Tag Archives: mumbai


Indian Muslims are today at a crossroad. The bombs attacks in Hyderabad, may have been guided by Pakistan, but could not have happened – like all recent Islamic attacks on India – without the strong support and involvement of Indian Muslims. Once again, we see that the silent Muslim majority of India – remains silent. Instead of universally condemning violence against their motherland, India.

The question that Indian Muslims should ask themselves now is simple: “who are we” ? Amongst 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 sad today that their descendants have sometimes made theirs the intolerant cry of Islam.

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 realize that more and more archeological an 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, Teimur 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 slaughtered.

Islam cannot be wished away. As Sri Aurobindo said “Mahomed’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, the Koran, which is not only not relevant to India, but which was meant for people living 1500 years ago, in a language which is not Indian ? Or do they want to practice an Islam which is “Indianized”, which accepts the reality of other Gods, as Hinduism and Buddhism accept that there have been other avatars than Ram or Buddha.

Do India 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 honors 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. You are immediately labeled 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 fundamentalists 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; and that Kashmiris, far from being the persecuted that the Foreign Press likes to portray, are actually paying the price for having allowed Afghan and Pakistani Sunnis radicalize what used to be a more gentle and tolerant Islam and left their Hindu brothers and sisters being butchered and chased away from their ancestral land.

Thus the question has to be asked again: do Indian Muslims want to be like Babar or like Ram? This choice will shape their future for generations to come. It is maybe only in India, that Islam can come to terms with itself and accept the reality of other faiths. Otherwise, if it continues on the path of confrontation, not only in India, but with the whole western world, it is surely going towards self-destruction.



Translated from original French article with GOOGLE TRANSLATE

Why, as a film Slumdog Millionaire, which conveys a negative image of India – slums, exploitation, poverty, corruption, anti Muslim pogroms – meeting he so successful in the West?

By François Gautier, ancien correspondent du Figaro in South Asia, editor of the Journal of India (lesbelles.lettres.com)

There are several answers:

1. When the missionaries began to evangelize India, they quickly realized that Hinduism was a religion that was not only practiced by a huge majority, but it was deeply rooted in the mentality of Indians. They therefore decided to blacken the ‘defects’ of the Hindu religion, by multiplying by one hundred: caste, poverty, child marriage, superstition, sort of widows, sati … Today, these stereotypes persist and focus on the ‘image we have of India
2. We, Westerners continue to suffer from a superiority complex in relation to peoples of the Third World in general and India in particular. Sitting in front of our television time information, a steak frites before us, we like to feel sorry for the misery of others, it flatters our ego. That is why books such as the City of Joy Dominique Lapierre, which give the impression that India is a vast slum, or a film Slumdog Millionaire, deftly handling the half-lies, have a such impact.
3. In this film, the enemies of India join hands. Today, billions of dollars that gullible parishioners give to charity used to convert the poorest in India. Once converted, they are taught to hate their culture, their religion, thus creating an imbalance in the Indian psyche. Islamic fundamentalism ruthlessly hounds also against India, as demonstrated by the recent bombings in Mumbai. Indian communists are in power in three states, made alliance with the Adventists (and other radical Protestant sects) and the fundamentalist Muslims against Hindus. And finally, the over-Americanization also seriously social and cultural capital of India. Slumdog plays on all these pictures of a misleading way.
4. Closer to home, in France, French Indian, played by researchers in South Asia of CNRS, and its affiliates such as EHESS, has often been the vehicle for misérabilisme: caste, poverty and of ‘denial’: the ‘Hindu fundamentalism’. Can be done most glaring contradiction? Hinduism has shown throughout its history a remarkable tolerance to the Christians of Syria, Arab merchants, the Parsees of Zoroaster, the Jews of Jerusalem, persecuted at home, to settle in India and ‘practice their religion freely. At the beginning of the film, Jamal’s mother has throat cut by Hindu fanatics. But it is the Muslims who slaughter live a Daniel Pearl and broadcast the film on the internet – never the Hindus. Riots in India are always initiated by the Muslims: the anti-pogroms in Gujarat were triggered because 59 Hindus, including 36 women and children, were burned as in dogs in a train by a mob of Muslims.

5. And finally, it is true that the Indians, because they have been colonized for so long (unlike the Chinese) do not have a lot of national pride and are sometimes even proud of being criticized. Today much of the intellectual elite of India has lost touch with its cultural roots as well as spiritual and only look to the West to solve its problems, ignoring its own tools, which are very old and possess infinite wisdom . It is the eternal history of the colonized become more sectarian than the settlers.

