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It is a special privilege to be born a Hindu: Francois Gautier

_Gauiteweb_912441932NEW YORK: Noted French journalist and writer Francois Gautier who has made India his home and propagation of Hinduism his cause and mission for over three decades, is currently traveling across the US to raise funds through his foundation, FACT – India, for the setting up of an Indian history museum in Pune, India.

Gautier, perhaps one of the very few Westerners to have unconditionally adopted a Hindu way of life, feels the widely prevalent distorted image of Indian history as propagated by the British, Christian missionaries, communists and the western world in general for over two centuries, has necessitated the museum to portray Hindu civilization in the right light.

In an interview with India Post during his visit to New York last week, Gautier spoke about his ambitious museum project, the many threats to Hinduism in today’s world and how Hindus can gain the respect of the world.

IP: Can you tell us about the Museum of Indian History?

Gautier: I have been donated some land in Pune by a private trust where I want to build the museum to be called the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum of Indian History.

I see in India there are no museums of Indian history worth the name. So the idea is to start from the Vedas, go on to talk about the greatness of the whole of India and the entire drama of the invasions through history, the Hindu holocaust, and then portray India of today and tomorrow.

IP: What kind of funds do you need and how long will it take to complete the museum?

Gautier: It’s a huge project but definitely it will happen. It’s about $40m dollars, and I don’t know how long it will take — perhaps 10-20 years, because I don’t have the money right away. But I am ready to start, once I start, the donations will come and people will understand the importance of this museum.

IP: Why is it important to have such a museum?

Gautier: As a journalist and writer, when I started documenting for my book, I realized that most history books on India are based upon very old theories considered defunct or debatable such as the Aryan invasion theory, which evidence shows has never taken place.

Both British historians and later Nehruvian historians have toned down the considerable impact on Indian culture of the invasions starting from Alexander the Great to the Arabs, the Muslim invaders and the British — that entire part of the history has been swept under the carpet. And even later, the history of India’s Independence is very unfairly portrayed.

The need of the museum is very important so we can look at India’s history in a very scientific manner, which is what my organization FACT India is doing.

IP: Will the museum focus only on the Hindu history of India?

Gautier: The museum will also broach upon many of India’s dark periods in its history like the inquisition in Goa by the Portuguese, the Sufi persecution, the Ahmedi Muslim persecution in Bangladesh, how the Buddhist history was wiped out and how some of the early Syrian Christians of Kerala were persecuted. And of course the Hindu holocaust right from Hindu Kush (massacre of Hindus) to the current terrorist activities against them.

I want school children to come to the museum and learn of their own culture and be proud. Kids in Indian schools are learning about Shakespeare and Milton, not about their Hindu or Indian culture. In my country we are taught about great French people like our poets, social reformers, artists etc… so I grew up proud of my culture, but Indian kids do not grow up learning about or feeling proud of their culture.

IP: Do you see any kind of opposition to your project from either the government or any section of the Indian society?

Gautier: Of course there’s bound to be some opposition, you can’t make everybody happy. But one has to go by the truth. Whatever one’s limitations, if backed by truth, even if it is opposed, there will be some kind of direction and protection.

In fact, there are three reasons for setting up the museum in Pune: One– of course the land donated is in Pune; second– since I work in Pune, I found that people of Pune, irrespective of their political affiliations, are quite nationalistic in nature. I feel my museum will be more protected in Pune than anywhere else in India; thirdly– Pune is Shivaji’s birth place. There is no museum of Shivaji anywhere in Maharashtra though he is a true hero. So naming it after Shivaji will be a protection for this museum.

IP: Over the many years of your career, how successful have you been in changing western perceptions of Hinduism?

Gautier: It’s a very difficult task, because unfortunately the image of Hinduism is not that good. But, there is more ignorance than hostility. Westerners do not know that it is a monotheistic religion. Secondly, Hindus, especially Brahmins have been at the receiving end of many like the British, the missionaries, the Islamic invaders all of who created a very negative image of Hinduism — particularly the missionaries emphasized only the negative sides of Hinduism and amplified them a thousand times. Today we still find that even after 200 years, these negative images have survived even in the minds of Hindus in India.

