Sensational is not sensitive – Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar Etteth“Last month, as actress Meryl Streep lit candles at the premier of Leslee Udwin’s film in New York, another film on the gang-rape, Daughters of Mother India directed by another woman, Vibha Bakshi, won the National Award for the best film on social issues. … Bakshi defines the difference between Udwin’s film and hers as one that sensitises audiences to crimes against women as opposed to the BBC documentary that sensationalises the issue.” – Ravi Shankar

Vibha BakshiHypocrisy is the mainstay of civilisation. Without it, man cannot move forward, or else his consciousness will be stranded in the mudslide of evil and prejudice, which has many faces. Sometimes hypocrisy also manifests itself as political correctness—good intentions unappreciated by another culture, which it seeks to change in its own form. Such is the case of America and India’s Daughter, the BBC documentary on the December 16 Delhi Gang-rape. The ban comes up for review in the Delhi High Court on April 15. To see or not to see is not the question, but to be shown or not to be shown is the quandary.

Daughters of Mother IndiaLast month, as actress Meryl Streep lit candles at the premier of Leslee Udwin’s film in New York, another film on the gang-rape, Daughters of Mother India directed by another woman, Vibha Bakshi, won the National Award for the best film on social issues. The I&B ministry called it “explicitly and determinedly turning the spotlight on the burning issue of rape in the country and the brutal mentality that drives it”. Bakshi defines the difference between Udwin’s film and hers as one that sensitises audiences to crimes against women as opposed to the BBC documentary that sensationalises the issue.

Perhaps sensationalism is the cliché that rules showbiz. The West, particularly America, has always used sensational techniques to glorify itself as well as shock people through art and cinema—from American Sniper to Madonna’s topless protest against Instagram. India’s Daughter obviously can’t be a chick flick even if Hollywood tried. At home, however, no Bollywood film will sell sans masala and sensationalism—not even part-nouveau films like Aamir Khan’s PK or Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider. Both got a liberal dose of Right wing rage, with saffron outfits calling for bans. Now that the BJP government is ruling at the Centre, it is a sitting duck for socially correct dung missiles, because the radical right is supposed to be against sex and women’s liberation.

Stop the War on WomenLast week, Purvi Patel, a 33-year-old woman living in her parent’s house, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for having an illegal abortion, induced by pills bought on the Internet.  In another case, a woman gave birth to twins, of which one was stillborn. She was arrested and charged with criminal homicide, because she had delayed a cesarean operation cited as the cause of the stillbirth. Meanwhile, a court ordered a seriously ill pregnant woman to go in for a cesarean, disregarding her pleas. Both mother and child died. A woman was jailed to prevent her from having an abortion. A mother was detained for not performing a diabetes test during pregnancy. A woman who miscarried spent a year in jail for murder. Even more absurd was the case of a woman who wanted the services of a midwife, which her doctor objected to, and the court took the foetus under protective custody. She was arrested. The most notorious case for abortion rights was in 2011, when a woman was arrested and imprisoned for 435 days for murder because she had tried to kill herself while pregnant.

Pakistan? Afghanistan? Syria? Kurdistan? Saudi Arabia? India? Nah. All this happened in the citadel of freedom and equality, the United States of America. The first case mentioned here was in Indiana, the next in Utah, the third in Washington DC, then Ohio, followed by Oregon and Louisiana.

As a society gets wealthier, science moves from e=mc2 to entertainment. Art becomes auction fodder and fashion becomes a necessity than a luxury. This gives rise to a class of lazy liberals who are sanitised by their privileged positions. Away from their ozone-friendly, gated existence is a world full of savagery and ancient prejudices, even in modern Western societies. A cultural safari into these regions on which the lights don’t shine will either turn them into champions of self-defence or true sensitisers against discrimination. – The New Indian Express, 12 April 2015

Purvi Patel is led out of the courtroom in handcuffs after being found guilty of felony neglect and feticide on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, inside the St. Joseph County Courthouse in South Bend.

Pope Francis must right the wrong and tell the truth – Hilda Raja

From top-left, going clockwise: Leo XIII with Otto von Bismarck (Germany, 1862-1890), Pius XII with Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-1943), Pius XII with Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-1945), John Paul II with Augusto Pinochet (Chile, 1973-1990), Benedict XVI with Álvaro Uribe (Colombia, 2002-2010), Francis [as a priest] with Jorge Videla (Argentina, 1976-1981), Pius XII with Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic, 1930-1961), Pius XII with Francisco Franco (Spain, 1936-1975). Photo collage courtesy Selecting Stones.