How else that Slumdog Millionaire, which literally defecating on India from the first frame (a child who plunges into a sea of crap to get an autograph of Amitabh Bacchan), is a tobacco? Some scenes from the film are, however, in the perverted imagery of director Danny Boyle, because we can not find them in the book by Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat, whose film is based. The hero of the film (which is not Muslim, but many religions: Ram Mohammad Thomas) does not pass his childhood in Bombay, but in a Catholic orphanage in Delhi. Jamal’s mother is not killed by “Hindu fanatics’ in the book, but she abandons her baby, of unknown religion in a church. Jamal torture is not a television presenter, but an American who wants the Russian who bought the television rights of the game. The scene of tears three children abandoned in the rain is also not in the book. Jamal and his heroine from colliding when they are teenagers and they live in an apartment and not in a slum.

And finally, yes, there still exists in India of poverty and glaring gaps between rich and poor, but those who know something about the slums of Bombay, know that most of the inhabitants belong to the whole ‘ small ‘middle class (relative to income in India) that every house in the slums has a TV antenna and most of the residents worked in the city.

When the West lay there another way of looking at India, more just, free of prejudices still attached to this country that should supplant China in this century? But this will require a new generation of Indiana more sincere, less tied to outdated values, rises in France …



Read: Un Autre Regard sur l’Inde (Tricorne Publishing, 1999), François Gautier.

Caravan interior by Francois Gautier (Les Belles Lettres, 2005)

The French India (France Loisirs, 2008), by the same author.

Pourquoi donc, un film comme Slumdog Millionnaire, qui véhicule une image négative de l’Inde – bidonvilles, exploitation, pauvreté, corruption, pogroms anti musulmans – rencontre-t-il tant de succès en Occident?

Par François Gautier, ancien correspondant du Figaro en Asie du sud, rédacteur en chef de la Revue de l’Inde (lesbelles.lettres.com)

Il existe plusieurs réponses :

1. Lorsque les missionnaires entreprirent d’évangéliser l’Inde, ils se rendirent rapidement compte que l’hindouisme était une religion qui était non seulement pratiquée par une énorme majorité, mais aussi qu’elle était fortement ancrée dans la mentalité des Indiens. Ils se décidèrent donc à noircir les ‘défauts’ de la religion hindoue, en les multipliant par cent : castes, pauvreté, mariages d’enfants, superstitions, sort des veuves, sati… Aujourd’hui ces clichés perdurent et s’attachent à l’image que nous avons de l’Inde
2. Nous, Occidentaux, continuons à souffrir d’un complexe de supériorité par rapport aux peuples du Tiers Monde en général et de l’Inde en particulier. Assis devant notre télévision à l’heure des informations, un steak-frites devant nous, il nous plaît de nous apitoyer sur la misère des autres, cela flatte notre ego. C’est pour cela que des livres tels que la Cité de la Joie de Dominique Lapierre, qui donnent l’impression que l’Inde est un vaste bidonville, ou un film comme Slumdog Millionnaire, qui manie adroitement les demi-mensonges, connaissent un tel retentissement.
3. Dans ce film, les ennemis de l’Inde se donnent la main. Aujourd’hui, les milliards de dollars que des paroissiens crédules donnent aux œuvres de charité servent à convertir les plus pauvres de l’Inde. Une fois convertis, on leur apprend à haïr leur culture, leur religion, créant ainsi un déséquilibre dans la psyché indienne. Le fondamentalisme islamique s’acharne également sans pitié contre l’Inde, comme l’ont démontré les récents attentats de Mumbai. Les communistes indiens qui sont au pouvoir dans trois états, ont fait alliance avec les adventistes (et autres sectes protestantes radicales) et les musulmans fondamentalistes contre les hindous. Et enfin, l’américanisation à outrance entame sérieusement le capital culturel et social indien. Slumdog joue sur tous ces clichés d’une façon mensongère.
4. Plus près de nous, en France, l’Indianisme français, incarné par les chercheurs d’Asie du sud du CNRS, ainsi que par ses affiliés tel l’EHESS, s’est souvent fait le vecteur de misérabilisme : castes, pauvreté ; et de ‘négationnisme’ : le ‘fondamentalisme hindou’. Peut-on faire contresens plus flagrant ? L’hindouisme a fait preuve tout au long de son histoire d’une remarquable tolérance, permettant aux chrétiens de Syrie, aux marchands arabes, aux parsis de Zoroastre, aux juifs de Jérusalem, persécutés chez eux, de s’établir en Inde et d’y pratiquer leur religion en toute liberté. Au début du film, la mère de Jamal a la gorge tranchée par des fanatiques hindous. Mais ce sont les musulmans qui égorgent ‘live’ un Daniel Pearl et diffusent le film sur internet – jamais les hindous. En Inde les émeutes sont toujours initiées par les musulmans : les pogroms antimusulmans du Gujarat ont été déclenchés parce que 59 hindous, dont 36 femmes et enfants, furent brûlés comme dans chiens dans un train par une meute de musulmans.

