Category Archives: Politics

Happy #RepublicDay, boys and girls. Did you know that there were Republics in India long before the Greek and Roman ones,

although the world credits the Greeks with having created democracy? But as usual History is recorded through the prism of the Western world and is very selective indeed. Republican forms of government however existed in many parts of India long before the Greeks! In some cases these “Republics” appear to have been governed by a democratic assembly and some came out of a revolution; in other cases, they seem to have had an oligarchic senate.The Buddha’s father for instance, was a king elected by its own people. These republics enjoyed throughout India a solid reputation for the excellence of their civil administration and the redoubtable efficiency of their armies. One should also add that none of these Indian republics developed an aggressive colonising spirit and that they were content to defend themselves and forge alliances amongst them.

On this Republic day, let us listen to the wisdom of Sri Aurobindo: “India, shut into a separate existence by the Himalayas and the ocean, has always been the home of a peculiar people with characteristics of its own, with its own distinct civilisation, way of life, way of the spirit, a separate culture, arts, building of society. it has absorbed all that has entered into it, put upon all the Indian stamp, welded the most diverse elements into its fundamental unity. but it has also been throughout, a congeries of diverse people, lands, kingdoms and in earlier times republics also, diverse races, sub-nations, with a marked character of their own, developing different brands or forms of civilisation and culture…India’s history throughout has been marked by a tendency, a constant effort to unite all this diversity of elements into a single political whole under a central imperial rule, so that India might be politically as well as culturally one…
the ancient diversities of the country carried in them great advantages as well as drawbacks. by these differences the country was made the home of many living and pulsating centres of life, culture, a richly and brilliantly coloured diversity in unity; all was not drawn up into a few provincial capitals, or an imperial metropolis, other towns and regions remaining subordinated and indistinct or even culturally asleep. the whole nation lived with a full life in its many parts and this increased enormously the creative energy of the whole. there is no possibility any longer that this diversity will endanger or diminish the unity of India. those vast spaces which kept her people from closeness and a full interplay have been abolished in their separating effect by the march of science and the swiftness of the means of communication. the idea of a federation and a complete machinery for its perfect working have been discovered and will be at full work. above all, the spirit of patriotic unity has been too firmly established in the people to be easily effaced or diminished and it would be more endangered by refusing to allow the natural play of life of the sub-nations than by satisfying their natural aspirations… India’s national life will then be founded on her natural strength and the principle of unity in diversity which has always been normal to her and its fulfilment the fundamental course of her being and its very nature the many in one would place her on the sure foundation of her swabhava and swadharma…a union of states and regional people would again be the form of a united India”

happy Republic Day again boys and girls! Spread this post of Sri Aurobindo and let us resolve to carry in our hearts the aspiration for a truer Indian more in tune with what all the great rishis, saints, avatars, kings and queens, poets, singers, have strived and fought for since 5000 years
francois

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KARMA AND THE 09 INDIANS ELECTIONS

Each nation, like the human soul, packs karma in each of its lives or cycles. Good karma or bad karma have one unique characteristics: they are like a tiny seed, bearing their fruits ages or cycles later, often giving the impression to the ignorant mind of total injustice done to innocent souls. Thus the individual who seems to suffer unfair circumstances in this life, may be paying for a bad karma done dozens of lives ago. In the same manner, a nation which appears to suffer inexplicable hardships: persecution, earthquakes, great natural catastrophes, dictatorships, may be amending for a karma accomplished centuries ago. The Tibetan people’s plight seems to be a good example of this phenomenon. Here is one of the most harmless, peaceful, adorable culture on earth, spiritualised on top of that, who suffered and is still suffering the worst ignominies at the hands of the Chinese communists, who have eradicated their culture, razed to the ground hundreds of ancient and marvelous temples, killed either directly or indirectly – concentration camps, torture, famine – more than one million of this adorable people! Why? The Dalai-Lama, himself, one of the last great spiritual figures of this era, admits that it was because of an ancient “black karma”, bad deeds. Was it feudalism? Was it not opening itself to the world for so long? Or misuse of Tantrism? Who knows and who can judge? But it’s a good bet to say that there is probably no total injustice in this world. Everything springs from a mathematical, ultra-logical system, where one gets the exact reward one deserves, which bears no moral connotation like in Christianity. That, is called Karma.

