Category Archives: poverty

Harvest of faith?

Harvest of faith?

Author: Francois Gautier
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: October 16, 2002

This column is specially addressed to my Christian brothers and sisters of India. At a time when again a Western missionary ministering in India (Father Marian Zelazek who works among leprosy patients in Orissa) has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and when Mother Teresa’s beatification – and later the canonisation – is being speeded-up by the Vatican, it is time to look into the real motives of Christian missionaries working in India.

We all know that Mother Teresa incarnated in the 20th century true Christian charity, helping “the poorest of the poor”, and that she lived a life of nun, with rectitude and service, as Jesus Christ would have liked her to. It also should be said that Mother Teresa did the work that wealthy Hindus and Hindu organisations should have done. After all, there is no denying that it takes a Westerner to pick up the dying in the streets of Calcutta and raise abandoned orphans, a thankless task if there is one. Hindus, even though their religion has taught them compassion for 4,000 years, have become very callous towards their less fortunate brethren and there are not enough Hindu organisations, apart from the Art of Living, the Vivekananda and Ramakrishna missions, or the RSS, doing charitable work as the Christians do. This is despite the fact that there is growing awareness amongst Hindu organisations that it is time to get their act together, that they ought to be doing more for the dispossessed and the poor of the land than they have so far.

Unfortunately – and in spite of herself maybe – Mother Teresa carried a very negative image of India: That of poverty beyond humanity, of a society which abandons its children, of dying without dignity. Alright, it is accepted there is some truth in it. But then it may be asked again: Did Mother Teresa ever attempt to counterbalance this negative image of India, of which she was the vector, with a more positive one? After all, she had lived here for so long that she knew the country as well as any Indian, having even adopted Indian nationality. Surely she could have defended her own country? She could, for example, have spoken about India’s infinite spirituality, her exquisite culture, the gentleness of its people, the brilliance of its children…

Regrettably, Mother Teresa said nothing of the sort. Does this mean that she stood for the most orthodox Christian conservatism? Was it, as some of her detractors said, that her ultimate goal was to convert India to Christianity, the only true religion in her eyes? I cannot believe it, although it is true that she never once said a good word about Hinduism, which after all is the religion of 700 millions people of the country she said she loved, and has been their religion for 5,000 years – long before Christianity appeared. Did Mother Teresa consider, as all good Christians do – particularly the conservatives ones – that Hinduism is a pagan religion which adores a multitude of heathen gods and should be eliminated?

The hardline Hindus argue that there has been no change in Christian or Protestant designs on India since they arrived with the Portuguese and the British, and that Mother Teresa was much more clever than Lord Hastings: She knew that on the eve of the 21st century, it would have looked very bad if she had openly stated her true opinions about Hinduism; so she kept quiet. It seems a bit farfetched but, ultimately, is not her charitable work – whatever its dedication – an indirect method to convert people? For without any doubt, most of the people she saved from the streets did ultimately become Christians. And if you ask those “elite” Indians who knew her well, such as photographer Raghu Rai, a great admirer of her, she always said: “It is now time for you to embrace the true religion.” (Raghu Rai politely declined.)

India today is an emerging super power and Indian Christians, while worshipping the memory of Mother Teresa, should try – by talking around themselves, writing articles and books – to propagate a more positive image of their country. Why does India’s intelligentsia, most of whom are born Hindus, also defend her? These are intelligent, educated people; they must surely have some inkling of Mother Teresa’s negative impact? Does Vir Sanghvi or for that matter Naveen Chawla, Mother Teresa’s ever admiring biographer, understand what she really stood for? That she may have been someone basically hostile to their culture, their religion, their way of life?

Also, do they know that Hindu society has always been the target of Christians since their coming here? Do they understand that they and a thousand of their peers, who belong to the intellectual elite of India and keep praising Mother Teresa (or Father Zelazek), are doing harm to their country and opening it to its enemies? The Christian influence is very strong in India today: It shapes the minds of its young people in a subtle way through its schools, which many of the children of the affluent attend. It moulds the thinking of the tribes it has converted, particularly in the North-East where the missionaries have always covertly encouraged separatism (see the remarkable book Indigenous Indians by the Dutch Scholar, Koenrad Elst).

