Category Archives: sociology

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

Is India headed the right way?

February 05, 2007
Today, there is a sense of deep satisfaction, of gloating even, in India.

The economy is booming, there are more and more cars on the roads, shares are soaring, a plane is taking off every six seconds, hotels are full, shops do roaring business.

It looks as if India has moved from tamas to rajas, and has come out of its slough of depression and inertia of the last so many centuries, which was characterised by lack of self-esteem, confidence and dynamism.

Today, we see a much more dynamic and self-confident India, galvanised by the liberalisation taking place at this very moment.

But if one looks closer at what is happening here, one is bound to feel a little unsettled. For what we see today is an India veering blindly, without restraint, towards total globalisation and Westernisation.

Yes, there are great values in the Western world: Freedom, democracy, equality (not always though), respect for the environment, less corruption. And India must, and has already borrowed from these qualities.

But since the last two, three years, it seems the Indian political and intellectual mind is pushing these qualities to an illogical extreme, as if it wants to prove to the West that ‘we are as democratic, as liberal, as free as you are.’

Thus, democracy in India has been hijacked. It takes a fortune to be elected. Politicians, elected by and for the people, once they are locked in the ivory tower that is Delhi, forget all about the people.

Thus we see that freedom is such an obsessive mantra in India that an artist who paints one of the most revered ancient Hindu gods doing unmentionable things to a Hindu goddess is defended by India’s intellectuals.

Thus we see that someone who is part of a diabolical plot to kill Indian leaders and storm Parliament gets the benefit of the doubt from the same intelligentsia in the name of judicial correctness.

This process of copying the West to the point of aping it has, of course, already happened many times in the developing world. And it killed the soul of many countries, making them just another replica of the West — with a youth that wears the latest Calvin Klein jeans, knows the No 1 bestseller on the Time list, can quote a few lines from Dante, reads The Times of India, but knows nothing about pranayama, has never read a verse from Kalidasa and does not know who Sri Aurobindo is.

The Westernisation of India must not be at the cost of her culture and spirituality. Yet, there are signs that it is already happening here.

You may notice in the Indian media, that there is a witch hunt against gurus, a deriding and mocking of Indian spirituality, a marginalising of Hinduism and Hindus, who constitute the immense majority in India and are a billion worldwide, one of the most law-abiding, religious, educated, affluent communities in the world.

More and more, Indian television particularly, but also newspapers and magazines, are casting a look on India that is not only very critical (if you open any newspaper nowadays, you can only end up depressed), but which in its very nature is a Western look — which judges India according to Western standards.

But these Western standards do not necessarily apply to this country, which has a different psyche, different culture and different standards.

Why not judge India according to Indian wisdom, which is much more ancient than Western democracy and philosophy?

More importantly, some Indians are more and more divided. Instead of feeling first Indians, they feel they are first Muslims and then Indians, first Dalits and then Indians, first Christian and then Indians. This is a dangerous trend and it spells the death of the minimum unified nationalistic pride that can take a country forward.

Instead, Indians today take pride in melting abroad, or adopting a ‘secular’ creed, which basically makes them soul-less and identity-less, however brilliantly they ape the West.

What is it that which India is fast losing as you read this article?

Its culture, firstly.

Entire patches in the northeast are being converted to Christianity. Tribals are told by missionaries that it is sinful to enter a temple, women are asked not to wear bindis, children are taught to look down on their culture as animist or heathen.

Its communal harmony, secondly.

Whatever the shocks of invasions, there was always a certain syncretism in Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim communities. The ordinary Muslim in Kashmir or the Christian in Kerala, even if he thought that his or her god was the only true one, had a certain understanding and acceptance of the age-old Indian culture. Reverence for women, respecting others’ festivals and customs, harmony with one’s neighbours were hallmark traits.

Today, even the Sikh community feels it wants to separate from its Hindu brothers and Christian and Muslims are encouraged to look down upon Hindus.

As a foreigner who loves India, I feel that this blind copying of the West’s ignorant and doubting mind, the aping of whatever is has proved wrong in the West — wild consumerism, or savage capitalism — will be a tragedy for India.

And what is India’s soul? The knowledge that there is life beyond life, the understanding of the different planes above the mind, the ancient wisdom on reincarnation, karma, maya.

And above all, the acceptance that god manifests himself at different times under different names and that god is one in his infinite diversity.

This knowledge, which once roamed the shores of the world from Egypt to China, is today lost everywhere. Yet it is the knowledge that humanity needs for the 21st century if it does not want to go towards catastrophe as it is now, with the world’s two major so-called monotheistic religions still believing that only their god is the true one and that it is their duty to convert ‘pagans.’

India must thus achieve its liberalisation and industrialisation, by taking the best of the West, but preserving what is good, pure, wise in her own culture.

On a material level, for instance, there should be a revival of authentic Indian traditional forms, such as ancient medical systems like Ayurveda, or Siddha, instead of the total dependence on Western antibiotics.

And what about Indian yogic sciences? Pranayama, for instance, is the most exacting, precise, mathematical, powerful breathing discipline one can dream of. It is also true of hatha yoga, a 3,500-year-old technique, which has inspired all kind of aerobic, so-called yoga techniques and gymnastic drills around the world.