There is also another wonderful concept in India, that of Dharma, which is the path of righteousness and living one’s life according to the codes of conduct as described by all ancient scriptures. It means “that which holds” the people of this world and the whole creation. On the other side, a-dharma is what makes people stray from the path of compassion, love, togetherness and that which creates hate, corruption and selfishness. As in a human being, a nation can choose a dharmic path or an a-dharmic one. The dharmic path, whatever the pitfalls, ensures the survival of the soul of a nation – which has been India’s story so far; and the a-dharmic one, the fall of even the greatest of civilisations, whether Rome, Greece or Egypt. Today for Indians, dharma is choosing between forces that are attacking India’s spiritual legacy and forces which will help preserve it.

Then we have the notion of the Avatar and the Asura in ancient India. As the avatar or the Vibhuti is direct incarnation of the Divine forces, the asura works against Dharma and ushers an era of a-dharma. It should also be emphasized that there is no such thing as the utter evil and absolute good of Christianity or American films in human beings: often the asuric beings seem to embody some good, whether it is charity or even secularism.

At this very moment, Indians have been asked to decide their future by electing a new Government. Sometimes, it is said that people act out of ignorance. But this time it is not so: Indians have been warned repeatedly in the forms of monstrous terrorist attacks, one after the other, that something is terribly wrong. They have also seen how the whole system is deteriorating, that cynicism in politics is the rule of the day, that their own Media is terribly biased and can be bought, that ancient values are being lost quickly by the way of Christian conversions, wildcat westernization and the sprout of Islamic fundamentalism. So, ultimately Indians are being given the choice to vote decisively for their future. If they do opt for the repeat of the same government which has ushered all these forces, out of regional, caste or religious pettiness, selfishness, or plain indifference, it can be said safely that somewhere they will do it consciously. They will have then to bear the consequences of their choice. That is called Karma

Then Sir Aurobindo’s words will echo down the ages:
“There are moments when the Spirit moves among men and the breath of the Lord is abroad upon the waters of our being; there are others when it retires and men are left to act in the strength or the weakness of their own egoism. The first are the periods when even a little effort produces great results and changes destiny; the second are spaces of time when much labour goes to the making of a little result. It is true that the latter may prepare the former, may be the little smoke of sacrifice going up to heaven which calls down the rain of God’s bounty.

Unhappy is the man or the nation which, when the divine moment arrives, is found sleeping or unprepared to use it, because the lamp has not been kept trimmed for the welcome and the ears are sealed to the call. But thrice woe to them who are strong and ready, yet waste the force or misuse the moment; for them is irreparable loss or a great destruction.”