THE POPES AND THEIR FASCIST FRIENDS: From top-left, going clockwise: Leo XIII with Otto von Bismarck (Germany, 1862-1890), Pius XII with Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-1943), Pius XII with Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-1945), John Paul II with Augusto Pinochet (Chile, 1973-1990), Benedict XVI with Álvaro Uribe (Colombia, 2002-2010), Francis [as a priest] with Jorge Videla (Argentina, 1976-1981), Pius XII with Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic, 1930-1961), Pius XII with Francisco Franco (Spain, 1936-1975). Photo collage courtesy Selecting Stones.

Pope Francis the ActorThe Indian Express (dated 13th April 2015) carried a news item under the caption “Pope calls Armenian massacre first genocide of the 20th century”. It must be stated that Muslim Turkey has not denied that Christian Armenians had died in clashes in 1915. But it disagrees that this amounted to genocide. Granted it did, what I would like to raise is what Pope Francis would call the genocide undertaken by the Vatican in the 20th century in 1941. How did the Vatican turn a blind eye when Hitler invaded Yugoslavia, when he partitioned the defeated country, and detached the Catholic Croatia from the Orthodox Serbia? When Hitler’s fascist army known as the Ustashi under Pavelic set out on a cleansing drive, this was not only recognized by Vatican but was met with great rejoicing by Vatican.

Aloysius Stepinac with Ante PavelicPavelic and Archbishop Stepinac then embarked in a massive and brutal cleansing spree. The ‘Aryanization’ brought into force a number of laws and decrees. This meant anti-Semitic laws were passed, Jews were deported to concentration camps. All political opponents were banished, imprisoned, freedom of speech was suppressed. Nuns and priests marshaled children to salute Pavelic, Hitler, and Mussolini.

The insidious plan was one of the vilest and brutal in world history. Over 200,000 Orthodox Serbs inhabited the country along with 700,000 Muslims and 45,000 Jews. Between 1941 and 1942 about 40,000 Serbs and another 66,000 Serbs including 2,000 children were put to death. Many of the commandants at these death camps were Catholic priests. What would Pope Francis call this? A massacre? Genocide? Pogrom? Or Slaughter?

Pope Pius XII This terrible holocaust produced great financial gains for Vatican. Despite adamant denials, the Vatican gave its blessings. Pope Pius XII was fully informed of the death camps, the forced conversion, etc. He even sent his personal representative to bless the Ustachi.

To make matters worse and as though to reinforce the approval of the Vatican, in 1998 Pope John Paul II journeyed to Croatia to announce the beatification of archbishop Stepinac. It is stated that from 1941 to 1945 over 500,000 Orthodox Serbs were massacred along with 80,000 Jews and 30,000 Gypies. This is the greatest genocide of the 20th century, unless Pope Francis thinks otherwise. But can he deny world history records?

An article by the New York Times dated 15 December 1915 states that one million Armenians had been either deported or executed by the Ottoman government.Pope Francis at the start of the Armenian rite in St Peter’s Basilica described the massacre of the Christian Armenians as the first genocide of the 20th century. He termed it ‘senseless slaughter’ and rightly so. But what was intriguing is that Pope Francis should state that “genocide continues today against Christians, who on account of their faith in Christ or their ethnic origin, are publicly and ruthlessly put to death, decapitated, crucified, burned alive or forced to leave their homeland”. This coming from one who heads the Catholic Church with its history of slaughter, persecution, ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, forced conversions, et al, makes one wonder why and how can the Pope cover up the history of the Catholic Church. The Croatia genocide is not ages ago to be buried in the archives of the Vatican. What was the treatment Vatican meted out to the Jews right in Rome?

Francis XavierWhat about the conversions that was undertaken in India? For that matter right from the beginning Church history has not been taught to ordinary Catholics or even priests. It is a question of selective amnesia or partisan history that it upholds. May be Pope Francis has only started his condemnation of the genocide of Christians Armenians. It is only the beginning. He may, I fervently hope, continue and condemn Vatican’s role and abetment with Mussolini and Hitler and in its brutal massacre in Croatia, and Vatican’s conversion strategies right from the start. One must not forget the Crusades, the burning of the witches, the destruction of temples and synagogues. Let us wait and give Pope Francis a chance to right the wrong and uphold the TRUTH. – Dr Mrs Hilda Raja, 14 April 2015

» Dr Mrs Hilda Raja was a Professor in the Post Graduate Social Work Department at Stella Maris College, Chennai. After retirement she has been a consultant on various government and international development projects. She lives with her son in Vadodara, Gujarat.

