Tag Archives: Nuclear


The Intelligence Bureau (IB) report on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is right up to the point.

You think that the most corrupt organizations in India belong to the Government? But you may be wrong, because some of the biggest scammers in this country could be the Non Governmental Organizations, or NGO’s, and it is all done in the name of the poor of India.

In the old times, the leaders of NGO’s used to be working in the field, dressed simply, lived in humble dwellings, and had minimal salaries, sufficient for their most essential needs. But nowadays, the new breed of NGOs you meet in Delhi, or Bombay, is smartly dressed in jeans, he or she usually comes from India’s upper elite class, carry the latest laptop and often travel around in a/c cars. These NGO’s spend half of their time abroad, in London, Paris, or New York, doing smart presentations, with mesmerizing slides and Excel spreadsheets, in front of gullible westerners, always ready to shed a tear for the poor “downtrodden Indians”, so as to convince them to grant more funds.

And what is usually all about? 70% of the time “woman empowerment”, or “uplifting” the villagers. It is nowadays fashionable in India to always highlight the downtrodden condition of Indian women and their underprivileged place in Indian society. But no country in the world has granted such an important place to women in its spirituality and social ethos. And even today, behind all appearances – arranged marriages, submission to men, preference of male children in some rural areas (but girls are loved in India like nowhere in the world) – it can be safely said that very often, from the poorest to the richest classes, women control –even if behind the scenes – a lot of the family affairs: the education of their children (men in India are often “mama’s boys”), monetary concerns, and husbands often refer to them for important decisions. Countries such as France or the United States, who are often preaching India on “women’s rights” never had a woman as their top leader, whereas India had Indira Gandhi ruling with an iron hand for nearly twenty years; and proportionately they have less MP’s than India, which is considering earmarking 33% of seats in Parliament for women, a revolution in human history!

But this obsession of NGO’s with women and village empowerment (usually they take one village and make it like a showcase, for the benefit of visiting donors from abroad) has completely eclipsed the burning issue that would require NGO’s attention with the tremendous amount of funds they attract from abroad : afforestation, as there are hardly any forest worth the name left today in India. Take the Himalayas for instance, and a region like the lovely Kumaon hills. Less than forty years ago, people in Almora, the ancient capital of the Kumaons, still remember the beautiful blue cedars forests. Today, there are no forests left around Almora – they were cut down in the early 70’s by contractors from the plains with the full knowledge of the Government – except commercial pine forests, which impoverish the soil and do not hold it properly. Yet, there is terrible shortage of water in Almora, the climate has warmed-up considerably in the last twenty years and wood is fearfully expensive.

There are literally hundreds of NGO’s in the Kumaon hills, who are doing lots of women empowerment, lots of village uplifting, lots of weaving this and weaving that… but absolutely no tree planting. Why? “Because the others do not do it”, is the usual answer, when you ask some of the NGO’s or :“because it is too hard work”. But the beauty of the Kumaon hills around Almora is fast going: more and more hotels are coming up, cutting more trees, like near the Kassar Devi temple, above Almora, where Vivekananda is supposed to have meditated and which has been bought to make into a resort by a non- resident Muslim who is suspected to have links with Ibrahim Dawood.

Most of the big NGO’s are funded by Western countries; but what is not always known is that they often get the bulk of their budgets from big Christian organizations, such as Christian Aid, or Oxfam. There is no doubt that Christians are doing selfless work in India and that they still provide the best in health care and education (work which Hindus should do themselves). But it may so happen – more in the case of American Protestants than European Catholics, who are more tolerant – that there is a slight catch, a string attached to the money donated, not only because there is always that western obsession with “woman empowerment” and the “exploited” low caste Indian (by the Brahmins, of course), but often also, these charitable organizations have a downright bias against Hindus and even towards the BJP ! Some of them even had posters advising people not to vote for the BJP in the last elections. Can you imagine an Indian NGO asking Indians settled in France not to vote for some pro-catholic party? They would be immediately kicked out!