Meditation is also India’s gift to the world. The art of relaxing the mind and cooling the nervous system, using simple methods such as observing the breath, or repeating one’s god’s name.

If these three disciplines were taught in a secular, scientific manner to all Indian children in school, not only it would unify them in the same knowledge, but it would provide them wonderful tools of intuition, endurance and peace of mind, which they could use all throughout their life.

But what we see today instead in India are IIMs or IITs churning out scores of Western clones good for export — the greatest cause of the intellectual brain drain of India.

And this will be India’s gift to this planet during this century: to restore to the world its true sense, to recharge humanity with the real meaning and spirit of life.

India should become the spiritual leader of the world.

Francois Gautier is the editor-in-chief of La Revue de l’Inde (lesbelleslettres.com) and the author of the Guru of Joy (India Today book Club).

Francois Gautier

Christ and the Northeast

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: The Indian Express
Date: November 20, 2000

Jesus Christ was a great avatar of Love and his message of compassion, charity, of caring for one and other, is even more relevant today, in these fast and merciless times of ours, than it was 20 centuries ago. Indeed, there are Christians today who try quietly and unobtrusively to put into practice Christ’s precepts — and you can find missionaries in India, such as Father Ceyrac, a Jesuit who has lived for more than 60 years in Chennai, tending to the poorest sections of society, while respecting their culture.

Unfortunately, there has crept into the purity of early Christianity an exclusiveness, a feeling of sole ownership of the Copyright of God. This exclusiveness, this feeling amongst Christians that “we are the only true religion, all other gods are false gods”, has had the most catastrophic and bloody consequences: millions have been killed in the name of Christ, entire civilisations, such as the Atzecs and Incas, have been wiped out, in order “to bring them the word of Jesus” and Christians have even savagely murdered each other, whether in France or England.

One would hope this intolerance, this fanatical drive to convert, forcibly or otherwise, pagans to the “true” God could cease in this new millennium of “enlightenment”. Unfortunately it is not so. For nearly three centuries, India has been the target of a massive conversion drive. It is even more so today, as Christianity is dwindling in the West — there are less and less people going to church and very few youth willing to become priests and nuns. The church is thus looking for new converts in the Third World, particularly India, where people have an innate aspiration to spirituality.

Indeed, the Pope has earmarked the new millennium for “the evangelisation of Asia”. And it is in the Northeast that this evangelisation is meeting with the most success, as it is peopled with simple, poor and uneducated tribals, who make easy targets. In Tripura, for instance, there were no Christians at Independence, the maharaja was a Hindu and there were innumerable temples all over the state. But from 1950, Christian missionaries (with Nehru’s blessings) went into the deep forests of Tripura and started converting the Kukis. Today, according to official figures, there are 120,000 Christians in Tripura, a 90 per cent increase since 1991. The figures are even more striking in Arunachal Pradesh, where there were only 1,710 Christians in 1961, but 115,000 today, as well as 700 churches! What to say of Mizoram and Nagaland, where the entire local population is Christian!

The amount of money being poured by Christians into the Northeast is staggering: Saint Paul’s school of Tripura, for instance, gets a Rs 80 lakh endowment per semester. Which Hindu school can match this? No country in the world would allow this. France, for instance, has a full-blown minister who is in charge of hunting down “sects”. And by sects, it is meant anything which does not belong to the great Christian family.

Isn’t it also strange that many of the Northeast’s separatist movements are not only Christian dominated but also sometimes have the covert backing of missionaries? The Don Bosco schools, for example, which are everywhere in the Northeast, are known by the Tripura Intelligence Bureau to sometimes harbour extremists at night. But the Tripura Marxist government chooses to close its eyes, because in India Communists often walk — for their own selfish purpose – hand in hand with Christians. Does the common man in India know that the nexus between the separatists and the Church is so strong in Tripura and Assam that temples are being demolished, that people are scared to hold pujas except in strongholds like Agartala, that Hindu social workers do not dare go in the interior? On the other hand, every other day a new church springs up in the Northeast, every week a new Christian school is opened without facing the threat of any extremist attack. Is this the way to treat a country, which from early times, gavehospitality to Christians — indeed, the first Christian community in the world, that of the Syrian Christians, was established in Kerala in the first century AD?

It’s not only that conversion is an unethical custom, but also that it threatens a whole way of life, erasing centuries of tradition, customs, wisdom, teaching people to despise their own religion and look westwards to a culture which is alien to them, with disastrous results. Look how the biggest drug problems in India are found in the Northeast, or how Third World countries which have been totally Christianised have lost all moorings and bearing and are drifting away without nationalism and self-pride.

It is time that Indians awoke to the threat of Christian conversions here. The argument (mostly put forward by “secular” thinkers) that Christians are only 3 per cent of the population in India, and therefore cannot be a threat, is totally fallacious: the influence Christians exercise in this country through their schools, hospitals and the enormous amount of money being poured in by western countries for the purpose of converting Hindus, is totally disproportionate. The message of Christ is one of Love, of respecting other’s cultures and creed — not of utilising devious and unethical means for converting people.

