Truth must be upheld, Mr Ribeiro – Hilda Raja

Julio Ribeiro

Lady Professor Icon“I am 78 and thought it is time to speak out. The ordinary people like me are happy and content. We feel no persecution or discrimination and are not on the hit list. Even if we are, truth cannot be hidden. In fact it was the Church which had crucified TRUTH and continues to do so.” – Dr Mrs Hilda Raja

I read Mr Julio Ribeiro’s ‘I feel I am on a hit list’ (Indian Express dated 16th March). I did not react immediately because I wanted to let it sink and see if there was any foundation in what he stated. To me who am 78, the whole accusation of his seems to have no foundation. As of Julio Ribeiro, my ancestry also can be traced to Hinduism. While he agrees on this, the question arises why we are Christians today. How did it happen? What kind of inducement-allurement and what strategy of proselytization were used in those days for my ancestors to become Christians? Unlike Julio Ribeiro, I do not feel threatened. Neither do I fear that I am on a hit list. I feel very much an Indian no matter who says what. The point to note is that the Catholic Church to which Julio Ribeiro and I belong has a parampara of a persecution mania. This is because we have inherited and are born through persecution. Not by the Hindus but by the Dutch, the Portuguese, the French and the English. This is precisely why though Julio Ribeiro acquiescence that his DNA if tested, it will not differ markedly from Mohan Bhagwat’s. The same can be said of our Hindu ancestors. Then what happened down the line.

We must agree that there was persecution, forced conversion by the conquerors. It was a question of torture and death to which the Hindu ancestors were subjected to. This is not fairy tales but recorded history when thousands of temples were destroyed, houses were ransacked and people were brutalized. Those who indulged in these human rights violations were treated as saints by the Vatican and raised to sainthood. But now we raise a hue and cry against ‘Ghar Vapsi’. What was good for one is not good for another. It is not though these were in the hoary past. Even today most of the NGOs do indulge in this proselytization. I wish the government of India ban all foreign funds. If China could develop without such NGOs and the foreign funds why should India not?

Hitler's Pope Pius XIII must bring the Vatican’s mind set in this context because it is relevant. When it comes to conversion it will go the extra mile. Look at what it indulged in during the regime of Pius XII. He did not hesitate to join hands with Hitler who attacked Yugoslavia. Hitler partitioned the country into the Catholic Croatia and the Orthodox Serbia. Then followed a massive ethnic cleansing. The aryanisation process which separated the Jews, Serbs as undesirables. These were deported to concentration camps. Children were not spared. The ethnic cleansing was done by the open support of the clergy—priests and nuns supervised and Vatican followed the ‘omerta’ and looked the other way. Special death Aloysius Stepinaccamps were set up for children. Several commandants and officers at these death camps were Catholic priests. Franciscan monks supervised the mass executions. This ethnic cleansing thus had the blessings of Vatican. There were monetary gains for the Vatican from the Holocaust in Croatia. In the certificate of conversion which was sold for a few hundred of dinars the Vatican netted millions. Vatican was well-informed and yet the Pope maintained silence. In fact not a single member of the clergy was held accountable—though the commandants of the death camps were priests. When after the war, Archbishop Stepinak was arrested for war crimes by the Yugoslav government, Puis XII excommunicated everyone who had taken part in the trial. Later the Archbishop was presented as the champion of religious freedom! It is interesting that in 1998 Pope John Paul II travelled to the Republic of Croatia to announce the beatification of Archbishop Stepinak.

It must be noted that the Vatican abetted and colluded with Mussolini and Hitler in all their brutality. It stood to gain both in terms of power and money. Yet we often hear the word ‘fascist’ being thrown against the BJP and the saffron brigade. This is part of the Christian parampara of the Catholic Church to which Julio Ribeiro and I belong to. Yet we are scandalized by the ‘Ghar Vapsi’. What about the Inquisitions held in India in Goa. With so much of baggage how can we point a finger to others, to the saffron groups and then pretend that we are being victimized and discriminated? All rapes are abominable and need to be condemned in the strongest terms. But why only the rape of the nun, be it in Orissa and now in W. Bengal, be internationalized? Why and how can the Vatican interfere and want to send a delegation?

Burning at the stake by the InquisitionIn a population of nearly one and a quarter billion human rights violations and inhuman acts are bound to happen. These need to be severely put down not politicized. It is the NGOs which create a kind of phobia. Foreign funds flow and towards this they organize dharnas and rallies. Any violation and discrimination is being attributed to the Modi’s government. But then these things had not suddenly surfaced. There is a long gestation period of discrimination, of injecting a fear psychosis. The politicians have communalized the communities.

India is known for its secularism—and it is not because the Constitution made it secular. Even before the Constitution the Hindus welcomed all religions. Butchery and compulsion and forced conversion were introduced and followed by the Dutch, Portuguese, the French and the English. Earlier the basic tenet followed by the inhabitants of this great country was Sanatana Dharma. Even today that is the guide and the dictum.

I am 78 and thought it is time to speak out. The ordinary people like me are happy and content. We feel no persecution or discrimination and are not on the hit list. Even if we are, truth cannot be hidden. In fact it was the Church which had crucified TRUTH and continues to do so. Perhaps there may be aberrations to this. It must not be forgotten that Julio Ribeiro was hounded by a minority community for the alleged human rights violations in Punjab. It was not the Hindus who were behind it. So may be JR has some deep-seated fear within him. But then to generalize this personal fear into the whole fabric of the Indian populace is too far-fetched.

