Category Archives: elections

India should pause and act

François Gautier

Source: Expressbuzz
First Published : 30 Jan 2009 02:01:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 30 Jan 2009 08:45:50 AM IST

How many of us remember the young Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam cadres in the mid-Eighties, when they walked freely in the streets of what was known as Madras: young, nice Tamils, who looked more like students than militants? There is no doubt that over the years the LTTE has become a deadly terrorist outfit, eliminating in cold blood anyone it felt was in the way of its aspirations, including other Sri Lankan Tamil leaders.

The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was symbolic of that ruthlessness: he was murdered on the assumption that he would then follow an anti- LTTE policy once back in power after the experience of the IPKF.

Today the Tamils of Sri Lanka are paying a heavy price for the assassination: they are losing the war with the Sri Lankan army, mostly because the Congress of Sonia Gandhi, who has never forgiven them for her husband’s murder, is backing the Sinhalese leadership.

But before the LTTE is wiped out, India would do well to think whether it would serve its geopolitical purposes to have a triumphant Sinhala neighbour. For this, one has to first look at the history of Sri Lanka.

There seems little doubt that a few thousand years ago, India and Sri Lanka were linked by a small strip of land, which can still be seen today from the air: Adam’s Bridge, or Ram Setu. This is how the first Tamils, those who settled in the North, came to Sri Lanka. One has to go back a long time to understand what factors shaped the psyche of the island’s two communities. The decisive factor bears the names of two of the world’s greatest religions: Buddhism and Hinduism.

The first is a gentle, peaceful creed that teaches non-violence and brotherhood, even to enemies. Unfortunately, Ceylon, the “isle of beauty”, has always been a tempting prey for sea-faring invaders.

Successive colonisers, from Arabs to Africans, from Portuguese to Dutch and finally, British, preyed on the tiny, defenceless island.

In the name of Buddhism and because the Sinhalese are by nature a fun-loving people, not only did they hardly resist these invasions, but often their women mingled freely with the invaders. The result can be seen today in the faces of many Sinhalese women folk, with their kinky hair or Arabic features.

As a result, the Sinhalese slowly lost their sense of identity, their feeling of collective being, to the point that when the British came, they collaborated wholeheartedly and had to be handed back their independence on a platter, for want of a real freedom movement.

Today, democracy and western institutions are just a cloak that the Sinhalese wear. Lurking underneath is a sense of hopelessness and a terrible violence. Its politicians have been among the least farsighted of the entire subcontinent: nothing is made in Sri Lanka. Only tea, tourism and Western grants help it survive. On the other hand Hinduism, with its strict caste hierarchy, protected the Tamils from mingling with their invaders. They preserved their identity and culture. The Sinhalese live an easier life in the South, always more fertile than the arid North. As a result, Tamils are often better at studies and more hard working, (although one should not generalise). The British noticed it and often gave Tamils preference for jobs and university grants, angering the Sinhalese, who after all were the majority community.

It is this deep-rooted resentment that is in greater part the cause of the present troubles. When the British left, the Sinhalese quickly moved to correct what they saw as an imbalance, depriving Tamils of most of the rights they had acquired under the British and proceeded to establish a Sinhalese-dominated Ceylon. Every time a Sinhalese politician tried to give the Tamils their just share of power, he was forced to backtrack for fear of Sinhalese resentment.

For years, Tamils bore the brunt of Sinhalese persecution. But one day, too much became too much and Tamil armed groups started springing up to defend their people. To cut short a long story, the LTTE finally emerged as the most ruthless and sole militant organisation.

Yet, in 1988, Rajiv stepped in to mediate between the warring Sinhalese and Tamils. All kinds of insulting epithets have been used to describe the Jayewardene-Rajiv Gandhi peace plan and the IPKF’s role in Sri Lanka, but these are unfair.

The plan was the best that could be done in the circumstances, and the IPKF did not come to conquer, but to help. All the same, India got bogged down in a guerrilla war, with one hand tied behind the back to avoid killing civilians. Ultimately, it had to leave because of pressure at home and Premadasa’s intense dislike of Indians.

Today Tamils are on the verge of being completely overrun. And this raises the question of India’s security.

What will be the consequences of a triumphant Sinhalese majority? Are not Sri Lankan Tamils closer to Indians, culturally, socially and spiritually, than the Sinhalese? Will Sri Lanka, like Bangladesh before it, turn on India once it has achieved, with India’s help, its goals? The Government of India should think twice and remember Rama and Ravana before it allows the Sri Lankan army totally to subdue the north.