fgautier@rediffmail.com

LA NOUVELLE STRATEGIE D’OBAMA POUR LE PAKISTAN ET L’AFGANISTAN

LA NOUVELLE STRATEGIE D’OBAMA POUR LE PAKISTAN ET L’AFGANISTAN
Par François Gautier, ancien correspondant du Figaro en Asie du sud, rédacteur en chef de la Nouvelle Revue de l’Inde (Editions l’Harmattan)
Comme le président Obama vient de l’affirmer, la nouvelle stratégie des États-Unis pour l’Afghanistan et le Pakistan « ciblera le démantèlement des réseaux terroristes et emploiera à cette fin un vaste éventail de moyens, allant de l’amélioration des capacités des forces de sécurité régionales à une nouvelle attention portée à la diplomatie, au développement et à la coopération internationale ».
Mais est-ce vraiment une nouvelle stratégie ? Ses prédécesseurs, de Reagan à Bush, en passant par Clinton, se sont tous appuyés sur le Pakistan et l’Afghanistan pour combattre les Soviétiques dans un premier temps, puis pour neutraliser les Talibans et Al Qaida aujourd’hui. « Nous devons nous assurer que ni l’Afghanistan ni le Pakistan ne servent d’abris sûrs à Al-Qaïda », a justement dit M. Obama le 29 mars. Le président a qualifié le nouveau plan de « stratégie d’ensemble qui compte non seulement sur des fusils et des bombes, mais aussi sur des agronomes, des médecins et des ingénieurs pour aider à créer un climat dans lequel les gens reconnaissent qu’ils ont plus à gagner en devenant nos partenaires et ceux de la communauté internationale qu’en adhérant à certaines de ces idéologies extrémistes ». Pour ce faire, M. Obama souhaite une présence civile plus vaste en Afghanistan et a demandé au congrès américain d’adopter une proposition de loi autorisant une aide directe au Pakistan de 7,5 milliards de dollars sur 5 ans. Ces fonds serviraient à construire des écoles, des routes et des hôpitaux de même qu’à renforcer la démocratie pakistanaise. Rappelons qu’entre 1952 and 2008, Islamabad a reçu plus de 73 milliards de $ en aide étrangère, selon le Pakistan’s Economic Survey. Mais depuis les attentats de Mumbai de novembre dernier la somme totale reçue par le Pakistan est de 23.3 milliards de $ ! Ceci n’inclue pas l’aide chinoise dont one ne connaît pas le montant exact.

Les intentions sont louables. Mais le gouvernement indien n’est pas convaincu : « Depuis Ronald Reagan, une grande partie des armes données par les Américains aux Pakistanais se sont retournées contre nous au Cachemire, puis plus tard ont servi à commettre des attentats en Inde, dont ceux de Mumbai de novembre dernier », commente un officiel indien qui préfère garder l’anonymat. Pourtant le gouvernement indien sait que ce nouveau plan en Asie du sud résulte de consultations étroites pendant plusieurs mois du gouvernement américain avec des responsables afghans et pakistanais ainsi qu’avec les alliés des États-Unis au sein de la Force internationale d’assistance à la sécurité à laquelle participent 41 pays en Afghanistan sous le commandement de l’OTAN.
New Delhi a également noté que M. Obama avait déjà ordonné le déploiement en renfort de 17.000 soldats et marines pour appuyer la mission de maintien de la paix sous mandat onusien à l’approche des élections afghanes prévues pour août. Le nouveau plan des États-Unis préconise l’envoi de 4.000 soldats supplémentaires, dont la tâche sera de renforcer les progrès accomplis dans la formation des forces de sécurité afghanes afin qu’elles puissent protéger leur pays. Ceci ne gêne en aucune manière New Delhi, qui souhaite également « renforcer la démocratie en Afghanistan », mais le gouvernement indien s’inquiète de l’aide financière et des armes qui vont être fournies à Islamabad par M. Obama.
« Un élément central de notre stratégie est de fournir de l’entraînement à l’armée nationale afghane pour qu’elle puisse jouer un rôle capital et c’est l’une des quelques réussites dont nous avons été témoins au cours des dernières années. En effet, l’armée nationale afghane a beaucoup de crédibilité. Ses soldats sont des combattants efficaces. Nous devons renforcer cela», a précisé M. Obama. «. » Ceci laisse crédule de nombreux observateurs indiens : « Dès que les Américains s’en iront, l’Afghanistan, pour qui se battre est un passe-temps national, retombera dans l’anarchie – et c’est nous voisins indiens qui en souffriront, s’exclame Sabeer Narendra un journaliste de Delhi.
Le plan d’Obama met également en lumière la nécessité d’appuyer le Pakistan dans sa lutte contre les extrémistes, un point ponctué par l’attentat suicide contre une mosquée qui a fait plus de 50 morts, le 27 mars, dans le nord-ouest du pays, et par une attaque terroriste contre une école de police de Lahore, le 30 mars. Mais les Indiens font valoir que non seulement les Pakistanais s’entretuent, mais que depuis vingt ans ils exportent le terrorisme : « tous les grands attentats islamiques, que ce soient ceux de Bombay ou de New York, ont chacun une connexion pakistanaise », souligne Narendra.
« L’un des points de plus en plus préoccupants de ces dernières années est la notion, je pense, chez le Pakistanais ordinaire qu’il s’agit d’une façon ou d’une autre d’une guerre qui concerne les États-Unis mais ne le concerne pas », a indiqué M. Obama. « Cette attitude, je pense, a entraîné au Pakistan une recrudescence graduelle de l’extrémisme qui constitue la menace la plus importante contre la stabilité de son gouvernement, et en fin de compte, la menace la plus importante contre le peuple pakistanais. » Les Indiens ont une opinion bien différente : « l’attitude des gouvernements pakistanais successifs depuis le général Zia, a toujours été ambivalente, car d’une main ils prétendent soutenir la lutte contre le terrorisme et de l’autre ils accordent licence aux services secrets de l’armée pakistanaise (ISI) d’armer de financer et d’entraîner certains groupes islamistes tels le Lashkar-e-Taiba ».
« Ce que nous voulons faire, c’est dire au peuple pakistanais : vous êtes nos amis. Vous êtes nos alliés. Nous allons vous donner les outils nécessaires pour vaincre Al-Qaïda et éliminer les zones de refuge des extrémistes. Mais nous nous attendons aussi à une certaine responsabilité de votre part, et à ce que vous deveniez conscients de la gravité et de la nature de cette menace », a plaidé Obama.
« Bush a tenu le même discours au Pakistan après les attentats du World Trade Center, sourit Narendra. Mais on ne combat pas le terrorisme en soutenant une des fontaines principales du terrorisme . M. Obama est un homme éclairé, mais il succombe, comme de nombreux leaders occidentaux, au chantage nucléaire du Pakistan, qui menace toujours d’utiliser ses armes atomiques contre l’Inde. C’est pourquoi même le président français Nicolas Sarkozy pousse l’Inde et le Pakistan à la négociation et éventuellement à un accord sur le Cachemire, qui verrait l’Inde faire de nombreuses concessions. Mais comment, conclue-t-il, ces deux présidents ne peuvent-ils pas voir que contrairement au Pakistan, petit pays islamiste toujours au bord de l’implosion, l’Inde, une nation démocratique, libérale, pro-occidentale, est leur meilleur allié dans la guerre contre le terrorisme ? »

