Tag Archives: france

Image

Sri Aurobindo’s statue in UNESCO, Paris

Sri Aurobindo's statue in UNESCO, Paris

To Mrs Irena Bokova
Director General UNESCO
Paris, France

Dear Mrs Bokova,

We met once: I have been Le Figaro’s correspondent in South Asia for ten years
I was recently in UNESCO and saw the beautiful statue of Sri Aurobindo, India’s great avatar of the 20th century and got photographed in front of it (attached)
It’s a pity that the statue is not well oriented and unkempt, as it has value for millions of Indians
I am trying to organize with Dr Vinay Sheel Oberoi, India’s UNESCO representative, an exhibition on Dara Shikoh, who was a sufi saint of the 17th century that initiated a unique interfaith dialogue very much needed today.
I am attaching a brief below
Warmly yours
François Gautier
Rédacteur en chef La Revue de l’Inde
41 Jorbagh, New Delhi 110003, Inde.

Advertisements

LETTRE DE FRANCOIS GAUTIER ADRESSEE A TOUS CEUX QUI L’ACCUSENT D’ÊTRE UN FACHISTE

Le fascisme c’est d’accuser l’autre sans prendre la peine de faire passer ces accusations par le test de la logique et de la raison…

Le fascisme c’est de refuser le dialogue, comme le font tous les indianistes du CNRS et de l’EHESS quand on leur tend la main, dialogue qui peut prendre place devant témoins sous forme de débat…

Le fascisme c’est de traiter de fasciste quelqu’un qui vit depuis 40 ans en Inde, est marié depuis 20 ans à une Indienne, dont les meilleurs copains sont des Indiens appartenant à toutes les religions. Quelqu’un qui dans sa vie privée n’est ni raciste, ni haineux, ni méchant…

Le fascisme c’est d’être assis sur son pesant derrière à Paris (ou dans cette grosse bulle qu’est Delhi) et de disséquer l’Inde à partir de préjugés, de faux théorèmes, en se basant sur le politiquement correct, qui n’est que du reçu de son éducation, son atavisme et ce qu’on lit (cela s’appelle  de la connaissance de deuxième main)….

Le fascisme c’est d’accuser de fascisme quelqu’un qui a couvert le Cachemire pendant 15 ans, au moment des troubles les plus graves, qui a parcouru de long en large le Pakistan, le Bangladesh, l’Afghanistan, qui a sillonné l’Inde comme aucun autre journaliste français… Même s’il se trompe – au moins il parle d’expérience – et peut-être le temps lui donnera raison…

Tout ce que j’ai fait, lorsque je travaillais pour le Figaro, c’est de dire qu’il existait un problème avec l’islam en Asie du sud, à un moment où il n’était pas politiquement correct de le dire. J’ai aussi rédigé une série d’articles sur les grandes religions en Inde, qui ont provoqué l’ire des indianistes. Ceux-ci ont écrit au Figaro un impressionnant nombre de lettres de protestation, demandant des droits de réponse et ma démission. De ce jour là, j’ai été marqué et une campagne de diffamation à tous les niveaux a été initiée contre moi.

Quand on est accusé d’être antimusulman, c’est pire que d’être un pestiféré, on est condamné sans jugement, sans que les accusateurs s’objectivent une seconde. S’ils le faisaient, ils réaliseraient que c’est une ironie terrible: on excuse les attentats suicide en Israël ou à Bombay qui tuent des centaines d’innocents, au nom de la ‘persécution’ des Palestiniens, des Tchéchènes ou des Kashmiris; mais on accuse des pires crimes quelqu’un qui n’a jamais assassiné personne, ni même prôné la haine, mais a simplement écrit ce qu’il a constaté de ses yeux, en vingt ans de reportages.

Tout au long de ma carrière, j’ai souffert de cette étiquette qui ne s’explique pas mais est véhiculée de personne en personne et fait rapidement le tour de tout ce qui touche à l’Inde, que ce soit les agences de voyage, les expatriés, les diplomates ou les journalistes : « c’est un antimusulman, un pro-hindou, un fasciste »… Les gens, même les plus éclairés, ne veulent écouter que le politiquement correct, l’idéologie de masse, ils ne veulent jamais entendre la différence. J’ai connu six ambassadeurs de France, mais jamais m’a-t-on invité pour me demander mon avis sur un sujet ou un autre. Je me suis même dernièrement fait jeter par l’ambassadeur actuel, Jérôme Bonnafont, qui m’a traité de… fasciste… parce que je lui ai fait remarquer que c’est après que 59 hindous innocents, dont 36 femmes et enfants, aient été brûlés dans un train par une meute de musulmans, que les émeutes antimusulmanes du Gujarat ont démarré. Pourtant Jérôme Bonnafont ne fait pas lui-même exactement dans le politiquement correct: il est le premier ambasadeur étranger à Delhi ouvertement gay, ce qui fait jaser le tout Delhi francophone.

C’est cette arrogance bien française, qui ne s’explique pas au pays des cartésiens, de traiter de secte tout ce qui a une couleur hindoue, ou de fascistes ceux avec qui on est en désaccord, sans leur accorder la chance de s’expliquer et sans même s’expliquer à soi-même la logique de ses accusations. Le président Sarkozy, qui a montré qu’il savait être différent, devrait constituer un petit comité de Français qui VIVENT l’inde du dedans, pour le conseiller.