The Importance of being J M Lyngdoh

The Importance of being J M Lyngdoh

February 02, 2004

I am a Westerner and born a Christian. I should be happy that someone like Chief Election Commissioner James Lyngdoh, a Christian, attracts so much attention from the Western press and gets so many accolades from foreign governments. When he recently won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, he did his country proud. After all, had he not defied government pressure for an early election in riot-torn Gujarat and overseen fair polls in Kashmir? When again, he is trying all he can, before he retires in early February, to delay the advancement of elections by the BJP, he may be performing his duties as best as he conceives it.

Yet, it makes me slightly uneasy. Why? Two reasons. First he constantly belittles his country, nay, he vomits India. When Mr Lyngodh appears on the BBC to say that not a single Indian politician is uncorrupt, not only does he say an untruth, but he does a lot of harm to India’s image abroad, and reinforces colonial prejudices and biases against a wonderful tolerant country and a talented people.

It is true there is a lot of corruption here and that politicians are sometimes dishonest. But if you take this present government, for instance, whatever its faults, you find a lot of its members do not take a single paisa for themselves, be it Vajpayee, Advani, Joshi or Fernandes (please go to his house in Krishna Menon Marg and see for yourself his lifestyle). It is very wrong to propagate the notion that Indians by nature are more corrupt than say Westerners, because it is absolutely false.

It is the system that breeds corruption here, the Nehruvian system to be precise, which may have stemmed from good intentions, but which in the end produced statism, bureaucracy and corruption. This system was meant for the poor, but now you need one crore rupees to be elected an MP, whereas officially, you are only allowed Rs 2 lakhs. And where will the politician, however good, willing and sincere s/he is, find one crore rupees, except in the pockets of industrialists who will later demand favors? The system has to be reformed. The people are basically as good and prone to honesty or dishonesty as other people in the world, whatever the color of their skin and religious beliefs.

Secondly, I know the likes of James Lyngdoh appeal, unconsciously, of course, to a certain Western sentiment of superiority and reinforce Westerners in their belief of the superiority of Christian monotheism versus Hindu polytheism. Christians still believe that Christ is the only true son of God and that all other beliefs — particularly those of the Hindus, who adore a multitude of ‘heathen’ Gods, are false. This is why Christian missionaries are even now at it in India, converting thousands of innocent tribals and Harijans, with the millions of dollars that gullible Westerners donate, so as to ‘alleviate poverty in the Third World.’

This unconscious sentiment of superiority of Christian culture over Indian culture also explains why the West likes to decorate Indians, who however brilliant and intrinsically good they are, propagate this image of a poor, corrupt, immature India, whether it is Amartya Sen, Mother Teresa, Arundhati Roy, or James Lyngdoh, three of them being Christians and the third one a Marxist who has adopted the Western way of thinking and life. Basically, they all have the same message: ‘Oh, look at this poor, corrupt, pagan India, who is not capable of looking after herself and is too immature to have nuclear weapons.’ This is why Western correspondents give so much coverage to Mr Lyngdoh and so little to more humble Indians who go quietly about their work, without trying to hog publicity for themselves.

But ultimately, Indians are to blame themselves. The Indian intelligentsia, particularly, which is very brilliant, but also highly Westernized, because the best education in India is Christian and imprints itself in many subtle and not so subtle ways on its students. If Indian newspapers and television channels would — while not being blind to India’s faults — be a little more positive and a little less cynical and negative about their country, people like Mr Lyngdoh or Mrs Roy would find it very difficult to function.

Indeed, if Indian journalists, instead of propping up Mr Lyngdoh as a paradigm of virtue, would instead point out that it is wrong and unforgivable to use his high office for propagating his biased views, things would start improving quickly in this great, generous and diverse country that is India.

Francois Gautier

The genius and innocence of the Indian voter

The landslide victory of Jayalalitha in Tamil Nadu shows there are other factors influencing the Indian voter apart from performance and logic. These factors could be summed up thus: blind adulation for film stars, dynastic effect, adoration of the shakti element and the myth of the Aryan.

As everywhere else in the world, there are two kinds of voters in India: the rural voter and the urban voter. The Indian urban voter votes with his mind — that is, he is mainly influenced by his atavism — parents, education, background, etc — and by what the English-speaking press says.

The rural voter — who, it should be remembered, forms 80 per cent of the electorate — votes with his heart, although he may be in some ways influenced by what the local language newspapers say — which often take up blindly the opinions of the English-speaking press.