fgautier26@gmail.com
francoisgautier.com

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.

Sonia’s presence in Delhi is costing India dearly

by Francois Gautier
02 Dec 2008
Source: New Indian Express
In 1898, the French writer Emile Zola wrote an open letter to the then French president in the newspaper L’Aurore, titled j’accuse (‘I accuse’), where he accused the French government of anti- Semitism towards Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer unfairly condemned for treason.

Now it is time for the people of India to say openly that which many, including within the Congress, think secretly and may utter in the privacy of their chambers.It is not about Manmohan Singh, it is not even about Shivraj Patil, the fall guy; it is about that one person, the Eminence Grise of India. She who pulls all the strings, She whose shadow looms menacingly over so many, She who holds no portfolio, is just a simple elected MP, like 540 others, but rules like an empress.

Sometimes, one’s very physical presence at the top is enough to move things, to influence the course of events. One word from Her, a glance, a frown, are enough to put the whole heavy, inert, unwilling machinery of India’s bureaucracy and political system in full motion. Sometimes She need not say anything: in the true tradition of Bhakti, Her ministers, Her secretaries, interpret Her silences and rush to cater to Her western and Christian identity.

Nevertheless, she has said and acted enough so that one day she may stand accused on the pages of History for what she must have done to India.

I’accuse Sonia Gandhi as being responsible for the tragedy of Mumbai, having emasculated India’s intelligence agencies by stopping them from investigating terror attacks in the last four years, including the Mumbai train blasts. She has also neutralised the ATS by ordering them at all costs to ferret out ‘Hindu terrorism’, which if it exists, has wrought minuscule damage compared to what Islamic terror has done since 2004.

