My grandfather was a Muslim, my mother a Christian, and I am a Hindu – Nalini Rathnam

Seventh Day Adventist Publication

Nalini RathnamShortly after my baptism, on entering my teens I had lots of questions about Christianity which I would pose to my parents, siblings and the pastors in church. Suffice to say I got no answers save the proverbial, “Have faith. Do not question. Just believe.” – Nalini Rathnam

I hail from the most nationally integrated family I know. My maternal grandfather was John Ali Baksh. (John? Ali Baksh? … Yes!) Ali Baksh was a zamindar in Lahore—in pre-partition India. He was 17 when the missionaries gave him refuge in the church when he was being targeted by his uncles and step brothers for his father’s property. Ali Baksh was considered a real “catch” for the missionaries: he was not poor or downtrodden, he was heir to his father’s vast lands and wealth, and above all, a Muslim. My mother was born a Christian, her full name was Margaret Olive Mehrunissa Ali Baksh.

My father hailed from Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka. His ancestors were weavers. There was a time when a worm got into the cocoons and the crops were lost. Dad’s ancestors were Hindu—but, of course! Dad was poor as a church mouse and studied under the proverbial lamppost to complete his education. He was a bright student and a phenomenal stenographer. The missionaries got to him. He converted and served the mission as an evangelist and the best stenographer the church had ever seen. My father was a Seventh-Day Adventist. Like the Jews, the Adventists consider Saturday the 7th day of the week, hence the Sabbath—following the Gregorian calendar. That is pretty much where the similarity ends. Adventists believe in Jesus being the Savior unlike the Jews.

Dad saw Mom in a church ceremony in Lahore and fell in love with her. They married, had 8 children—the last one being yours truly. We were raised as Seventh Day Adventists.

As a toddler and later when I was well into my teens, my memories are vivid of being taught “you are in the light and all your Hindu friends are in the dark … you must bring them into the light.” I remember how in school, I used to feel sorry for all my Hindu friends (many of them are friends till date)—as they were in the “darkness”. Our banter used to be—me saying, “God and Jesus created the world in 7 days”, and my Hindu friends saying, “How silly … Brahma created the world”. So on and so forth. I remember how much of a “sinner” I felt growing up as I was not able to bring a single friend “into the fold and into the light”. I was very confused, angry and guilty. I could not preach.

At age 11, after attending Sabbath school regularly—I took a decision to get baptised in the Seventh Day Adventist church in Spicer College Pune … then Poona. That was a really holy day. Being baptised by my favorite pastor—Pastor Crump was the most liberating and awe-inspiring experience of my childhood. Our baptisms are carried out in the exact same way as John the Baptist used to, except not in a river, but a huge tank filled with water. We wore long grey robes, stepped into the tank, and the Pastor said, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit I baptise you”. Then he covered our mouths with a clean white handkerchief, dipped us in the water and pulled us back up after a few seconds. Lo and behold! We were now free of our past sins and we were pure. As an 11-year-old, I now wonder what “sins”?

Shortly after my baptism, on entering my teens I had lots of questions about Christianity which I would pose to my parents, siblings and the pastors in church. This is not the time or place to go into them, suffice to say I got no answers … save the proverbial “Have faith. Do not question. Just believe”

Over the years, I was drawn more and more towards the tenets of Hindu philosophy. (Can we stop calling it a religion, please?) I must say here that my mother always had the Bible, Bhagavad Gita and the Quran next to her bedside table. She told us about the good things in all religions and her knowledge of Islam as a religion and as a culture was manifold. Except for the fact that she was a Christian, her upbringing was more along Islamic traditions, and her language was Urdu. She could not read Hindi. She was a Montessori teacher and in her spare time taught Urdu to hundreds of students till the day she died.

She believed though that her saviour was indeed Jesus.

I married a Hindu and had an Arya Samaj wedding. I consider myself Hindu and have long ago stopped worshipping in a church. I have conversations with Ganesh, Ganapati … and in my heart I am a Hindu. I do not visit temples regularly nor do I want to convert anybody to my way of thinking.

I wish as Hindus, we would stop being apologists.

I thoroughly understand evangelism, and my problems with all missionaries is: Why do I have to change my first name or add a Western name to my birth name to prove I am Christian? Why can I not retain my Hindu or Muslim name and still “be in the fold” as it were? Why do many brides wear gowns to their weddings instead of the sari? Or like many, wear the sari but with a veil? Why does religion interfere with culture? Why interfere with the tribal culture in the North East under the garb of religion?

Why is Mother Teresa considered selfless?

Her bigger agenda like all Christian missionaries was to convert and bring people to the fold. That is the whole purpose of being a missionary for God’s sake! Pardon the pun! It’s almost like a vow you take when being ordained a priest or pastor.

Jesus told his twelve disciples the following and I quote from the Bible:

Mark 16:15 — And he said to them, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Mathew 28:19-20 — Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Romans 10:10-17 — For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the scripture says, Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

Why is it wrong if Mohan Bhagwat or any other says it like it is? I am not holding a brief for Mohan Bhagwat, so even before you all who are reading this … start to smirk … stop right there! I am Indian first and last! No faith, no religion, no belief, no tenet can alter the fact that I am well and truly Indian. I hold a brief for no one, against no religion—but I have the fundamental right to question.