It is both a wonderful and terrible trait, because, since 1947, this innocence has been taken advantage by many different sorts of politicians, who have used four kinds of factors.

1. The adulation of films stars: Films stars are enormously popular in India and are akin to demigods. Since the early Sixties, certain film stars, with no political qualification, ended up as chief ministers of the southern states — often, with disastrous consequences, because they needed a lot of demagogy to sustain their image of demigods and had to resort to heavy subsidies — rice at Rs 2 a kilo, free distribution of saris, rickshaws, free water for the farmers etc — thus emptying the state coffers while they were in power.

Furthermore, they were often authoritarian, corrupt and did not give back to the people one inch of the adulation and respect they enjoyed (and the money they looted from them)!

2. Dynasty and sycophancy: Dynasty is a Western word which does not really correspond to the Indian reality. And sycophancy should rather be called the bhakti spirit which is a 5,000-year-old spiritual tradition in India.

This extraordinary bhakti tendency of the Indian people means they tend to worship anybody who they feel has an aura about him, or her, no matter his or her personal faults, no matter if he or she is a fraud — or half a fraud. It is a marvellous principle and it has worked for millennia. In the guru-chela (guru-disciple) relationship — you surrender to the divinity in your human guru and attain realisation through him if your surrender is sincere.

But it does not work in politics because politicians do not even have a gram of the aspiration and realisation of gurus and they tend to cheat heavily on their bhaktas and do not deliver the goods promised. This concept of bhakti, coupled with the old maharaja tradition, has ensured respect for ‘royal families,’ or dynasties, such as the Nehru family, whose members did not necessarily possess the qualities to be good politicians, or rather knew very little about India.

3. The Shakti phenomenon: There is also amongst Indians of the subcontinent a very strong tradition to worship the female element of the divine, who takes up many forms: Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, Mahasaraswati, Maheswari, etc.

It’s a bit of a paradox, because Hindu women in India can also be ostracised and persecuted, but, nevertheless, have always played an important role in the history of the country: there are more women MPs in India than in France, for instance. It is this Shakti phenomenon that allowed Indira Gandhi to govern this male-dominated country with an iron hand for nearly 20 years; and this tradition has even survived in the neighbouring Islamic states, such as Pakistan or Bangladesh. Witness Benazir Bhutto or the two Bangladeshi begums.

But again politicians such as Benazir Bhutto, whose promises proved empty and who was more word than deed, misused the shakti given to her by innocent voters — if we may say so. As for Indira Gandhi, she too fell victim to that extraordinary shakti tendency of the Indian people, and became more and more isolated towards the end of her reign, bitter about losing her beloved son Sanjay, suspicious of the constant sycophantic atmosphere around her and slowly losing her sense of reality.

It is again this element that has brought Jayalalitha to power.

4. The Aryan myth: According to the theory of the Aryan invasion, which is still taken as the foundation stone of the history of India and which was actually devised in the 18th and 19th century by British-related linguists and archaeologists, the first inhabitants of India were good-natured, peaceful, dark-skinned shepherds, called the Dravidians, who had founded what is called the Harappan or the Indus Valley civilization.

They were supposedly remarkable builders — witness the city of Mohen-jo-Daro in Sind, Pakistan — but had no culture to speak off, no literature, no proper script even. Then, around 1500 BC, India is said to have been invaded by tribes called the Aryans — white-skinned, nomadic people, who originated somewhere in western Russia and imposed upon the Dravidians the hateful caste system.

To the Aryans are attributed Sanskrit, the Vedic — or Hindu — religion, India’s greatest spiritual texts, the Vedas, as well as a host of subsequent writings, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, etc.

This myth divided India for ever and pitted against each other the low-caste, dark-skinned ‘Dravidians’ and the high-caste, light-skinned ‘Aryans’, a rift that still endures. The Muslim invaders, the European colonizers, the missionaries and finally the Congress, each exploited to the hilt for their own selfish purpose this artificial divide, as recent linguistic and archaeological discoveries are proving that there probably was never any Aryan invasion.

Since Nehru, all Congress leaders have been constantly elected on caste and religion basis and, lately, power-hungry politicians, particularly in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh or Kerala, have also used this schism to get to power by pitting castes and religions against each other. In Kerala, for instance, the Communists have become masters in that exercise. This obsession of the dark-skinned Dravidian — or low-caste Indian for the ‘Aryan’ or white could also explain the fascination that the rural voter has for Sonia Gandhi, the White Lady, Aryan par excellence (or even Jayalalitha, who is quite fair-skinned).

