les attentats de Lahore contre l’équipe de cricket sri-lankaise n’ont fait que souligner l’instabilité explosive du Pakistan. Ils remettent également en question, une fois de plus, la politique extérieure française en Asie du sud, qui tente constamment de mettre sur le même pied le Pakistan, petit pays au bord de la banqueroute, qui risque d’être dévoré à tout moment par le fondamentalisme islamique le plus dur, et l’Inde grande nation démocratique, libérale, pro-occidentale, qui va sans doute supplanter la Chine en tant que super puissance asiatique (et mondiale) au cours de ce siècle.

Il nous semble, Monsieur le Président que vous êtes mal conseillé par ces gens même que l’état paye pour nous informer sur l’Inde. Je parle bien sûr des chercheurs d’Asie du sud du CNRS, ainsi que par ses affiliés, tel l’EHESS. Ce sont ces chercheurs, fréquemment des ”islamisants” plutôt que des indianistes (c’est à dire qu’ils sont des spécialistes de la période moghole), qui, par exemple, ont dès le début taxé le parti du Bharatiya Janata Party de “fascistes”, ou au mieux de “nationalistes hindous”. Peut-on faire contresens plus flagrant ? L’hindouisme a fait preuve tout au long de son histoire d’une remarquable tolérance, permettant aux chrétiens de Syrie, aux marchands arabes, aux parsis de Zoroastre, aux juifs de Jérusalem, persécutés chez eux, de s’établir en Inde et d’y pratiquer leur religion en toute liberté. Voilà une arrogance également bien française que d’appliquer à l’Inde, pays totalement différent du nôtre, des critères, telle la séparation de l’Etat et de l’Eglise, qui ne sont valables que chez nous. Car non seulement l’hindouisme n’a jamais cherché à se mêler de gouvernement, mais il y a tout de même 800 millions d’hindous en Inde (et un milliard de par le monde).

Et si encore nos indianistes toléraient la diversité de point de vue. Mais non, il y a terrorisme intellectuel : à la moindre déviation par d’autres confrères du “politiquement correct” sur l’Inde, on réplique avec force demandes de Droits de Réponse, lettres outrées au rédacteur en chef, ou même par des manœuvres pas très éthiques qui visent à museler l’impertinent. Le résultat, c’est qu’ils détiennent toujours le monopole de l’Indianisme français, car à chaque fois qu’un journal, ou une revue veut un commentaire sur l’Inde, pays lointain et rébarbatif par excellence, on se tourne vers le CNRS ou ses affiliés… pour toujours entendre le même son de cloche.

En matière de politique étrangère française vis à vis de l’Inde, on peut là aussi remarquer les effets néfastes de la pensée indianiste: votre conseiller diplomatique, Jean-David Levitte, lors de sa récente visite à Delhi, a ‘suggéré’ au gouvernement indien qu’il reprenne son dialogue composite sur la question du Cachemire, alors même que l’Inde venait de subir les terribles attentats islamistes de Mumbai.

Ceci n’a pas plu à New Delhi. Et avec quelque raison : le Cachemire a toujours fait partie de la nation indienne, c’est même le berceau du shivaïsme et de la philosophie de l’Advaita. Le fait qu’une partie de la vallée du Cachemire (le Ladhak est bouddhiste et la région de Jammu à majorité hindoue) ait été brutalement convertie à l’islam au 16ème siècle n’y change rien. Aujourd’hui, 400.000 hindous ont été chassés par la terreur de leurs terres ancestrales de la vallée du Cachemire, et certains vivent encore dans des camps de réfugiés à Delhi ou Jammu, sans doute le plus grand nettoyage ethnique de notre ère.

Alors pourquoi donc nous acharnons-nous à vendre des armes au Pakistan et négligeons-nous l’Inde, continent de liberté et de démocratie dans une Asie en proie au fondamentalisme islamique et à la tentative d’hégémonie chinoise ? Il est vrai qu’à l’heure actuelle il est beaucoup plus facile de faire des affaires en Chine qu’en Inde, car il existe là-bas une volonté centralisée qui a les moyens autocratiques de réaliser ses ambitions, que ce soit pour imposer le contrôle des naissances ou pour tracer des autoroutes en expropriant les petits propriétaires (en Inde cela prend quelquefois sept ans de litiges).Pourtant non seulement l’Inde, “l’autre” géant d’Asie a su préserver sa trame démocratique depuis 60 ans, mais en plus, il offre des conditions de travail bien supérieures à celles du géant chinois: l’Inde possède par exemple un système juridique qui protège les contrats (ce qui n’est pas le cas en Chine), l’Anglais est parlé dans tout le pays, (idem) et le couvercle de la marmite a été enlevé depuis longtemps. Ainsi depuis l’Indépendance, tous les séparatismes, révoltes, excès, ont déjà bouillonné à la surface, sans affecter la trame démocratique de ce pays, preuve s’il en est de la stabilité future de l’Inde, qui assurera sécurité et rentabilité aux investissements étrangers. Ajoutons que les Indiens aiment l’Occident et qu’ils acceptent la diversité de ‘l’Autre’, contrairement aux Chinois.