Did the US send a warning to India that there may be an attack on Mumbai and that the Taj would be one of the targets? Were these ignored because the ATS was too busy chasing Hindu ‘terrorists’ on Sonia’s orders? I accuse Sonia and her government of having made the NSG the laughing stock of the world. How many times did the NSG (who took ten hours to reach Mumbai) claim that it had “sanitised the Taj and that the operation was over” and how many times did a bomb go off immediately after? For the last 20 years, the NSG has guarded VIPs and has become soft. See the comments of Israeli terror specialists, who said the NSG should have first sanitised the immediate surroundings of the places of conflict, kept the bystanders and press (who gave terrorists watching TV in the Taj rooms a perfect report of the security forces’ whereabouts) out of the place, gathered enough information about the position of the terrorists and hostages before taking action, instead of immediately engaging the terrorists, and ensuring the deaths of so many hostages.

I accuse Sonia of having let her Christian and Western background, in four years, divide India on religious and caste lines in a cynical and methodical manner.

I accuse Sonia of weakening India’s spirit of sacrifice and courage, so that 20 terrorists (or less) held at ransom the financial capital of India for more than three days.

I accuse Sonia Gandhi of always pointing the finger at Pakistan, when terrorism in India is now mostly homegrown, even if it takes help, training, refuge and arms from Pakistan; of not warning Indians of the grave dangers of Islamic terror for cynical election purposes.

I accuse Sonia of being an enemy of the Hindus, who always gave refuge to persecuted minorities, and who are the only people in the world to accept that God may manifest under different names, in different epochs, using different scriptures.

I accuse Sonia Gandhi of taking advantage of India’s respect for women, its undue fascination with the Gandhi name, and its stupid mania for White Skin.

I’accuse Sonia of exploiting the Indian Press’ obsession with her. She hardly ever gave interview in 20 years, except scripted ones to NDTV, yet the Press always protects her, never blames her and keeps silent over her covert role.

I’accuse Sonia and her government of trying to make heroes of subservient and inefficient men to hide the humiliation of Mumbai 26/11. Before going to his death, Hemant Karkare, the ATS chief, was shown on television clumsily handling his helmet, as someone who uses it very rarely. Why did he die of bullet wounds in the chest when he was wearing a bullet-proof vest? Either Indian vests are inferior quality or he was not wearing one.

How did the terrorists who killed him and his fellow officer escape in the same vehicle used by the ATS chief ? Why did he and his officers go into Cama Hospital without ascertaining where the terrorists were? We honour his death, but these facts say a lot about the ATS’ battle-readiness.

Will someone in the Congress, someone who feels more Indian than faithful to Sonia, stand up and speak the truth? Who said, “Go after Hindu terrorists”? Who insisted on putting pressure on BJP governments in Karnataka or Orissa for so-called persecution of Christians, when Christians have always practised their faith in total freedom here, while their missionaries are converting hundreds of thousands of innocent tribals and Dalits with the billions of dollars given by gullible westerners? Who said, “Go soft on Islamic terrorism”? Who wants to do away with India’s nuclear deterrence in the face of Pakistani and Chinese nuclear threats, by pushing at all costs the one sided Indo-US nuclear deal, which makes no secret of its intention to denuclearise India militarily? I am sure Sonia Gandhi has good qualities: she probably was a good wife to Rajiv, a good daughter in law to Indira and by all accounts, she is a good mother to her children. One also hears first-hand reports about her concern for smaller people, her dignity in the suffering that befell her when her husband was blown to pieces, and her courtesy with visitors.

Nevertheless, she is a danger to India.

Her very presence, both physical and occult, open the doors to forces inimical to India. Even Indian Christians should understand that she is not a gift to them: her presence at the top has emboldened fanatics like John Dayal or Valson Thampu, who practise an orthodox Christianity prevalent in the West in the early 20th century, but no longer, to radicalise their flock. Indian Christians should recognise that they have a much better deal here than Christians or Hindus have in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia or Saudi Arabia.

