Tag Archives: sangh parivar

Pale Fires Don’t Scorch

col_franco_20090209Deviants of Mangalore and Malegaon are demonised fallaciously   
 Francois Gautier  

Source: OutlookIndia.com
 
 
When I began reporting, I went to interview the RSS leadership in Delhi, expecting, from what I had heard, a few bloodthirsty fascists. I was surprised to meet those old daddies with their long khaki shorts, who would not hurt a fly. Twenty-five years later, the word ‘Hindu Talibanisation’ is being heard amidst the clamour following the odious pub episode in Mangalore. Such incidents should be condemned, as it has no precedent in Indian history—from Prithviraj Chauhan to Shivaji, Hindus respected the women of even their enemies. Yet, I beg to disagree: this is not about the Talibanisation of Hindu groups, it is about their demonisation.

British colonisers in league with the Christian missionaries realised 200 years ago that the biggest obstacle to fully subjugating India was Hinduism, as it was ancient, woven into the fabric of life and held the country together. They set upon defaming Hinduism, by dwelling on what they perceived as its negatives: castes, sati, superstition, etc. Simultaneously, they created in a span of two or three generations a class of Indians who looked up only to the West.

Macaulay, the architect of the scheme, summed it up in his Minute on Education: “We must do our best to form a class of persons, Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” Macaulay despised Indian culture: “Hindus have a literature of small intrinsic value, hardly reconcilable with morality, full of monstrous superstitions….” The demonisation of Hinduism was apace.

As a result, these Anglicised Indians became ashamed of their own culture. This Western/anti-Hindu outlook was handed down from generation to generation, right down to our age, where many of India’s brilliant and articulate Hindu-Marxist intellectuals, products all of institutions like jnu, or St Stephen’s, keep on repeating, as if by rote, what their hoary forebears were taught by the British. And unfortunately, they pass it back to their friends from the West, neatly marking a full circle. How else could a film like Slumdog Millionaire, made by an Englishman, which literally craps on India from the very first frame, be feted by most of India’s intelligentsia? How else could India specialists like Christophe Jaffrelot peddle to his gullible French readers the spurious theory that there is a “Hindu tradition of terror”?

Politically, the Congress just took over from the British, as I explain in my new book (A New History of India, 2008, Har Anand), and used its English-speaking press to present Hindu social and political parties as fanatical and ridiculous. The goal was to corner the Muslim vote, which was—and still remains—achieved. It does not help today that the supreme leader of India is a Christian. Whether her aides or her ministers (many of them capable people in their own right) rush to gratify her in true bhakti spirit or whether she directly speaks her will, one does not know. But what better way to please her than by equating Hindu fundamentalism with the Muslim one and to turn the flak on to small Hindu outfits which are amateur lambs compared to the Islamic ones?

There are two standards today used by India’s media and intelligentsia. One for minorities and the other for Hindus. It is totally illogical: if 4,00,000 Hindus are hounded out of the Kashmir Valley which has always been their home, nobody protests; but New Delhi has been rooting for Palestinians for four decades and recently donated a million dollars for their welfare. When blast after blast wrecks Indian markets, when trains are bombed, hotels attacked by men worse than animals, intellectuals blame it on Babri Masjid (where nobody was killed) or Gujarat (triggered by the burning of 59 innocent Hindus).But when a few Hindus plan to establish a Hindu rashtra and plot a clumsy, small-scale revenge, they are equated with deadly fundamentalists. A universal theorem is made of their single act, which should stand out as isolated, because Hindus have been for thousands of years tolerant to the point of cowardice. Our intellectuals never theorised when, in Kashmir, militants used to throw acid on women who did not cover up, but now devote reams to the goons of Mangalore.

Finally, to be fair, one has to say that a lot of prudishness has seeped into India because of the Islamic purdah and, later, Victorian stuffiness. Yet, Hinduism always enjoined its adherents to live life fully, including its sexual aspect. We do not want an Indian youth which blindly apes the West: drinking, drugs and promiscuity. But the Hindu political leadership should also shun rough, prudish and moralistic acts which will only alienate its young voters.
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(Francois Gautier is the editor-in-chief of the Paris-based La Revue l’Inde)

Not India’s first woman saint

Francois Gautier, Pioneer

Indian media went into a tizzy while covering the canonisation of Sister Alphonsa, an obscure nun, to prove its secular credentials! Indian journalists forget that this country has had other women saints too.

As a Frenchman, I was coached right from childhood that logic, what we in France call cartesianism, is the greatest gift given to man and that one should use one’s reason to tread in life. Thus, I taught to my students in a Bangalore school of journalism, the SSCMS, that the first tool of a good reporter is to go by his or her own judgement on the ground, with the help of one’s first-hand experience — and not go 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 is anything related to Hindus and Hinduism. One cannot, for instance, equate Muslim terrorists who blow up innocent civilians in market places all over India to angry ordinary Hindus who attack churches without killing anybody. We know that most of these communal incidents often involve persons of the same caste — Dalits and tribals — some of them converted to Christianity and some not.

However reprehensible was the destruction of the Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process. Compare that with the ‘vengeance’ bombings of 1993 in Mumbai, which killed hundreds of innocent people, mostly Hindus. Yet Indian and Western journalists keep equating the two, or even showing the Babri Masjid destruction as the most horrible act of the two.

How can you compare the Sangh Parivar with the Indian Mujahideen, a deadly terrorist organisation? How can you label Mr Narendra Modi a mass killer when actually it was ordinary middle class, or even Dalit Hindus, who went out into 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 innocent people, while advocating a ban on the Bajrang Dal, which attacked some churches after an 84-year-old swami and his followers were brutally murdered?

There is no logic in journalism in this country when it applies itself to minorities. Christians are supposedly only two per cent of the population in India, but look how last Sunday many major television channels showed live the canonisation ceremony of Sister Alphonsa, an obscure nun from Kerala and see how Union Minister Oscar Fernandes led an entire Indian delegation to the Vatican along with the Indian Ambassador. It would be impossible in England, for instance, which may have a two per cent Hindu minority, to have live coverage of a major Hindu ceremony, like the anointment of a new Shankaracharya. What were the 24×7 news channels, which seem to have deliberately chosen to highlight this non-event, trying to prove? That they are secular? Is this secularism?

The headline of the story “India gets its first woman saint”, run by many newspapers, both Indian and Western, is very misleading.

For 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 modern-day Karnataka, are but a few examples of women saints in India.

What many publications failed to mention in the story is that this is the first woman Christian saint — not the first Indian woman saint.

This statement is ok, when it comes, for instance, from the BBC, which always looks at India through the Christian prism (BBC ran a few months back an untrue and slanderous documentary on Auroville), but when it comes to the Indian media, it only shows the grave lack of grounding in Indian culture and history of most Indian journalists.

As a result, they suffer from an inferiority complex.

This inferiority complex, as expressed by television’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 logic will be taught, but where students shall be made aware of Indian history and of the greatness of Indian culture, so that when they go out to report, they will use their own judgement and become Indian journalists, with a little bit of feeling, pride and love for their own country?