Voting with the heart is a unique quality and it is this innocence, these spontaneous tendencies of bhakti or shakti in the rural Indian, which make the greatness of India, its santana dharma — and not the pompous, secular, left-leaning intellectual in the comfort of his flat in New Delhi or Bombay. No, what has to be changed is the system which allows power-hungry politicians to exploit this purity of heart of the rural voter.

This whole election has been a waste of time, money and energy; we know today that it needs at least a crore to be elected an MP and that this automatically eliminates the honest, the pure of heart and the sincere.

As Danielou wrote in his History of India: “… on top of the Partition tragedy, there is the other calamity of modern India — namely, that under Nehru’s leadership, it chose to turn its back on most of its ancient institutions, social and political, and adapted blindly and completely the British system, constitutional, social, political, judicial, and bureaucratic.”

And as India’s Great Sage, Sri Aurobindo, also reminds us: “In ancient times, there always was a strong democratic element in India, which certainly showed a certain similarity with Western parliamentary forms, but these institutions were INDIAN.”

India should then go back to the wisdom and the innocence of what constitutes the base, the soul and the essence of this country: the rural masses. And, like in ancient times, but couched in modern forms, the rural voter should elect what he knows directly: the panchayat leaders of his village, town or community; in turn these leaders will elect those who will represent them in the state level and so on until the top, so that so much money and time are no more wasted on useless elections which throw-up the same old politicians.

Thus, the wisdom of India will go once more from bottom to top — and not from top to bottom, as it does now: a huge, complex country ruled by a minority of corrupt politicians enjoying the artificial trappings of power in this arrogant, superficial and totally decentralised city that is Delhi, having forgotten that they were elected by the rural people and for the rural people.

Francois Gautier

The myth of Mayawati’s success

May 16, 2007

It has been made out that Mayawati won the Uttar Pradesh elections because she fielded a number of Brahmin and upper caste candidates. But the Bahujan Samaj Party had given 86 tickets to Brahmins and only 34 won; a mere 39 per cent rate of success.

The media is also praising Mayawati for having reconciled Brahmins and Dalits. But hers is only an electoral cold calculation: how to get the votes of the Dalits, the Muslims and the upper castes in one shot.

It worked, and she has now entered her fourth term as Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

But will it be better than her previous three terms? Will she work for the welfare of the people who elected her? Probably not.

Already, she has transferred hundreds of bureaucrats and police officials and stopped all projects implemented by Mulayam Singh Yadav. Can you imagine the hundreds of crores wasted by these shelved projects and the chaos in the administration which will take months to straighten out?

Is this the way to start a new government and be a chief minister for all, including those defeated?

Will Mayawati again enrich her party or herself at the cost of good governance? Then next time Mulayam Singh will be re-elected because of the law and order situation in the state and we will be back to square one!

Every political columnist wants to make UP a study case. But is it a good case?

Firstly, UP is the worst example of how an Indian state can be mismanaged year after year and how the most populous state of India is also the poorest, the most unlawful — bar Bihar, maybe.

Second, UP has shown India and the world how caste and religion can be manipulated to the maximum cynical extent to get elected — as Mayawati just did.

But then, she only borrowed from the Congress book of politics and only improved upon it.

It is true that the Congress in turn only took over from the British the art of divisive politics — to polarise India on castes and religions: ‘I am a Muslim first and then an Indian’; ‘I am a Dalit first and then an Indian’; ‘I am a Christian first and then and Indian.’

Now Mayawati wants Brahmins, who have, whatever their faults, shown patriotism throughout Indian history (hello, Mangal Pandey), to say: ‘I am a Brahmin first and then an Indian.’

Today the Congress wants us to believe all these caste reservations and pandering to the Muslims is done to elevate minorities; but in truth it is just a cynical arithmetic computation: with the votes of the Dalits and the Muslims, anybody can be elected.

It is true that the Congress got bashed up in UP, but is equally true that Mayawati upped them with the same calculation, adding a peppering of upper castes for good effect.

There is also a perversion of statistics and facts.

Yes, there are still terrible inequalities in India, extremely rich people and the poorest of the poor. Yes, there are Dalits who are oppressed. But no country in the world has done so much for its underprivileged since 1947.

Today, many government, academic, bureaucratic and even medical posts in India are held by Dalits and Other Backward Castes. A Harijan made it to the highest post of President. Today India has another Muslim as President, a Sikh as prime minister and a Christian as ‘eminence grise‘.