TruthI want to appeal to the government of Modi to ban the foreign funds flow into this country. We should be able to manage with what we have. Why take a begging bowl to other countries and disrupt the peace within. If other countries can manage so can we. I would like to mention about the good works done and which are being done by nuns. But then they have enormous assets. When the foreign invaders left this country they turned over all their land and houses to the Churches. As if these are their grandfathers’ possessions! By all legal rights these should have been turned over to the government of India. So the Churches had at their disposal land and finances to start with. There is no accountability. Look at the minority education institutions which run on their own rules and regulations. Why did the Constitution founders submit to such a request and enshrine it in the Constitution? Is that not discrimination? I have studied from LKG to PG in minority institutions. Later I was a faculty in one of the elite colleges in Chennai. I know how they function. The least said about them the better. Yes, good work they do there is no denying, but it has a price. Money flows into Vatican. There is wealth beyond measure in these Church-allied institutions and in churches. So when mammon triumphs where is TRUTH. The same lenses must be used to scrutinize Mother Teresa’s work in India. – Dr Mrs Hilda Raja, 21 March 2015

» Dr Mrs Hilda Raja was a Professor of Social Sciences at Stella Maris College in Chennai. After retirement she has been a consultant on various government and international development projects. She now stays with her son in Vadodara, Gujarat.

 

Christian missionaries meet Modi’s estranged wife Jashodaben – OpIndia Staff

Jasodaben with Christian missionaries

India Crossed-Out

Peter … invited Jashodaben to join their mission. The report further states that Jashodaben showed her willingness about joining the team. She appreciated the invite and said that she would like to work for the mission. – OpIndia Staff

According to a report published in Amar Ujala, a team of Christian missionaries recently visited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s estranged wife Jashodaben. Brother Peter Paul, who was one of the visitors, said, “I have heard about her prayers and her loneliness. Her soul-touching story affected me. I heard through newspaper that she is in Mumbai.  I searched for her whereabouts and went to meet her with my colleagues.”

“I have worked with Mother Teresa for 10 years. I saw a glimpse of Mother Teresa in Jashodaben”, Paul emphasized. He also added that Jashodaben has same positive aura as Mother Teresa had around her.

Peter and his team have also invited Jashodaben to join their mission. The report further states that Jashodaben showed her willingness about joining the team. She appreciated the invite and said that she would like to work for the mission. However, she also added that the final decision will be taken by her family. Peter stressed that he is not advertising religious conversions, but he wants Jashodaben to help lots of destitute and helpless Hindus by teaching Geeta and Ramayan to them. He believes that it will also help Jashodaben to get liberation from the lifestyle she is living.

It is interesting to note that while Hindu groups are maligning their names by getting involved in redundant regressive proceedings like Ghar Wapasi or Valentine’s Day diktats, Christian missionaries are smartly spreading their messages by helping people to liberate through social activities and self-enlightenment. If Hindu reformer groups keep prioritizing trivial issues over important issues like women upliftment, they will surely be sidelined by all the communities over a period of time. – Opindia, 6 February 2015

Modi builds alliance to thwart China – Tufail Ahmad

Tufail Ahmad“Asia’s people have enjoyed peace for a long period. A new alliance will ensure that they continue to enjoy peace. Alliances serve wider purposes: they aid peoples of member-states to think positively about each other; they enable the public to grasp their place in the world and understand where they are headed for; they create new power for member-states and engender economic prosperity. Vitally, they prevent wars.” – Tufail Ahmad

Narendra Modi + Shinzo AbePrime minister Narendra Modi’s five-day visit to Japan from August 30 will boost ties in trade, defence and civil nuclear cooperation, but it is also consequential for the rapidly shifting balance of power in Asia. Across several centuries, history has opened its arms only for a few nations—Italy, Spain, France, Britain and the US—to stride the global centre-stage. Modi’s visit, before a seminal trip to Washington, comes as major powers are open to India assuming a role concomitant to its growing status. In history’s path, India is placed well to acquire new power.

Altering Asia’s balance of power is China’s rise, which is spawning two conflicting trends. First, Beijing’s bilateral trade with several countries has risen rapidly. With the US, it rose to $559 billion in 2013 from $5 billion in 1981. With India, it grew nine times from 2004 to $65 billion. With South Korea, it rose 36-fold from 1992 to $229 billion. With Vietnam, it was $50 billion, up from $27 billion in 2010. With Australia, it doubled to $151 billion from 2008. With Japan, it was $345 billion, rising from $184 billion in 2005. With Indonesia, it grew 16 times to $66 billion in 2012.

Second, this growing trade is not engendering pleasant ties between Beijing and its neighbours. Chinese military is poking many countries—on land, in space, on seas. Here is an ordinary person’s guide to international relations: in a village, those who acquire new wealth do not behave as they used to; with new resources comes power; with new power comes muscle-flexing. In 2007, China demonstrated its military capabilities in space by exploding a satellite; the US blew up a satellite to demonstrate it can respond. Recently, a Chinese jet performed acrobatics, demonstrating China’s muscle-flexing, within metres of a US anti-submarine plane.

Chinese ships are causing tensions with Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan. Based on ancient maps, China claims new territories. It seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines and has prevented the Philippine ships from reaching the Second Thomas Shoal.