Under Sonia’s rule, Indian Muslims, too, have been used as electoral pawns. They have been encouraged to shun the Sufi streak, a blend of the best of Islam and Vedanta, for a hard-line Sunni brand imported from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

For the good of India, her civilisation, her immense spirituality and culture, Sonia Gandhi has to go and a government that thinks Indian, breathes nationalism and will protect its citizens must be voted to power.

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The Hindu Rate Of Wrath

Illustration by Sorit
OPINION
The Hindu Rate Of Wrath
When the Mahatma’s cowards erupt in fury, it hurts. It isn’t terror. ......

Is there such a thing as ‘Hindu terrorism’, as the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur for the recent Malegaon blasts may tend to prove? Well, I guess I was asked to write this column because I am one of that rare breed of foreign correspondents—a lover of Hindus! A born Frenchman, Catholic-educated and non-Hindu, I do hope I’ll be given some credit for my opinions, which are not the product of my parents’ ideas, my education or my atavism, but garnered from 25 years of reporting in South Asia (for Le Journal de Geneve and Le Figaro).

In the early 1980s, when I started freelancing in south India, doing photo features on kalaripayattu, the Ayyappa festival, or the Ayyanars, I slowly realised that the genius of this country lies in its Hindu ethos, in the true spirituality behind Hinduism. The average Hindu you meet in a million villages possesses this simple, innate spirituality and accepts your diversity, whether you are Christian or Muslim, Jain or Arab, French or Chinese. It is this Hinduness that makes the Indian Christian different from, say, a French Christian, or the Indian Muslim unlike a Saudi Muslim. I also learnt that Hindus not only believed that the divine could manifest itself at different times, under different names, using different scriptures (not to mention the wonderful avatar concept, the perfect answer to 21st century religious strife) but that they had also given refuge to persecuted minorities from across the world—Syrian Christians, Parsis, Jews, Armenians, and today, Tibetans. In 3,500 years of existence, Hindus have never militarily invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion on others by force or induced conversions.

You cannot find anybody less fundamentalist than a Hindu in the world and it saddens me when I see the Indian and western press equating terrorist groups like simi, which blow up innocent civilians, with ordinary, angry Hindus who burn churches without killing anybody. We know also that most of these communal incidents often involve persons from the same groups—often Dalits and tribals—some of who have converted to Christianity and others not.

However reprehensible the destruction of Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process; compare this to the ‘vengeance’ bombings of 1993 in Bombay, which wiped out hundreds of innocents, mostly Hindus. Yet the Babri Masjid destruction is often described by journalists as the more horrible act of the two. We also remember how Sharad Pawar, when he was chief minister of Maharashtra in 1993, lied about a bomb that was supposed to have gone off in a Muslim locality of Bombay.

I have never been politically correct, but have always written what I have discovered while reporting. Let me then be straightforward about this so-called Hindu terror. Hindus, since the first Arab invasions, have been at the receiving end of terrorism, whether it was by Timur, who killed 1,00,000 Hindus in a single day in 1399, or by the Portuguese Inquisition which crucified Brahmins in Goa. Today, Hindus are still being targeted: there were one million Hindus in the Kashmir valley in 1900; only a few hundred remain, the rest having fled in terror. Blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus all over India in the last four years. Hindus, the overwhelming majority community of this country, are being made fun of, are despised, are deprived of the most basic facilities for one of their most sacred pilgrimages in Amarnath while their government heavily sponsors the Haj. They see their brothers and sisters converted to Christianity through inducements and financial traps, see a harmless 84-year-old swami and a sadhvi brutally murdered. Their gods are blasphemed.

So sometimes, enough is enough.At some point, after years or even centuries of submitting like sheep to slaughter, Hindus—whom the Mahatma once gently called cowards—erupt in uncontrolled fury. And it hurts badly. It happened in Gujarat. It happened in Jammu, then in Kandhamal, Mangalore, and Malegaon. It may happen again elsewhere. What should be understood is that this is a spontaneous revolution on the ground, by ordinary Hindus, without any planning from the political leadership. Therefore, the BJP, instead of acting embarrassed, should not disown those who choose other means to let their anguished voices be heard.