This is not to say that there are no selfless NGO’s who are not fattening themselves on money meant for the poor. Some of them do bring drinking water to remote villages in the Himalayas, or like the Young India Group, teach villagers to stand for their own rights. But there has to be a shift away from empowerment, to fight the real burning issues which are affecting India such as afforestation and water collection (there is no Government policy for collecting the tremendous amounts of water India gets from monsoons, which would save millions of gallons of precious ground water which is fast depleting). And the Government, while leaving to NGO’s the freedom of expression they already have, should make it mandatory that they have a certain percentage of their activities dedicated to these two areas. Our NGO, FACT (fact-india.com) is building a Museum of (true) Indian History in Pune near the airport. Needless to say: no foreign agency ever got interested to it and we find it even difficult to raise funds with Indian companies, who prefer to donate to the politically correct, such as health and education….



THE Hindutva, Sex and Adventures (continuing) CONTROVERSY

The controversy over who wrote Hindutva, Sex and Adventures(Roly Books, New Delhi): Mark Tully, or myself, continues unabated. Critics keep on implying I wrote the book – and Mark Tully did not. Yet, as I have already said, I am a much more ardent – and militant – defender of Hindus than Mark Tully ever was and will ever be. The brand of Hindutva proposed in Hindutva, Sex and Adventures reads rather mild to me. In reality, I think that not only Dharma, the Truth that is behind Hinduism, is the very foundation of Indian civilization, but that if it dies, as it is attacked today from all sides: by Christian conversions, islamization, marxism, westernization & minorytism, it would be a catastrophe for the whole world.

If you read between the lines of most of Mark Tully’s books, you will see that he says – albeit in a diluted manner – that: a) secularism is a colonial left over; b) Hinduism constitutes the genius and the base of Indian civilisation. There is no doubt that Sir Tully is a well liked personality. But Mark was never too bold in his moral stands: see how he is now saying that Hindutva, Sex and Adventures is affecting his reputation. Why should he be ashamed of being a defender of the Hindus? I am not. In fact, I find his establishing a dialogue in the book between Imla, the Indian journalist, who is a diehard secularist (as most Indian journalists are) and Andrew, who gradually realizes that Hindus are a very wonderful – but persecuted people, is a brilliant ploy. It is a pity that every single critic has demolished the Hindutva part of the book, without even bothering to analyse the very important points Tully raises on Kashmir, Ayodhya, Sonia Gandhi, or Islamic terrorism.

Mark Tully may also have wanted to atone for his coverage of South Asia. I remember when we were both reporting on the Valley of Kashmir in the early nineties, that he would always highlight human right abuses on Muslims by the army, but hardly ever spoke about the 400.000 Kashmiri Hindus who were chased out of their ancestral homeland by threats, violence, rapes, torture and murder – and today have become refugees in their own countries. Mark Tully is known for his ‘fair’ reporting, but actually, he and the BBC coined phrases and set standards in reporting on South Asia, which still stand today and harm India’s image. Many of us know that since the mid-eighties Pakistan encouraged, financed, trained and armed Kashmiri separatism. But Mark always made it a point to say: “India accuses Pakistan to foster separatism in Kashmir”; or :”elections are being held in Indian- held Kashmir”; or “Kashmir militants ” have attacked an army post, instead of “terrorists”. All the other foreign journalists, yesterday and today, (except myself and maybe Tiziano Terzani) have followed the BBC’s benchmarks.

 This near colonial attitude towards India has even influenced today’s politicians in the West. For instance, Obama’s present foreign policy of thinking he can fight terror by making a frontline state of the very country which fosters 3/4th of the terror attacks in the world, and of putting the screws on India so that it negotiates with Pakistan, even at the cost of compromising on its sovereignty in Kashmir, is a direct offshoot of the BBC’s reporting in South Asia for 25 years. We also can read between the lines and know that Mr Obama is pressuring Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to give-up India’s military nuclear programme, leaving her at the mercy of not only Pakistan’s , but also China’s formidable nuclear arsenal.

The irony is that the Indian Government seems to be enamoured of Mark Tully. But if you observe carefully, he was a strong detractor of Indira Gandhi, particularly on Blue Star and during the anti-Sikh riots. Though he praised Rajiv Gandhi in his beginnings, he became a critic of his style of functioning in the later years, specially after the IPKF fiasco. And he has been saying “that the moribund and leaderless Congress party has lashed onto Sonia Gandhi, who is Italian by birth and Roman Catholic by baptism”. (‘Nehru Dynasty’ for the BBC).

The below extract of Hindutva, Sex and Adventures seems to reinforce that statement.