Francois Gautier FAQs – 2

A) Background

Q. Where were you born and brought up, education?

A. I was born in Paris in 1950. I had a strict upper-class catholic education, but I never really fitted in the system and revolted against it quite early. Thus, I was sent to many famous boarding schools all over Europe, from which I was regularly kicked out ! My family wanted me to be a businessman and I attended an American business school in Paris called IDRAC, but my interest was in writing and I quit to work in a small newspaper, which quickly folded; then I wrote the script of a film for a friend (whose father, a famous film director, had given him 30.000 francs to do his own film). Needless to say, the film was never released and soon after, I left for India : I had just turned nineteen.

Q. Tenure: how long, any affiliations other than Le Figaro ?

A. When I reached India, I stopped writing for a long time, except my own diaries and I went into other spheres – meditation and gardening, for instance ! In 1982, at the occasion of the Asian Games in Delhi, I chanced upon an article (on the Asian games) in a French newspaper. It had all the usual clichés on India : poverty, fakirs, Mother Teresa… So I wrote a letter of correction to the Editor.. and he offered me to write an article, which I did. And then another article followed and another and another… I then started writing and photographing for different publications and finally ended-up being the correspondent in South Asia, for the Geneva-based « Journal de Geneve », which at one time used to be one of the best international newspapers in Europe.  Five and a half years ago, I switched to Figaro, for which I now work exclusively, except for the occasional photo feature (on Kalarapiyat for instance).

Q.  How interested in Indology — what set it off, what caused it?

A. Indology grew on me the moment I started getting out of Auroville (which is a bit of an island in the midst of India). In fact I would say that India grows on those (Westerners) who LIVE India in whatever field (dance, music, spirituality, crafts, photography – but not journalism). Also I have an interest in spirituality and it opens-up so many different areas of Indian life.

Q. Married to Indian, other roots in India?

A. I have been married nine years to Namrita, who is from Delhi (mother is Hindu, father Sikh). Being married to a « daughter of India » is a natural complement of my being in this country for thirty years. My roots are very much in this country, even though I remain a Westerner. But I have no intention of going back to France, except for yearly visits to meet my family.

Q. Relationship to Auroville?

A. I came to India with the first caravan for the international city of Auroville – and even though I spent seven years in the Sri Aurobindo ashram Pondichery, because I was immediately attracted  by this totally Indian and spiritualised atmosphere (lots of Westerners in Auroville), my dedication is to Auroville, where I have spent most of the last 22 years. It is this ATTEMPT at  human unity which makes Auroville great (because so far, we cannot boast of many achievements !) and the fact that such a place exists and that it is in India (where else could it be but in the land of great tolerance and spiritual experiment ?) is a sign of hope for the rest of humanity.

B) Publications and books

Q. I have read excerpts from “Rewriting Indian History” on the web at http://www.hindu.org · Relationship if any, with Hinduism Today?

A. Not directly. Sitaram Goel, Publisher of the Voice of India ( For a long time, Sitaram Goel and Ram Swarup, who just passed-away, single handedly defended Hinduism in the face of the Marxist-Christian-Muslim onslaught in India) had read some of my articles in Blitz magazine and asked me if he could publish a series of them under a book form. I answered that I would rather write the book from scratch and thus was born “The Wonder that IS India”. Later, Hinduism Today, a remarkable set-up, which for the first time in the history of Hinduism is attempting to rationalise and gather together this great knowledge to present it to the world, offered to put it on their site in the net.

Q. You take exception to Basham’s book: because it thinks of India only in the past tense?

A. Not only does he think that India was great solely in the past, but his idea of India’s greatness is very selective; furthermore, he subscribes to the usual western slogans : the eternal clichés propagated by a few Christian missionaries and “enlightened secularists” on the Indian caste system. “The Aryans anointed themselves the ruling class (= Brahmins and Kshatriyas), while the poor conquered Dravidians (Harappans), became the slaves, (= Vaishyas and  Shudras)”. Or: “As they settled among darker aboriginals, the Aryans seem to have laid greater stress than before on purity of blood and class divisions hardened…” (36, Wonder that was India). Or else this monstrosity: “…In the Vedic period, a situation arose rather like that prevailing in South Africa today, with a dominant fair minority, striving to maintain its purity and its supremacy over a darker majority”… (138, Wonder). Poor India, being granted the honour by Mr Basham, of being the founding father of racism! But it is thus that Mr Basham lays the ground for his later theories on what he calls Hindu imperialism.

Q.  Quoting from Koenrad Elst (whom I have interviewed in the past), Isn’t Elst dismissed by some as not a serious scholar?

A. It is very unfortunate that Konrad Elst is not able to publish his writings but in Hindu oriented magazines or publishing houses, for he is not only one of the most thorough and knowledgeable scholars on India, but also, because he is a Westerner, he is able to perceive things that Indians themselves, blinded by two centuries of colonialism and 50 years of so-called secularism, do not see any more. I hope that History will grant him his due place in the fight for Indian Renaissance.