Hence, I have the right to question critics of Hinduism, or the critics of Hindus, when they argue, “the Christian missionaries are at least looking after the poor and needy. Why do the Hindus not do the same for their own”? I always believed that the basis of Hindu philosophy was the theory of karma. Am I wrong?

No, I don’t think so. So that answers that question.

The Bible also says “as you sow so shall you reap”, but with a difference—that whatever you sow you will reap in this one life only. You only die once is the theory.

The Bible rejects the idea of reincarnation; therefore, it does not support the idea of karma.

All those holding a brief for the good lady Mother Teresa, I admired her too. But I am not into Hindu bashing nor do I have my blinders on. I know her agenda was conversion. She was a Christian missionary—if she did not convert others she would be going against the very tenets of what Jesus said.

I end with her quote at the Scripps Clinic in California below:

Mother Teresa encouraged members of her order to baptise dying patients, without regard to the individual’s religion. In a speech at the Scripps Clinic in California in January 1992, she said: “Something very beautiful … not one has died without receiving the special ticket for St. Peter, as we call it. We call baptism ticket for St. Peter. We ask the person, do you want a blessing by which your sins will be forgiven and you receive God? They have never refused. So 29,000 have died in that one house [in Kalighat] from the time we began in 1952.” 

I rest my case. – Opindia, 26 February 2017

» (Ethel) Nalini Rathnam is a theatre actress, script consultant, and award-winning casting director in Mumbai. This article is her personal story and represents her own views. Images have been added by the editor.

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So-called secular Indian state controls temples, not churches and mosques – Swaminathan Venkataraman

Gangaikonda Cholapuram Shiva Temple

Swaminathan VenkataramanRich temples such as Tirupati, Guruvayoor, or Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak Temple have routinely been raided to fund state budget programmes or line politicians’ pockets, while what happens in Tamil Nadu can only be described as wholesale loot. – Swaminathan Venkataraman

In April 2016, more than a 1,000-year-old temple, built by Rajendra Chola I in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, was pulled down by the state government in the name of renovation. The government said the temple was only “dismantled” and would be put together again. In May 2010, the temple tower of the famous 500-year-old Kalahasti Temple in Andhra Pradesh, built by King Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara, collapsed. A UNESCO report released in August 2017 raised alarm that the Tamil Nadu government, which manages more than 36,000 temples, neither had the capacity nor qualified experts to carry out conservation work, leading to the “massacre” of ancient temples. These magnificent temples would be national treasures in any other country, and protected with great care. Tamil Nadu’s temples are indeed known globally, but the sheer scale of the treasure is unappreciated (dozens or hundreds of temples are over 1,000 years old) and numerous gems languish in obscurity, crumbling away for lack of care.

Foxes guarding the hen-house

This sorry state of affairs is the direct result of temples being managed by callous and corrupt state governments. Several Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HRCE) acts have allowed states to assume financial and managerial control of more than a hundred thousand Hindu temples. These HRCE departments are headed either by a cabinet minister or by ostensibly autonomous boards. According to a Supreme Court judgement, governments are free to appoint Marxists and non-believers to manage these departments.

During deliberations that preceded the passage of the landmark Madras HRCE Act of 1951, the premier of Madras, O. P. Ramaswamy Reddiar, assured the House of his government’s intention: “In bringing forward this Bill sir, let me make it clear that I have the highest interest of our faith at heart…. The regulation of Hindu temples and maths is regulation of the community’s life and conduct; the revival of our temples is the revival of our people…. If we do not make our temples a positive force, radiating a healthy progressive, social and cultural outlook, we shall be playing into the hands of the surging Godless crowd….”

How ironic then that temples are managed by Marxists in Kerala, atheist Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu, or Christians such as Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy in Andhra Pradesh, who tried to build a church right on top of Tirumala. They have wreaked havoc on the financial sustainability of temples, although ostensibly practising Hindu politicians are also culpable. Virtually all of Reddiar’s stated intentions stand belied or worse. T. S. S. Rajan, who introduced the bill in 1949, said, “Ours maybe called a secular government, and so it is. But it does not absolve us from protecting the funds of the institutions which are meant for the service of the people.”

This has been the pre-eminent rationale to justify government management of Hindu temples. In reality, state after state has used the precedent of Tamil Nadu to pass HRCE acts, seeing temple funds as cookie jars they can raid for all and sundry purposes. Mismanagement extends to all aspects of temple administration, and borders on the criminal.

Rich temples such as Tirupati, Guruvayoor, or Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak Temple have routinely been raided to fund state budget programmes or line politicians’ pockets, while what happens in Tamil Nadu can only be described as wholesale loot. The HRCE Department controls more than 4.7 lakh acres of agricultural land, 2.6 crore square feet of buildings and 29 crore square feet of urban land. The government, however, collects a mere Rs 36 crore in rent, while any reasonable measure will run into thousands of crores.

Financial mismanagement is compounded by gross incompetence when it comes to temple maintenance. There are numerous instances where ancient murals and paintings were white-washed, mandapams were demolished and walls sand-blasted causing precious inscriptions to disappear. While the government eventually issues notifications acknowledging the errors of such senseless acts, the damage is already been done, and new forms of egregious violations occur at other temples. There are long running rackets in the smuggling of exquisite ancient sculptures abroad and while there have been some notable successes in recapturing artifacts recently, they remain the tip of the iceberg. Moreover, the initiative and intelligence for these successes come from private efforts, like the one initiated by the India Pride Project.

