Friday, December 30, 2005

Conversions threaten a way of life -- Francois Gautier

Francois Gautier exposes the danger to Hinduism from determined Christian evangelists with a nefarious conversion agenda, supported by Christian fundamentalists like Antonia Maino, also known in India as Sonia Gandhi.

Francois Gautier writes on Rediff:
Conversions threaten a way of life

December 30, 2005

Francois Gautier writes to Dr John Dayal, member, National Integration Council, in response to the letter he wrote Prime Minister Manmohan Singh:

Dear John Dayal,

I am a Westerner and a born Christian. I was mainly brought up in Catholic schools, my uncle Father Guy Gautier a gem of a man, was the parish head of the beautiful Saint Jean de Montmartre church in Paris. My father Jacques Gautier, a famous artist in France, and a truly good person if there ever was one, was a fervent Catholic all his life, went to church nearly every day and lived by his Christian values.

There are certain concepts in Christianity I am proud of: Charity for others, the equality of social systems in many Western countries, Christ's message of love and compassion.

Yet, when I read your letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, apropos the inaugural meeting of the National Integration Council, I was a little uneasy.

First, you seem to assume that you are speaking for the entire Christian community in India. But I know many Christians in this country, and they never voice the grievances you so loudly proclaim. In fact, I have found that most Christians in India are not only happy to live in this country of traditional tolerance, but that they are also different from many Christians in the world: More multicultural and ecumenist in spirit, maybe.

Then, you speak of the marginalised Dalits. I agree that there are still unforgivable atrocities committed against Dalits, although very often they are done by backward castes themselves. I remember during the tsunami in Pondichery, how the Vanniars, an OBC caste, stopped the Dalits from a coastal hamlet from crossing the Vanniars' part of the village to bury their dead, as the Dalits' cremation ground had been submerged.

At the same time, my 30 years in India have taught me that nowhere in the world has there been so much effort to rectify a wrong -- from 1947 onwards. This resulted in a Dalit, the late K R Narayanan, born in a poor village of Kerala, to be elected President of India, one of the highest posts in this nation.

Has a black man ever been President of the United States?

Reservations for Dalits have made it possible for them to access education and jobs regardless of their merits -- and this is a unique feature of India today.

You continue by saying that 'the agenda draftsmen of papers for NIC seem to believe that forcible and fraudulent conversions (to Christianity) are the main cause of civil unrest in tribal and other rural areas'. And you retort that 'this is a malicious myth propagated by obscurantist and fundamentalist -- and often violent -- political groups'. Meaning Hindu groups, of course.

I have to disagree with you on two points.

One, I have seen with my own eyes how conversions in India are not only highly unethical -- that is, using unethical means of conversion -- but also that they threaten a whole way of life, erasing centuries of tradition, customs, wisdom, teaching people to despise their own religion and look Westwards to a culture which is alien to them, with disastrous results.

Look at what happened to countries like Hawaii, or to the extraordinary Aztec culture in South America, after Portuguese and Spanish missionaries took over.

Look how the biggest drug problems in India are found in the Northeast, or how Third World countries which have been totally Christianised have lost all moorings and bearing and are drifting away without nationalism and self-pride.

Second, I think people like you show very little gratitude to that Hindu ethos which has seeped into Indian Christian consciousness. It is because of that Hindu ethos, which accepts that god may manifest himself at different times in different names, that Christians were welcomed in India in the first century. Indeed, the Syrian Christians of Kerala constituted the first Christian community in the world.

It is because of this inbred tolerance in Hinduism that Christianity and many other persecuted minorities in the world flourished and practiced their religion in peace in India throughout the centuries.

But how do Christians thank the Hindus? When the Jesuits arrived in India with Vasco de Gama, they committed terrible persecutions, particularly in Goa, crucifying Brahmins, marrying local girls forcibly to Portuguese soldiers, razing temples to build churches and splitting the Kerala Christian community in two.

And today, people like you continue ranting against Hindus and promoting unethical conversions, using the massive power of the dollars donated by ignorant Westerners, who do not know that their money is used to lure innocent tribals and Dalits, who still possess that all encompassing acceptance of all gods, towards another religion.

Furthermore, you use false statistics, saying for instance that nuns have been raped. You no doubt allude to the Jhabua rape case, when courts have shown that these nuns were not raped by Hindus, but by Christian tribals.