Inquisition Victims

OLD GOA: Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian victims of the Inquisition, their hands nailed to posts, listen to a Catholic padre read out charges against them. A Portuguese nobleman waits on a horse. He and the Church will get the confiscated properties.

The claim of a “Greater China” is fanciful Chinese self-aggrandisement – Mohan Guruswamy

Mohan Guruswamy“The point of this narration is to bring home the fact that India’s claim over Arunachal Pradesh doesn’t rest on any great historical tradition or cultural affinity. We are there because the British went there. But then the Chinese have no basis whatsoever to stake a claim, besides a few dreamy cartographic enlargements of the notion of China among some of the hangers-on in the Qing emperor’s court. The important thing now is that we have been there for over a hundred years and that should settle the issue.” – Mohan Guruswamy

Modi & XiPrime Minister Narendra Modi will soon be in Beijing following up on the Chumar incident blighted visit by Chinese’s President Xi Jinping. Meanwhile, the Chinese seem to be either testing the waters or ratcheting up the dispute over control of either the whole of Arunachal Pradesh or part of it. They have made a string of pronouncements on the subject, including strongly protesting the recent visit to Itanagar by the Indian Prime Minister.

The Chinese have based their specific claim on the territory on the premise that Tawang was administered from Lhasa, and the contiguous areas owed allegiance to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal ruler of Tibet. Then the Chinese must also consider this. Sikkim, till well into the 19th century, was a vassal of Tibet and Darjeeling was forcibly taken from it by the British! By extending this logic could they realistically stake a claim for Sikkim and Darjeeling? Of course not. It would be preposterous. History has moved on. The times have changed. For the 21st century to be stable our borders must be stable, whatever be our yearnings.

At the crux of this issue is the larger question of the national identities of the two nations and when and how they evolved. The Imperial India of the Mughals spanned from Afghanistan to Bengal but did not go very much below the Godavari in the South. The Imperial India of the British incorporated all of today’s India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It was the British who, for the first time, brought Assam under Imperial India in 1826, when they defeated Burma and formalised the annexation with the Treaty of Yandabo.

It was only in 1886 that the British first forayed out of the Brahmaputra Valley when they sent out a punitive expedition into the Lohit Valley in pursuit of marauding tribesmen who began raiding the new tea gardens. Apparently, the area was neither under Chinese or Tibetan control for there were no protests either from the Dalai Lama or the Chinese Amban in Lhasa.

The next important year was 1913, when the Tibetans declared independence after the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the establishment of a Republic in China under Sun Yat Sen. They attacked and drove the Chinese garrisons in Tibet into India over the Nathu La. Also, in 1913, the British convened the Simla Conference to demarcate the India-Tibet border. The British proposed the 1914 McMahon Line, as we know it. The Thubten Gyatso the 13th Dalai LamaTibetans accepted it. The Chinese Amban however initialed the agreement under protest. But his protest seemed mostly about the British negotiating directly with Tibet as a sovereign state and not over the McMahon Line as such.

Things moved on then. In 1935, at the insistence of Sir Olaf Caroe ICS, then deputy secretary in the foreign department, the McMahon Line was notified. In 1944, J.P. Mills, ICS, established British Indian administration in North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), but excluding Tawang which continued to be administered by the Lhasa appointed head lama at Tawang despite the fact that it lay well below the McMahon Line. This was largely because Henry Twynam, the Governor of Assam lost his nerve and did not want to provoke the Tibetans. In 1947, the Dalai Lama wrote to the newly independent India laying claim to some of the areas around Tawang. The Chinese delight in reminding us of this.

On October 7, 1950, the Chinese attacked the Tibetans at seven places on their frontier and made known their intention of reasserting control over all of Tibet. As if in response on February 16, 1951 Major Relangnao ‘Bob’ Khating of the IFAS raised the Indian tricolor in Tawang and took over the administration of the tract. The point of this narration is to bring home the fact that India’s claim over Arunachal Pradesh doesn’t rest on any great historical tradition or cultural affinity. We are there because the British went there. But then the Chinese have no basis whatsoever to stake a claim, besides a few dreamy cartographic enlargements of the notion of China among some of the hangers-on in the Qing emperor’s court. The important thing now is that we have been there for over a hundred years and that should settle the issue.