It is also sad to see the majority of Hindus are unaware of the very negative image of their country and religion which Mother Teresa’s name is carrying. It is even more unfortunate to see that Hindus vote for her as the most popular Indian (as reported by a weekly magazine that recently conducted an opinion poll). Was Mother Teresa really Indian? Did she really love India as an Indian? While we must respect her memory, it is necessary that Mother Teresa’s sainthood or Father Zelatek’s potential Nobel prize be seen in their proper perspective by both Hindus and Indian Christians: By making her a saint, or giving Father Zelatek a Nobel, the Vatican and the West are still perpetuating a kind of condescending, neo-colonial attitude: “We, the Westerners, bring to you, the heathens, the civilisation and the true God.”

Ultimately, when she becomes a saint, Mother Teresa’s spirit will continue to haunt India because she will be worshiped by millions of Westerners for the very negative qualities and aspects that India is trying to emerge out of: Poverty, human despair and lack of self respect.


Title: A stereotyped view
Author: Francois Gautier
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: May 11, 1999

(Francois Gautier on foreign reporting of India)

FOREIGN JOURNALISTS (and photographers) covering India are generally interested in
three kinds of India:

(a) The macabre and the negative: the widows of Benares, the caste
system as practised in Bihar, Mother Teresa's place for the dying,
kidneys traffic in Tamil Nadu, the slums of Calcutta, bride burning,
etc. These subjects have their own truth and there does exist in India
terrible slums, unacceptable exploitation of caste, dying people left
unattended, or bride burning. But by harping only on these topics, the
foreign press always presents a very negative image of India. Foreign
writers have also tended to exploit that vein: Dominique Lapierre in
his "City of Joy'', which still is a world-wide best-seller and has
been made into a film, has done incalculable damage to India, as it
takes a little part of India - the Calcutta slums - and gives the
impression to the western reader, who generally is totally ignorant of
the realities of India, that it constitutes the whole.

(b) The folklore and the superfluous: Maharajas, of whom westerners
are avid, although they are totally irrelevant to modern India, the
palaces of Rajasthan, cherished by such magazines as Vogue which
regularly sends their photographers and lanky models, who have no idea
of India festival: Pushkar, the camel fair, kumbh-melas, dance
performances in Khajuraho... all these have their own beauties, but
they represent only a small part of this great and vast country.

(c) The politically correct: There must be at least three hundred
foreign correspondents posted in Delhi, which should vouch for a
variety of opinion. But if you give them a subject to write about -
any subject - say Ayodhya, the RSS, fanatic Hindus, secularism, or
Sonia Gandhi, you will get 298 articles which will say more or less
the same thing, even if it is with different styles, different
illustrations and various degrees of professionalism. This is not to
say that there are no sincere western journalists who write serious
stories which do homage to India's greatness and immense culture, but
they are usually the exception. And at the end, the result is more or
less the same: a downgrading of India, a constant harping on "Hindu
fundamentalism'', or the "fanatical khaki-clad RSS members'' of the
burning of Christians in India'', conveniently forgetting to mention
that Christians have found refuge in this country for 2000 years and
have often taken advantage of this great Hindu tolerance.

These three kinds of reporting about India have been going on for
fifty years and very few Indians have dared - or bothered - to
complain. But the interesting question is: Why this always harping on
the negative, the folklore, or the politically correct? Why this
uniformity of views and un-originality in the selection of subjects,
in a country which is so ancient, whose civilisation is so diverse so
profound, so fascinating, that there are thousands of extraordinary
topics, which could be exploited?