A conflict is emerging with Indonesia over the Natuna Islands. In May, China sent its oil rig into Vietnam’s lawful economic zone and eyes a military facility on the Johnson South Reef it wrested from Vietnam. With Japan, China is stoking maritime conflicts; it is taunting the US military often.

Indian and Chinese SoldiersChina’s behaviour with a comprehensively peaceful India is no different. Its military incursions into Ladakh occur frequently. China is building intelligence and military links through ports in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is encircling India as part of a “string-of-pearls” strategy in the Indian Ocean. It built railways through Tibet near Sikkim—to transfer military logistics to India’s border. It is strengthening military rulers in Thailand and Myanmar, though the latter is open to accommodating India’s interests.

“Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the mouth,” American boxer Mike Tyson is quoted as saying by British military historian Lawrence Freedman in his book, Strategy.

Freedman defines strategy as “the art of creating power” for nations not powerful. “Having a strategy suggests an ability to look up from the short term and the trivial to view the long term and the essential, to address causes rather than symptoms,” says Freedman, noting that a strategy is meant “for expressing attempts to think about actions in advance, in the light of our goals and our capabilities”. Fortunately, geopolitics is not a boxing ring in which only two players can enter, nor is it a fight in which only one player must win.

India and many countries are being forced to secure their interests. Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe reinterpreted his country’s constitution, allowing Japanese troops to aid allies. Tokyo gave six vessels to Vietnam to boost its maritime patrol. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj visited Vietnam this week to bolster ties; president Pranab Mukherjee will visit next. She visited Myanmar recently for a multilateral meet; Modi is due in November. The US and Australia are encouraging a broader role for India, with Washington naming the region as Indo-Pacific. Also, India has held multilateral military exercises with Singapore, Japan, Australia and the US—potential allies.

Some thinkers have urged India to evolve “middle power” coalitions in the Indo-Pacific without involving China and the US. This was exactly the “non-alignment” policy that India pursued for half a century, spawning India’s overall economic decay. “Middle power” coalitions without military and diplomatic backbone cannot moderate China’s behaviour, and could become another SAARC or ASEAN. As an emerging power, India needs to build a capable alliance, a combination of NATO and UN. The fall of the Berlin Wall unshackled the Indian mind from the subjugation of non-alignment. India must not shrink back into it.

Narendra Modi with Bhutans king and queenBuilding alliances is not to rush into a military fight, much like producing nuclear weapons is not to use them on first opportunity but to deter a menacing enemy. Asia’s people have enjoyed peace for a long period. A new alliance will ensure that they continue to enjoy peace. Alliances serve wider purposes: they aid peoples of member-states to think positively about each other; they enable the public to grasp their place in the world and understand where they are headed for; they create new power for member-states and engender economic prosperity. Vitally, they prevent wars. Evolving an alliance is not to fight China; it is stitching an umbrella of peace, hoping it doesn’t rain.

“We can look in the eye of the world because we are a democracy,” Modi said in January. An open society like India cannot instinctively trust closed systems like China. India must act from strength. It must bolster economic ties with China and engage democracies in its neighbourhood. Among non-democracies, it can engage Myanmar in concert with the US and it isn’t bargaining hard with Washington to contain Pakistan. Sadly, India’s strength is undermined, not by China, but by people who engineer riots, indulge in rapes and torment India in other ways. – The New Indian Express, 28 August 2014

» Tufail Ahmad is director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC. Email: tufailelif@yahoo.co.uk

Narendra Modi with Japanese Emperor Akihito

 “Today I went to the Maharaja of Japan. I have given (a Bhagvad Gita) to him. Because I don’t think that I have anything more to give and the world also does not have anything more to get than this.” – Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi & Saichiro Misumi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets 99-year-old Saichiro Misumi, Netaji’s oldest living associate in Japan, in Tokyo, on September 02, 2014.

 

Article 370: Facts you should know – Pravin Singh

Kashmir: Article 370

Supreme Court of India in New DelhiThe Supreme Court on Tuesday (August 19) issued a notice to Centre on a plea challenging the provisions of Article 370, which provides special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The plea was filed by a Delhi-based NGO, asking why a law passed by the J&K Assembly “deprives people from other parts of the country from acquiring immovable assets or seek employment in the state.”

Revocation of Article 370 which contains provision for Jammu and Kashmir has been in demand for long time. The Article was added temporarily and was to be removed within a time- period but till date nothing has happened.

What is Article 370?

  • According to the Constitution of India, Article 370 is a law that grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The article is drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution (in Amendment section) which relates to Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions.
  • The original draft explained “the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognised by the President as the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers for the time being in office under the Maharaja’s Proclamation dated the fifth day of March, 1948.”
  • On November 15, 1952, it was changed to “the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognised by the President on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly of the State as the Sadr-i-Riyasat (now Governor) of Jammu and Kashmir, acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers of the State for the time being in office.”