Tout le monde attend des miracles d’Obama. Mais je ne pense que sa politique étrangère en Asie du sud sera pas différente de celle de Bush. Les Américains continuent obstinément à croire qu’en soutenant la démocratie au Pakistan, ils pourront mieux contenir le terrorisme, mais c’est une grossière erreur, comme les attentats contre les Sri Lankais viennent de le prouver.

Vous, M. Sarkozy, avez montré que vous saviez aller au-delà des conventions et des sentiers battus. Si vous voulez que la France reprenne sa place en Inde, et ne se fasse pas – une fois de plus – damer le pion par les Américains, qui sont en train d’utiliser l’Inde pour contrecarrer la Chine, la reconnaissance à New Delhi de sa suzeraineté sur le Cachemire frapperait un grand coup : nous nous gagnerions tous les cœurs indiens, tout nous serait possible en Inde. Elle rétablirait également une certaine parité entre les deux géants de l’Asie, l’un dictatorial, avec un ‘karma noir’ (à part le million de Tibétains occis depuis 1959, les dirigeants chinois ont éliminé deux millions des leurs) ; et l’autre démocratique, doté d’un ‘bon’ karma (les Indiens, durant toute leur histoire n’ont jamais envahi militairement un autre pays). Peut-être alors, le grand rêve de Dupleix serait-il en passe de se réaliser.

A Lire : Un Autre Regard sur l’Inde (Editions du Tricorne, 1999), François Gautier.

La Caravane intérieure, par François Gautier (Les Belles Lettres, 2005)


Translated from original French article with GOOGLE TRANSLATE

Why, as a film Slumdog Millionaire, which conveys a negative image of India – slums, exploitation, poverty, corruption, anti Muslim pogroms – meeting he so successful in the West?

By François Gautier, ancien correspondent du Figaro in South Asia, editor of the Journal of India (

There are several answers:

1. When the missionaries began to evangelize India, they quickly realized that Hinduism was a religion that was not only practiced by a huge majority, but it was deeply rooted in the mentality of Indians. They therefore decided to blacken the ‘defects’ of the Hindu religion, by multiplying by one hundred: caste, poverty, child marriage, superstition, sort of widows, sati … Today, these stereotypes persist and focus on the ‘image we have of India
2. We, Westerners continue to suffer from a superiority complex in relation to peoples of the Third World in general and India in particular. Sitting in front of our television time information, a steak frites before us, we like to feel sorry for the misery of others, it flatters our ego. That is why books such as the City of Joy Dominique Lapierre, which give the impression that India is a vast slum, or a film Slumdog Millionaire, deftly handling the half-lies, have a such impact.
3. In this film, the enemies of India join hands. Today, billions of dollars that gullible parishioners give to charity used to convert the poorest in India. Once converted, they are taught to hate their culture, their religion, thus creating an imbalance in the Indian psyche. Islamic fundamentalism ruthlessly hounds also against India, as demonstrated by the recent bombings in Mumbai. Indian communists are in power in three states, made alliance with the Adventists (and other radical Protestant sects) and the fundamentalist Muslims against Hindus. And finally, the over-Americanization also seriously social and cultural capital of India. Slumdog plays on all these pictures of a misleading way.
4. Closer to home, in France, French Indian, played by researchers in South Asia of CNRS, and its affiliates such as EHESS, has often been the vehicle for misérabilisme: caste, poverty and of ‘denial’: the ‘Hindu fundamentalism’. Can be done most glaring contradiction? Hinduism has shown throughout its history a remarkable tolerance to the Christians of Syria, Arab merchants, the Parsees of Zoroaster, the Jews of Jerusalem, persecuted at home, to settle in India and ‘practice their religion freely. At the beginning of the film, Jamal’s mother has throat cut by Hindu fanatics. But it is the Muslims who slaughter live a Daniel Pearl and broadcast the film on the internet – never the Hindus. Riots in India are always initiated by the Muslims: the anti-pogroms in Gujarat were triggered because 59 Hindus, including 36 women and children, were burned as in dogs in a train by a mob of Muslims.

