Category Archives: refugees

The billion is not quite Indian

The billion is not quite Indian

Officially India’s population crossed the one-billion mark last week, although some UN agency had unilaterally declared that this landmark was reached last August, so that it could conveniently coincide with India’s Independence Day.

The story was first taken up by êiThe New York Timesêr and the whole of the foreign correspondents corps followed suit. All the major European newspapers did full-page stories on how India, already poor and afflicted with debilitating problems (corruption, or the ubiquitous caste system the French love to talk about) had even more mouths to feed. The usual negative and condescending talk about India which sells so well abroad.

All the reasons have been paraded, then and now: the failure of India’s successive family programme, the inertia of the bureaucracy, the backwardness of its people, the underprivileged condition of women in India (although Indian women have known, in ancient Hindu India, much more freedom than their sisters in medieval Europe or Islam). But not a single newspaper, whether foreign, or Indian, bothered to mention that one of the reasons India crossed so quickly the billion mark is that there is, according to official (but secret) records (compiled by governments which were non-BJP), at least 18 million (1.8 crore) Bangladeshis in India today! Most of them are illegal migrants, but many of them have acquired fake papers through devious means — and sometimes even with the connivance of the local administration like in West Bengal.

Did you know that India shares 4096 km of border with Bangladesh and that it is nearly impossible to guard, as it costs Rs one crore per km to protect this border: metalled roads, so that patrols can quickly survey it, barbed wire, watch towers etc? That there are 41 battalions of BSF, precious manpower, which is tied down along the Bangladesh border?

That the government has only managed to fence 788 km out of 4,000 and that Rs 1,500 crore is spent every year on guarding it? Or that Bangladeshi infiltrators come up to Bombay, or even Delhi, where they form important communities which have voting power — hence their wooing by politicians and the silence that different governments maintain (even the BJP, apart from the courageous Assam Governor, who was immediately branded a “nationalist” by the Press)?

That even though the BSF managed to catch 60,000 illegal Bangladeshis last year, very few Bangladeshis are ever sent back, as officially the Bangladesh government, which covertly encourages it, says that there is no illegal immigration to India? And finally that Bangladesh may lose 20 per cent of its land in the next few years, because of erosion and constant flooding. And where will these people go?

It would be nice to say that Hindus in Bangladesh are prospering. Butit is the reverse which has happened. There were 28 per cent Hindus in Bangladesh in 1941, 10.5 in 1991 and less than 9 per cent today. Pogroms, burning of temples, specially after Ayodhya (see Taslima Nasreen’s book Lajja) have all ensured that Hindus also flee Bangladesh. What is the solution to the illegal immigration of Bangladeshis? It is true that it is not done with a bad intention: most of these immigrants come to India in search of better salaries and conditions of life. But ultimately, the Indian and Bangladeshi governments should co-operate so that quotas for work permits can be issued along with identity cards — and proper census kept.

There is another factor which has been kept under silence by the Press, both western and Indian, most of the Hindus — even the poorest in today’s remote Tamil villages — have understood that it is better to have less children: thus many women get operated after three or four kids. The Christians, of course, have been the first to embrace family planning in India, because they are among the best educated. The same thing cannot be said about the Muslims, the great majority of whom are poor. Thus Muslims in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar have often six or seven children.

Of course, if you dare mention this fact in India or abroad, you are immediately branded anti-Muslim. The problem is not with the Muslims as human beings — the refinement and hospitality of many Muslims in India is often unparalleled — but with their scripture, which was devised 1,400 years ago for the conditions and people existing then and which do not apply any more and have never been adapted to modern times.

So next time someone mentions that India’s population has reached the billion mark, just tell them: “No, there are 982 Indians and 18 millions Bangladeshis”!

Indian Muslims: Babar or Ram?

Columns by Francois Gautier


Indian Muslims: Babar or Ram?