Such a loot has been the inevitable outcome since modern bureaucratic control of temples commenced during the British rule. The first Collector of Chengalpattu, Lionel Place, noted in his “report on the jagir” of 1799 that, soon after he became the collector, he took over the “management of the funds of all the celebrated pagodas” into his own hands and allocated expenses for their festivals and maintenance. By 1801, these were converted to “fixed money allowances” under a “permanent settlement”.

An article on the Tirupati temple by the collector of North Arcot in the Asiatic Journal in 1831, is even more explicit: “It was a strange but determined piece of policy when throughout the country the pagoda lands were resumed by the company and tusdeck allowances were granted in their place…. Now let us contemplate the result of this plan. From one end of the country to the other, the pagodas are ruined, unmaintained…. The revenues of Tripetty are on a gradual decline and will die in the lapse of years a natural death. Some of the most celebrated temples in the country are worse off. But there are still, alas, many more strongholds of the devil.”

Legal apartheid against Hindus

These acts of what can only be called “state-sanctioned violence” acquire the colours of apartheid when compared with the rights of other religions in independent India. One of the great ironies of Indian secularism is that a vocally secular government sees no contradiction in managing Hindu temples—and only Hindu temples. The dramatically different legal, nay constitutional, position of the Hindus vis-a-vis other religions is best understood with reference to a few key provisions of the Indian Constitution, summarised below:

Article 14 — Equality Before Law

The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

Article 15 — Prohibition of Discrimination on Grounds of Religion, Race, Caste, Sex or Place of Birth

Article 25 — Freedom of Religion

(1) Subject to public order, morality and health … all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion;

(2)(a) Nothing in this article shall … prevent the State from making any law regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice.

Article 26 — Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs

Subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right

(a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes;

(b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;

(c) to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and

(d) to administer such property in accordance with law.

Article 29 — Protection of Interests of Minorities

(1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India … having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.

Article 30 — Right of Minorities to Establish and Administer Educational Institutions

(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

The Indian Constitution confers extraordinary protections on minorities. But crucially, the equality promised under Articles 14 and 15 and the freedom to manage religious affairs under Articles 25(1) and 26 are abrogated for Hindus, and Hindus alone, in the matter of their temples by recourse to Article 25(2)(a). By considering temple finances a secular matter, the tentacles of the state are now deeply entrenched into purely religious matters such as conduct of puja and other rituals.

Articles 29 and 30 together constitute yet another assault on the Hindu community and its unity. The right to manage institutions conferred by Article 30 ought to be a natural right for all communities. But Hindus alone have been denied this privilege. Article 29 virtually guarantees that Hindus will splinter into smaller groups that can claim minority status on the basis of language or culture, thereby securing immunity from the depredations of the state. Groups such as the Ramakrishna Mission, and now Lingayats, have claimed/are claiming minority status for this reason, as are many private educational institutions run by Hindus. As far back as 1927, the passage of the Hindu Religious Endowments Bill caused communities in Canara and Malabar to claim to be “separate and independent communities”. This harms the unity and integrity of India by encouraging more groups to separate as distinct entities, not because they have seen themselves as such historically but simply for constitutional convenience.

This also severely hampers the Hindu community’s ability to respond to the menace of religious conversions. Hindus are routinely accused of not performing adequate social service for the poor, unlike Christian missionaries. But how could they, when the government usurps temple funds and interferes in educational and other institutions?

By contrast, churches are completely free from interference and run schools and hospitals on a for-profit basis that fund conversion efforts. A comparison of the legal rights of various religions in India today is shown in the table below. Such institutionalised discrimination against an ostensible 80 per cent majority community is without parallel anywhere in the world.

Hindus have a right to manage their temples

The near total ignorance and indifference among the educated elite of India about how temples are managed is only now beginning to change, with the growth of a right of centre media ecosystem. But granting Hindus the right to manage their temples should not be a partisan issue. On the one hand, politicians of all hues have been guilty of misappropriating temple funds. On the other, intellectuals on the Left have opined just as much against state interference in temples.

Hinduism has a millennia-old history of local management of temple affairs. An inscription at the Tirupati temple from 1390 CE indicates the composition of the local management committee, while describing the share (nirvaham) of the prasadams to be given to the members:

• Four nirvaham for the Tirupati Srivaishnavas (local devotees)

• Three nirvaham for the sabhaiyar of Thirucchanur (local lawmakers)

• One nirvaham for the nambimar (priests of the temple)

• Two nirvahams for the kovil kelkum jiyars (Vaishnava religious heads)

• Two nirvaham for the kovil kanakku (accountants)

This is a structure that can easily be adapted to modern needs. There are legitimate questions about how temples would be managed and how corruption can be avoided, but no one questions the right or ability of minorities to manage their places of worship.

Claiming that the government must manage temples makes the implicitly bigoted assumption that Hindus alone are incapable of managing their temples. – Swarajya, 6 November 2017

» This article is part of Swarajya Heritage Program. If you liked this article and would like Swarajya to do more such ones consider being a sponsor—you can contribute as little as Rs 2,999. Read more here.