5. And finally, it is true that the Indians, because they have been colonized for so long (unlike the Chinese) do not have a lot of national pride and are sometimes even proud of being criticized. Today much of the intellectual elite of India has lost touch with its cultural roots as well as spiritual and only look to the West to solve its problems, ignoring its own tools, which are very old and possess infinite wisdom . It is the eternal history of the colonized become more sectarian than the settlers.

How else that Slumdog Millionaire, which literally defecating on India from the first frame (a child who plunges into a sea of crap to get an autograph of Amitabh Bacchan), is a tobacco? Some scenes from the film are, however, in the perverted imagery of director Danny Boyle, because we can not find them in the book by Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat, whose film is based. The hero of the film (which is not Muslim, but many religions: Ram Mohammad Thomas) does not pass his childhood in Bombay, but in a Catholic orphanage in Delhi. Jamal’s mother is not killed by “Hindu fanatics’ in the book, but she abandons her baby, of unknown religion in a church. Jamal torture is not a television presenter, but an American who wants the Russian who bought the television rights of the game. The scene of tears three children abandoned in the rain is also not in the book. Jamal and his heroine from colliding when they are teenagers and they live in an apartment and not in a slum.

And finally, yes, there still exists in India of poverty and glaring gaps between rich and poor, but those who know something about the slums of Bombay, know that most of the inhabitants belong to the whole ‘ small ‘middle class (relative to income in India) that every house in the slums has a TV antenna and most of the residents worked in the city.

When the West lay there another way of looking at India, more just, free of prejudices still attached to this country that should supplant China in this century? But this will require a new generation of Indiana more sincere, less tied to outdated values, rises in France …

Read: Un Autre Regard sur l’Inde (Tricorne Publishing, 1999), François Gautier.

Caravan interior by Francois Gautier (Les Belles Lettres, 2005)

The French India (France Loisirs, 2008), by the same author.

Pourquoi donc, un film comme Slumdog Millionnaire, qui véhicule une image négative de l’Inde – bidonvilles, exploitation, pauvreté, corruption, pogroms anti musulmans – rencontre-t-il tant de succès en Occident?

Par François Gautier, ancien correspondant du Figaro en Asie du sud, rédacteur en chef de la Revue de l’Inde (

Il existe plusieurs réponses :

1. Lorsque les missionnaires entreprirent d’évangéliser l’Inde, ils se rendirent rapidement compte que l’hindouisme était une religion qui était non seulement pratiquée par une énorme majorité, mais aussi qu’elle était fortement ancrée dans la mentalité des Indiens. Ils se décidèrent donc à noircir les ‘défauts’ de la religion hindoue, en les multipliant par cent : castes, pauvreté, mariages d’enfants, superstitions, sort des veuves, sati… Aujourd’hui ces clichés perdurent et s’attachent à l’image que nous avons de l’Inde
2. Nous, Occidentaux, continuons à souffrir d’un complexe de supériorité par rapport aux peuples du Tiers Monde en général et de l’Inde en particulier. Assis devant notre télévision à l’heure des informations, un steak-frites devant nous, il nous plaît de nous apitoyer sur la misère des autres, cela flatte notre ego. C’est pour cela que des livres tels que la Cité de la Joie de Dominique Lapierre, qui donnent l’impression que l’Inde est un vaste bidonville, ou un film comme Slumdog Millionnaire, qui manie adroitement les demi-mensonges, connaissent un tel retentissement.
3. Dans ce film, les ennemis de l’Inde se donnent la main. Aujourd’hui, les milliards de dollars que des paroissiens crédules donnent aux œuvres de charité servent à convertir les plus pauvres de l’Inde. Une fois convertis, on leur apprend à haïr leur culture, leur religion, créant ainsi un déséquilibre dans la psyché indienne. Le fondamentalisme islamique s’acharne également sans pitié contre l’Inde, comme l’ont démontré les récents attentats de Mumbai. Les communistes indiens qui sont au pouvoir dans trois états, ont fait alliance avec les adventistes (et autres sectes protestantes radicales) et les musulmans fondamentalistes contre les hindous. Et enfin, l’américanisation à outrance entame sérieusement le capital culturel et social indien. Slumdog joue sur tous ces clichés d’une façon mensongère.
4. Plus près de nous, en France, l’Indianisme français, incarné par les chercheurs d’Asie du sud du CNRS, ainsi que par ses affiliés tel l’EHESS, s’est souvent fait le vecteur de misérabilisme : castes, pauvreté ; et de ‘négationnisme’ : le ‘fondamentalisme hindou’. Peut-on faire contresens plus flagrant ? L’hindouisme a fait preuve tout au long de son histoire d’une remarquable tolérance, permettant aux chrétiens de Syrie, aux marchands arabes, aux parsis de Zoroastre, aux juifs de Jérusalem, persécutés chez eux, de s’établir en Inde et d’y pratiquer leur religion en toute liberté. Au début du film, la mère de Jamal a la gorge tranchée par des fanatiques hindous. Mais ce sont les musulmans qui égorgent ‘live’ un Daniel Pearl et diffusent le film sur internet – jamais les hindous. En Inde les émeutes sont toujours initiées par les musulmans : les pogroms antimusulmans du Gujarat ont été déclenchés parce que 59 hindous, dont 36 femmes et enfants, furent brûlés comme dans chiens dans un train par une meute de musulmans.