It seems to me there are two important factors, which are at play in
every foreign correspondent's functioning. First, a foreign
correspondent before even being posted in Delhi, has already fixed
ideas about India: prejudices, cliches, negative "a-prioris'', etc.
This is not to say that it is wilfully done; it is just something
which we pick up unconsciously from the concepts on India floating in
the West: Tintin's stereotyped India - the good Maharajas and the bad
fakirs; Kipling's jungle child ready to embrace the good of the
Christian civilisation, or else it is poverty, dirt and the squalor of
India which is always over-emphasised in the West and which scares
many of us, used to a clean disinfected (and soulless) world.

More subtly, even, we western journalists are influenced by what is
said about India in the 'serious' books of distinguished indologists,
who have got it all wrong: the supposed invasion of India by the
Aryans (which, say more and more archaeologists and linguists, never
happened); the great achievements of the Moghul culture (which mostly
borrowed from Hindu genius); the fanaticism of Hindu social and
political movements (which were born in the early twenties after
nearly thirteen centuries of horrendous persecutions by Muslim
invaders and shameless European colonisation); the importance of being
"secular'' in Modern India. These "wise' historians have unfortunately
a very strong hold on the image of India abroad and they give all the
wrong ideas to foreign newspaper editors, who in turn expect a certain
(Hindu fundamentalism) angle from the stories of their correspondents.

The second factor is simple: India is a vast and complicated country,
often contradictory, full of paradoxes, with many castes, religions,
ethnic groups, political parties. It is thus extremely baffling to the
mind of the foreign correspondent freshly arrived from the United
States, for example, where everything is black and white, good or bad
(the evil Milosevic as painted by Newsweek and the good saintly OTAN).
Thus, naturally, the foreign correspondent will turn for advice and
information to his counterpart; the Indian journalist, who is
frequently witty, brilliant and well informed. And here lies the crax
of the matter, because Indian journalists are often the worst enemies
of their own country - they are more secular than the secular, more
anti-India than its worst adversaries and often play in the hands of
India's foes.

Another important factor which enhances the uniformity of views
amongst foreign correspondents, is that New Delhi has become a very
superficial and arrogant city, geographically cut-off from the rest of
India (does Delhi have any idea of what is happening in the South?);
and there, the foreign correspondents always hear the same stories,
whether in the Embassy cocktail parties, or at journalists' parties.
We have then come a full circle: we thought that the western press was
negative about India, out of a personal bias, but we have found that
it is influenced by the Indian press; we thought that the Indian press
was negative about its own country, because of some dark, sceptical,
self-destructive streak in itself, but we found out that it was a
tendency generated by the Congress, which in turn was manipulated by
its British masters. And thus, we have come a full circle; all along,
the snake was biting its own tail!

Fortunately, since a few years, there is a change in the Indian Press.
Magazines have started showing an effort to look at India in a
different manner, to strike a distinct note from the usual
self-denigration. This is a positive sign - and there are more the
popularity of songs like Vande Mataram, which expressed India's true
aspiration and were literally relegated to play second fiddle by the
Congress.

We have got to change the image of India amongst industrialised
nations. Who in the West wants to do business with a country with a
backward image and associated with slums, Mother Teresa and
bureaucratic inefficiency? The Western press is not playing its true
role of information. But that should not be a problem - look at China:
less than thirty years ago it was considered in the West as the "Red
Devil'', a feudal country, totally closed to the world. But then in
1971 Nixon went there and suddenly it became acceptable to do business
in China; and today it possesses in the West an image of a
fast-forward, modern nation (although it killed a million Tibetans,
gave Pakistan its nuclear technology and still claims part of Indian
territory). Many of us are trying to change India's image abroad:
France for instance has seen the creation of an Indo-French forum
under the guidance of Karan Singh and French ambassador Claude
Blanchemaison to promote India's interests there and attract French
businessmen. But unless the Nehruvian legacy of bureaucracy and
centralisation is discarded, unless India starts looking at herself
differently, unless its people have a little more pride in being
Indian, there is very little we can do.

(The author is correspondent in South Asia for Le Figaro, France's
largest circulated newspaper).