Arunachal Pradesh has a very interesting population mix. Only less than 10 per cent of its population is Tibetan. Indo-Mongoloid tribes account for 68 per cent of the population. The rest are migrants from Nagaland and Assam. As far as religious affinities go Hindus are the biggest group with 37 per cent, followed by 36 per cent animists, 13 per cent Buddhists. Recent census figures suggest a spurt in Christianity, possibly induced by pocketbook proselytising. In all, there are 21 major tribal groups and over 100 ethnically distinct sub-groupings, speaking over 50 distinct languages and dialects. The population of about a million is spread out over 17 towns and 3,649 villages. With the exception of a few villages of Monpas, who live north of the McMahon Line, it is an ethnically compact and contiguous area. In fact, in future boundary negotiations India could make a case for inclusion of the few Monpa villages left behind north of the McMahon Line.

It is true that historically Imperial India never had a direct border with Tibet till the British took Kumaon and Garhwal from Nepal in 1846, and extended its domain over Arunachal in 1886. On the other hand, the formidable Himalayas were always culturally and traditionally a part of India and formed a natural barrier against ingress from the north, whether Tibetan or Chinese. The Himalayas may no longer be the barrier they once were. As China and India emerge as the world’s great economies and powers, can India possibly allow China a strategic trans-Himalayan space just a few miles from the plains?

Prof Ge JianxiongThe view from the Chinese side about what exactly constitutes China is no less confused. Apparently like the British, the Manchu’s who ruled China from the 17th to the early 20th century had a policy of staking claim to the lands that lay ahead of their frontiers in order to provide themselves with military buffers. In a recent article in the China Review magazine, Professor Ge Jianxiong, director of the Institute of Chinese Historical Geography at Fudan University in Shanghai writes: “to claim that Tibet has always been a part of China since the Tang dynasty; the fact that the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau subsequently became a part of the Chinese dynasties does not substantiate such a claim.”

Prof. Ge also notes that prior to 1912 when the Republic of China was established, the idea of China was not clearly conceptualised. Even during the late Qing period (Manchu) the term China would on occasion refer to the Qing state including all the territory that fell within the boundaries of the Qing Empire. At other times it would be taken to refer to only the 18 interior provinces excluding Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Tibet and Sinkiang.

Prof. Ge further adds that the notions of “Greater China” were based entirely on the “one-sided views of Qing court records that were written for the courts self-aggrandisement.” Prof. Ge criticises those who feel that the more they exaggerate the territory of historical China the more “patriotic” they are. The mandarins in Beijing would do well to take heed to Prof. Ge’s advice: “If China really wishes to rise peacefully and be on solid footing in the future, we must understand the sum of our history and learn from our experiences.” It makes equally good sense to us. – Asian Age, 13 April 2015

» Mohan Guruswamy has held senior positions in government and industry, and is a policy analyst studying economic and security issues. He also specialises in the Chinese economy.

India-China Border

Nehru spied on Netaji’s family members for twenty years – Sandeep Unnithan

Netaji & Nehru

Sandeep Unnithan“In a written reply on December 17, 2014, Union Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parthibai Chaudhary told the Rajya Sabha that the declassification of ‘Netaji Files’ would impact India’s relations with friendly foreign countries. The incensed Bose family now wants speedy declassification of a clutch of top secret ‘Netaji Files’. These sensational documentary revelations, it believes, could well be the tip of the iceberg.” – Sandeep Unnithan

Intelligence Bureau (India)Two recently declassified Intelligence Bureau (IB) files have revealed that the Jawaharlal Nehru government spied on the kin of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose for nearly two decades.

The files, which have since been moved to the National Archives, show unprecedented surveillance on Bose’s family members between 1948 and 1968. Nehru was the prime minister for 16 of the 20 years and the IB reported directly to him. The files show the IB resumed British-era surveillance on the two Bose family homes in Calcutta: 1 Woodburn Park and 38/2 Elgin Road. Apart from intercepting and copying letters written by Bose’s family members, agency sleuths shadowed them on their domestic and foreign travels. The agency seemed especially keen to know who all the Bose kin met and what they discussed. A series of hand-written messages shows the agents phoned in ‘Security Control’, as the IB headquarters was called, to report on the family’s movements.