Don’t deny BHU’s Hindu character – Faizan Mustafa


Faizan MustafaWe should be proud of the Hindu character of BHU and in view of its origin and purpose, retain ‘H’ in BHU. It does not impinge on our secular character. – Faizan Mustafa

Shakespeare was wrong in saying “What’s in a name?” There is a lot in a name. The names of institutions have far greater significance than the names of individuals as they give us an idea about their history, purpose and character. A UGC audit team recently suggested that the words ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ be dropped from the names of two denominational universities: Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). It not only exceeded its brief but also showed its ignorance of the history and the unique character of the universities.

It is also wrong to assert, as some have done, that while AMU was meant to serve primarily Muslim interests, BHU did not give central importance to Hindu interests. In fact, the editor of Leader (an English newspaper started by BHU founder Madan Mohan Malaviya) said the birth of BHU was in fact the beginning of Hindu renaissance. To deny the Hindu character of BHU is to rewrite history.

“No Hindu who has received an English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion. It is my firm belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolater amongst the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence,” said Lord Macaulay. To counter the ill effects imparted by the British educational institutions, Hindus wanted a university of their own. The Central Hindu College was founded in 1898 by Annie Besant and Bhagwan Das to promote the study of Hindu shastras along with western education. Revival of Hinduism was the primary goal of this institution. Khalsa College was similarly founded in 1892 to conserve Sikhism.

The MAO College at Aligarh founded in 1877 by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan had a similar motive but there was a difference. Here, Sir Syed was more interested in western education than the revival of Islam. As many as five fatwas were issued against him, including one from Mecca. He and his college were called evil. While Sir Syed was for radical reforms in Islam, Malaviya represented and practiced Hindu orthodoxy. Malaviya’s links with Hindu organisations were quite cordial.

In 1887 Madhya Hindu Samaj sent him as its delegate to the newly-founded Indian National Congress session. Malaviya was one of the founders of Hindu Mahasabha which too was formed with the intention of promoting the Hindu identity. He repeatedly said that Hindus should take pride in their Hindu identity as the British education system had inculcated in them a feeling of inferiority. But when the Hindu Mahasabha adopted an aggressive and exclusionary approach, Malaviya withdrew himself from its activities. Malaviya as the third vice-chancellor of BHU in 1938 permitted the construction of two rooms on campus for the RSS to carry out its activities.

In 1904 at the Congress session, Malaviya’s proposal for the BHU was unanimously adopted. The British government also supported the proposal in the hope that it would produce loyal British subjects. Harcourt Butler, member education, Government of India , without mincing words said about the BHU Bill that “educating the youth in India in the Hindu religion would inspire loyalty to the government and would serve to quell growing sedition in India”.

The Hindu kings were of the similar view. When Butler informed the promoters of both the universities that the secretary of state did not agree to using “Hindu” or “Muslim” in the names of the universities, both communities opposed it. The Maharaja of Darbhanga, president of Hindu University Society, wrote to Harcourt Butler that “the new name will not appeal to the Hindu public at large”. He also said in any case, a “change of name will not alter the essential Hindu character of the proposed University”. The Viceroy Lord Hardinge’s letter of 7th October, 1912 to the secretary of state saved the day as he persuaded him to concede this genuine demand.

Malaviya was also opposed to the non-cooperation movement. In fact Gandhiji at the Nagpur session of Congress where the non-cooperation resolution was adopted did acknowledge Malaviya’s absence; otherwise he would have opposed this resolution. Gandhiji considered institutions run with British support as “satanic”. He advocated BHU’s closure as the education was not nationalist. When Malaviya did not concede, Gandhiji got an alternative nationalist university established at Benaras itself: Kashi Vidyapith. At its inauguration in 1921, Gandhiji regretted that Malaviya had even refused to attend the function. Similarly in Aligarh, Jamia Millia Islamia was founded as an alternative to AMU by the nationalist Muslims with Gandhiji’s patronage. Subsequently it was shifted to Delhi.

The BHU reflected its Hindu character. The university’s Supreme Governing Body till 1951 consisted only of Hindus. Only Brahmins were permitted to teach at the College of Theology. When non-Brahmin donors and kings objected to this, Malaviya convinced the members on the basis of Manusmriti. Non-Brahmins were not admitted even as students of the Theology College as according to the shastras, they were not entitled to perform the duties of priests. On the same basis, women too were excluded.

In 1945, even Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan who had succeeded Malaviya refused to go against the regressive decisions. Thus it is absurd to say that BHU was progressive and AMU was sectarian and regressive. We should be proud of the Hindu character of BHU and in view of its origin and purpose, retain ‘H’ in BHU. It does not impinge on our secular character. In 1965, the Centre’s similar proposal was opposed even by the RSS and was dropped. The BHU is certainly better than most universities in India and its character has not diluted its academic standards. The New Indian Express, 10 November 2017

» Faizan Mustafa is Vice-Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.

BHU Emblem

Vishwanath Temple at Banaras Hindu University


Tipu Sultan, Adolf Hitler and religious tolerance – Balbir Punj

Tipu Sultan, Karnataka, Republic Day Tableau 2014

Balbir PunjTipu Sultan is a hero to some, because he fought against the British. So did Adolf Hitler. Why different yardsticks for the two? – Balbir Punj

By the time this column is out, Karnataka hopefully would have been through Tipu Sultan Jayanti celebrations. Recently, the country witnessed former President Pranab Mukherjee paying glowing tributes to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and the father of Muslim separatism in the Indian subcontinent.