There are about a billion Hindus, one in every six persons on this planet. They form one of the most successful, law-abiding and integrated communities in the world today. Can you call them terrorists?


Ramachandra Guha and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Ramachandra Guha represents the typical Indian intellectual: brilliant, totally westernized – and who looks down on anything Hindu – because he has inherited from the British colonization a gigantic inferiority complex about his own culture and spirituality. And like many of his brothers and sisters of India’s intelligentsia, he feels nowhere better than in the West. This can be gathered from his Oslo diary published in the Outlook magazine of 20th October, where he says, and I quote : “…After two weeks in Oslo, my hosts send me off to Svalbard, deep into the Arctic CircleI spend four enchanting days in and around the little town of Longybein, located at 78° N. I have the privilege of sampling the northernmost bar, the northernmost cafe, the northernmost supermarket, and the northernmost souvenir store in the world “… Then he adds – and this shows that this Macaulayan fixation is transmitted since many generations from father to children: “The person most envious of my trip is my daughter, who has read evocative descriptions of Svalbard in the novels of Philip Pullman”. Wow: I am a born Frenchman, brought up in some of the best European schools, I vaguely known of Philipp Pullman (do you?), but have never heard of that he wrote about the archipelago of Svalbard” (have you?). <!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>

Once he has proved his credentials of a connoisseur of western literature and lover of western atmospheres, Guha, because he is in Norway, home of the Nobel Peace Prize, chooses to attack Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living movement, who has been the most nominated Indian in the last three years: “After my talk, a lady comes up and introduces herself as a doctor, and an advisor to the Peace Institute. The names I had mentioned were all very good, she said, but surely it was time that the peace prize went to an Indian? She mentions the name of a fellow townsman of mine (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar), a man who has grown long hair, given himself four fancy initials (HH/SS), and whose name is also that of a very great exponent of the sitar”. And of course, Guha tells her gleefully: “I suggested to the doctor that if not giving Gandhi the prize was a scandal, awarding it to my fellow townsman would be an even bigger scandal”. How typical of these Indian intellectuals, who are always spitting on their own culture, specially if it is Hindu-related.

Yet, there is no doubt that Guruji, as he is known to his followers, qualifies for the NPP – in fact he does tenfold time the work of a Mother Teresa or a R.K Pachauri: he not only performs charity work in many of India’s villages, he also promotes pesticide and fertilizer free farming, takes orphans from Kashmir or the North-East in his ashram, and his volunteers do relief work, both at the physical and psychological level, whether in Bihar during the floods, in Iraq or in the US during the recent cyclone. Sri Sri is also trying to revive single handed, the ancient Vedic tradition by training young priests in a Gurukkul which blends ancient knowledge, with modern thought, while promoting Ayurveda as the medicine of the 21st century. He is attempting as well to mediate in many conflicts, in Kashmir, Sri Lanka, or between the Christians and Hindus. And lastly he has revived and modernized the ancient science of pranayama.

Of course, Guha is an unabashed admirer of the Norwegian Peace Committee: “The Nobel Peace Prize is itself a splendid example of Norwegian internationalism, in keeping with the country’s ethos of generous aid to poorer countries, not to mention its efforts to resolve ethnic conflicts around the world”. But not everybody in Europe would agree with him : Norwegians have sometimes the reputation of being staunch, left-leaning Protestants, who often have a condescending view of Asia. Thus, when they award prizes, they are necessarily influenced by a Christian vision of the world and an idealistic left-leaning sympathy. For, as most Europeans, they have been brought-up in the belief that democracy and philosophy started with Greece and that a Humane civilization, began with Jesus Christ. And of course, they have a covert – or at best unconscious – suspicion, if not of India, at least of Hindus, who for them remain the heathen, the pagans which the missionaries of yesteryears, and unfortunately those of today too, have created in the minds of many westerners.

They can only agree with Mr Guha: how can they then, give their Peace Prize to a Hindu?

