Musings of a 20-something lethargic IITian on India and Catholicism.
Friday, May 17, 2002
As promised, my response to Rajeev Srinivasan's Predatory Intelligentsia.
The proximate cause of the riots was not frustration - but anger. Senseless, irrational anger (fuelled by rightists while the Govt watched) at the Godhra incident.
The preponderant cause of the riots has been the steady barrage of Anti-Muslim anti-secular thought rubbed into people's psyches by the same right wing; a barrage that rejects outright all sources of rational thinking ("That newspaper? It's pseudo-secular! That writer? He's Marxist!"). A barrage of propoganda that resurrects the atrocities of Muslim rulers in the 11th century AD as though it happened yesterday, which (as Rajeev Srinivasan himself does in this essay) resurrects the Jaziya. Also note the term "Nehruvian Stalinists" - I didn't see any Hindus being exiled to Ladakh, did you?
The root cause is not, as RS says, "apartheid" (does Rajeev even know what apartheid means? What it means to deprive people of their basic human rights and status? Referring to the perceived injustices done against Hindus as apartheid is a joke in the face of the suffering of the South African Blacks), but the rise of an impudent and politically protected right wing - which is itself a yearning for a more simpler day and age in the face of massive change and Tofflerian future shock. (For more on the psychology behind this agenda, read Paul Krugman's Op-Ed sometime back in the NY Times).
True - many of the concerns of this right-wing deserve consideration. But the method of building up a hate philosophy against minorities (and justifying it with perceived oppression of the majority!) cannot be tolerated.
Anyway, Rajeev gets his facts wrong too:
Only non-Hindus? I presume Rajeev means that Hindu educational institutions dont exist. But then, I dont presume Rajeev has ever heard of the Chinmaya Vidyalayas or the NSS or the DAV. (It is true, however, that majority educational institutions do not receive some protection that minority institutions do.)
Note the use of the emotionally loaded term looting. Note also the fact that he calls churches and mosques wealthy - eerily similar to the Marxist call for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, isn't it? What's more - his assertion that churches and mosques "get huge amonts of foreign money for conversion" - completely rejects the valuable social and educational work done by these communities, especially the former. The sole purpose of this money appears to be, if one goes by this report, "conversion". And he conveniently avoids any responsibility for proving his assertion by saying that this is not even audited. I wonder - do Christian institutions involved in social work (like the Missionaries of Charity) own a money-tree?
The "open season" for conversions ended with the Niyogi Committee Report (1956). The Niyogi Committee was formed by the MP Govt in 1954 - a Congress government. How, then, did the Nehruvian "Stalinists" declare open season for conversion?
Further, Rajeev makes the basic ontological mistake of treating conversions as an attack on Hindus rather than Hinduism. Christianity is a doctrine, one that competes for human devotion with Hinduism, how is it "clearly" violence against Hindus? The reasons he gives for conversions being violence against "Hindus" is equally specious - he never says how Hindus are "victimised". The second reason, that Hindus "are never the proselytisers" does not make them victims. Impractical, maybe, but not victims. If a doctrine is challenged, it must defend itself - or perish. Refusing to prove itself cannot be a basis for culpability of the opposing faith.
In fact, Sanskrit is the most studied of Indian languages! All India Radio has had Sanskrit news every morning all over India for atleast 12 years (because that's the earliest I remember AIR) - is that delegitimising Sanskrit? Does the Govt of India extend the same privilege to the other Indian classical language - Tamil?
I know that the Marxists had a lot of hold on the historian-establishment, but a state-supported official view of Hinduism that is Marxist? And one that was "assiduously" cultivated?! Rajeev Srinivasan strays from fact and reason to pure speculation here.
Hindu traditions have both primitive/superstitious and rational/scientific aspects. To deny the latter is to deny the rich wisdom of the Vedas. But do deny the former completely (as Rajeev does) is equally untrue.
All human rights violations? (Of course, looking at the Ministry of External Affairs page on Gujarat, one cannot accuse the present Government of any such bias, can we?)
Again, an unsupported assertion.
Look at the mental imagery - Jaziya (the tax payed by non-Muslims in an Islamic state) and "what prevailed under the Muslim tyrant Aurangzeb" - one almost thinks of Muslim officers chasing Hindus with daggers. But the fact is - India is a Hindu-majority democratic country. One cannot imagine cow-slaughter being banned under Aurangzeb, for instance.
Rajeev might've forgotten that it is those very august bodies that recommended to the Centre that Hindus be declared a minority community in Kashmir.
Rajeev follows at this point to show how the Hindu life is valued less than a Muslim life in Saudi Arabia (though what pertinence it had to the discussion at hand beats me). His analogy seems to be that the "Indian intelligentsia" share the same view because they've (apparently) made 33,000 times the noise over the death of a Muslim in Gujarat as that of Godhra. The fact is - atleast 20 times as many Muslims died in Gujarat as Hindus at Godhra. And at the hands of ordinary citizens like you or me. Which is more horrifying?
Because the Australian missionary was killed in our country, within our boundaries, while under the protection of our law enforcement agencies. And because the Hindu priest and the Buddhist priest weren't Indians (no matter what dreams of undivided India Rajeev might harbour). But yes - one does admit that the media has been lax with reports of these human rights violations.
Now this is hilarious! Even if Rajeev hasn't heard of Statutes of Limitations (which I doubt, considering he works in the US), he should know that Queen Elizabeth II wasn't the reigning monarch at the time of the massacre. What shall we do next? Call up the Ayatollah for the invasion of "India" (which didnt exist at the time) by Babur?
The rest of his article is what I liked best. The description of American double standards, the "Chinese whisper" of reports and the hypocrisy of the IAS officer are well described. posted by Kensy | 4:18 AM
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