The occasion was the 200th birth anniversary of Sir Syed. He is a part of the trio which is described in Pakistan schoolbooks as the spiritual founders of Pakistan—the other two being Muhammad Iqbal and Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Though Sir Syed died nearly half a century before the country of his dreams became a reality, numerous prestigious institutions are named after him in Pakistan to underline his unmatched contribution in promoting the two-nation theory which ultimately led to the vivisection of India. President Mukherjee spoke about his “vision” and several newspapers carried articles eulogising Sir Syed and recalled his “services” to the country and Muslim community.

Meanwhile knives were out last month for the BJP and Sangh Parivar after Sangeet Som, a BJP MLA from UP, committed “blasphemy” (as per secular norms) by questioning the status of the iconic Taj Mahal as a symbol of love and for doubting the patriotism of Mughals. The “secular” uproar that followed Som’s remarks forced the BJP to distance itself from the controversy.

But how can the Karnataka government and Pranab Mukherjee get away with daylight murder, while the BJP has to pay a heavy penalty even for what at worst may be merely a parking offence? Is it because the Left has enjoyed complete control over public discourse since Independence, to the complete exclusion of other valid narratives?

In this context one is reminded of a TV programme called “Alternative Views” which was a great hit in the US. It was one of the longest-running public-access TV programmes, with 563 shows telecast from 1978 to 1998. It covered news, interviews and opinions from a new and progressive perspective.

Nothing of this sort has happened in India. No wonder, we continue to suffer a doctored version of history, manufactured by the Macaulay-Marxist combine to suit its ideological ends. Ironically those responsible for this gagging have also appropriated the label of “liberals” and style themselves as “left-liberals”! An oxymoron in the Indian context.

The two celebrated “secular icons”, Sir Syed and Tipu Sultan had adopted diagonally opposite approaches to promote their community interests. Sir Syed collaborated with the British and worked to promote a Muslim-British alliance against Hindus. Sir Syed justified the alliance on the basis that both Christians and Muslims, were “People of the Book”. For his services, the British empire conferred on him various titles such as Khan Bahadhur and Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India.

Tipu Sultan, on the other hand, is hailed for resisting the British. But why did Tipu oppose the British? Not because they were foreign invaders. In fact Tipu himself sought the assistance of several foreign powers—including the French, who were manoeuvring to establish their domination in the country. The ambitious Sultan solicited the help of Muslim countries like Persia, Afghanistan and Turkey, as well, in the name of Islam. The Sultan opposed the British because they were an impediment in his endeavour to carry out “jihad” against “kafirs” and establish an Islamic state in India.

The Left, however, would say it is all false propaganda, part of the British design to create a rift between Hindus and Muslims. Here are excerpts from some letters which Tipu had sent to his army commanders.

1. March 22, 1788, to Abdul Kadir: “Over 12,000 Hindus were ‘honoured’ with Islam. There were many Namboodiris (Brahmins) among them. The local Hindus should be brought before you and then converted to Islam.”

2. December 14, 1788, to his army chief in Calicut: “I am sending two of my followers with Mir Hussain Ali. You should capture and kill all Hindus. These are my orders.”

3. December 21, 1788, to Sheik Kutub: “… 242 Nairs are being sent as prisoners. Categorise them according to their social and family status. After honouring them with Islam … dress materials may be given to the men and their women.”

4. January 18, 1790, to Syed Abdul Dulai: “With the grace of Prophet Mohammed and Allah, almost all Hindus in Calicut are converted to Islam. Only a few are still not converted on the borders of Cochin state. I am determined to convert them also very soon. I consider this as jihad.”

5. January 19, 1790, to Badroos Saman Khan: “Don’t you know that I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam.”

Lewis Rice, a historian, who wrote a much acclaimed book on Mysore after going through various official records, said as follows: “In the vast empire of Tipu Sultan on the eve of his death, there were only two Hindu temples having daily pujas within the Sreerangapatanam fortress. It is only for the satisfaction of the Brahmin astrologers who used to study his horoscope that Tipu Sultan had spared those two temples.”

The Sultan could not even tolerate the Hindu names of certain regions. Therefore, Mangalapuri (Mangalore) was changed to Jalalabad, Cannanore (Kanwapuram) to Kusanabad, Mysore to Nazarabad, Dharwar to Quarshed-Sawad, Gooty to Faiz-Hissar, Ratnagiri to Mustafabad, Dindigul to Khaliqabad, and Calicut (Kozhikode) to Islamabad. Tipu is a hero to some, because he fought against the British. So did Hitler. Why different yardsticks for the two?

» Balbir Punj is a former Rajya Sabha member and Delhi-based commentator on social and political issues.

Tipu with his mistress

Catholic Church must apologise for falsely accusing NDA government of hate crimes – Jaideep Mazumdar

Cardinals Baselios Cleemis & Oswald Gracias

Jaideep MazumdarThe Nadia incident is not the first one in which the Church has been caught crying wolf. As this article proves, the spate of ‘attacks’ on churches in Delhi in late 2014 and early 2015 that created such a furore were simply acts of burglary or vandalism. But Christian missionaries made a huge hue and cry over it and even made it an issue at global fora, thus defaming the country. – Jaideep Mazumdar

The rape of a 72-year-old Catholic nun at Gangnapur in Ranaghat sub-division of Nadia district [WB] in mid-March, 2015, sparked outrage across the country. The immediate verdict by the Church, opposition political parties, commentators and the so-called Left-liberal cabal was that the alleged rape, and the looting and desecration of the Convent of Jesus and Mary at Gangnapur was a hate crime and yet another attack on minorities after the Narendra Modi government came to power.