 – I am coming to Delhi to cover Sonia Gandhi’s election as President of the Congress party, Imla said. They met at the Taj Mansingh for a cup of tea before walking to 1 Akbar Road, the Congress headquarters. Andrew could see that she was getting more and more snappy and she was actually looking for subjects about which she could disagree with him, sometimes violently, for she definitely possessed a very bad temper.

 They had such a fight about Sonia Gandhi. Andrew had found Sonia Gandhi quite likable when she was just Rajiv Gandhi’s (the pilot) spouse, a loving wife, who had adopted the Indian way of life; a good daughter in law: Indira Gandhi died on her lap on the way to the hospital, after being shot by her Sikh bodyguards; and more than everything, a good mother, who doted on her children and tried all her life to protect them. Andrew suspected she had kept her Italian passport, even after taking the Indian nationality (India does not allow you to hold two passports), but he had met quite a few foreigners in Delhi who also retained their origin passports after having obtained the Indian one. He had toyed himself for some time with the idea of taking the Indian nationality, now that he spoke Hindi quite fluently, but it was too difficult to travel with an Indian passport. He did not mind also her remaining a Christian: after all, he was still one himself. Indeed, one of his Italian journalists friends had prayed with her, along with Rajiv Gandhi, at a mass in Calicut with the bishop officiating – that was her private business. But after her husband was blown to pieces by the LTTE, he observed a drastic change in her: she did not seem to trust anybody anymore, became aloof and suspicious. He watched with dismay how the Congress leaders, some of them men and women of substance, whom he knew personally, applied pressure on her to enter politics for years. He had learnt also, through some well placed friends, that gradually, via the Rajiv Gandhi and Indira Gandhi foundations, she started controlling huge amounts of money. He knew also that in India money means political power, as a party needs hundreds of crores of rupees to win a general election. Thus, he thought that in her fortress of Janpath, surrounded twenty-four hours by security, she gradually lost touch with the reality of India.

Andrew, who had met her a few times after Rajiv’s death, thus took discreetly his distances with her, though in typical British fair play, he never made any comments publicly.

 When they reached the Congress headquarters amidst unprecedented security, which Andrew thought was unwarranted, considering there had never been any threats on Sonia Gandhi’s life, there must have been at least a hundred other foreign correspondents awaiting the crowning of Mrs Gandhi. As usual, Sonia made them wait (once when Andrew was covering Sonia’s campaigning in Hospet, Karnataka, she was late by eight hours). She lived literally next door in Janpath, but she finally arrived in a caravan of vehicles, with dozens of security guards running around her car, as if she was the American president. When she got out, most Congressmen bowed down in front of her, while some even touched her feet. Andrew was shocked: he felt that it was debasing for Indians, people of talent and culture to scrape down in front of someone who in the West would be an average person. But most of his colleagues did not seem to find anything wrong in it. As for Imla, she was smiling. Sonia’s election as Congress President was a foregone conclusion, nobody really opposing her. It’s like the crowning of an empress, thought Andrew.

When they were walking back, he had an argument with Imla:

– It would be impossible for a non-Christian, non-English, non-White Hindu woman, to become the supreme ruler behind the scenes in England, he said. Don’t you find this a little humiliating?

– Not at all. It’s because you don’t understand us, she retorted, we accept the others, not like you Britishers.

He tried to remain cool:

 – But this goes to extremes, Imla: there are a billion Indians, many talented; can’t you find one of your own to lead this country ?

 This time she was getting angry:

 – She is one of our own, ok? She has an Indian passport, she wears a sari, she speaks Hindi and she has India at heart. Not like some of your Hindutva fanatics, she threw at him.

 – You know I am not Hindutva, he replied, hurt

 – Oh yes, you are… Your sympathy goes to them now. That’s why you hate Sonia Gandhi.

– But I don’t hate her my dear, I just think that she wields too much power, being just an elected MP like hundreds of others…

But Imla had already stormed away and hailed a rickshaw to go back to her aunt….

France and the nuclear deal :: Francois Gautier

France and the nuclear deal :: Francois Gautier

July 14, 2008

Today is July 14, France’s [Images] National Day, and it would be interesting to have a fresh look at Indo-French relations and how they impact the nuclear deal with the United States. As expressed on television and newspaper interviews by the French ambassador in India, Jerome Bonnafont, France endorses the controversial Indo-US nuclear pact “which is good for India”.