THE "PERSECUTION" OF CHRISTIANS IN INDIA

Source: http://www.francoisgautier.com

When Prime Minister Vajpayee was in the US in September, the National Association of Asian Christians in the US (whom nobody had heard about before), paid 50.000 $ to the New York Times to publish “an Open Letter to the Hon’ Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India”. While “warmly welcoming the PM”, the NAAIC expressed deep concern about the “persecution” of Christians in India by “extremist” (meaning Hindu) groups, mentioning as examples “the priest, missionaries and church workers who have been murdered”, the nuns “raped”, and the potential enacting of conversion laws, which would “make “genuine” conversions illegal. The letter concluded by saying “that Christians in India today live in fear”. The whole affair was an embarrassment (as it was intended to be) to Mr Vajpayee and the accompanying Indian delegation, which had come to prod American businessmen to invest in India, a peaceful, pro-Western and democratic country.

I am born a Christian and I have had a strong Catholic education. I do believe that Christ was an incarnation of Pure Love and that His Presence still radiates in the world. I also believe that there are human beings who sincerely try to incarnate the ideals of Jesus and that you can find today in India a few missionaries (such as Father Ceyrac, a French Jesuit, who works mostly with lepers in Tamil Nadu), who are incarnations of that Love, tending tirelessly to people, without trying to convert them. But I have also lived for more than 30 years in India, I am married to an Indian, I have traveled the length and breath of this country and I have evolved a love and an understanding of India, which few other foreign correspondents have, because they are never posted long enough to start getting a real feeling of this vast and often baffling country (nobody can claim to fully understand India). And this is what I have to say about the “persecution” of Christians in India.

Firstly, it is necessary to bring about a little bit of a historical flashback, which very few foreign correspondents (and unfortunately also Indian journalists) care to do, which would make for a more balanced view of the problem…

…If ever there was persecution, it was of the Hindus at the hands of Christians, who were actually welcomed in this country, as they have been welcomed in no other place in this Planet. Indeed, the first Christian community of the world, that of the Syrian Christians, was established in Kerala in the first century; they were able to live in peace and practice their religion freely, even imbibing some of the local Hindu customs, until the Jesuits came in the 16th century and told them it was “heathen” to have anything to do with the Hindus, thereby breaking the Syrian Church in two.

When, Vasco de Gama, landed in Kerala in 1498, he was generously received by Zamorin, the Hindu king of Calicut, who granted him the right to establish warehouses for commerce. But once again, Hindu tolerance was exploited and the Portuguese wanted more and more: in 1510, Alfonso de Albuquerque seized Goa, where he started a reign of terror, burning “heretics”, crucifying Brahmins, using false theories to forcibly convert the lower castes, razing temples to build churches upon them and encouraging his soldiers to take Indian mistresses. Indeed, the Portuguese perpetrated here some of the worst atrocities ever committed in Asia by Christianity upon another religion. Ultimately, the Portuguese had to be kicked out of India, when all other colonisers had already left.

British missionaries in India were always supporters of colonialism; they encouraged it and their whole structure was based on “the good Western civilised world being brought to the Pagans”. Because, in the words of Claudius Buccchanan, a chaplain attached to the East India Company, “neither truth, nor honesty, honour, gratitude, nor charity, is to be found in the breast of a Hindoo”! What a comment about a nation that gave the world the Vedas, at a time when Europeans were still grappling in their caves! And it is in this way that the British allowed entire chunks of territories in the East, where lived tribals, whose poverty and simplicity, made them easy preys to be converted to Christianity. By doing so, the Christian missionaries cut a people from their roots and tradition, made them look westwards towards a culture and a way of life which was not theirs. And the result is there today for everyone to see: it is in these eastern States, some of which are 90% Christians, that one finds the biggest drug problems (and crime) in India. It should also be said that many of the eastern separatist movements have been covertly encouraged by Christian missionaries on the ground that “tribals were there before the ‘Aryan Hindus’ invaded India and imposed Hinduism upon on them”. The trouble is that the latest archeological and linguistic discoveries point out to the fact that there NEVER was an Aryan invasion of India – it just was an invention of the British and the missionaries to serve their purpose…