The alleged rape and loot at the Catholic establishment was preceded by a series of alleged attacks on churches in some parts of the country. Thus, when the Nadia incident occurred, large sections of the media, the opposition parties and others were already conducting a high-decibel campaign against the new National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, accusing it of orchestrating and supporting attacks on minorities and minority institutions. The allegations—mostly fake, as they later turned out to be—were even given credence by minority organisations like the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).

In the Nadia nun rape case, too, the CBCI alleged it was a hate crime. Dripping sarcasm, CBCI president Cardinal Baselios Cleemis told the media before visiting the nun and the convent in Bengal that “not only cows, but human beings too need to be protected”. The cardinal was alluding to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) proposed cow protection measures. He went on to indirectly blame Prime Minister Modi and the BJP-led NDA government for the alleged attacks on minorities. His colleague, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, one of the eight cardinals from across the world appointed by Pope Francis on his advisory board to help him govern the Catholic Church, repeated the false allegation of “frequent attacks on Christians in the country” and said he was worried about “the future of the country”!

Articles like this appeared in many publications severely criticising and condemning not only Modi, but also the BJP, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and their leaders.

Less than two weeks after the incident at Nadia, the Bengal police arrested one of the accused from Mumbai. Far from being a Hindutva foot soldier, as the CBCI, the media, commentators and the opposition had alleged, the man was a Muslim and, that too, a Bangladeshi! His interrogation by the police in Bengal (ruled by the vehemently anti-BJP Mamata Banerjee) revealed that the perpetrators of the crime were all Bangladeshis and the motive was dacoity.

On Tuesday [Nov. 6], a Kolkata court held only the prime accused, Nazrul Islam (a Bangladeshi national), guilty of rape. Four other members of the gang—all of them Bangladeshis, three of them are Muslims—have been held guilty of only committing a dacoity. Hence, the gang-rape theory was discredited by the trial court, which held the four other accused guilty of dacoity and criminal conspiracy.

Thus, the court verdict is a resounding slap on the faces of those who gave a communal colour to what was a case of dacoity. Moreover, the nun was not gang-raped, as was alleged. And also, contrary to the false accusations of the CBCI, there was no deliberate desecration of the chapel inside the convent. The gang of dacoits had gone to the convent to get hold of valuables and, when the nun resisted their attempts, she was reportedly raped. What, incidentally, remains unanswered is how the small convent had Rs 12 lakh (the amount allegedly taken away by the gang) in its cash box. But that is another matter altogether.

Given this, the two cardinals—Baselios Cleemis and Oswald Gracias—should now apologise for communalising the Nadia incident and levelling false allegations against the BJP and the NDA government. It is only fair that they publicly retract their earlier statements about the Nadia incident being another in a series of attacks on minorities in India. They should apologise to Prime Minister Modi for criticising him.

Apologies and retractions are also due from those in the media, who created and publicised the false narrative about attacks on minorities increasing after the NDA came to power in mid-2014, the commentators and the opposition parties.

But the Nadia incident is not the first one in which the Church has been caught crying wolf. As this article proves, the spate of ‘attacks’ on churches in Delhi in late 2014 and early 2015 that created such a furore were simply acts of burglary or vandalism. But Christian missionaries made a huge hue and cry over it and even made it an issue at global fora, thus defaming the country.

The false attacks even became an issue in the Delhi elections in 2015 and after the victory of the Aam Aadmi Party, Delhi archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto told the media that the verdict was a vote for change. This was his highly political statement: “The people of Delhi voted against the BJP and its attempt to polarize the voters in the name of religion. The result of these elections is a message to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi: he should think seriously about his behaviour”. So much for the Christian clergy keeping away from politics!

The point here is that the CBCI and its cardinals and archbishops should publicly apologise and retract their intemperate and hurried statements about attacks on minorities in the country. So should all the media persons, commentators and the political parties. Because such statements feed a false narrative about India having become unsafe for minorities post-May 2014. And that only serves to defame the country. The Catholic church, least of all, has no business defaming India. – Swarajya, 8 November 2017

» Jaideep Mazumdar is a senior journalist who has reported for The Times Of India, Open, The Outlook, The Hindustan Times, The Pioneer and other news organisations. He lives in Kolkata and writes on politics, society and other subjects from North, East and North East India as well as Nepal and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Dacoits

If China continues to indulge Pakistan, its own 9/11 event is a certainty – Ravi Shankar

China's Xi vs. ISIS

Ravi Shankar EttethIslam is an implacable historical force, which has used violence and fear to spread its ascendancy. Its aim is to annihilate Western and Asian civilisation and emerge from the ashes to impose its puritan rule. – Ravi Shankar

Empires are godfathers that oversee the churning of history. All great national enterprises—from the Roman Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Napoleon’s France and the British—reared client states to maintain the geopolitical balance and tilt it when the occasion arose. Pakistan is China’s vassal state now, just as it was of the US in the 1970s-80s during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. China has once again blocked a joint effort by the US, France and the UK to list Pakistan-resident Jaish-e-Mohammed chief and Pathankot terror attack plotter-in-chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN.