The special status to Jammu & Kashmir

  • Unlike other State legislative Assemblies, J&K legislature has a six-year term.
  • Jammu & Kashmir has two flags; a separate State flag along with the National Flag.
  • Insulting of national symbols is not cognizable offence in Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Most of the laws except defence, foreign affairs, finance and communication, passed by Indian Parliament need to be approved by the State Government before they are made applicable in the State.
  • The citizens of J&K are governed by State-specific laws which come under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, instead of those for the rest of India.
  • Under Article 370 the Indian Parliament cannot increase or reduce the borders of the State.
  • The Supreme Court has no jurisdiction in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • The residents of J&K enjoy dual citizenship, but they could loose the J&K citizenship if they marry residents of other States.
  • If a woman marries a man in other Indian States, she loses her citizenship. Whereas if any woman marries a Pakistani, she will be entitled to have a citizenship of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • The Article also gives Pakistan’s citizens entitlement to Indian citizenship, if he marries a Kashmiri girl.
  • Majority of Indian laws including RTE, RTI and agencies like CBI, CAG are not applicable in J&K.
  • No outsider can purchase land in the State.
  • The Centre has no power to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the State.
  • It can declare emergency in the state only in case of war or external aggression.

History of Article 370

  • Dr B.R. Ambedkar, who drafted Indian Constitution, had refused to draft Article 370.
  • In 1949, the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had directed Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah to consult Ambedkar in preparation of suitable draft.
  • Article 370 was then drafted by Gopalaswami Ayyangar, former Diwan to Maharajah Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir.

Article 370 and related controversy

  • J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had earlier warned that any attempt to reopen the debate on Article 370 would force the State to revisit its terms of accession to the Indian Union.
  • In its election manifesto ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had said it is in favour of abrogating Article 370, but said the issue will be discussed thoroughly before a decision is made.
  • During electioneering, Narendra Modi had suggested that it should be probed whether Article 370 has indeed benefited the people of Jammu & Kashmir. OneIndia, 19 August 2014

Kashmir Separatists

Points to ponder from the Independence Day speech – Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his first Independence Day speech on 15 August 2014. Below are the salient points of his address. – Editor

• I come to you not as a Pradhan Mantri, but as a Pradhan Sevak. I pay respects to all previous Governments, Prime Ministers. This country stands on the foundation of unity and cooperation.

• I am from outside Delhi. But I assure you there is ample capacity in the people occupying the Government machinery – from the highest office to the lowest. I want to awaken the power that sleeps within our machinery.

• The nation’s founders dreamed a dream. It is our task to fulfil that dream. All Indians should have that dream. People ask “mera kya” and “mujhe kya”. We must escape this mentality. Not everything is for us. We must awaken the feeling of national good.

• We hear of rapes and we are ashamed. We keep tabs on our daughters. But do we ever keep tabs on our sons? Every rapist is someone’s son. The law will do its job. But as people, we have our own tasks cut out for us too. Parents must ask their sons about the paths they choose. The shoulder that supports the gun can also support the plough.

• In Nepal, there was a time when the youth were walking the path of violence. Today, they stand by their Constitution. If Nepal can do it, can India’s youth not?

• We have suffered communal tensions for centuries. Even after independence, we continue. But for how long? There has been ample violence and ample mistrust. We have only succeeded in hurting our motherland. These things get in the way of progress. Promise yourself ten years of peace and then see what heights we can touch.

• With scientific advancement, we think progress. But today the sex ratio in India is 1000-940 (male-female). Where is this lack of balance coming from? I appeal to doctors, do not kill daughters in hopes of filling your tijori. Do not sacrifice the lives of daughters for sons. I have seen families with as many as five sons where the parents are taken care of by a selfless daughter.

• Commonwealth games saw our players winning medals. Of these winners, 29 are girls.

• If we keep our eyes on our goal, we can get rid of all social ills. Good governance and development is the path ahead.

• Government employees say they are in ‘service’. Private employees say they have ‘jobs’. I ask Government employees: Has the word ‘service’ lost its meaning?

• If 125 crore Indians take one step each, the nation will move ahead 125 crore steps.

• Why do our farmers commit suicide? Fathers leave families behind and kill themselves because they can’t feed them.

• We announce the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. We will give the poorest person in the country as bank account. He will have his own debit card. He will have 1 lakh rupees insurance.

• Skill development is the need of the hour. We look for skilled drivers and plumbers but they aren’t available. Youths should get skills that can go into the making of a great nation. So that they can go to any corner of the world and have people acknowledge their worth.

• The world has changed. India can’t fulfil its destiny by staying away from the changed world.

• I call upon all Indians everywhere to focus on manufacturing sector and the import-export sector. India must put all its efforts into becoming better, but I invite the world to us as well: “Come! Make in India!”

• “Come! Make in India!” Sell anywhere in the world, but make in India. Chemical, automobile, paper & plastic, satellites, cell phones – make it all in India!

• To Indian youth, I say our dream should be “Made in India!”

• Serving the nation has to be more than just sacrificing your life like freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. The farmer does equally great service as the soldier.

• India’s youth, to them I say. Do not compromise. When manufacturing, your goal should be: Zero defect; zero effect (on environment).

• People used to think of us as a nation of snake charmers. Now we are seen as a nation of IT wizards. So we dream of a Digital India. If our villages are connected with broadband connectivity. Imagine what it can do for education and for healthcare. Can we move towards mobile governance? This is what I mean by Digital India.

• We import foreign electronics in large amounts. It is our second greatest import after oil and natural gases.

• E-governance to me means Effective Governance. If we focus on it, Digital India can stand on equal footing with the world.

• Cleanliness is of great importance. For how long will we continue to live in dirt. The first task we focused on was cleanliness. If 125 crore Indians decide they will spread cleanliness, India will be clean.

• Mahatma Gandhi’s anniversary is coming. What will be our gift to him? Can we promise that we will clean India by 2019? This task can only be fulfilled with the people’s participation.