Secondly, Christianity has always striven on the myth of persecution, which in turn bred “martyrs” and saints, indispensable to the propagation of Christianity. But it is little known, for instance, that the first “saints” of Christianity, “martyred” in Rome, a highly refined civilization, which had evolved a remarkable system of Gods and Goddesses, some of whom were derived from Hindu mythology via the Greeks, were actually killed (a normal practice in those days), while bullying peaceful Romans to embrace the “true” religion, in the same way that later Christian missionaries will browbeat “heathen” Hindus, adoring many Gods, into believing that Jesus was the only “true” God.

Now to come to the recent cases of persecution of Christians in India at the hands of Hindu groups, I have personally investigated quite a few, amongst them the rape of the four nuns in Jhabua (MP), nearly two years ago. This rape is still quoted as an example of the “atrocities” committed by Hindus on Christians. Yet, when I interviewed the four innocent nuns, they themselves admitted, along with George Anatil, Bishop of Indore, that it had nothing to do with religion: it was the doing of a gang of Bhil tribals, known to perpetrate this kind of hateful acts on their own women. Today, the Indian Press, the Christian hierarchy and the politicians, continue to include the Jhabua rape in the list of the atrocities against the Christians. Or take the burning of churches in Andhra Pradesh a few months ago, which was supposed to have been committed by the “fanatic” RSS. It was proved later that it was actually the handiwork of Indian Muslims, at the behest of the ISI to foment hatred between Christians and Hindus. Yet the Indian Press which went beserk at the time of the burnings, mostly kept quiet when the true nature of the perpetrators was revealed. Finally, even if Dara Singh does belong to the Bajrang Dal, it is doubtful if the 100 others accused do. What is more probable, is that like in many other “backward” places, it is a case of converted tribals versus non-converted tribals, of pent-up jealousies, of old village feuds and land disputes. It is also an outcome of what – it should be said – are the aggressive methods of the Pentecost and seventh Adventists missionaries, known for their muscular ways of converting.

Now to come to the recent cases of persecution of Christians in India at the hands of Hindu groups, I have personally investigated quite a few, amongst them the rape of the four nuns in Jhabua (MP), nearly two years ago. This rape is still quoted as an example of the “atrocities” committed by Hindus on Christians. Yet, when I interviewed the four innocent nuns, they themselves admitted, along with George Anatil, Bishop of Indore, that it had nothing to do with religion: it was the doing of a gang of Bhil tribals, known to perpetrate this kind of hateful acts on their own women. Today, the Indian Press, the Christian hierarchy and the politicians, continue to include the Jhabua rape in the list of the atrocities against the Christians. Or take the burning of churches in Andhra Pradesh a few months ago, which was supposed to have been committed by the “fanatic” RSS. It was proved later that it was actually the handiwork of Indian Muslims, at the behest of the ISI to foment hatred between Christians and Hindus. Yet the Indian Press which went beserk at the time of the burnings, mostly kept quiet when the true nature of the perpetrators was revealed. Finally, even if Dara Singh does belong to the Bajrang Dal, it is doubtful if the 100 others accused do. What is more probable, is that like in many other “backward” places, it is a case of converted tribals versus non-converted tribals, of pent-up jealousies, of old village feuds and land disputes. It is also an outcome of what – it should be said – are the aggressive methods of the Pentecost and seventh Adventists missionaries, known for their muscular ways of converting.