5. Et finalement, il est vrai que les Indiens, parce qu’ils ont été colonisés si longtemps (contrairement aux Chinois), n’ont pas énormément de fierté nationale et sont même quelquefois fiers d’être critiqués. Aujourd’hui une grande partie de l’élite intellectuelle indienne a perdu contact avec ses racines culturelles ainsi que spirituelles et regarde uniquement vers l’Occident pour résoudre ses problèmes, en ignorant ses propres outils, qui sont pourtant très anciens et possèdent une infinie sagesse. C’est l’éternelle histoire des colonisés qui deviennent plus sectaires encore que les colons.

Commente expliquer autrement que Slumdog Millionnaire, qui littéralement défèque sur l’Inde dès les premières images (un enfant qui plonge dans une mer de merde pour obtenir un autographe d’Amitabh Bacchan), fasse un tel tabac ? Certaines des scènes du film n’existent pourtant que dans l’imagerie pervertie de Danny Boyle le réalisateur, car on ne les trouve pas dans le livre de Vikas Swarup, un diplomate indien, dont le film est tiré. Le héro du film (qui n’est pas musulman, mais à religions multiples : Ram Mohammad Thomas) ne passe pas son enfance à Bombay, mais dans un orphelinat catholique de Delhi. La mère de Jamal n’est pas assassinée par des ‘hindous fanatiques’ dans le livre, mais elle abandonne son nouveau né, dont on ignore la religion dans une église. Torturer Jamal n’est pas une idée du présentateur de télévision, mais d’un Américain qui en veut au Russe qui a racheté les droits du jeu télévisé. La scène larmoyante des trois enfants abandonnés sous la pluie n’est également pas dans le livre. Jamal et son héroïne ne se rencontrent que lorsqu’ils sont adolescents et ils vivent dans un appartement et pas dans un bidonville.

Et finalement, oui, il existe encore en Inde de la misère et de flagrants fossés entre les très riches et les plus pauvres, mais tous ceux qui connaissent un peu les bidonvilles de Bombay, savent que la plupart de leurs habitants appartiennent à la toute ‘petite’ classe moyenne (par rapport aux revenus indiens), que chaque maison de ces bidonvilles a sa propre antenne de télévision et que la plupart de leurs habitants travaillent dans la ville.

Quand l’Occident jettera-t-il un autre regard sur l’Inde, plus juste, débarrassé des préjugés qui s’attachent toujours à ce pays qui devrait supplanter la Chine au cours de ce siècle ? Mais pour cela il va falloir qu’une nouvelle génération d’indianistes plus sincères, moins attachés à des valeurs périmées, se lève en France…

A Lire : Un Autre Regard sur l’Inde (Editions du Tricorne, 1999), François Gautier.

La Caravane intérieure, par François Gautier (Les Belles Lettres, 2005)

Les Français en Inde (France Loisirs, 2008), par le même auteur.

26/11: A Taj survivor’s untold story

February 27, 2009

There is not much to smile about post-26/11: the Indian government has got caught up in its strategy of exclusively pinning the whole blame on Pakistan, while ignoring the local jihadi support which had to be there in Mumbai [Images] (including inside the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels).

It also missed the chance to carry out quick surgical strikes against camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (thus giving itself a good chance to win the next general election).

The shame of a few terrorists holding to ransom an entire nation, its police, army and special forces has created too huge a gap in India’s self-confidence.

Finally, the whole tale of 26/11 was never told: How many terrorists were there and how many escaped with the hostages?

Yet, here is a story about statistics that will not only make you feel better and positive again, but it is also the saga of a courageous woman whose gallantry has been unsung, post the Taj hostage drama.