Q. What other books have you written? Tell me more about them.

A. I have written “Rewriting Indian History”, published by Vikas. Next February “Un autre regard sur l’Inde” (a different look at India), will be published in France and Switzerland by Editions du Tricorne and I have just finished a novel called “The last caravan to India”, which I hope to publish first in France and later in India, after getting it translated in English.

Q. What are you currently working on? Kalari Payat?

A. I am working on two books in collaboration with Indian photographer Raghu Rai. The first one indeed is on Kalaripayat, which as you may know is the ancestor of all great Asian martial arts, such as judo and karate. This Kerala-based multi-discipline martial art travelled to China and later to Japan with Buddhism and brought to these countries not only martial knowledge, but also medical science which gave birth to acupuncture in China. The other book is about the French influence in India past and present.

C)· Views

Q· Why are Elst, Frawley, Kak etc. so much devalued by the mainstream English-language press in India? Are they not rigorous scholars?

A. Again, they are very rigorous scholars – the scope of Elst’s knowledge is amazing. But they have been going for a long time against the mainstream thought of this country, which was initiated first by the Britishers and later taken on by Nehru and the intellectual left based in JNU, all of which were predominantly anti-Hindu and which strove to eradicate the genius that was India.

Q· Your views on the discrediting of the Aryan Invasion Theory. Isn’t it a bit far-fetched to suggest that in addition to not being invaded, in fact Indian tribes went westwards?

A. Not at all. Because not only do latest archaeological and linguistic discoveries prove that there never was an Aryan invasion of India and that it was a theory propounded by the early archaeologists and linguists which were all at the service of the British (including the much vaunted Max Mueller who has falsified India’s historical datings). Because how could the colonisers of the land, the bearers of « civilisation » and the true religion, ever accept that they might be the  descendants of those they were colonising ? As for Aryan (or rather Indian tribes) to go westwards, there is nothing preposterous in that theory. Just compare Greek philosophy with Vedic thought, which it is known now, is much older than Greek civilisation. There is also a striking similarity – which has been dwelt upon by numerous Indologists, including French scholar Alain Daniélou – between some forms of Christianity and Hinduism. There is no doubt that Christ was inspired by Hindu and Buddhist esoterism and there are numerous stories that he even came to India to be initiated. And finally, many recognise that the Gypsies, whose language has still many similarities with Sanskrit, and appeared in Europe around the 14th century after having transited through Iran and Egypt, were a lost tribe of India, probably of harijan origin.

Q. I have been reading a good deal of argument about Bhagwan Gidwanis “The Return of the Aryans”. What is your view of this?

A. I have not read this book and I would be interested to know where I can get a copy. But this whole Aryan concept is an invention of colonial linguists for their own hidden purpose; it is even today used by Christian missionaries and was also taken up by Hitler, this great asura of the 20th century, to justify the killing of six millions Jews. What does Aryan mean ? Nothing ! There were Vedic tribes who happened to be receptive enough to the forces of Nature and the Cosmos to develop a unique spiritual system which was the basis for the future Indian civilisations. Full stop. All the rest is propagaganda of Muslim writers and Christian missionaries, who, since they came to this country, have been intent to divide India into religions, castes, tribes etc. Whereas vedic philosophy was always for unity : santanam dharma. Everything, every path, every sect is acceptable, as long as it leads you from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, from mortality to immortality. Today the Congress, the Left and all the Mulayam Singh are still at it : how to divide this country and make sure it dies forever.

Q. Your views on Islamic invasion and missionary invasion

A. I think the above answers your question, but I must add that if the Vedic greatness had not degenerated and India had remained united in dharma, there could have never been Muslim invasions and later western colonisation. This said, the massacres perpetuated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese. In the words of another historian, American Will Durant: “the Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilisation is a precious good, whose delicate complex order and freedom can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without and multiplying within”.

Q. Why is it that foreign writers fall into either of two camps: either openly hostile (eg. Barbara Crossette,Molly Moore) or openly supportive (eg. you, Mark Tully)

A. You either hate India or love it. Let’s forget about tourists, because they are a distinct breed and their purpose is different. But if you take western journalists or writers, you will find that a great many of them (after some time) dislike India, or even sometimes hate it. Take the British who were in India for 300 years, how many of them got even to understand truly even a little bit of this great country ? 0.02% (you can’t even say that Foster understood India) ? There is basically an unconscious militant dislike of the Christian world towards Hindu India (and in this militant hate, Christians are even ready to ally themselves with their traditional enemies: Islam. Last week I was in Jhabua, where the four nuns were raped [it was not a ‘religious’ rape as reported by the Press] and the lawyer whom the Christian priests had selected to defend their case, was a Muslim). And even today you find that the West loves to honour only these Indians who basically are anti-Hindus, such as Mother Teresa or Amartya Sen, however brilliant they are  in their own fields. True, India  is a difficult country for a westerner : dirty, unhygienic, obscure sometimes. It is also full of contradictions and it does not open-up to those who do not make any efforts to truly understand it. But once more, you have to LIVE India if you want to understand it. This is why journalists and western corespondents always closeted in Delhi, this artificial and arrogant city, can never understand India : they are just mouthing the same old clichés (Hindutva, caste system, Ayodhya, secularism), which they hear at the same embassies cocktails, the same journalists’ parties, the same secular Indian Press meet (such as Outlook)…