• It is a shame that our women do not have access to toilets. This leads to illness and disease. August 15 is the time for big announcements. I do not know what I will be called for making these announcements. But I come from a poor family. I know what it feels like to be poor.

• Starting today, we wish to start the mission to have toilets in every school. With MPLAD funds, I appeal that in the next one year, toilets be built in every school in India.

• I announce a scheme in the name of the Parliament. Sansad Gram Yojana. Choose any village, set parameters. Then make one village the ideal village – the adarsh gram. Members of Parliament should aim to have three villages built to Adarsh standards by 2019. After that, five ideal villages every five years should be created.

• When the Planning Commission was created, it was created with the needs of the time in mind. The body has contributed to this in its best capacity as well. State Governments are coming into more strong roles and I think this is a good thing. Strengthening the federal structure is what will take India forward. States and the Centre in teams will create the new shape of the Planning Commission. With this in mind, the Planning Commission will have a new incarnation. It will have a new shape.

• Today is Sri Aurobindo’s birth anniversary as well. He had said that India will play the role of the world’s teacher. He and Swami Vivekananda had a vision of India becoming a teacher for the world. I want that vision to come true.

• We fought the war for freedom. We were together and unarmed. Did we not win? Can we not defeat poverty the same way? Our neighbouring countries also have the same problems. Fighting and killing each other does not take us anywhere. The one who saves is greater than the one who kills. In Bhutan and Nepal, I saw this feeling reflected.

• I am not the Pradhan Mantri. I am the Pradhan Sevak. I promise my colleagues in the Government. If you work 12 hours, I will work 13 hours. If you work 13 hours, I will work 15 hours. – Niti Central, 15 August 2014

 India Independence Day Google Doodle 2014

 

Rape, toilet speech for the greater national change – S. Bhatt

Sheela Bhatt“While touching the issue of rape-related crimes, Modi said: ‘I want to ask parents, when daughters turn 11 or 14, they keep a tab on their movements. Have these parents ever asked their sons where they have been going, who they have been meeting? Rapists are somebody’s sons as well! Parents must take the responsibility to ensure that their sons don’t go the wrong direction.'” – Sheela Bhatt

Quintessentially Modi, said Bharatiya Janata Party’s spokesperson and writer M J Akbar after Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort on India’s 68 Independence Day.

Prime Minister Modi wore the hat of a social reformer on Friday.

His speech had the soul of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak. For them, the power of New Delhi is all about shaping Indian families and building national character.

Sporting a bright red bandhni-designed safa along with simple kurta-chudidar helped him play out his “Hindu-nationalist” identity. His social ideas too had a thread of “cultural nationalism” of the RSS style running through it.

Standing firm on the dais without a bullet-proof glass barrier, alongside the national flag, Modi displayed with full vigour his typical macho body language, his government’s priorities in the social sector and his own resolve to govern the country.

He talked less about politics and more about basics.

His language was assertive but not aggressive.

Even if it was a bit ceremonial, he graciously acknowledged his predecessors.

The prime minister reminded people that he is an outsider. And, true to his outsider spirit, he talked about toilets.

Modi’s speech has to be applauded for bringing toilets, gender imbalance and cleanliness into the national discourse.

He gave himself a things-to-do deadline for building toilets in all schools across India within a year.

One wished he added the adjective, ‘functioning’ before toilets. Thousands of schools in India does have toilets but they either do not have running water or are not being maintained.

This is almost an impossible task. So let us see with immense interest how Modi follows his promised dream.

Also, his announcement of creating bank accounts for the poor and giving them Rs 1 lakh insurance is loaded with many possibilities and impossibilities.

From a sheer business point of view, Modi is talking about some potential insurance business of Rs 23,000 crore!

Officially, there are around 23 crore poor in India. Minimum, one would say.

Giving each of them Rs 1 lakh worth insurance, along with opening their bank accounts, is awesome but seemingly impossible idea to fulfil within the time limit Modi has set.

Precisely for that reason, Modi has created a flutter.

Let the administrative details of his Independence Day ideas come out. Will he give business to the private insurance companies or the government-controlled Life Insurance Corporation?

Knowing fully well that he was not playing elite, restricted and fitting-to-the-solemn-occasion speech, Modi said he does not know whether people will appreciate him talking about dirt and toilets from the ramparts of the Red Fort. But since he came from a poor family, he expressed his concerns for such issues.

The most redeeming feature of his speech was his penchant for cleanliness.

He said that by 2019, ensuring cleanliness will be the most fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.

The prime minister’s speech constantly gave the feel that change is in air.

It was high time an Indian Prime Minister went back to basics and talked about how shameful it is that the country’s womenfolk have to wait for darkness to go out in the open to defecate.

Modi asked, “Can’t we build toilets for the security of our women?”

While touching the issue of rape-related crimes, Modi said: “I want to ask parents, when daughters turn 11 or 14, they keep a tab on their movements. Have these parents ever asked their sons where they have been going, who they have been meeting? Rapists are somebody’s sons as well! Parents must take the responsibility to ensure that their sons don’t go the wrong direction.”

His idea of announcing a scheme named after Parliament called Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana is a challenging one too.

Modi said that by 2016, MPs should have at least turned one village into a model village. By the end of five years, Modi wants each MP should have converted at least five villages into model villages.