5. Et finalement, il est vrai que les Indiens, parce qu’ils ont été colonisés si longtemps (contrairement aux Chinois), n’ont pas énormément de fierté nationale et sont même quelquefois fiers d’être critiqués. Aujourd’hui une grande partie de l’élite intellectuelle indienne a perdu contact avec ses racines culturelles ainsi que spirituelles et regarde uniquement vers l’Occident pour résoudre ses problèmes, en ignorant ses propres outils, qui sont pourtant très anciens et possèdent une infinie sagesse. C’est l’éternelle histoire des colonisés qui deviennent plus sectaires encore que les colons.

Commente expliquer autrement que Slumdog Millionnaire, qui littéralement défèque sur l’Inde dès les premières images (un enfant qui plonge dans une mer de merde pour obtenir un autographe d’Amitabh Bacchan), fasse un tel tabac ? Certaines des scènes du film n’existent pourtant que dans l’imagerie pervertie de Danny Boyle le réalisateur, car on ne les trouve pas dans le livre de Vikas Swarup, un diplomate indien, dont le film est tiré. Le héro du film (qui n’est pas musulman, mais à religions multiples : Ram Mohammad Thomas) ne passe pas son enfance à Bombay, mais dans un orphelinat catholique de Delhi. La mère de Jamal n’est pas assassinée par des ‘hindous fanatiques’ dans le livre, mais elle abandonne son nouveau né, dont on ignore la religion dans une église. Torturer Jamal n’est pas une idée du présentateur de télévision, mais d’un Américain qui en veut au Russe qui a racheté les droits du jeu télévisé. La scène larmoyante des trois enfants abandonnés sous la pluie n’est également pas dans le livre. Jamal et son héroïne ne se rencontrent que lorsqu’ils sont adolescents et ils vivent dans un appartement et pas dans un bidonville.

Et finalement, oui, il existe encore en Inde de la misère et de flagrants fossés entre les très riches et les plus pauvres, mais tous ceux qui connaissent un peu les bidonvilles de Bombay, savent que la plupart de leurs habitants appartiennent à la toute ‘petite’ classe moyenne (par rapport aux revenus indiens), que chaque maison de ces bidonvilles a sa propre antenne de télévision et que la plupart de leurs habitants travaillent dans la ville.

Quand l’Occident jettera-t-il un autre regard sur l’Inde, plus juste, débarrassé des préjugés qui s’attachent toujours à ce pays qui devrait supplanter la Chine au cours de ce siècle ? Mais pour cela il va falloir qu’une nouvelle génération d’indianistes plus sincères, moins attachés à des valeurs périmées, se lève en France…



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.

26/11: A Taj survivor’s untold story

February 27, 2009

There is not much to smile about post-26/11: the Indian government has got caught up in its strategy of exclusively pinning the whole blame on Pakistan, while ignoring the local jihadi support which had to be there in Mumbai [Images] (including inside the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels).

It also missed the chance to carry out quick surgical strikes against camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (thus giving itself a good chance to win the next general election).

The shame of a few terrorists holding to ransom an entire nation, its police, army and special forces has created too huge a gap in India’s self-confidence.

Finally, the whole tale of 26/11 was never told: How many terrorists were there and how many escaped with the hostages?

Yet, here is a story about statistics that will not only make you feel better and positive again, but it is also the saga of a courageous woman whose gallantry has been unsung, post the Taj hostage drama.

Her name is Erika Mann, she is a member of the European Parliament from the Social Democratic Party of Germany [Images] and she was in Mumbai to conduct negotiations on trade relations.