Q. What is your view on the Sarasvati Vandana/Vande Mataram controversy?

A. The Ministers  walked out when the Saraswati Vandanam was played. But why should anyone object to Saraswati, the Goddess of learning, She who bestowed so much Grace on India. In 1939, a disciple had said to Sri Aurobindo that: “there are some people who object to the singing of Vande Mataram as a national song; Sri Aurobindo had replied: “in that case Hindus should give up their culture”. But the disciple had continued: “the argument is that the song speaks of Hindu gods, like Durga and that it is offensive to Muslims”. Said Sri Aurobindo: “but it is not a religious song, it is a national song and the Durga spoken of is India as the Mother. Why should not the Muslims accept it? In the Indian concept of nationality, the Hindu view should be naturally there. if it cannot find a place, the Hindus may as well be asked to give-up their culture. The Hindus don’t object to “Allah-Ho-Akbar”.

Q. What do you think the solution is to endemic Macaulayism in India?

A. It is obvious that Education in India has to be totally revamped. The kind of Westernised education which is standard in India, does have its place, because India wants to be on par with the rest of the world, and Indian youth should be able to  deal confidently with  the West: do business, talk, and relate to a universal world culture. But nevertheless, the first thing that Indian children should be taught is the greatness of their own culture. They should learn to revere the Vedas, they should be taught the genius of the Mahabharata and the Ramanayana; they should be told that in this country everything has been done, that it was an unsurpassed civilisation, when the West was still mumbling its first words, that Indian civilisation reached dizzying heights, which have been since unsurpassed. But overall they should be taught early that India’s greatness is her spirituality her world-wide wisdom. INDIA’S NEW EDUCATION HAS TO BE SPIRITUALISED; IT HAS TO BE AN INNER EDUCATION, WHICH TEACHES TO LOOK AT THINGS FROM THE INNER PRISM, NOT THROUGH THE WESTERN ARTIFICIAL LOOKING GLASS.

Q. Do you find Hinduism in danger? Besieged? But isn’t it true that it has always survived — muddling through somehow?

A. Yes, it is true that Hinduism has always managed to survive in the face of tremendous odds (Muslim holocaust, British colonisation, Nehruism…). But it is also true that life is always on the razor’s edge and that nothing is won until the last moment. Today Hinduism is facing a more insidious onslaught, but which may be even more dangerous: from its own people. From the Left, who wants to eradicate totally Hinduism and for that purpose supports whatever is inimical to it, including Islam and Christianity; from the so-called ‘secular’ politicians, such as Mulayam Singh or Laloo Prasad, who have done tremendous harm to India; from Sonia Gandhi, a Christian, who might one day Prime Minister of India; from missionaries who continue to convert through covert means; from its so-called intellectual elite which swears by liberalisation and westernisation, not understanding that this will eventually kill India’s soul… Overall, there is a vast semi-conscious conspiracy to denigrate Hinduism; and there Muslims and Christians walk hand in hand : it goes from Husain painting Saraswati naked, to Deepa Mehta’s lesbians being called Radha and Sita. Everybody calls Thakeray a fascist or a madman, but let a Hindu minority in Saudi Arabia, or even in Europe, try to denigrate the Virgin Mary or Jesus, and see what happens. At least the man has guts, whatever his excesses.

Q. Do you think the state-sanctioned disparity between Hindus and other faiths will continue?

A. It is great tragedy that for instance different Congress governments have left millions of Bangladeshis settle in Eastern India and have kept quiet about it, just to cater to the Muslim vote bank. Today even, all the ‘secular’ politicians refuse to accept the Assam Governor’s conclusions which are absolutely right : Assam’s way of life, its culture, religion, are being totally wiped out by the Bangladeshis immigrants, who on top of that bring with them a militant religion and do not really integrate in the Indianmainstream. This should not happen and it is one of the dangers that Hinduism has to face today, because Muslims multiply much more rapidly than Hindus, who have generally accepted the need to have only two or three children, even in the backwards villages of Tamil Nadu.

Q. Where do you think the population is going in regards to Hinduism, never mind the politicians?

A. I do hope that India is not going to turn its back on Hinduism. Because with 800 millions souls, Hindus constitute the majority of this country. Traditionally and historically, Hinduism has always been the most tolerant of all religions, allowing persecuted minorities from all over the world, whether the Jerusalem Jews, the Parsis from Persia, Christians from Syria, or even Arab merchants, to settle in India over the centuries and practice their religion in peace. Are the French ashamed of their Greco-Roman inheritance? Not at all ! On the contrary they even think that civilisation started only with the Greeks. Would you call the Germans or the Italians « nationalists » because they have Christian Democrats Parties?  Christianity is the founding stone of Western civilisation and nobody dares deny it. Clinton goes to the mass and swears on the Bible and none finds anything to say. We French are brought-up listening to the values of Homer’s « Iliad », or Corneille’s « Le Cid ». It is true that in France there has been a separation of the State and the Church; but that is because at one time the Church misused its enormous political power and grabbed enormous amounts of lands and gold. But no such thing ever happened India. The much maligned Brahmins never interfered in politics and today they are often a neglected lot.