Heed the New Hindu Mood

Author: Francois Gautier
Publication: Rediff on Net
Date: March 11, 2003
URL: http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/mar/11franc.htm

It is not easy to be an Indian living abroad: Not only one has to retain one’s Indian-ness while coping with the West’s positive and less positive aspects which creep into one’s life, but one is also subjected to the humiliation of seeing one’s own countrymen spit on India in mainstream foreign newspapers and television. Recently, the Gujarat riots and the IDRF episode have been used by a few Indian academics/scholars/ writers, particularly in the United States, to demean India and Hindus.

Many of us are appalled by the comments people like Pankaj Mishra or Angana Chatterji, both Indians — and Hindus at that — make about their country in mainstream American newspapers such as The New York Times. Americans are generally very ignorant about India and ready to gobble up any rubbish they are fed. Hindus are portrayed as Nazis killing innocent Muslims in Gujarat. But this is historical nonsense.

My experience as a Westerner living in India for more than 30 years and married to an Indian is that not only does this country owe a lot to Hinduism, but Hinduism must be the most tolerant spirituality in the world, recognizing the fact that God is One, but that he manifests in many ways, under different forms, at different times. To take the Gujarat episode and make it an absolute theorem of Hindu fundamentalism is not only bad academism, but unfair and highly biased. Do they mean to say that the 30 millions Gujaratis who voted for Narendra Modi in the last election are all Nazis and Hindu fanatics?

It is true that during the Gujarat riots horrible things, which no human being should condone, happened. But Chatterji and Mishra forget to mention that that 25% of the people killed during the riots were Hindus or that, according to police records, the 157 subsequent riots which happened in Gujarat were started by Muslims.

They are unable to explain how 125,000 Hindus, many of them Dalits, tribals, or even upper middle class, came out on the streets of Ahmedabad with such anger after Godhra. While condemning their terrible acts one has to at least understand the cause of their deep-rooted rage, as Hindus throughout the ages have shown that they are patient and tolerant of others. There is also not a single mention of Hindus reaching out to Muslims after the riots such as the Hindu businessman who built 90 houses in Ahmedabad for Muslims whose homes had been destroyed.

America is fighting a war against terrorism today. India has suffered most from Muslim fundamentalism. In 1399, Taimur killed 100,000 Hindus in a single day. Professor K S Lal, in his Growth of Muslim Population in India, writes that according to his calculations, the Hindu population decreased by 80 million between the years 1000 and 1525, probably the biggest holocaust in world history. Today, Mishra and Chatterji are not without knowing that 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits are refugees in their own country, an ethnic cleansing without parallel. They must be also aware of what is happening to Hindus in Bangladesh today. I wonder why they do not mention all this in their articles.

Why is it that when for decades Saudi Arabia has funded madrassas in India some of which preach sedition, Mishra and Chatterji find nothing to say about it? Why is it that when foreign Christian organizations pour billions of dollars in India to convert innocent Harijans and tribals, teaching them to hate their culture and country, they also keep quiet? And why is it that when a few Hindu organizations, such as the IDRF, collect funds for harmless programmes like the Ekal Vidyalaya schools, which are doing a wonderful job for tribal children, they are attacked as fundamentalists?

The India Development and Relief Fund, a Maryland-based charity, has been targeted not only by Chatterji and Mishra, but also by the Federation of Indian American Christian Organisations of Northern America, Teesta and Javed Anand’s Sabrang Communications for ‘funding hate.’ The irony is Indians have demanded a probe by the US Congress into IDRF and asked the IRS to blacklist it and withdraw its tax exemption status.

Last August in Washington I met IRDF’s chief executives, Vinod and Sarala Prakash, two old, harmless, friendly people who would not hurt a fly. Their biggest achievement was to gather funds during the 1999 Orissa cyclone. It is true they are RSS affiliated and that they give first priority to Hindus afflicted by riots/cyclone/poverty. So what? We find nothing to say that Saudi Arabia only funds Muslims refugees in Bosnia, Palestine or Chechnya. Is it not time to call a spade a spade?

The specter of a ‘dangerous’ RSS, for example, is a creation of the British who understood, as the Muslims invaders did before them, that Hindus were the greatest hurdle to their grip on India. So their press started attacking anything Hindu or any group trying to protect Hindu culture or leaders such as the brilliant Hindu Mahasabha of Veer Savarkar who today is maligned by ‘secular’ Indians.

It is also time for Hindus of the world to face the truth: We are looking at the Gujarat riots only through the prism of what the Western press and the English-speaking Indian media have said — mad ‘fundamentalist’ Hindus going after peace-loving Muslims. But the reality might be totally different: Are not tolerant, God fearing, peace-loving Hindus fed up of being constantly maligned, attacked, killed, their women raped, their temples sprayed with bullets and grenades?

The Western press and governments should take notice of this new popular mood of Hindus, who after all represent 1 billion people in the world, one of the most peace-loving, law-abiding, tolerant and prosperous communities of this planet — one sixth of humanity — and try to understand their feelings, instead of accusing them of being ‘fanatics.’