Thirdly, conversions in India by Christian missionaries of low caste Hindus and tribals are sometimes nothing short of fraudulent and shameful. American missionnaries are investing huge amounts of money in India, which come from donation drives in the United States where gullible Americans think the dollars they are giving goe towards uplifting “poor and unducated Indians”. It is common in Kerala, for instance, particularly in the poor coastal districts, to have “miracle boxes” put in local churches: the gullible villager writes out a paper mentionning his wish: a fising boat, a loan for a pukka house, fees for the son’s schooling… And lo, a few weeks later, the miracle happens ! And of course the whole family converts, making others in the village follow suit…

American missionnaries (and their Government) would like us to believe that democacry includes the freedom to convert by any means. But France for example, a traditionally Christian country, has a Minister who is in charge of hunting down “sects”. And by sects, it is meant anything that does not fall within the recognised family of Christianity – even the Church of Scientology, favored by some Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise or John Travolta, is ruthlessly hounded. And look at what the Americans did to the Osho movement in Arizona, or how innocent children and women were burnt down by the FBI (with the assistance of the US army) in Waco Texas, because they belonged to a dangerous sect…

Did you know that the Christianity is dying in the West ? Not only church attendance is falling dramatically because spirituality has deserted it, but less and less youth find the vocation to become priests or nuns. And as a result, say in the rural parts of France, you will find only one priest for six or seven villages, whereas till the late seventies the smallest hamlet had its own parish priest. And where is Christianity finding new priests today ? In the Third World, of course ! And India, because of the innate impulsion of its people towards God, is a very fertile recruiting ground for the Chrurch, particularly in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Hence the huge attention that India is getting from the United States, Australia, or England and the massive conversion drive going on today.

It is sad that Indians, once converted, specially the priests and nuns, tend to turn against their own country and help in the conversion drive. There are very few “White” missionnaries left in India and most of the conversions are done today by Indian priests. Last month, during the Bishop’s conference in Bangalore, it was restated by bishops and priests from all over India, that conversion is the FIRST priority of the Church here. But are the priests and Bishops aware that they would never find in any western country the same freedom to convert that they take for granted in India ? Do they know that in China they would be expelled, if not put into jail ? Do they realize that they have been honored guests in this country for nearly two thousand years and that they are betraying those that gave them peace and freedom ?

Hinduism, the religion of tolerance, the coming spirituality of this new millenium, has survived the unspeakable barbarism of wave after wave of Muslim invasions, the insidious onslaught of Western colonialism which has killed the spirit of so may Third World countries and the soul-stifling assault of Nehruvianism. But will it survive the present Christian offensive ? Many Hindu religious leaders feel that Christianity is a real threat today, as in numerous ways it is similar to Hinduism, from which Christ borrowed so many concepts (see Sri Siri Ravi Shankar’s book: ” Hinduism and Christianity”).. It is thus necessary that Indian themselves become more aware of the danger their culture and unique civilisation is facing at the hands of missionnaries sponsored by foreign money. It is also necessary that they stop listening to the Marxist- influenced English newspapers’ defense of the right of Christian missionaries to convert innocent Hindus. Conversion belongs to the times of colonialism. We have entered in the era of Unity, of coming together, of tolerance and accepting each other as we are – not of converting in the name of one elusive “true” God. When Christianity will accept the right of other people to follow their own beliefs and creeds, the only will Jesus Christ’s Spirit truly radiate in the world.

FRANCOIS GAUTIER

ONE BILLION INDIANS ?

Source: http://www.francoisgautier.com

Officially India’s population crossed the one billion mark last week. It may be remembered that some UN agency had unilaterally declared that this landmark was recahed last Agust. Of course, they made it very conveniently coincincide with the 15th August. The story was fist taken-up by the New York Times – and of course the whole of the foreign correspondents’ corps, which is affliected by what the French call “mouton, de Panurge” instinct – which means that the whole herd follows the herd leader; even if it jumps from the cliff – followed suit. And all the major European newspapers, including France’s Figaro (I was holidaying in Almora to the displeasure of my editor) Le Monde, and Libéraion did full page stories on how “India already poor and aflicted with debilitating problems (corruption the unibiquous caste systeml French love to talk about etc) had even more mouths to feed. The usual negative, superior-minded and condesecending talk about India which sells so well abroad.