Q. Aren’t there ills in Hinduism? Why aren’t these being cleansed? You would admit that there is continuing casteism in India; perhaps also patriarchal ill-treatment of women?

A.  Oh yes, there are a lots of ills in Hinduism, the worst one being that for some mysterious reason, Hindus tend to be the most undisciplined, (look how they drive) collectively selfish, and nationally uncaring community in India, so that it requires a Mother Theresa to look after their own underprivileged. In the same way, they tend to extend cleanliness only to their own immediate surroundings : their homes, or their front porches, but neglect the rest. It is puzzling for instance how a people which has worshipped the Ganges for thousands of years, treats it with so little respect, dumping every day thousands of chemicals in its waters. They are panicky, cowards (I have my own theory on this: the collective terror unleashed by the Muslim invasions in the unconscious mind of Hindus still trigger in them this panicky and everyone-for-himself- syndrome) and have lost this great quality of courage, selflessness and boldness, which Vivekananda tried to drill back into them, with little success. They are corrupt, which is the gravest of sins, because it is not only the poor, which is understandable, but also the rich, who mix ashes in cement, adulterate petrol, mustard oil, alcohol (maybe we should have here for a few years a military dictatorship China-like. Take for instance a few of the hoarders who recently manipulated the prices of onion or salt, put them against a wall and shoot them like animals. You will see how India’s economy will straighten-up quickly). There is so much black money in this country, so much hidden wealth, which could make India one of the richest countries in the world if it became white again. And finally Hindus exploit and abuse their own underprivileged : they pay badly their servants, mistreat them; no wonder that sometimes these very servants kill their masters for a few rupees ! My good friend and competitor, Françoise Chipaux, Le Monde’s corespondent, showed me recently the servant quarters of her flat which is in Sujant Singh Park, one of the poshest districts of Delhi. You should have seen them : there were not even toilets ! Once again you take a few of these owners (who ask for two years advance, half of it payable on a foreign account) and shoot them…

Q. We have a dilemma regarding reservation and the upliftment of the weaker sections. What is your view on the OBC, SC/ST problems?

A. India’s great Sage and philosopher, Sri Aurobindo, felt that the caste system is the most misunderstood, the most vilified subject of Hindu society : “Caste was originally an arrangement for the distribution of functions in society, just as much as class in Europe, but the principle on which this distribution was based was peculiar to India. A Brahmin was a Brahmin not by mere birth, but because he discharged the duty of preserving the spiritual and intellectual elevation of the race, and he had to cultivate the spiritual temperament and acquire the spiritual training which alone would qualify him for the task. So it was for the Vaishya whose function was to amass wealth for the race and the Shudra who discharged the humbler duties of service without which the other castes could not perform their share of labour for the common good”.

But, yes, there is no doubt that the institution of caste degenerated : « It ceased to be determined by spiritual qualifications and thus lost most of its meaning. The spirit of caste arrogance, exclusiveness and superiority came to dominate it instead of the spirit of duty, and the change weakened the nation and helped to reduce us to our present condition ».

Thus, Nehru’s intentions by devising the reservation system may have been good, but as usual it has been perverted by human nature and has encouraged sloppiness, cheating and believe it or not, casteism in the reverse sense, as it pays today to say that you from an underprivileged caste ! Thus, everybody wants to be part of OBC, even Christians who converted to escape the caste system ! Moreover, it has encouraged anti-brahmanism, like in Tamil Nadu, whereas Brahmans never interfered in political affairs and single handedly preserved the Hindu tradition.

Q. What are your views on the Nehru dynasty and Sonia Gandhi’s recent rise?

A. It would be a real shame if Sonia Gandhi becomes one day India’s Prime Minister. It is not the question of her being a foreigner (although there should be enough brilliant people amongst the 800 millions Hindus); it is the question of her having not the slightest idea of what India is truly about, locked that she is in her 6, Janpath fortress, surrounded by sycophants. Moreover there is no doubt that she is a Christian, which is perfectly her right; but as most Christians, she probably has a hostile bias against Hinduism – and it shows in her remarks against the BJP and for « secularism ». As For the rest of the Gandhi dynasty, I hold Nehru most responsible for this country’s present condition, because his policies have done tremendous harm to India and continue to do so. What we see today is his legacy at all levels of Indian life, be it political (secularism), education (Macaulysm), intellectualism (Left) or even art (aping the West).

Q. India’s relations with the US are at best rocky, but lately France seems to have taken it upon itself to try and supplant the UK as India’s partner in Europe. Is there going to be improved trading relations with the EU?

A. I should hope so ! the US has demonstrated since 1947 the most stupid, arrogant, ignorant, short-sighted policy towards India. Today is no better,as it is continuing to favour Pakistan, a country which is ten times smaller than India, ten times less democratic, ten times more dangerous. When you see the amount of love, adulation -nay aping, I would say – there is amongst Indians towards America; and when you see at the same time the basic hostility that the Muslims masses in Pakistan and other Muslim countries have towards the US, you can only conclude that Americans are the most idiotic race there ever was in this planet, which is already full of imbeciles !