When the first shots were heard, Erika Mann was having dinner on the ground floor restaurant of the Taj lobby with some Indian friends.

Everybody thought the first shots heard were crackers — but not Erika, who had some knowledge about terrorism: “I thought perhaps this is the gun salute for a wedding,” she recalls today. But what happened next, says Mann, was “pure horror”, as she heard the terrorists burst into the lobby “shooting at everything that moved”.

What we saw on television during the Mumbai attacks — and subsequently heard — was all about lack of leadership: the Maharashtra government was slow to react, the special commandos took nearly 12 hours to reach Mumbai, and nobody properly coordinated the action.

But inside the Taj Mahal hotel [Images], it was a different story: “We were 40 in the group that managed to run from the restaurant to the kitchen, and within 10 minutes four people had emerged as leaders,” smiles Erika.

What is it to be a leader in such a stressed occasion? “Actually, in this situation one has to think — collect information and then think again.” Erika thus spent a lot of time on her Blackberry, trying to gather maximum info.

There was no gender or race discrimination in the group, which comprised about 40 percent Westerners, 60 percent Indians and had a 50:50 ratio of men and women.

“All listened as attentively to me as to the other leaders, whether they were Indian or Westerner.”

And even among the other 36 people, it was not total inaction: “At least 15 were willing to be active, soldiers if you wish. Some even started searching for weapons and found the iron sticks used to grill kebabs quite handy.”

So here are good statistics: 40 people in mortal danger, four emerged leaders, with 15 soldiers to implement ideas. And even among the remaining 21 people, “at least 10 were trying to get information by sms-ing their relatives or the hotel staff. And they were sharing this info with us.”

Is that the natural ratio which occurs when you have a good government which creates a system whereby people feel free to express themselves? “Maybe,” smiles Erika.

What about the Taj Mahal staff? “There were 10 staff among our group,” replies Erika. “Out of these, seven were efficient and did not seem to care for their own safety but only for our welfare.” That’s 70 pc, another good statistic. There was only one black sheep: “We had an MP in our group, whom I shall not name. He spoke later, as we had moved to the Chambers, to some TV reporter on the phone and gave our location — we could all have been killed.”

Under the supervision of the Taj Mahal staff, Erika and her group moved from the kitchen to the corridor that leads to the Taj Chambers and their group swelled with other hostages, thus becoming 100. Again the statistics were good: “Maybe only 10 percent of these,” recalls Erika, “Were like frozen and had to be protected. The others were collecting information from relatives and others.”

Yet, it was a very tricky situation: “We could have been shot any time.”

Erika noticed a smaller group of about eight Arabic-looking people who were keeping to themselves: “I pinched myself, because immediately I felt suspicious of them. But I could see I was not the only one who looked at them strangely, although I am sure they were innocent.”

Erika, as many other hostages, also felt that some of the Taj Mahal staff looked suspicious: “Some members of my group felt that an assistant, who acted as if nothing untoward had happened, was hiding something and whispered to the others not to tell him anything.”

It is then that Erika noticed an exit door which had escaped the attention of others. With another leader of her group, a gentleman from Tyrol (Austria), they gingerly opened it, found a second door and suddenly they were outside.

“Our first reaction was ‘let’s check, can we take such a risk?'” They did not. But later Erika said: “Get out, think only of getting out. I made a mistake. If you see 9/11 in New York, it is only those who decided immediately to try to get out who made it alive. The others died.”

They went back to the corridor and waited in a Chambers room till the soldiers came around 3 am. Here the statistics worsen: “There were about 32 soldiers, they were badly equipped, overburdened and nobody seemed really in charge.”

>Erika was one of the last to escape from her group: “I helped an old woman who could not walk well and was afraid, and as I exited the door, a bullet ricocheted off the wall just above my head and plaster fell in my eyes. It still hurts today. I believe that most of the people left behind and many of these young soldiers got killed.”

What does Erika say today? “I have been thinking so much about these 72 hours since then. What baffles me still is the youth element in this attack. True, they were manipulated, but how could they do this? I have no sympathy for them, neither before or after.”

She also has her doubts: “I am sure there were more than three terrorists in the Taj — we ourselves saw quite a few.” Also she feels that there may have been more victims than the government allows: “We saw so many bodies taken out.”

Will Erika Mann come back to India? She already did. “I attended the International Women’s Conference of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in his Bangalore ashram and I had a wonderful time there. India is in my heart.”

Francois Gautier