Unfortunately it is a great handicap for journalists like me who like Hinduism and want to defend it. I can’t say I have been very successful, but at least now westerners are open to going to India and understanding Hindus.

There are so many good things to be said for Hinduism, but unfortunately there is no will among Hindus to try to explain to westerners. Hindus are just content to come to the West and melt into local cultures or at best keep their spirituality and religion to themselves.

IP: What do you think of the role of the Indian intellectual elite and media in projecting the image of Hindus?

Gautier: The British have left such a mark on the minds of much of Indian intelligentsia and elite, right from the erstwhile Maharajas who have copied the British way of life that it has left a deep impression on generations after that. Today Indians think that everything that comes from the West is good. It’s very stupid, because many things in the West have failed like family values etc.

This generation of Indian intelligentsia is aping Marxism so brilliantly, which is dead even in Russia, and is probably only left in Cuba, but I don’t see why Indians should copy Cuba (laughs).

Look at the Chinese, they are so proud of their culture; nobody dares to fiddle with them, even America will not dare to interfere with their affairs.

IP: Many Hindus fear the very survival of Hinduism in the face of Islamic fundamentalism. How real are their fears?

Gautier: The fear is very real. I see there are five or six enemies that may be covertly or overtly attacking Hinduism. In the past there was any one threat at a time like the Greek, British or Muslim invasions. But today, there are the threats of Muslim fundamentalism, Christian conversions, Marxist onslaught, Westernization and so on which are eroding the Indian culture all at the same time. However, there are many great gurus today like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and others who are repackaging the Hindu tenets like spirituality. pranayama, yoga, ayurveda etc for everyone’s easy consumption while not associating them with Hinduism. Though I do not agree with that, it’s an important movement today and helping to preserve that culture.

It’s true that Hinduism is under attack and it looks frightening at times. That’s why the museum is so important.

IP: Have you ever felt conflicted about the culture you were born into and the one you adopted?

Gautier: Personally I have never felt conflicted, but people of my country often do not understand why I defend the Hindus– that has been a bit of a problem. Though my country is sympathetic to India, when you touch the intellectual layer – people who are fed on the Nehruvian history and the downgrading of Hindu culture, I have come into conflict sometimes with these people. But for me living in India is a protection; people often appreciate the work I do. Some of my friends do not understand why I poke the dangerous Islamic fundamentalism by defending Hindus. I started speaking about it (Islamic fundamentalism) 20-25 years ago when it was not at all politically correct to speak about it. Even those friends who like me sometimes do not really understand me. I have faced a lot of hostility also.

IP: What can Hindus living in America do to preserve their culture?

Gautier: For Hindus living in the US, whether fist or second generation, it is important that they carry their Hinduness. It is a special privilege to be born a Hindu, because you inherit the knowledge which is very ancient and very practical. Also the many Hindu groups which are scattered should unite to become a lobby like the Jews. They should teach their children to be proud of being Hindu while being faithful to their Americanness. They should create a lobby in the US to be able to influence South Asia policy at the administration level and see that it does not cap India’s nuclear policy.

IP: Is there something that really frustrates you?

Gautier: Hindus don’t think big. Most Hindu movements in the US have mostly people without a vision, they don’t unite; it’s very frustrating. When I last visited the US in 2002, the Hindu community was more vibrant, today I find many of the Hindu leaders of that time burnt out or taken a back seat or gone back into mainstream life; that is saddening. If only Hindus knew their own power — there are one billion in the world — Islam is conscious of its might and its numbers; Christianity though on the decline, is conscious of its greatness in terms of technology and power. Hindus, who are not all that small in number, have to use more muscle. Meekness and submissiveness will not take them far, they have to show muscle power. That’s the way to get respect in the world.