INDIAN Muslims are today at the crossroads. The destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan has shown that Islam still considers Buddhist and Hindu statues, temples and worshippers as infidels, to be razed and eliminated. For the Taliban and those who support them, covertly or overtly, nothing has changed since Mohammed broke the first `idols’ in the 7th century and the task has been left unfinished. The suicide attacks on the Indian army by Islamic groups, supported and financed by Pakistan, in spite of India’s unilateral ceasefire, should also prove that the Islamic injunction of jehad is still very much alive and in practice in much of the Islamic world, from Sudan to Libya, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.

The question that Indian Muslims should ask themselves now is simple: who are we? Among the 120 millions of Muslims in India, only a tiny percentage descends from the Turks, Afghans, or Iranians who invaded India. The majority of them are converted Muslims. And converted how? By terror, coercion, force, bloodshed. The ancestors of today’s Indian Muslims are probably those who suffered the most from the Arab and Muslim invasions. Those Hindus and Sikhs who chose not to convert, took refuge in their faith, fought together and kept their pride and honor. The first two generations of those who converted must have endured hell for they certainly did not convert out of conviction, but because they had no choice: their daughters and wives were raped, sons taken into slavery, parents killed.

It is true that many Indian Muslims were Hindu `untouchables’. Marxists wouldlike us to believe that they converted because they thought that theywould access the more egalitarian society of Islam. What rubbish! Does onethink in that way in times of war, terror and tears? Do today’s Hindu lower castes convert to Islam when there is no violent coercion? Morelikely, the `untouchables’ were the most vulnerable, the least apt to defend themselves; they had neither the faith of the brahmins, nor the riches of the vaishyas, nor the military skill of the kshatriyas.

Do Indian Muslims understand that they were part of the richest, most advanced, most tolerant and generous civilization of ancient times? That their culture was so advanced that it had spread all over the world? Do they realise that more and more archaeological and historical discoveries are pointing out that the genocide of Hindus by Muslim invaders is without parallel. The conquest of Afghanistan in the year 1000 was followed by the annihilation of the entire Hindu population there; indeed, the region is still called Hindu Kush _ `Hindu slaughter’. The Bahmani sultans in central India made it a rule to kill 100,000 Hindus a year. In 1399, Taimur killed 100,000 Hindus in a single day. Professor K.S. Lal has estimated that the Hindu population decreased by 😯 million between the year 1000 and 1525, probably the biggest holocaust in history. Surely, many of present-day Indian Muslims’ ancestors must have been among those slaughterers.Islam cannot be wished away. As Sri Aurobindo said, “Mohammed’s mission was necessary, else we might have ended by thinking, in the exaggeration of our efforts at self-purification, that earth was meant only for the monk and the city created as a vestibule for the desert”. Thus Indian Muslims have to keep their faith and any attempt by Hindus to convert them back is not only futile but counterproductive. But the question to be asked to them is: What kind of Islam do you want to practice? An Islam which looks westwards, towards a foreign city, the Mecca, swears by a scripture, which is not only not relevant to India but which was meant for people living 1,500 years ago, in a language which is not Indian? Or do they want to practise an Islam which is `Indianised’, which accepts the reality of other gods, as Hinduism and Buddhism accept that there have been other avatars than Ram or Buddha?

Do Indian Muslims want to worship Babar, a man who destroyed everything which was good, beautiful and holy and lived by the power of violence, or do they want to imbibe the qualities of Ram, who believed in the equality of all, who gave up all riches and honours of the world because he thought his brother deserved the throne more than him? Whatever the West says, which is obsessed with China, India, a vibrant, English-speaking, pro-Western democracy, is going to become the superpower of the 21st century. Do Indian Muslims want to participate in that great adventure? Do they want to feel that they are part of India, that they are Indians?

Nowadays it is politically not correct to say anything against Islam. Youare immediately labelled anti-Muslim and dismissed as a `rightist’. No matter if you are only reporting the fact that there is a real problem with Islam in South Asia; that India is surrounded by fundamentalist states _ Afghanistan and Pakistan _ while more moderates like Bangladesh tend to close an eye to anti-Indian activities; that Indian Muslims sometimes tend to put their religion before their country. Thus the question has to be asked again: Do Indian Muslims want to be like Babar or like Ram? Their choice will shape their future for generations to come.