For reasons still not entirely clear, the agency focused on Netaji’s nephew siblings Sisir Kumar Bose and Amiya Nath Bose. These sons of Sarat Chandra Bose were the closest to Netaji in his two decades as a Congress activist. They also wrote several letters to their aunt Emilie Schenkl, Netaji’s wife, in Austria. The revelations have shocked the Bose family. “Surveillance is conducted on those who have committed a crime or have terror links. Subhas babu and his family fought for India’s freedom; why should be they placed under surveillance?” asks his grand-nephew Chandra Kumar Bose, a Kolkata-based businessman.

Netaji’s only child Anita Bose-Pfaff, a Germany-based economist, says she is startled. “My uncle (Sarat Chandra) was politically active until the 1950s and disagreed with the Congress leadership. But what surprises me is that my cousins could have been under surveillance… they had no security implications at all,” she says.

“The documents show the intensity of the bias against Netaji and his family,” says former Supreme Court judge Asok Kumar Ganguly, adding: “More shockingly, the bias is by a government of independent India against a man who sacrificed everything for the country.”

Netaji & NehruCongress was scared of Bose’s return

Author and BJP national spokesperson M. J. Akbar believes there is only one reasonable explanation for this long surveillance.

“The government was not sure whether Bose was dead, and thought that if he were alive he would be in some form of communication with his family in Calcutta. But why would the Congress be apprehensive? The nation, after all, would have welcomed Bose’s return. But that exactly was the reason for its apprehension. Bose was the only charismatic leader who could have mobilised Opposition unity against Congress, and offered it a serious challenge in the 1957 elections. It is safe to say that if Bose were alive, the coalition that defeated the Congress in 1977 would have trounced it in the 1962 general elections, ie 15 years sooner,” he says.

IB files are rarely declassified. The original copies of these files are still classified by the West Bengal government.

Anuj Dhar, the author of India’s Biggest Cover-Up who first spotted the files at National Archives in January this year, believes these were accidentally declassified. “There have been such cases in the US where documents classified by the CIA, like the mole in Mrs Gandhi’s cabinet in 1971, were declassified by the state department,” he adds.

Bose was the Indian National Congress president in 1939 but quit following political differences with Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru. He escaped from India, first to Hitler’s Germany, and later to Japan, where he revived the 40,000-strong Indian National Army in 1943, the first military resistance to the British since the 1857 War of Independence.

Bose, then 48, is thought to have died in a mysterious air crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945, three days after Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces.

The mystery around his disappearance has only been enhanced by over 150 files kept with the PMO, IB, Home Ministry and External Affairs Ministry, which the government has refused to declassify for decades.

In a written reply on December 17, 2014, Union Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parthibai Chaudhary told the Rajya Sabha that the declassification of ‘Netaji Files’ would impact India’s relations with friendly foreign countries.

The incensed Bose family now wants speedy declassification of a clutch of top secret ‘Netaji Files’. These sensational documentary revelations, it believes, could well be the tip of the iceberg. – India Today, 10 April 2015

Anita Bose-Pfaff

Revelations shock Netaji’s daughter – Sandeep Unnithan

I am not too surprised to hear that my father’s family was under surveillance. My uncle Sarat Chandra Bose was politically active until just after India’s Independence and he was not in agreement with the Congress.But he passed away in 1950. The fact that my cousins Amiya Nath Bose and Sisir Bose were under surveillance is a bit startling.

What is the point in that? They had no security implications at all. They were politically interested but not politically active until later in their lives. The government possibly believed that if my father was alive and wanted to come back to India, my cousins would be the most logical people for him to contact.

I remember a group of British intelligence officers accompanied by an Indian official who visited our flat in Vienna to ask my mother some questions. I cannot remember what they asked her, I was just three years old, but I do remember what my mother told the Indian officer. She told him about “people who were traitors to their country’s interests”. The man turned red in the face. – India Today, 10 April 2015. Anita Bose-Pfaff, 73, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter spoke to Sandeep Unnithan from her home in Augsburg, Germany.

» Sandeep Unnithan is the Deputy Editor of India Today and author “Black Tornado: The three sieges of Mumbai 26/11″ (HarperCollins 2014). He lives in New Delhi and tweets @sandeepunnithan.