France is equally ignorant of India, but for some strange reason there is a measure of good will, of sympathy, of symbiosis even, for India. It gets translated sometimes in the wrong manner: France’s love for Satyajit Ray for instance, who however brilliantly, presents a very pessimistic image of Indian society. But there, we find a ray of hope, there is a chance of the two countries finding some meeting ground. Thus if India, now that she is a nuclear power , can develop some kind of privileged relation with United Europe, it could counterbalance the US’s hostility. But then you will see, as soon as China will start to falter economically – and that should not be too far – the US will suddenly « discover » that India exists and Newsweek will run a cover on « the other Giant of Asia ». The rest of the world, which anyway always copies America, will follow.

Q. What do you think the long-term fallout of the nuclear bomb will be? There are some who say that if Napoleon Bonaparte hadn’t been side-tracked at the Battle of the Nile, he would have come to India and helped Tipu Sultan. What do you think of this line of thought?

A. India should stand by the dogma of ahisma, non-violence, But to be non-violent one needs to be strong . Over the centuries history has shown that India has always been the bullied, the oppressed, the invaded, whether by Alexander’s armies, the Muslim, or the western colons. Even the Chinese made mincemeat of India in 1962. By getting the nuclear weapon, India makes the first step in getting some respect – even if it is fear – in the eyes of its hostile neighbours. Look at the paranoiac reaction of the Chinese, isn’t it symptomatic ? Also there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that Pakistan is the latest reincarnation of Islam’s militant hatred towards Hindus, the Infidels ‘par excellence’. Pakistan’s present active hostility towards India, is nothing but what the Koran still preaches : « Jihad fi Sabilillah », ‘Holy War for the Greater Glory of Allah’.  In the face of such hostility, India has to guard herself; then only she can allow herself to be magnanimous. Gandhi’s and Buddhism’s ahimsa, were the non-violence of the weak and the coward; not the non-violence of the lion, which lets preys walk by, because he is not hungry and knows he can get them any time he wants.

Q. In some ways, aren’t you being disloyal to your country and the Catholic faith into which you were born, by accepting India so much?

A. Why ? A soul has no nationality, no religion ! Rather I would say that it has only the religion and the nationality of it past lives. Each soul has a history and belongs to some country, some race, where it reincarnates again and again. I consider India as my country, not because I happen to live here, but because the moment I set foot in this country, something deep in me recognised that it was my place, my known territory. Now it is also true that I cannot deny my own culture and upbringing – and I am proud of it in many ways: it allows me to express myself, it gave me the backbone of my professional and literary achievements. If only India could get some of the material perfection the West has, its thirst for perfection, its caring for the others and motto of egalitarism !

D) Closing

Q. If you were setting India’s course with Europe, what would you do, on a political and foreign policy front?

A. Again, India has to assert her own personality, by pursuing the foreign policy that suits best her own interest. Automatically she will then gain respect, not only from Europe, but also from the US. Actually India should take a lesson or two from China. Look at the Chinese, they do exactly what they like, they keep threatening and blackmailing the world, and not only they get away with it, but also have the respect of all Industrialised nations. India presents a far more better picture than China, which has killed a million innocent Tibetans: it has managed to remain democratic in spite of all its problems – separatisms, overpopulation, corruption, etc. I think Europe will come to appreciate India’s democratic achievements, specially the day when China’s iron (and bloody) communist hand will be removed by whatever circumstances. That day, all problems which were kept bottled-up and suppressed in China will erupt to the surface and one could witness a chaos similar to what happened in URSS. And this is exactly what the present government should tell Europe : «  look, you cannot ignore us, we are the next superpower in Asia and the largest country by 2020; we are nuclear, but we are democratic and we have a long tradition of tolerance and culture ». I think a few nations will understand that language – maybe not the British, (who are anyway a spent nation) because they still live in the past – but at least the French – and maybe the German.

Q. How exactly does the French people and the French establishment view India? The view from here is that the French are supremely pragmatic, not given to posturing.

A. I did not know the French were supremely pragmatic ! The German, surely; but the French : you flatter them ! French are like Bengalis : they are great talkers, good artists, warm, fun-loving people, but infinitely lesser doers than the Germans. Today with modernism and the American way of business, which the US has slowly imposed upon the world, this may be changing; but still the French love good food, fun, debating and posturing – witness their sports mania, which is mostly armchair sportsmanship ! This is why maybe there is an empathy with India, which is also a bit of an armchair sportsman, such an in cricket, this crazy sports left by the British, which is totally unsuited to India’s climate. True, the French are the only nation which did not condemn India outright after their nuclear blasts. There maybe three reasons to it : first of course, the French had  just concluded their Pacific tests and suffered themselves from the world’s hypocrite condemnation; two, there is that mysterious ‘kinship’ between India and France (of which Sri Aurobindo and the Mother of Pondichery often spoke); and three, different Indo-French programmes, started by Mrs Gandhi who spoke good French and knew Malraux well, continued by Rajiv Gandhi who promoted the year of India in France in 1985 and continued by Mr Chirac’s visit to India beginning of 1998, finally bore some fruits.

Q. Your views on Hinduism and its central place in the Indian enterprise, if it were to come from an Indian, would be considered ‘fundamentalist’. But you seem to be tolerated to some extent by the ‘secularists’ of India. Is that primarily because you are a white person? Is it a racial thing?