France is of course eagerly awaiting its signature, so that it can try to sell to India its nuclear technology and maybe one or two nuclear plants. But what France also does not say, is that it silently thinks that India, contrary to the five declared nuclear powers, is not a mature and wise enough nation to handle military nuclear technology and that it agrees with the US that India’s military nuclear programme be capped so as to profit only civil nuclear energy.

For if you read in between the lines of the G8 chairman’s statement at the end of last week’s three-day summit (‘We look forward to working with India, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other partners to advance India’s non-proliferation commitments and progress’), the safeguards agreement will ‘definitely not’ permit spare parts or fuel — even in the event of any shortage — to be transferred between nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards and those outside it as part of India’s weapons programme.

We have also seen that finally, after a much publicised show of bravado, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has agreed to attend the opening of the Beijing [Images] Olympics [Images]. Under Chinese pressure, he will also probably not officially meet the Dalai Lama [Images] when His Holiness goes to France in August. One has to understand the dilemma of the French president: Paris has invested massively in China and the heads of France’s conglomerates have been after him to rectify his attitude post the Olympic flame fiasco in France.

Fair enough. But then India should ask four questions of Sarkozy:

1) How is it that France is only the seventh investor in India, far behind the US, Germany [Images], or even Korea, when contrary to China, India is a pro-Western democracy, an island of freedom and liberalism in an Asia torn by Islamic fundamentalism (witness the recent bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul) and by China’s hegemonic tendencies which are felt from Burma to Nepal, from Taiwan to Arunachal Pradesh?

2) Why did France recognise China’s sovereignty over Tibet [Images], a nation with an independent culture and religion, more than 10 years ago when it refuses to extend the same right to India over Kashmir, which has been historically and geographically a part of India for at least 5000 years and is the seat of Shivaism?

3) India does not question the fact that Paris feels that Corsica belongs to France, though it is an island. India does not contest that the Basque is Spanish territory; India did not say anything when the British went thousands of miles to fight for the Falklands, when geographically it belongs to Argentina… Then why the hell is the Western world — and France — contesting India’s right over Kashmir? Like not trusting India to handle nuclear military technology, it does seem to spring from an unconscious sentiment of superiority…

But then France might very well answer that it understands India’s concerns over Kashmir, but that it does not want to upset the Indo-Pak dialogue (which actually is only on paper, as Pakistan has betrayed every peace move made by India). But in truth, the French are actually falling for the Pakistani nuclear blackmail of an attack on India. Is that why, India could again ask France, you continue to sell arms to Pakistan? It might also well be that France does not want to antagonise parts of its volatile Muslim minority, although this also seems to be a bit of a fallacious argument.

Yet, President Sarkozy is a man of vision and is not afraid to break conventions, as he has shown in his private and public life. If he would make the gesture (which would cost him nothing) of recognising India’s right over Kashmir as France did to China over Tibet, it would earn France immense gratitude in India for it would be a first: it would pave the way for greater economic cooperation between India and France and it would give France a bargaining chip with China who is always blackmailing her (and other Western nations) by saying it will cancel its Airbus orders and buy Boeings (and vice-versa) whenever it is displeased. Because the moment France diversifies its investments in Asia to India, China would feel the pinch.

Lastly, it would pave the way for a political and military cooperation between Europe and India and recognise — at last India’s immense geopolitical importance in Asia.

Ah, I can already see the faces of my friends in the French embassy in Delhi: “Oh, again this right-wing Hindu lover, this fundamentalist, this anti-Muslim, is at it”. But France, its diplomats in India and its Indologists should do well to come out of their glass towers if they want to stay in tune with 21st century Asia. They should firstly accept diversity of opinion over India and not only see India through the eternal clich s of the India specialists in France who for decades have associated India in the minds of French people with poverty, castes, Hindu ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘oppressed’ minorities. The French embassy in Delhi should thus seek a diversity of opinion among those who have lived in India for long and know India well, so that it properly reflects to the French government in Paris the incredible and complicated diversity that is India.

And once more the question has to be asked of France: why don’t you recognise Kashmir as you recognise Tibet? Then India need not sign a nuclear treaty with the US, which will bind her politically and economically to the Americans for two decades. France would be an excellent nuclear, economic and political partner for India and it would help preserve a bipolar world, where Corsica, Tibet and Kashmir remain in the fold of their mother nations, while enjoying true autonomy.

Francois Gautier