I have read most of the stories published at that time. And I have read most of the stories published last week in Indian newspaperes. All the reason,s of why India’s population, have been paraded: the failure of India’s successive family priogrammes, the corruption and inreria of the bureaucracy, the baskwardness of its peolple, the underpriviledgeed contion of women in Idia (althoçugh Indian women must be amongst the most intelloigent and ressourcful in the world and had under ancient Hinduism unparalled freedom) etc. But nobody and I reapt nobody bothered to mention that one of the reaso,ns that India crossed so quickly the billin ma*rk is that there is according to offcially – but secter recors compiled by governments which were non BJP, at meast eighteen million (1.8 crore) Bangladeshis, most of them illegal but many of them having acquired fraudulous papers throrugh faudulkous means – and even soemtimes with the connivance of the local admisnistation like in West Bengal where the communist government wants at all cost to ptovce his secularnbess.

Did you know for instance that India shares 4096 kms of border with Banglasdesh, this frak nation, which has no natual ressources except juet, born out of the madness of parttion ? I is an impossible bnorder to guard: it cost one crore per km to guard (metalled roads so that patrols can quickly survey, barbed wire, miradors etc). There are 41 battalions of BSF, precious manposer, which is teid down along the Bangaldeshi bvordere. The famous fencing project has only manages to fence 788 kms ou of 4000 and 1500 crores are spent everfy year on garding the Bagldesh borderThat Banglesdeshis inflitrators come-up upto Bombay ort even Delhi where they form imùportant communisites which have voting power, hence their woing by pliticians and the silence that differndt governmenst (even, the BJP, apart from the courageous Assam Governor, who was imediately brabded a “nationalistr by the Press). And of xourse, even thought rhe BSF manageed to catch 60.000 illgeal Bangaldeshis last year very few Banglasdehis are ever sent back ,as officially the BV,nagladesh government, which enclurages it says that there is no ilegal immigration to India. Is I over ? Not at all Banglasdeh may lmose 20% of its land in the few yars because of erosion and constant flooding. And wheer will these people which has no poppulation contyro go it may be asked ?

It would be nice to say that the process is recerse and that Hindus in Bangladesh are porpsering . But it is the recerse which ahs hhapend: there were 28% Hindus in Bangaldesh in 1941, 10,5 in 91 and less than 9% today, progroms ,burning of temples after Ayodhay (see Taslima Nasreen’ book Lalja) have all ensured that Hidnus flee Bangaldsh. What is the solution to the illgeal immigration of Banglasdfesh ? Ot is true that it is not done in a bad will: most of these immirant ome to India in search of better salaries and contionosn of life . It has been a process thouhout hiostory. Ultimately the Indjan and Bangladeshi Government (which owes its freedom to India it often forgets) shoulld reflect on the stupidity pof parttion. If tjhere is cooperation between Banglasdesh and Indiaz quotas for work permits can be iisued with identity cars and proper census so as to corol at least in some maesures illegal immiragtion

There is another factor which has been kept under silence by the Press, both wesern and Indian: most of Hindus – even the poorest in today’s remore Tamil villages, which I kopwn well – have understoof that it is beter to have children. Many women have operation after three or four children. The christains of xourse, have been the irst to embrace family planning in Idnia, because they are amongst the best- deucatesd, eve,n though the Opoe nd Mother Teresa are so against abortion and family planning, in a coutry which cannot even feed probably a thrid of its poupaltio The same thing cannot ve said about h Muslim of India the great majority of which are poor. The Coran not olny recommends having many children but it makes it a colinising poilcy so that eventyualmly Muslims come to outnumber the original inhabitats. Thus muslims of village sin Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, have six or sencen children. Of course, if you dare say tha Ind India or abroad, yi are immediately tawe of being anti-mlislim ior ahindu lover. But let me be clear: the refi,ement and hospialmity of many Muslims in ndia is often uparalled. The roblem is not witht he muslims as human beings, the problem is with their Scriptyture whihwas devsied 1400 years ago for consitions and people which did not applu any more and has bnecver been reviosed and adapeted ifor odernb times.

So next time someoi,e tells you that Indiua’s ppulation has reached the billion marck tell tjem: no there are 982 Indians and 18 millins illgeal Bangelsdeshis.

FRANCOIS GAUTIER