A. Very good question ! I would say that it is not so much because I am a white person, although that can help in India, either because the average Indian is nice with the western man, or because there is a colonial hangover here which means that your white skin sometime opens you a lot of doors with India’s upper class, ‘elite’ intellectuals, or top bureaucrats (in passing, upper-class Indians must be the most snobbish people in the world; but they don’t realise that it is something they inherited from the British and that they are only aping their erstwhile colonisers). No, I would say that the fact that I work for a very reputed and conservative newspaper opens a lot of doors to me, which would otherwise be closed. Konraad Elst or David Frawley, that other eminent Indologist, do not have this privilege and I make the most of it (would you interview me otherwise?)

Q. Paul Theroux said recently that Indians are obsessed about race, caste and food. What do you think?

A.  Paul Theroux is a very pompous man and on top of that, a mean and treacherous friend – witness his book on his ex friend Naipaul (who had the courage to change his ideas about India). People like Theroux may be brilliant and witty, but they are quickly forgotten by History : who will know Theroux in 100 years ? As for his opinion about India, I would not pay too much attention to it; first it is not very original, as millions of westerners have already condemned India in  the lines of race, caste and food. By race, he probably means the Aryan race, which is as we have seen, is a bogus subject; we shall not get again into the caste issue, the favourite whipping boy of India haters. But food ??? At any rate, the West is much more obsessed with food than India ! From the Romans downwards there was a mania of overeating and bulimia is a typically western phenomenon, (which may come to India because of westernisation). But long ago, Indian Sages knew that « one eats for living; but does not live for eating ».

Bibliography

* The Wonder that was India (Voice of India,  2/18 Ansari Road, New delhi 110002)

* Rewriting Indian History (Vikas, 576 Masjid Road, Jangpura, New delhi 24). Can  be found in New delhi at some bookshops, such as Fakir & Sons in Khan Market.

* Un autre Regard sur l’Inde (Editions du Tricorne, 14, rue Lissignol, Genève 1201, Switzerland)

* La dernière Caravane des Indes (to be published)

Francois Gautier FAQs – 1

1. Why did you choose to move to India ?

I came to India by accident, if you wish. My best friend’s father was the last French Governor of Pondichery and he told me there was a caravan of cars driving from Paris to Auroville-Pondichery. AS I had had a strict upper class Christian education, I thought I needed to see the world – and driving to Pondichery seemed a good way to start. But when I reached Delhi I understood India was my home and I stayed.

2. What would you consider the greatest change brought in you by the masters Shri Aurobindo and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar?

Sri Aurobindo is my Supreme Master, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is my living guru becasue he does the work that I feel is most important for Mother India and of which Sri Aurobindo was a pioneer.

3. Why is terrorism in India a topic that is ignored by the West?

West is good-willing but extremely ignorant about India. We need to educate westerners about India. There are a few hurdles, chief amongst them Western Indologists who have made it a tradition to belittle India and its traditions and always harp and amplify its negative sides, such as castes, sati, child marriage, poverty, etc.

4. Why do you think Western Media ignores the human rights abuses against Hindus inflicted by terrorists?

Well, the West  is facing the same terrorists threats than India, but as long as it is not hit too hard by them, it pretends they do not exist. How long with this blindness last???

5. What motivated you to create a “Museum of True India History”?

We see more and more today that Indian History has to be rewritten according to the latest linguistic and archaeological discoveries, if Indian children are to understand who they are and where they come from. We know now that not only the history of India’s beginnings were written by European colonizers, with an intention to downsize, downgrade and postdate Indian civilization, but that unfortunately, generation after generation of Marxist Indian historians, for their own selfish purposes, endorsed and perpetuated these wrong theories, such as the Aryan invasion, which divided India like nothing else, pitting South against North, Aryan against Dravidian, Untouchables against Brahmins.

Not only that, but British and Marxist historians, eager to give prominence to the Congress, which was in the first place a British institution, robbed of their true places in history giants, such as Sri Aurobindo, who, apart from being the avatar of the ‘supramental’ age, was the early prophet of Indian independence, when all Congress wanted was a few crumbs from the British. As a result, very few Indian children know about Sri Aurobindo today. Thus we need to have a physical place where true Indian history will be shown.

6. Can Kashmiri Pandits ever hope for a return to their homeland and for the world to understand the atrocities committed against them?

There has to be a strong Hindu nationalistic government in place for that. It willnot happen for quite some time.

7. What is life like for a “firangi” In India?

It’s good. I am a lucky guy. Hindus and Indians accept easily different people in their midst.

8. Any special message for our readers?

How much of yourself do you give to your American identity – and how much space do you preserve for your Indian-ness ? These are the questions that Indian expatriates should ask themselves today. For we see many of the children of Indians who settled in the US twenty or thirty years ago, merge themselves totally in the American way of life, speak with an American accent, eat Mac Donald, think American… and in the process forget all about their wonderful Indian culture… Hindus need to be united in the US, as they are fragmented in a thousands of groups that often fight with each other. The time of Hindu power has come.

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.