I know, I went there and interviewed these innocent souls.

And who has been hijacking of the educational system in India? Not the Hindus, as you accuse, but the Christians, who control much of the higher education in India and by subtle and not so subtle means, poison the minds of the students, teaching them to look down on their own culture and look up to whatever is Western -- even if it has already failed in the West.

In how many schools and hospitals in India today, the Bible is read at the beginning of each day, each session? Would you approve of the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible of 850 million Hindus being read in Christian schools in the West to Christian students and nurses?

Finally, when you say: 'God bless you, you Government, and God bless India', which god are you talking about? Is it Jesus Christ? But the message of Christ was one of love, of respecting others' cultures and creed -- not of utilising unethical means for converting people.

It is false to say that Jesus is the only 'true' god. As Hindus rightly believe, the Divine has manifested himself throughout the ages under different names and identities, whether it is Christ, Buddha, Krishna or Mohammad.

Let this be the motto of the National Integration Council of India.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The 104th Constitution Amendment Bill is dangerous -- Subhash Kak

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government is getting ready to commit the same kind of mischief that V P Singh committed a decade ago.

Casteist Divide and Rule Politics is being used by so-called "secular" forces to divide and rule over India's Hindu population.

Will India's Hindus wake up and see what is going on ? Or will they passively allow this infamy to go on till whatever remains of their civilization and culture is destroyed the same way it has vanished from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh ?
Subhash Kak argues on Rediff:

The 104th Constitution Amendment Bill is dangerous

December 27, 2005

The supposedly liberal values that are the driving force behind politics in India -- especially of the United Progressive Alliance government -- are shrinking the public space for autonomy and free association.

The road to hell and to serfdom is paved with good intentions and great slogans. The 104th Constitution Amendment Bill, passed almost unanimously, ostensibly to help the underprivileged, will end up effectively bringing under the control of the government bureaucracy a major portion of the private education sector.

Rather than open more schools and increase the investment in education, the government wants to micromanage private schools.

Educational institutions, whether they receive aid from the government or not, so long as they are supposedly run by those who belong to the 'majority,' will have to set aside half of the seats for people from certain communities.

Watching over their shoulders will be the Big Brother, and one presumes if the ethnic background of students does not satisfy the bureaucrats, the schools would be shut down!

This is an assault on the principles of private initiative and voluntary association. The government is insisting that association even in the privacy of one's own property is disallowed unless this association includes members of certain groups.

This Amendment also contravenes one of the founding principles of any democracy, that all citizens be treated on the same basis. It creates two classes of citizens: minority and non-minority. The right of voluntary association is maintained for the minority, and denied to the non-minority.

The famous poem by Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) about accumulation of State power by the targeting of specific groups one at a time captures the slippery slope of the law very well:

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Amendment 104 should be seen as further march of a polity that has nationalized temples, taking away the right of free religious expression. It requires legislators to vote as the leader commands, under pain of expulsion if they refuse.

The liberals and leftists in the Indian polity, who have pushed this constitutional amendment, are in the mold of the 19th century liberals like John Stuart Mill, who spoke of tolerance and the rule of law, but were ardent supporters of European colonization. Mill believed that India like other 'barbarous' nations had 'not got beyond the period during which it is likely to be to their benefit that they should be conquered and held in subjection by foreigners.'

The liberals' embrace of universal human liberty contained a Eurocentric and potentially racist view of what society should be like, and communism was born out of this impulse. It is a strange irony that the only ones holding on to this Eurocentric program are the Indian Marxists and liberals.

There is no space for libertarians in Indian polity: no one speaks for the rights to privacy and voluntary association. But guarantee of such privacy is essential in the development of a knowledge society that is to be internationally competitive. Both the Left and the Right have used euphemisms such as 'social control' to increase the power of the State.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Indian political system seems to be becoming more and more like the mansabdar system of the Mughals. Then the emperor granted revenue rights to a mansabdar in exchange for promises of soldiers in war-time. Now the leader grants tickets and money to run for political office in exchange for unconditional support later. The mansab was both revocable and non-hereditary exactly like the parliament seat now.

This is the only explanation why there was no real opposition to the passage of the Amendment in both the Lok and Rajya Sabhas, why no one brought up Constitutional questions related to individual freedom and privacy.

If there is a law that needs to be resisted, it is this one.

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