Did the United States ever have a black President? Did France ever boast of a Muslim prime minister, or a Hindu President? No way — and it will take a long time to happen.

In fact, today it is the Brahmins who have become the Dalits of India.

  • Brahmins are in minority in most of UP’s villages, where Dalits constitute 60 to 65 per cent.
  • Most of the intellectual Brahmin Tamil class has emigrated outside Tamil Nadu.
  • The average income of Brahmins is less than that of non-Brahmins.
  • A high percentage of Brahmin students drop out at the intermediate level.
  • 75 percent of domestic help and cooks in Andhra Pradesh are Brahmins.
  • And most of Delhi’s public toilets are cleaned by Brahmins.

Yet, contrary to the West, where Christian priests and popes constantly meddled in politics and acquired huge health and land, which led to the separation of the Church and the State under the French Revolution, the much maligned Brahmins never interfered in the affairs of State throughout Indian history, restraining themselves to advising kings and maharajas on spiritual matters.

Dalits should never forget that the caste system, which once upon a time was just an arrangement for the distribution of functions in society, just as much as class in Europe, has been the stick that all invaders have used to put down India.

And it is today still skillfully employed by missionaries, Marxists and the millions of parasite non-governmental organisations who make money out of India’s misery, without really uplifting anything but their own bank accounts — one of the greatest scams today.

On top of that, nowadays, it is not the Brahmins who oppress the Dalits, but the OBC. See any village in Tamil Nadu: Dalits are parked in one corner and cannot enter the area devoted to Vanniars, who are just one rung above them.

Is the caste-isation of politics in India, as embodied in UP, here to stay? We hope not, as it may lead to the balkanisation of India.

What is the key to stem this rot? Education.

Many Indians do not feel nationalistic enough (except for cricket, the lowest and most worthless denomination of nationalism) and put their castes and religions forward, because they are not groomed in school to be proud to be Indians first.

As a Frenchman, I am taught about the greatness of my culture, my religion, my roots. Here in India, children know all about Shakespeare and Shelley, or the latest Time bestseller, but have never read Kalidas, have no idea who Sri Aurobindo was and have no idea that pranayam is the science of breath unique to India.

As a result, later, the IIMs and IITs just produce brilliant clones, without any root in their culture, who export themselves to the West to stay there, the greatest brain drain in the world.

It also produces generation after generation of Indians who scorn on their own culture and look up to the West and some of the values like materialism and Marxism, which have failed there.

But if right after kindergarten you would teach children about the greatness of their culture, a little bit of the good of each religion, great poets, saints and epics like the Mahabharat, which is a universal scripture, one would produce generation after generation of true Indians.

Ultimately, Brahmins are fools if they think they will reap benefits by allying themselves with the likes of Mayawati. The hate against Brahmins first shown by the Muslim invaders, then by the British and today espoused by Christian missionaries, Indian Marxists and much of the Indian intelligentsia, is too strongly imbedded in the collective psyche.

They should remember Mayawati and her mentor Kanshi Ram’s early war cry: Tilak, taraju aur talwar, unko maro jute char (Brahmins, traders and the warrior caste should be kicked).

Already BSP leaders feel that the Brahmin overdrive could alienate them from other upper castes, particularly Thakurs. Thus, some backpedaling may happen soon.

Look also at what happened to the 400,000 Brahmins of Kashmir who fled though terror their homeland without raising a little finger in defence.

Today no political party gives a damn about them and many of them are still languishing in refugee camps — in their own country — a first in the sad history of humanity.

Francois Gautier

‘I am shocked at Sonia’s insensitivity’

By François Gautier
Tuesday, 09 September , 2003,

during State Elections 2003

Last week I was in Bangalore where FACT (Forum Against Continuing Terrorism) was hosting an exhibition on the plight of the five lakh Kashmiri Pandits, who had to flee the valley of Kashmir under terror and death and have become refugees in their own country, an ethnic cleansing without parallel in the 20th century, which is totally ignored by the UN, the Amnesty International and the world.

On the same day that we opened our exhibition, Sonia Gandhi, on a whirlwind tour of some of the States where the forthcoming Assembly elections are to be held (Delhi, MP, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Mizoram), stopped over in Bangalore, capital of a State which is governed by her own party.