Through the scheme, which will be kicked off from October 11 — the auspicious day of Karva Chauth, Modi is talking about creating some 3500-plus ideal villages by 2019.

During the course of his speech, Modi, in a cold-blooded manner, dismantled the Planning Commission, ending the Nehruvian style instrument of national deliberations on planned growth.

Asserting that the country has changed, the prime minister said that since the needs had changed, it was time to build a new institution instead of renovating the old relic.

Modi also talked about skill development and tried to inspire a “Make in India” mission.

He, however, smartly avoided political traps.

His government was elected by people who were angry on issue of corruption, price rise and insecurity due to internal and external vulnerabilities.

Modi didn’t touch issue of corruption, high cost of living and Pakistan-backed terrorism or even the issue of black money stashed abroad.

He diverted the national attention to social issues rather than hardcore economic or security-related issues.

Modi’s speech, as expected, was perfectly-delivered. But it was short of hard issues that could give the nation new direction or clear hint of fundamental changes that are likely to come though governance particularly.

Modi, though, has time on his side.

If his government machinery starts building toilets on a war-footing and if some 780-plus MPs start building the ideal model villages in nooks and corners of India, Modi will deserve applause on August 15, 2015. – Rediff, 15 August 2014

About the St Thomas reference in Shashi Tharoor’s book Pax Indica – Poulasta Chakraborthy

Shashi Tharoor

St Thomas by Georges de la Tour  (1593 – 1652)This sounds like a good story. And that’s what it is: a good story. All those statements on Thomas made by Tharoor, Nehru and Prasad are not based on any solid historical evidence. They are just repetitions of a well established legend. – Poulasta Chakraborthy

Page 280 of former minister and current Member of Parliament, Shashi Tharoor’s book Pax Indica contains an interesting assertion.

Christianity arrived on Indian soil with St. Thomas the Apostle (‘Doubting Thomas’), who came to the Malabar Coast sometime before 52 CE and was welcomed on shore, or so oral legend has it, by a flute playing Jewish girl. He made many converts, so there are Indians today whose ancestors were Christians well before any Europeans discovered Christianity.

Although Tharoor identifies the incident of St. Thomas being welcomed to Malabar by a flute-playing Jewish girl as part of folklore, he states that the arrival of St. Thomas to the Malabar Coast as a historical fact.

The good news is that he’s not the first one to state that myth as a historical truth. The biggest of political leaders in India have obediently accepted this historical myth. In one of his works, the nation’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote:

Few people realise that Christianity came to India as early as the first century after Christ, long before Europe turned to it, and established a firm hold in South India….

This statement was repeated in a different way by Dr. Rajendra Prasad in his St. Thomas Day speech at New Delhi, in 1955:

Remember St. Thomas came to India when many countries in Europe had not yet become Christian and so these Indians who trace their Christianity to him have a longer history and a higher ancestry than that of Christians of many of the European countries. And it is a matter of pride for us that it happened….

This famous legend as well as the assertion that Christianity came to India before it went to Europe is a tactic to make it a sort of indigenous religion, even if it came from the Middle East. The statements made by our great leaders are based on the following incidents:

St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Christ (itself a disputed fact), came to India in 52 CE. He landed at Maliankara (Cranganore) in Kerala, preached the Gospel, produced miracles, and got many converts.

Then he went to Mailepuram (Mylapore), and from there to China, but after some time returned to Maliankara, and from there came again to Mylapore where he spent the rest of his life preaching, converting a large number of the low-caste Hindus.

The aforesaid points make St. Thomas appear as socio-religious reformer who aimed to ameliorate the woes of local residents—specifically those suppressed under the caste system. As every tale of reformers goes St. Thomas was also disliked by the orthodox elements (which in the Indian context are the Brahmins) of the land that were determined to finish him. This risky situation made Thomas take refuge in a cave at a mountain located near the present St. Thomas Mount. Unfortunately the great Saint was murdered by one of those zealous Brahmins at St. Thomas Mount. His body was brought to Mylapore and buried in 73 CE.

This sounds like a good story. And that’s what it is: a good story. All those statements on Thomas made by Tharoor, Nehru and Prasad are not based on any solid historical evidence. They are just repetitions of a well established legend.

Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict

Now let’s see what some historical, and even Christian religious texts have to say about this tale:

  1. D. Burnell, in an article in the Indian Antiquary of May 1875, writes, “The attribution of the origin of South Indian Christianity to the apostle Thomas seems very attractive to those who hold certain theological opinion. But the real question is, on what evidence does it rest? Without real or sufficient evidence so improbable a circumstance is to be at once rejected. Pious fictions have no place in historical research.”
  2. Prof. Jarl Charpentier, in St. Thomas the Apostle and India, writes, “There is absolutely not the shadow of a proof that an Apostle of our Lord be his name Thomas or something else — ever visited South India or Ceylon and founded Christian communities there.”
  3. Rev. J. Hough, in Christianity in India, writes, “It is not probable that any of the Apostles of our Lord embarked on a voyage … to India.”
  4. Cosmas the Alexandrian, a theologian, geographer and merchant who traded with Ethiopia and Ceylon, visited Malabar in 520-525 CE and provided the first acceptable evidence of Christian communities there as noted in his Christian Topography. There is no mention of any Thomas in his works.
  5. Regarding the fabled Apostle of Jesus, Thomas, early Church Fathers like Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Eusebius had stated outright that Apostle Thomas settled in ‘Parthia’, and established a church in Fars (Persia). This is supported by the 4th century priest Rufinus of Aquileia, who translated Greek theological texts into Latin, and the 5th century Byzantine church historian, Socrates of Constantinople, who wrote an Ecclesiastical History, the second edition of which survives and is a valuable source of early church history. None of those sources speak of St. Thomas visiting India.
  6. Bishop Stephen Neill who had spent many years in South India examined the St. Thomas story as late as 1984. “A number of scholars,” wrote Neill, “among whom are to be mentioned with respect Bishop A.E. Medlycott, J.N. Farquhar and Jesuit Dahlman, have built on slender foundations what can only be called Thomas romances, such as reflect vividness of their imagination rather than the prudence of historical critics…. Millions of Christians in India are certain that the founder of their church was none other than the apostle Thomas himself. The historian cannot prove it to them that they are mistaken in their belief. He may feel it right to warn them that historical research cannot pronounce on the matter with a confidence equal to that which they entertain by faith.”