The diplomatic travesty underlined China’s support of Islamic terrorism and its  most  defined face, Pakistan. The Islamic Republic’s ultimate aim is to impose Sharia all over the world. Fat chance, but right now, it seems to be a step ahead frustrating Western powers, which are sick of its unabashed support of IS, al-Qaeda and jihad. Since everything’s “the economy, stupid,” China may be only protecting its investments in Pak. In the process it is protecting radical Islam’s biggest investment—Pakistan.

Strategically important small nations become subservient to their imperial masters. Some, however, become a successful parasite like Pakistan. Lacking a developed economy, governed by feudal warlords and political satraps, it trudged along until the Noughties, suckled by America’s munificence. Meanwhile, Afghanistan, infected by the Pak-supported Taliban became Pakistan’s vassal. Islam was the sustaining link between both the rogue nations. It is an implacable historical force, which has used violence and fear to spread its ascendancy. Its aim is to annihilate Western and Asian civilisation and emerge from the ashes to impose its puritan rule. Too late have the naive Western countries realised that faith wages war by deception. The US, which supported the Arab Spring in idealistic foolishness, saw the IS destroy Iraq, Libya and Syria and unleash terror across the US and Europe.

Cold War opponents, America and the USSR, fought a proxy war in Af-Pak—both lost. The Chinese urgently need to read up a bit on the Mujahideen, who defeated the Soviets with the help of the US-supplied Stinger missiles and CIA training. Ironically, Osama bin Laden, too, had received the same training. Two decades on, the US was rewarded with 9/11. By identifying itself with Pakistan, China has laid the ground for its own 9/11.

China has its own separatist Islamic rebellion in Xinjiang province, clandestinely supported by Pakistan. Battle-hardened Chechen, Arab, Afghan and African jihadis are operating in the region. Chinese jihadis are fighting in Syria with IS, and could cause the same crisis terrorists from Europe do in their home countries. Chinese police recently ordered Muslims to turn over all copies of the Koran and prayer mats or face “harsh punishment”. It believes violent Islam can be defeated with state force, like Russia did in Chechnya. In its foreign policy, it perceives Islam as the lesser evil, like Rambo did in Afghanistan. The only gainer in the endgame will be Pakistan. Chinese mythology is one of the richest in the world. By nourishing parasite Pakistan, Beijing will be well advised to include the word “Bhasmasura” in its mythological lexicon. – The New Indian Express, 5 November 2017

» Ravi Shankar is an author, cartoonist, and columnist for The New Indian Express.

Uighurs living in Turkey burn a Chinese flag

How much does Britain owe India as reparations for its 190-year occupation of the country? – Minhaz Merchant

A group of 66 Namdhari Sikhs were blown up by canon by the British for protesting against cow slaughter in 1872.

Minhaz MerchantWhat Britain built in India with underpaid Indian labour and overtaxed Indian revenue was repatriated to pave the roads of London, finance British infrastructure and subsidise Britain’s imperial wars. India ended up paying for its own colonisation. All the benefits accrued to Britain. All the costs were borne by India. – Minhaz Merchant

How much does Britain owe India as reparations for its 190-year occupation and depredation of India?

Shashi Tharoor, the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, in his book An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India, quoted American historian and philosopher Will Durant: “The British conquest of India was the invasion and destruction of a high civilisation, utterly without scruple or principle, careless of art and greedy of gain, overrunning with fire and sword a country temporarily disordered and helpless, bribing and murdering, annexing and stealing, and beginning that career of illegal and ‘legal’ plunder which now (1930) has gone on ruthlessly for one hundred and seventy-three years.”

Consider the damage Britain did to India. In Tharoor’s words: “Taxation (and theft labelled as taxation) became a favourite British form of exaction. India was treated as a cash cow; the revenues that flowed into London’s treasury were described by the Earl of Chatham as ‘the redemption of a nation … a kind of gift from heaven’. The British extracted from India approximately £18,000,000 each year between 1765 and 1815. Taxation—usually at a minimum of 50 per cent of income—was so onerous that two-thirds of the population ruled by the British in the late eighteenth century fled their lands. Durant writes that “(tax) defaulters were confined in cages, and exposed to the burning sun; fathers sold their children to meet the rising rates. Unpaid taxes meant being tortured to pay up, and the wretched victim’s land being confiscated by the British.”

While Tharoor’s well-researched book has deservedly received wide coverage in India and abroad, an excellent article on the subject by Venu Madhav Govindu in The Wire (August 6, 2015) has passed relatively unnoticed.

Govindu throws light on what Britain owed India from an accounting point of view. These are empirical, official figures. From here we can extrapolate Britain’s colonial debt to India, an exercise I first did in an article in The Illustrated Weekly of India in 1988: “The Debt and Dishonour of the British Empire”.

But first, Govindu’s arguments: “In 1931, the debt owed to Britain by India was said to be about Rs 1,000 crore. At that time, the Indian National Congress argued that much of this amount was incurred by Britain in furthering its own interests. Based largely on the work of the Gandhian economic philosopher, J. C. Kumarappa, the Congress argued that the principle of natural justice would wipe out all of this debt and more. Therefore, it held that the future debt to be borne by a free India had to be subjected to the scrutiny of an impartial tribunal. The British political leadership and press roundly denounced this rather moderate position and treated it as a treacherous “repudiation” of India’s obligations.