By SRIREKHA  N. CHAKRAVARTY, India Post News Service

URL: http://www.indiapost.com/us-news/5138-special-privilege-born-Hindu-Francois-Gautier.html


INDE : Les attentats de Bangalore puis d’Ahmedabad, et auparavant ceux de Lucknow, Varanasi et Mumbai, qui ont fait plus de deux cents morts, ont tous une connexion indépendantiste kashmirie. C’est le moment ou jamais de vérifier quelle est la position de la France par rapport au Cachemire.
Par François Gautier, ancien correspondant du Figaro en Inde, rédacteur en chef de la Revue de l’Inde (lesbelles.lettres.com)


Y a-t-il un lien entre le Tibet, le Cachemire et la Corse? Paradoxalement, oui ! La France reconnaît à la Chine, depuis fort longtemps déjà, droit de suzeraineté sur le Tibet ; nous n’accordons cependant pas la même latitude à  l’Inde, nous cantonnant à déclarer que le Cachemire est un territoire ‘disputé’ (entre le Pakistan et l’Inde) ; par contre, il ne viendrait jamais à l’idée des Indiens de nous dire que l’appartenance de la Corse au territoire français est ‘contestée’.

La France et l’Inde, depuis les premiers comptoirs, c’est une histoire de grandes promesses  qui n’aboutissent à rien, pour une raison ou une autre (que ce soit le rappel de Dupleix par Louis XV ou l’histoire du Clémenceau). Aujourd’hui la France n’est que le 7ème investisseur en Inde, loin derrière les Etats-Unis, qui ont compris qu’il leur faut reporter une partie de leurs investissements en Chine sur l’Inde et qui utilisent New Delhi pour contrecarrer l’expansion chinoise en Asie.

A la base, notre politique en Asie du sud est faussée, car nous avons toujours mis sur le même pied le Pakistan, petit pays non démocratique, toujours au bord de l’anarchie islamiste ainsi que de la banqueroute, et l’Inde, extraordinaire nation démocratique, pro-occidentale, au formidable potentiel économique. Si nous le faisons moins maintenant, nous continuons tout de même à succomber au chantage nucléaire pakistanais et pour cela nous ne voulons pas « déséquilibrer » le dialogue indo-pakistanais (qui n’existe pas) en reconnaissant à l’Inde le Cachemire.

La sensibilité indienne quant au Cachemire est exacerbée. Et avec quelque raison : le Cachemire a toujours fait partie de la nation indienne, c’est même le berceau du shivaïsme et de la philosophie de l’Advaita. Le fait qu’une partie de la vallée du Cachemire (le Ladhak est bouddhiste et la région de Jammu à majorité hindoue) ait été brutalement convertie à l’islam au 16ème siècle n’y change rien. Aujourd’hui, 400.000 hindous ont été chassés par la terreur de leurs terres ancestrales de la vallée du Cachemire,  et certains vivent encore dans des camps de réfugiés à Delhi ou Jammu, sans doute le plus grand nettoyage ethnique de notre ère.

La France se targue depuis quelques années de « soutenir » l’Inde, mais ce sont des promesses qui ne lui coûtent rien et sont vides de sens. L’appui de la candidature indienne au Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU, par exemple, n’a aucune valeur, car la Chine s’y oppose, ainsi que d’autres pays. L’accès au nucléaire français frise l’absurdité, car non seulement il est tributaire de multiples conditions qui musèleraient la force nucléaire militaire indienne, qui fait fonction d’arme dissuasive face à la bombe pakistanaise et à l’énorme arsenal nucléaire chinois, mais nous attendons que les Américains leur vendent du nucléaire pour s’engouffrer dans la brèche.

Et le Tibet alors, que vient-il faire là-dedans ? Dès 1948, les Chinois ont compris que l’Inde était la seule puissance qui avait le potentiel de leur faire contrepoids en Asie. Pour neutraliser cette menace indienne, Beijing s’est d’abord saisi du Tibet, qui traditionnellement a toujours fait office de tampon entre les deux géants d’Asie (c’est d’ailleurs exactement ce qu’offre le Dalaï-lama aujourd’hui lorsqu’il propose de faire du Tibet une zone démilitarisée et dénucléarisée) et s’empressèrent d’y poster dans les années 80 un nombre impressionnant de missiles nucléaires (voir rapport de la CIA de 2004 au Congrès américain), dont un certain nombre visent les principales villes indiennes. Puis sous de fallacieux prétextes (contentieux frontaliers, hospitalité indienne au Dalaï-lama), la Chine attaqua l’Inde par surprise en 1962, humilia l’armée indienne  et quand elle se retira, garda quelques dizaines de milliers de kilomètres carrés de territoire indien dans l’Aksai Chin (Ladhak). Ensuite, les Chinois soutinrent tout au long des années 70 et 80 les mouvements séparatistes du nord-est de l’Inde (Tripura, Assam, Megalayana etc.), tout en continuant à revendiquer l’état stratégique de l’Arunachal Pradesh, un des plus beaux de l’Inde, qui se situe à la jonction du Bhoutan, du Tibet, de la Chine et du Bangladesh.