Her name is Erika Mann, she is a member of the European Parliament from the Social Democratic Party of Germany [Images] and she was in Mumbai to conduct negotiations on trade relations.

When the first shots were heard, Erika Mann was having dinner on the ground floor restaurant of the Taj lobby with some Indian friends.

Everybody thought the first shots heard were crackers — but not Erika, who had some knowledge about terrorism: “I thought perhaps this is the gun salute for a wedding,” she recalls today. But what happened next, says Mann, was “pure horror”, as she heard the terrorists burst into the lobby “shooting at everything that moved”.

What we saw on television during the Mumbai attacks — and subsequently heard — was all about lack of leadership: the Maharashtra government was slow to react, the special commandos took nearly 12 hours to reach Mumbai, and nobody properly coordinated the action.

But inside the Taj Mahal hotel [Images], it was a different story: “We were 40 in the group that managed to run from the restaurant to the kitchen, and within 10 minutes four people had emerged as leaders,” smiles Erika.

What is it to be a leader in such a stressed occasion? “Actually, in this situation one has to think — collect information and then think again.” Erika thus spent a lot of time on her Blackberry, trying to gather maximum info.

There was no gender or race discrimination in the group, which comprised about 40 percent Westerners, 60 percent Indians and had a 50:50 ratio of men and women.

“All listened as attentively to me as to the other leaders, whether they were Indian or Westerner.”

And even among the other 36 people, it was not total inaction: “At least 15 were willing to be active, soldiers if you wish. Some even started searching for weapons and found the iron sticks used to grill kebabs quite handy.”

So here are good statistics: 40 people in mortal danger, four emerged leaders, with 15 soldiers to implement ideas. And even among the remaining 21 people, “at least 10 were trying to get information by sms-ing their relatives or the hotel staff. And they were sharing this info with us.”

Is that the natural ratio which occurs when you have a good government which creates a system whereby people feel free to express themselves? “Maybe,” smiles Erika.

What about the Taj Mahal staff? “There were 10 staff among our group,” replies Erika. “Out of these, seven were efficient and did not seem to care for their own safety but only for our welfare.” That’s 70 pc, another good statistic. There was only one black sheep: “We had an MP in our group, whom I shall not name. He spoke later, as we had moved to the Chambers, to some TV reporter on the phone and gave our location — we could all have been killed.”

Under the supervision of the Taj Mahal staff, Erika and her group moved from the kitchen to the corridor that leads to the Taj Chambers and their group swelled with other hostages, thus becoming 100. Again the statistics were good: “Maybe only 10 percent of these,” recalls Erika, “Were like frozen and had to be protected. The others were collecting information from relatives and others.”

Yet, it was a very tricky situation: “We could have been shot any time.”

Erika noticed a smaller group of about eight Arabic-looking people who were keeping to themselves: “I pinched myself, because immediately I felt suspicious of them. But I could see I was not the only one who looked at them strangely, although I am sure they were innocent.”

Erika, as many other hostages, also felt that some of the Taj Mahal staff looked suspicious: “Some members of my group felt that an assistant, who acted as if nothing untoward had happened, was hiding something and whispered to the others not to tell him anything.”

It is then that Erika noticed an exit door which had escaped the attention of others. With another leader of her group, a gentleman from Tyrol (Austria), they gingerly opened it, found a second door and suddenly they were outside.

“Our first reaction was ‘let’s check, can we take such a risk?'” They did not. But later Erika said: “Get out, think only of getting out. I made a mistake. If you see 9/11 in New York, it is only those who decided immediately to try to get out who made it alive. The others died.”

They went back to the corridor and waited in a Chambers room till the soldiers came around 3 am. Here the statistics worsen: “There were about 32 soldiers, they were badly equipped, overburdened and nobody seemed really in charge.”

>Erika was one of the last to escape from her group: “I helped an old woman who could not walk well and was afraid, and as I exited the door, a bullet ricocheted off the wall just above my head and plaster fell in my eyes. It still hurts today. I believe that most of the people left behind and many of these young soldiers got killed.”

What does Erika say today? “I have been thinking so much about these 72 hours since then. What baffles me still is the youth element in this attack. True, they were manipulated, but how could they do this? I have no sympathy for them, neither before or after.”

She also has her doubts: “I am sure there were more than three terrorists in the Taj — we ourselves saw quite a few.” Also she feels that there may have been more victims than the government allows: “We saw so many bodies taken out.”

Will Erika Mann come back to India? She already did. “I attended the International Women’s Conference of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in his Bangalore ashram and I had a wonderful time there. India is in my heart.”

Francois Gautier