“By the end of the Second World War in 1945, Britain had to finally reckon with the problem of its debt to India and other countries. Britain agreed to pay a debt of Rs 1,600 crore but other calculations showed a rather different figure. In 1947, Kumarappa estimated that the Indian share of the costs of deployment of its soldiers was Rs 1,300 crore. A similar amount of Rs 1,200 crore was spent in expenses pertaining to the war. He argued that these and other costs ought to be borne by Britain, which led to a figure of Rs 5,700 crore which was many times larger than the British figure of Rs 1,600 crore. Britain, Kumarappa asserted, should not be allowed to be the debtor as well as the judge and the jury and he lobbied for India to demand an impartial international tribunal on the matter. In the event, India failed to push for such an international settlement and the British view prevailed much to the detriment of independent India.”

Let’s take the Rs 5,700 crore figure estimated by Kumarappa in 1947 as the starting point of what Britain owed India in purely commercial terms, not taking into account intangibles such as the economic cost of human life caused by British brutality or the egregious strangulation of Indian economic activity and trade.

In 1947, the exchange rate was Rs 13 to one British pound sterling. Thus Rs 5,700 crore in 1947 was equivalent to £4.40 billion. What would that be in today’s rupees/sterling?

The value of gold and real estate is an accurate indicator of how money appreciates over long periods of time spanning more than 70 years. In 1947, the price of 10 gms of gold was Rs 80. In 2017, the price of 10 gms of gold was Rs 31,000—an increase of nearly 400 times.

The rise in the price of a basket of real estate, commodities and household essentials over the past 70 years gives a similar cost-inflation index of between 400 and 500 times. (The inflation-adjustment in British prices between 1947 and 2017 is around 150 times. But since our calculations are in rupees and a depreciation of the rupee-sterling rate between 1947 and 2017 has been factored in, the multiplier of 400x holds.)

Now to the math: according to Govindu, Britain’s official debt to India in 1947 was Rs 5,700 crore (£4.40 billion) at the prevailing exchange rate of Rs 13 to one pound sterling. Multiply that by 400. At today’s inflation-adjusted and exchange rate-adjusted figure, the debt is therefore £1.76 trillion.

But this is just the tip of the reparations iceberg. We haven’t yet computed the cost of India’s near-zero rate of GDP growth during vast time swathes of the 190-year British occupation, nor the cost of lost economic value due to Britain’s wilful destruction of Indian mercantile trade.

If these are scientifically calculated, Britain’s debt to India at today’s prices would easily cross £3 trillion (Rs 270 lakh crore)—more than Britain’s current GDP.

Tharoor says reparations aren’t needed; an apology and a token payment of one pound sterling a year for 200 years will suffice. He is wrong. Reparations are needed. An apology and tokenism won’t suffice. Writes Tharoor in his book: “India should be content with a symbolic reparation of one pound a year, payable for 200 years to atone for 200 years of imperial rule. I felt that atonement was the point—a simple “sorry” would do as well—rather than cash. Indeed, the attempt by one Indian commentator, Minhaz Merchant, to compute what a fair sum of reparations would amount to, came up with a figure so astronomical—$3 trillion in today’s money—that no one could ever reasonably be expected to pay it. (The sum would be larger than Britain’s entire GDP in 2015.)”

Obviously £3 trillion (not $3 trillion as Tharoor writes) is a figure that needs to be ratified by an international arbitration panel of economists and technocrats. This mechanism had been demanded by the Congress, based on Kumarappa’s work, even before Independence. Let’s assume the final figure such a tribunal arrives at today as colonial reparations against Britain’s debt to India is £2.50 trillion.

A payment schedule can stretch over 50 years, interest-free at £50 billion (Rs 4,50,000 crore) a year. That’s less than 2 per cent of Britain’s current GDP (£2.6 trillion) and not much more than the amount Britain intends in future to spend every year on the National Health Service (NHS).

Can Britain afford to pay India reparations of 2 per cent of its GDP for the next 50 years?

That isn’t India’s problem. It’s Britain’s.

For nearly 200 years Britain plundered India, committed brutal crimes on Indian civilians and strangulated GDP growth. In the process, it financed its industrial revolution, its Napoleonic wars against France, and built the world’s largest economy in the 1800s. That led to the creation of Britain’s post-industrial leisure society and the soft power of music, sports and culture that accompanied it.

What about Britain’s contribution to India: the railways, unification, English, the ICS/IAS, universities, the rule of law?

Tharoor rightly sets each one in perspective. Consider, for lack of space, just one: the railways: “In this very conception and construction, the Indian Railways was a big British colonial scam. Each mile of Indian Railway construction in the 1850s and 1860s cost an average of £18,000, as against the dollar equivalent of £2,000 at the same time in the US.”

In short, what Britain built in India with underpaid Indian labour and overtaxed Indian revenue was ruthlessly repatriated to pave the roads of London, finance British infrastructure and subsidise Britain’s imperial wars. India in effect ended up paying for its own colonisation. All the benefits accrued to Britain. All the costs were borne by India.

Last week Virendra Sharma, a long-time British MP of Indian origin, tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons seeking a formal apology from the British government for the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. That is one of the tips of the reparations iceberg to which no price can be attached.

But to others it can. And Britain must pay. – Daily-O, 28 November 2017

» Minhaz Merchant is an author and journalist in Mumbai.

Victor Hope LinlithgowWinston Churchill Quote

Bengal famine orphans (1943)