See also

Amiya Nath Bose

Nehru snooped on Netaji's family

 

Virat Hindustan Sangam: Dr Subramanian Swamy launches Hindutva outfit – PTI

Sri Ram

Virat Hindu Sangam

NEW DELHI: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday announced the formation of an organization that would push for Hindutva issues like securing the disputed Ram Mandir area for building a temple by persuading Muslims to accept an alternative site.

The outfit Virat Hindustan Sangam will empower the youth to articulate the “values” of Hindutva, like scrapping of Article 370, Uniform Civil Code, Ram temple and beef ban, he told a press conference.

Indicating that the new body will also act as a pressure group on the ruling BJP, he said it would provide a list of candidates to the party for consideration and work closely with the Sangh Parivar.

Asked what will be his priority issue, he said it would be construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.

“We will take up from January 1, 2016 the Ram temple issue. I will want the government to follow the Saudi Arabian example of offering the Waqf Board a site across the Saryu river for building a mosque … and leave the Ram temple premises completely for the temple.

“We hope to complete it by the end of 2016 because of our activism both in courts and in terms of pushing the government,” he said, adding that he would have finished most of his legal work in the Supreme Court by then.

He also batted for scrapping of Article 370, an issue put on the back burner, saying it is in the party’s manifesto and it would have to do it by 2019 when next Lok Sabha election is scheduled.

His organization, he said, will be open to Hindus or those Muslims and other Indians who acknowledge their Hindu ancestry. – Times of India, 8 April 2015

The politics of conversion and reconversion – C. I. Issac

Prof C. I. Issac“R.C. Majumdar observes that the purpose of shuddhi was national in character: ‘to realize the ideal of unifying India nationally, socially and religiously’ (An Advanced History of India, p 878). Since the fall of the Rajputs in the Second Battle of Tarain, Muslim dogmatists brutally and ferociously converted Hindus to Islam. The Muslim population of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are the ‘lost sheep’ of Hindu dharma. From the 16th century onwards, Christians have been in action, carving out sizeable numbers to their fold by using fourfold tactics (chatur-upayam). In this situation, a proud Hindu could not remain a silent onlooker.” – Prof I.C. Issac

Prof Arnold ToynbeeArticle 25 of the Indian Constitution guarantees its citizen the right to practice and propagate their religion. It doesn’t mean total destruction of the other man’s religion or non-hierarchical unorganized religions. This right is not conferred only to a particular religion; it is applicable irrespective of all religions and religious practices of India. It is not a constitutional provision for one-way traffic or a non-return valve. 

In no way with this article did the founding fathers think of any sort of conversion. Their intention was the healthy coexistence of all cultures and religious groups. Conversion by brainwashing, coercion, allurement, incentives, etc. is cruel in cultural terms. So it doesn’t come under the purview of Article 25. Such subversive practices seem just under the law of the wild, that is, might is right, or matsya nyaya (law of the fishes). 

The architects of our Constitution were well aware of the fact that the death of a religion is the death of a particular culture or sub-culture or a civilization associated with that religion. As observed by Arnold J Toynbee, every civilization has a universal Church (religion). Hence, religion and human civilization have an umbilical link. Each civilization, whether small or large or extra-large, has its own knowledge system. For instance, today our alleged socialized social orders are pursuing the pharmaceuticals of our tribal social orders. These have a substantial, objective, and observationally demonstrated information framework, obtained through generations. We, as an enlightened society, are bound to secure all societies and their commitments. 

With the death of the Inca, Maya, ancient Greek or Roman civilizations, mankind lost an immense knowledge system. The technology behind the ‘Golden Raft’ of the Mexicans was buried along with their en masse conversion to European religions. The above mentioned lost civilizations had their own religious practices. They were naturally evolved religions, that is, they had no founders. So they never discussed the spread of their religious frontiers. Almost all these civilizations died of the wild and brutal interference of founder-oriented religions. 

 Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar KhiljiThey indiscriminately destroyed whatever they found in their targeted (prey) societies or religions which they found indigestible. In India, Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khilji burned the library of Nalanda University on the ground that the contents of the books there were not in conformity with the message of his religious books and founder of his faith. The destruction of Nalanda is not the loss of Hindus; it is a loss to mankind. 