Now, most VVIPs, such as the President or the prime minister, choose to land late at night in Bangalore, so as not to put citizens at too much inconvenience. Not Sonia, she landed right in the middle of the day and left at the same time the next day, putting an entire city under stress, as the whole road from the airport to the Raj Bhavan had to be closed for nearly two hours.

It is not only ordinary citizens who suffered, but also western executives working in Bangalore – and there are many – or even top people such as the gentle and courteous Aziz Premji, Wipro’s boss. The loss in man hours and business must be counted in dozens of lakhs.

At the Raj Bhavan where she stayed, the security was unprecedented and even ministers had to submit themselves to humiliating frisking and wait for hours to have a brief glimpse of ‘Madam’.

I understand that there is an important security concern with Sonia Gandhi: after all her mother-in-law and her own husband were victims of terrorism – and what a terrible ordeal it must have been for her to go two times through this trauma – but I sometimes wonder: is she that marked a woman? And by whom? Islamic separatists? But her party is often allied with Muslims; Naxalites? Again Marxists in India see her as the ‘Great Saviour against the Common Enemy’; the LTTE? They are too busy negotiating with the Sinhalese and want to shed some of their reputation of terrorism… Who then?

But are not Mr Vajpayee, or Mr Advani, much more at risk? Hindus have more enemies in India than the Congress, who often unites politically with the Marxists, the Christians, and the Muslims to fight the BJP and dethrone it – at all costs, even sleeping with the enemy.

As a foreigner myself and a guest of India, I am a little shocked by Sonia’s insensitivity to Indians. Does she not realise that she owes her status today to the traditional tolerance and acceptance of others by the majority Hindus of this country? Even Mr Vajpayee treats her with a courtesy and a gentlemanliness that she will have a tough time to match if she comes to power. He even had the Bofors report quashed so as not to embarrass her!

Is it really necessary for her to constantly harp on ‘Hindu fundamentalism’, in a country where, whatever happened in Gujarat, Hindus have given refuge to all persecuted minorities in the world – the Christian Syrians, the Jews, the Parsis, the Armenians, the Tibetans today – while being terribly persecuted themselves, be it by the Portuguese or the Muslim invaders?

It would be impossible in a nation like France, to have a leader of the opposition and a possible PM, who is not of French origin – and not a Catholic at that. Even a fifth generation Jew will find it difficult today to become President of France (the topmost post).

I am also a little uneasy, when I see so many Congress leaders, some of them sensitive and highly intelligent, fawn over Sonia Gandhi as if she is the Mother Goddess and the Saviour of India.

What is going, for instance, in the head of Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, who is confident of making it the third time as Madhya Pradesh braces for the Assembly elections this November? Digvijay Singh, who practices meditation and pranayama, backtracked on cow slaughter to toe the party line of Sonia Gandhi, who does not want to offend her Muslim electorate. What are the reasons for Sonia’s hold on such intelligent people? I believe there are three, shakti, the traditional respect for women in Hindu Dharma, which allowed Indira Gandhi to rule this country for 20 years and even permeated to Islamic South Asian countries such as Pakistan or Bangladesh, who all had women PM; bhakti, the natural tendencies of Hindus to worship what they feel is above them – and which the Western Press mistakes for dynasty worship; and the false Aryan invasion theory, which is at the root of all Indian history books, including those who are used here.

What does the Aryan theory say? That most good things in India came from the West with an invasion of white-skinned people, supposedly originating from Ural: Sanskrit, the Vedas, Mathematics, astronomy, philosophy…

This theory has divided India as nothing else, pitting the South against the North, the Dravidians against the so-called Aryans. Yet, many recent archaeological and linguistic discoveries point out that there never was an Aryan invasion and even diehard proponents of that theory, such as Romila Thapar, are distancing themselves from it.

It is even quite possible that the Aryans, who originated in India, went westwards, as Zoroastrianism testifies. Yet the craving for the white skin remains, as Sonia Gandhi’s hold over Indians, rich and poor, inoffensive and mighty, educated and uneducated, seems to testify.

We wish Sonia Gandhi and her venerable party the best of luck for the next Assembly elections, hoping that her gains will be on the strength of her qualities alone, not of the colour of her skin.

(François Gautier is a French journalist and writer, who was for eight years the political correspondent in India and South Asia for ‘Le Figaro’ and now works for Ouest-France, the largest circulation daily (I million copies) in France and LCI, France’s 24 hour TV news channel. He has written several books prominent among them being ‘Arise O India’ and ‘A Western journalist on India’ and ‘India’s Self Denial.

Gautier will write exclusively for on the run-up and during the State elections.