Mais surtout, les Chinois comprirent vite que c’est en se servant de l’animosité pakistanaise vis à vis des hindous, qu’ils pourraient le mieux neutraliser l’Inde.  La liste de la “coopération” stratégique entre la Chine et le Pakistan est longue et très éducative. Cela va de la route la plus haute du monde entre le Cachemire pakistanais et le Sin-Kiang, jusqu’aux missiles M11, capables de porter des têtes nucléaires, qui ont été fournis par Beijing, malgré les avertissements du Pentagone. Puis bien sûr, Les Chinois ont littéralement donné aux Pakistanais la Bombe – et les Américains qui se taisent, le savent depuis longtemps. Le père de la bombe pakistanaise a également vendu de la technologie nucléaire à la Corée du Nord, à l’Iran et à la Lybie, comme tout le monde le sait aujourd’hui.

Alors pourquoi donc nous acharnons-nous à investir massivement en Chine (et à vendre des armes au Pakistan) et négligeons-nous l’Inde, continent de liberté et de démocratie dans une Asie en proie au fondamentalisme islamique et à la tentative d’hégémonie chinoise ? Il est vrai qu’à l’heure actuelle il est beaucoup plus facile de faire des affaires en Chine qu’en Inde, car il existe là-bas une volonté centralisée qui a les moyens autocratiques de réaliser ses ambitions, que ce soit pour imposer le contrôle des naissances ou pour tracer des autoroutes en expropriant les petits propriétaires  (en Inde cela prend quelquefois sept ans de litiges).Pourtant non seulement l’Inde, “l’autre” géant d’Asie a su préserver sa trame démocratique depuis 60 ans, mais en plus, il offre des conditions de travail bien supérieures à celles du géant chinois: l’Inde possède par exemple un système juridique qui protège les contrats (ce qui n’est pas le cas en Chine), l’Anglais est parlé dans tout le pays, (idem) et le couvercle de la marmite a été enlevé depuis longtemps. Ainsi depuis l’Indépendance, tous les séparatismes, révoltes, excès, ont déjà bouillonné à la surface, sans affecter la trame démocratique de ce pays, preuve s’il en est de la stabilité future de l’Inde, qui assurera sécurité et rentabilité aux investissements étrangers. Ajoutons que les Indiens aiment l’Occident et qu’ils acceptent la diversité de ‘l’Autre’, contrairement aux Chinois.

Le Président français a montré qu’il savait aller au-delà des conventions  et des sentiers battus. S’il veut que la France reprenne sa place en Inde, et ne se fasse pas – une fois de plus – damer le pion par les Américains (qui tentent en ce moment de persuader Delhi de signer un accord nucléaire, qui lierait l’Inde politiquement et économiquement aux Etats-Unis pour les vingt prochaines années), la reconnaissance à l’Inde de sa suzeraineté sur le Cachemire frapperait un grand coup : nous nous gagnerions tous les coeurs indiens, tout nous serait possible en Inde. Elle rétablirait également une certaine parité entre les deux géants de l’Asie, l’un dictatorial, avec un ‘karma noir’ (à part le million de Tibétains  occis depuis 1959 les dirigeants chinois ont éliminé deux millions des leurs) ; et l’autre démocratique, doté d’un ‘bon’ karma (les Indiens, durant toute leur histoire n’ont jamais envahi militairement un autre pays).

Peut-être alors, le grand rêve de Dupleix serait-il en passe de se réaliser.


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