The above narrative is essential in the context of recent deliberations over ghar vapsi. Certain media and Church circles contend that this movement began only after 26 May 2014. But this is not a new movement begun by the ever-shrinking Hindu society. It was started as the shuddhi movement in the 19th century by Arya Samaj leader, Swami Dayananda Saraswati. 

R.C. MajumdarSwami Dayananda Saraswati observes that the purpose of shuddhi was national in character: “to realize the ideal of unifying India nationally, socially and religiously” (An Advanced History of India, p 878). Since the fall of the Rajputs in the Second Battle of Tarain, Muslim dogmatists brutally and ferociously converted Hindus to Islam. The Muslim population of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are the ‘lost sheep’ of Hindu dharma. From the 16th century onwards, Christians have been in action, carving out sizeable numbers to their fold by using fourfold tactics (chatur-upayam). In this situation, a proud Hindu could not remain a silent onlooker. That is why Swami Dayananda Saraswati took the lead and the tempo continues Swami Shraddhanandunobtrusively. After the 1921 Moplah riot of Malabar, the British Indian Government issued license to Arya Samaj to reconvert those forced to abdicate Hindu Dharma and willing to return to their poorva-dharma. The status of this license is still in force. Since then, thousands have returned to their original faith. Every State’s gazettes since 1947 will prove the tempo of ghar vapsi in the Republic of India. 

Attacks on places of worships are not a new incident in either, and are due to varied reasons, such as local issues, personal vengeance. We may cite some attacks on churches prior to April 2014. The Catholic church at Kuddu, Lohardaga district, Jarkhand, was ransacked and the priest injured in the last week of August 2004. The church complex is hardly a kilometer from Kuddu police station, but no arrests have been made so far. It was the second attack in three months, the previous one being June 9 the same year, when the UPA was in power. 

In Orissa, a Catholic church was attacked by 300 persons, its idols and holy costumes destroyed and altar burned. The Prime Minister then was Dr. Manmohan Singh (Malayala Manorama, Kottayam, August 28, 2004). On 29 August 2004, Fr. Job Chittilappally (71), Vicar of St. Varaprasada Matha Church, Thurithiparambu near Chalakudi in Kerala, was found dead with stab injuries (The Hindu, Kochi). Dr Singh was the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister was A.K. Anthony; he resigned the same day. 

In all these incidents, the Church hierarchies found no fault with the government. Then we have the mysterious deaths within the four walls of convents in India, which meet with mysterious silence…. 

Sarvepalli RadhakrishnanThe psychology of the Church is religious and political. They want a halo of martyrdom because martyrs and saints are fuel for the gargantuan engines of the Church (like jihadis for Islam) without which it cannot sustain. As Dr S. Radhakrishnan observed, “The intolerance of narrow monotheism is written in letters of blood across the history of mankind from the time when first the tribes of Israel burst into the land of Canaan. The worshippers of the one Jealous God are egged on to aggressive wars against people of alien cults.They invoke Divine Sanction for the cruelties inflicted on the conquered. The spirit of old Israel is inherited by Christianity and Islam. Wars of Religion which are the outcome of fanaticism that prompts and justifies the extermination of aliens of different creeds are particularly unknown in Hindu India”. (The Hindu View of Life, 1927, Oxford University, p 55) 

This aspect was visible during the third and last phase of campaigning for the Delhi Assembly poll earlier this year, when a small demonstration of Christians received disproportionate publicity as a signal to all members of the community to vote against the Bharatiya Janata Party. Since then, the religious and secular leaders of various Christian denominations have successfully put the community at the centre of an anti-BJP fledgling movement, the full dimensions and objectives of which are yet to unravel. – Vijayvaani, 9 April 2015

» Prof I. C. Issac is a retired professor of history and vice-president of the Bhartheeya Vichara Kendram, Trivandrum. 

Kanchi Acharya Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal and VHP's Ashok Singhal

India’s rich temples may open gold vaults for Prime Minister Modi – Meenakshi Sharma & Krishna N. Das

Sri Siddhivinayak Ganpati

Reuters “Some Hindu devotees are not happy with the idea that their gold offerings could be melted down. A Mumbai-based gold merchant, who said he and his father had donated around 200 kg of gold to Siddhivinayak and other temples over the years, said it would be a sin for the temples to earn interest on the gold offered to the Gods. ‘I make donations to God; not to any temple trust,’ the 52-year-old merchant said.” – Meenakshi Sharma & Krishna N. Das

Sri Siddhivinayak TempleThe two-century-old Shree Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai devoted to the Hindu elephant-headed god Ganesha bristles with close circuit cameras and is guarded by 65 security officers.