François Gautier

Be aware of your roots

First Published : 21 Oct 2008 12:40:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 21 Oct 2008 10:40:51 AM IST

 

Francois Gautier

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

 

Yet in India, logic does not seem to apply to most of the media, especially when it touches anything Hindu.

 

One cannot, for instance, equate Muslim terrorists who blow up innocent civilians in market places all over India, with angry ordinary Hindus who burn churches without killing anybody.

 

We know that most of these communal incidents often involve persons of the same caste, Dalits and tribals, some converted to Christianity and some not.

 

Then, however reprehensible the destruction of the Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process.

 

Compare this with the ‘vengeance’ bombings of 1993 in Mumbai, which killed hundreds of innocents, mostly Hindus. Yet Indian and western journalists keep matching up the two, or even showing the Babri Masjid destruction as the more horrible act of the two.

 

How can you compare the RSS, a bunch of harmless daddies, with the Indian Mujahideen, a terrorist organisation? How can you make of Narendra Modi a mass killer, when it was ordinary middle-class, or even Dalit Hindus, who went out on the streets in fury when 56 innocent people, many of them women and children, were burnt in a train? How can you lobby for the lifting of the ban on SIMI, an organisation which is suspected of having planted bombs in many Indian cities, killing hundreds of innocents, while advocating the ban of the Bajrang Dal, which burns churches when an 84-year-old Hindu swami and his Mataji are brutally murdered? There is no logic in the perspective of journalists in this country when it comes to minorities. Christians are supposed to make up two per cent of the population in India, but last Sunday many major television channels showed live the canonisation ceremonies of sister Alphonsa, an obscure nun from Kerala.

 

Union minister Oscar Fernandes led an entire Indian delegation to the Vatican ceremony along with the Indian ambassador. It would be impossible in England, for instance, which may have a 2 per cent Hindu minority, to have live coverage of a major Hindu ceremony, like the anointment of a new Shankaracharya.What was NDTV, which seems to have deliberately chosen to highlight this nonevent, trying to prove? That it is secular? But it is absolutely disproportionate.

 

Some might even call it antinational.

 

The headline, ‘India gets its first woman saint’, in many newspapers, Indian and western, is misleading.

 

India has never been short of saints. The woman sage from over 3,000 years ago — Maithreyi, Andal, the Tamil saint from early in the first Millennium CE and Akkamahadevi, the 15th century saint from modernday Karnataka, are but a few examples.

 

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

 

Such a statement is OK when it comes, for instance, from the BBC, which always looks at India through the Christian prism, but when it comes to the Indian media, it only shows their grave lack of grounding in Indian culture and history.

 

The same thing is true of Sonia Gandhi, who seemed, even though the Congress should by all means have already collapsed with 12 per cent inflation, scandal after scandal, a nuclear deal with the US that leaves India vulnerable to the Chinese and Pakistani nuclear threat, and bomb blast after bomb blast, still ruling India with an iron hand. Yet newspapers and TV channels keep praising Sonia Gandhi.

 

And the question must be asked: how is it possible that a nation of a billion people, with some of the best minds on this planet, allows itself to be governed by a non-Indian lady, who, however sincere she may be, is actively overseeing the dismantling of whatever is good and true in India? It would be impossible in France for a Hindu woman, or for that matter a non-Christian person, who is just an elected MP, to govern our country from behind the scenes like an empress. Why is it allowed in India and why is the Indian press so selfrighteous about it ? Finally, when will Indians start being proud of themselves and their own culture and stop looking down on their own society ? This inferiority complex, as expressed by NDTV’s live coverage of the canonisation of sister Alphonsa, is a legacy of the British, who strove to show themselves as superior and Indian culture as inferior (and inheritor of the ‘White Aryans’, a totally false theory). Is it not time to institute schools of journalism, both private and public, where not only a little bit of logic is taught, but where students are made aware of Indian history and the greatness of Indian culture, so that when they go out reporting, they use their own judgment and become Indian journalists, with a little bit of feeling, pride and love for their own country? fgautier@rediffmail.com