And to top them all, in September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI himself declared that Thomas never came to India. But his declaration was toned down after a complaint from the so-called St. Thomas Christians who still believe Thomas came to India and converted their ancestors. Now the question: where did it all begin?

Bardaisan / BardesanesThe chief source of this tale is a Gnostic Syrian fable, Acts of Thomas, written by a poet named Bardesanes at Edessa around 201 CE. The text says the apostle went from Palestine eastwards to a desert-like country where people are ‘Mazdei’ (a term used for Zoroastrians) and have Persian names. The term “India” in Acts is used as a synonym for Asia.

The Acts identifies St Thomas as Judas, the look-alike twin of Jesus, who sells him into slavery. The slave travels to Andropolis where he makes newly-weds chaste, cheats a king, fights with Satan over a beautiful boy, persuades a talking donkey to confess the name of Jesus, and is finally executed by a Zoroastrian king for crimes against women. His body is buried on a royal mountain and later taken to Edessa, where a popular cult rises around his tomb. Even in this story, it is clear that St. Thomas never visited India.

Thomas of CanaThere is another popular fable among Indian Christians about one Thomas of Cana, a merchant who led a group of 400 Christians from Babylon and Nineveh, out of Persia in the 4th century CE, when Christianization of the Roman Empire motivated the Persians to persecute their Syriac-speaking Christian minority. These Christians apparently landed in Malabar around 345 CE.

Based on this tale, a section of St. Thomas Christians believe Thomas of Cana to be known as St. Thomas.

And so it is clear that nothing much is known about St. Thomas beyond these stories which have been refuted by historical evidence.

Even after reading the refutation of this tale of St. Thomas by strong historical evidence, the likes of Tharoor will claim that these ‘fables’ are historical facts, in no less than a full length book of the genre Pax Indica belongs to. The reason is not far to seek: Tharoor’s parroting of the St. Thomas myth arises from the Indian secularist template for keeping the secular fabric of India intact.

Sita Ram GoelBut there are deeper, more fundamental reasons why the St. Thomas myth must be debated and re-debated.

The reason is given in detail by Sita Ram Goel in his Papacy: Its Doctrine and History.

Firstly, it is one thing for some Christian refugees to come to a country and build some churches, and quite another for an apostle of Jesus Christ to appear in flesh and blood for spreading the Good News. If it can be established that Christianity is as ancient in India as the prevailing forms of Hinduism, no one can nail it down as an imported creed brought in by Western imperialism.

Secondly, the Catholic Church in India stands badly in need of a spectacular martyr of its own. Unfortunately for it, St. Francis Xavier died a natural death and that, too, in a distant place. Hindus, too, have persistently refused to oblige the Church in this respect, in spite of all provocations. The Church has to use its own resources and churn out something. St. Thomas, about whom nobody knows anything, offers a ready-made martyr.

Thirdly, the Catholic Church can malign the Brahmins more confidently. Brahmins have been the main target of its attack from the beginning. Now it can be shown that the Brahmins have always been a vicious brood, so much so that they would not stop from murdering a holy man who was only telling God’s own truth to a tormented people. At the same time, the religion of the Brahmins can be held responsible for their depravity.

Fourthly, the Catholics in India need no more feel uncomfortable when faced with historical evidence about their Church’s close cooperation with the Portuguese pirates, in committing abominable crimes against the Indian people. The commencement of the Church can be disentangled from the advent of the Portuguese by dating the Church to some distant past. The Church was here long before the Portuguese arrived. It was a mere coincidence that the Portuguese also called themselves Catholics. Guilt by association is groundless.

To reword a phrase used by the famed novelist S.L. Bhyrappa ‘Secularism can never be strengthened by projecting historical lies.’ Hence it is imperative for students of history as well as those claiming to be historians to challenge these distortions in our public discourse. – India Facts, 1 August 2014

References

  1. Ishwar Sharan, The Myth of St. Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple
  2. Sandhya Jain, Merchant Thomas to Saint Thomas
  3. Tejasvi Surya, The Mylapore St. Thomas Myth that just doesn’t seem to die: Part 1 [and 2]
  4. Ishwar Sharan, Wikipedia & Encyclopaedia: Their counterfeit St. Thomas entries exposed

The Roti Fiasco: How the media communalised a non-issue – Ashok Chowgule

 Maharashtra Sadan at K.G. Marg in New Delhi

Ashok Chowgule“One of the Shiv Sena MPs took a rubbery chapatti and took it near the mouth of a member of the staff, asking him whether he could eat the rubbish that was being served.  The Marathi journalists who had covered the incident live gave no indication that the action of the MP was of a communal nature, and in fact he stopped his action within one minute when the staff said that he was fasting.  However, the English media, when they covered the event some days later, projected that the staff was singled out because he was a Muslim.” –  Ashok Chowgule

The Indian ExpressOn July 23, 2014, the front page of The Indian Express carried an article that claimed that a Shiv Sena MP force-fed a Muslim employee of the caterer of Maharashtra Sadan even as he was observing fast on account of Ramazan.  Given the practice of secularism in India, this report created a furore in the media that wears the badge of secularism supposedly proudly on its sleeve. 