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

A French journalist’s view on India and its media

27th March 2002

Source: PRdomain

India is a country of wonderful people — warm, hospitable, tolerant. Its intellectual elite — in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai or Bangalore — are good friends to have: fun-loving and always cordial with westerners.

gujararIntellectually, the journalists and writers of this country are often witty, brilliant, speak good English, and write even better. In fact, quite a few of them — Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, Upamanyu Chatterjee and others — have become households names in the English literary world and have brought a good name to India. Roy has even shown us that one can be a successful writer and also work for a social cause — even going to the extent of going to jail for that.

Yet, there is something that I have never understood. Although most of India’s intellectual elite is Hindu, the great majority of them are Hindu haters — and it even seems sometimes that they are ashamed to be Hindus.

They always come out with the same clichés on Hindutva, the saffron brigade, the Hindu ‘fundamentalists,’ and if you listen to them you get the impression that India is in the hands of dangerous Hindu fundamentalists and that the Christian and Muslim minorities of India are being cruelly persecuted.

Recently, Courier International, a very prestigious French magazine, which is read by diplomats and politicians, published a special issue on ‘Hindu fundamentalism’ with a cover photo of RSS members doing their lathi drill. The ignorant westerner who read it must have had the impression that India indeed is in the grip of fascist, Nazi-like Hindu groups and that civil liberties are curtailed here. When the editor-in-chief of that magazine was contacted, he pointed out that all the pieces had been translated from articles written in the Indian press by Indian journalists.

If I did not know India, I would tend also to believe what I read about India in the western press: a nation torn by caste discrimination, poverty, corruption, Hindu extremism and natural calamities. But after living more than 30 years in this country, my experience is totally different: Hindus are probably the most tolerant people in the world — they accept that God manifests Himself under different forms, at different times, according to the needs and mentality of each epoch: Krishna, Christ, Mohammed, Buddha…

gujararThus they always allowed throughout the centuries religious minorities who were victimised in their own countries to settle in India and to prosper and practice their religion: the Syrian Christians, in fact the first Christian community in the world; the Jews, who have been persecuted all over the world (including in my own country, France), but were left in peace in India; the Armenians; the Parsis; and today the Tibetans…

As a westerner, living in India, apart from the obvious bureaucratic hassles, the slowness of everything and the dirt, being here has also been a dream: I have never been mugged in 33 years, no policeman has ever asked me my papers in the street (see what happens to you if you are dark-skinned and without a tie in the metro in Paris) and I have always been made welcome even in the remotest villages of India.

As a journalist, it is even better: I do not have to ask permission to go out of Delhi and submit the subject and route of the features I propose to do outside the capital; and I do not get kicked out of India, even if I criticise its government — all this contrary to China, which even then remains a more coveted post for a foreign correspondent than India.

It is true that for a western journalist, coming to India can be a baffling experience. The diversity (going from one state to the next is like passing from one country to another); the language is different, so is the food, the habits, the political set-up; the complexity of India’s political life, its heavy subtleties; the incredible religious, social and ethnic diversity…

So what does the new correspondent do, when often he has at heart to do justice to the country he has been asked to report about? He turns to his Indian fellow journalists for enlightenment. Regrettably, the f

irst input he is given by his Indian colleagues is very negative: the black mark of Ayodhya on India’s secular fabric; the heavy hand of the army in Kashmir; the terrible caste abuses in Bihar; or the Taliban-like Bajrang Dal.

And this is why if you read the western reports on India, however good their style is, however well-meaning they are, they all say the same thing with infinite monotony and often nastiness). Again, it is absolutely factual that there are unforgivable things done in India in the name of caste; that the disparity between rich and poor is shocking; that affluent Hindus have very little concern about their less fortunate brethrens, or else have no respect for their environment.

But it is also true that there is so much positive things to be written about India: so many great people, so much tolerance, so much talent, so many fascinating subjects. Nevertheless, western journalists seem only to concentrate on the negative. His is the vicious circle of journalism and India: the negative goes from the Indian journalist to the western journalist… and comes back to India under the form of unfriendly reporting.

The recent Sabarmati burning followed by the rioting in Gujarat showed again the veracity of that phenomenon. Here you had 58 innocent Hindus, the majority of them being women and children, burnt in the most horrible manner, for no other crime but the fact that they want to build a temple dedicated to the most cherished of Hindu Gods, Ram, on a site which has been held sacred by Hindus for thousands of years.

When a Graham Staines is burnt alive, all of India’s English press goes overboard in condemning his killers. But when 58 Graham Staines are murdered, they report it without comment. No doubt, the revenge that followed is equally unpardonable. No doubt, Indian and foreign journalists who rushed to Gujarat, wrote sincerely: after all they saw innocent women, children and men being burnt, killed, raped.

Which decent journalist, who has at heart of reporting truth, would not cry out against such a shame? But then history has shown us that no event should be taken out of context, and that there is in India, among the Hindu majority, a simmering anger against Muslims, who have terribly persecuted the Hindus and yet manage to make it look as if they are the persecuted.

And once again, the western press coverage of the Gujarat rioting comes back to haunt India: Hindus targeting Muslims; fundamentalism against innocence; minority being persecuted by majority… But when will the true India be sincerely portrayed by its own journalists, so that the western press be positively influenced?

(Gautier is the correspondent in India and South Asia of Ouest-France, the biggest circulation French daily [1 million copies], and for LCI, a 24-hour TV news channel. He is also the author of Arise O India and A Western Journalist on India)