It is one of India’s richest temples, having amassed 158 kg of gold offerings, worth some $67 million, and its heavily guarded vaults are strictly off-limits.

India is the world’s biggest consumer of gold and its ancient temples have collected billions of dollars in jewellery, bars and coins over the centuries – all hidden securely in vaults, some ancient and some modern.

Padmanabhaswamy Temple GopuramA few years ago a treasure of gold worth an estimated $20 billion was discovered in secret subterranean vaults in the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Kerala state.

Now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to get his hands on this temple gold, estimated at about 3,000 tonnes, more than two-thirds of the gold held in the U.S bullion depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to help tackle India’s chronic trade imbalance.

Modi’s government is planning to launch a scheme in May that would encourage temples to deposit their gold with banks in return for interest payments.

The government would melt the gold and loan it to jewellers to meet an insatiable appetite for gold and reduce economically crippling gold imports, which accounted for 28 percent of India’s trade deficit in the year ending March 2013.

India’s annual gold imports of 800 to 1,000 tonnes could be cut by a quarter if temples decided to participate in the scheme, say government and industry sources.

“We would be happy to deposit our gold to nationalised banks if the policy is beneficial, safe and earns good interest,” said Narendra Murari Rane, chairman of the trust for the Siddhivinayak Temple, portions of which are gold-plated.

Gold CoinsBut some Hindu devotees are not happy with the idea that their offerings could be melted down.

A Mumbai-based gold merchant, who said he and his father had donated around 200 kg of gold to Siddhivinayak and other temples over the years, said it would be a sin for the temples to earn interest on the gold offered to the Gods.

“I make donations to God; not to any temple trust,” the 52-year-old merchant said.

Modi would also like to convince Indians to open their family vaults, which hold an estimated 17,000 tonnes of gold in jewellery and other heirlooms.

But it will be much harder to convince Indian families, who sometimes have little faith in financial institutions, to break tradition and hand over gold passed down the generations.

India’s love affair with gold spans centuries is rooted in the Hindu religion. One of the biggest annual buying seasons is the Diwali festival around October to November. Gold marriage dowries are widespread and with 70 percent of the population rural, gold is financial security.

Interest Rate Key

Key to Modi’s plan will be the interest rates offered for gold deposits.

A similar gold monetization plan launched in 1999 proved ineffective, in part because the interest rates offered on gold deposits were regarded by temple officials as too low.

Under that scheme India’s top lender the State Bank of India offers 0.75 percent to 1 percent and only 15 tonnes of gold has been deposited so far.

Sai Baba Temple, ShirdiTemple officials at Siddhivinayak and Shri Saibaba Sansthan in Shirdi, both in the western state of Maharashtra, say they expect interest rates in the new scheme to be much higher and so would consider participating.

The government plans to reveal rate details when it launches the new scheme. Siddhivinayak’s Rane said he expected at least 5 percent interest on gold deposits.

Rajendra Jadhav, executive officer of the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Temple Trust, said rates will also be key to his temple’s decision. He declined to say how much gold the temple, dedicated to a 19th century saint, had in its vaults.

A successful gold monetization programme could go a long way in helping India reduce its trade imbalance.

India raised the import duty on gold, the country’s biggest non-essential import, and imposed other restrictions in 2013 after the current account deficit hit a record $190 billion.

If India can cut imports, that would pressure gold prices that fell to a four-month low last month before recovering. Lower gold prices will help India cut its import bill.

Sri Padmanabhaswamy's TreasureHowever, a successful scheme could also expose the government to potential risks, if gold prices were to take off and depositors decided to withdraw at the same time.

“There is going to be a lock-in period under the new gold monetizing scheme,” said Sudheesh Nambiath, an analyst at precious metals consultancy GFMS. “Banks will have to replenish the stocks with imports later (if temples withdraw gold).” – Reuters, 9 April 2015

» Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Michael Perry.

Se Cathedral, Old Goa, Goa

We trust that the Modi Sarkar will hit the Churches too, for their gold and silver and jewels, or simply tap their vast commercial real estate holdings. That would only be fair. A truly secular and even-handed government would not want to be seen coveting Hindu gold only—would it? – Admin
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