And then there was a competition amongst the secularists to determine who would outdo the other in being more vicious.  And columnists had a field day in being provided what they thought was an easy target.  The event apparently had the necessary ingredients – a bugbear as a political party, and a Muslim as a victim.  The secularists truly salivated. 

However, two days later, The Hoot, a web-based news publication, came out with data that would indicate that the facts were very different than what the secularists imagined.  It is not that The Hoot sent out a reporter out in the field.  It just that the author of the article read the relevant newspapers of the days following the date of when the event actually happened, and talked to the concerned reporters. 

The main revelation in The Hoot report was that the event happened on July 17, that is SIX days before The Indian Express carried the story.  The concerned reporters realised that it was a small incident, and so carried the story in an inside pages, and given the small space that the incident deserved. 

The Hoot report is available here.

And from this report, we can gleam facts which the secular English media does not wish to provide to its readers.  Even since the Sadan was opened for occupancy in June 2013 (a year before the incident The Hoothappened), those using the facilities were complaining about the service.  At the time it was the MPs from the secular dispensation that were in majority – namely the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.  The complaints were nearly in all aspects of the facilities, and not just the catering service. 

After the May 16 elections, the level of complaints reached a different scaled.  The Congress and the NCP were disseminated in the elections, and the number of seats that they won reduced from 17 and 8 to 2 and 4, respectively.  The Shiv Sena and the BJP increased their seats  from 10 to 18 and 9 to 22. 

There were thus many first-time MPs, who are yet to be provided the standard family accommodation that they are eligible for.  The earlier occupants have been taking their own time to vacate, and so these MPs were housed in the Sadan in single rooms.  Obviously they had to rely on the management of the Sadan to provide for cleaning services and also the food. 

One of the feature of the Sadans built by the various states is that the food happens to be a cuisine from the state. It was like promoting the cuisine in the country’s capital, and the restaurants in the Sadans are visited by the people living in Delhi.  This was not the case in the Maharashtra Sadan. 

The management of the Sadan would not provide for any special requests of those staying at the Sadan – like special food for those observing fasts on a religious day. 

For nearly a month, the MPs were making attempts to cajole the management to make improvements.  These fell on deaf ears.  They asked for a meeting with the resident manager, which was fixed for 9am on July 17.  The manager decided not to be present.  After waiting for some time, the MPs left the Sadan to go to the Lok Sabha, since the session was on. When they returned for lunch at 12:30pm, the manager was nowhere to be seen. 

Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare The frustration lead to anger, and some of the MPs went into the kitchen to protest with the staff that was present.  One of the Shiv Sena MPs took a rubbery chapatti and took it near the mouth of a member of the staff, asking him whether he could eat the rubbish that was being served.  The Marathi journalists who had covered the incident live gave no indication that the action of the MP was of a communal nature, and in fact he stopped his action within one minute when the staff said that he was fasting.  However, the English media, when they covered the event some days later, projected that the staff was singled out because he was a Muslim. 

Between the time the incident happened to the time when it was reported in The Indian Express, the management of the Sadan made no effort to rectify the situation. In fact the caterer decided to play a victim and discontinued the service at the Sadan.  Instead of reporting this high-handedness, the editors at The Indian Express decided to make it into a communal issue.  And the other publications and the electronic media also decided to be even more vicious. 

Even after The Hoot report, the media went on its communalisation spree.  

Then there is the incident relating to the remarks by the Telengana state BJP president in context of the appointment of Saina Mirza as the brand ambassador for the newly formed state.  His full statement on the subject was: “We respect and feel proud of what Sania Mirza has achieved as a sports person who Sania Mirzabrought laurels to the country. But you have made a person born in Maharashtra, brought up in Hyderabad and is a daughter in law of Pakistan – as a brand ambassador of Hyderabad. Especially in the context of your recent rule that only people who have their ancestor origins in Telangana before 1956 are eligible for education scholarships, aren’t these double standards?” 

He was speaking about the double standards, but the secular media chose to highlight a few words.  And just as in the case of the Maharashtra Sadan, the objective was the same – to communalise an issue where there is not even a trace of communalism.  The objective is not to sympathise with Sainaji but to try and put the BJP on the defensive.  This strategy does not succeed anymore because of the army of Internet Hindus. 

(For more on the case of Sainaji, please go here.)

Now that the blatant double-standards have been exposed, will the media apologise for what they have done.  Personally, I do not expect it to happen.  You do not apologies to the Hindus in general.  And apologising to the Shiv Sena and the BJP?  God forbid. – Hindu Vivek Kendra, 30 July 2014

» Ashok Chowgule is the Working President (External) of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

 

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