Mother Teresa: More dirt on the saint of the gutters – Jayant Chowdhury

Mother Teresa

It’s high time the world accepted that Mother Teresa was a regressive religious bigot who did little good for the poor and ailing. – Jayant Chowdhury

Now that the dust has settled over the comments made by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat about Mother Teresa and her alleged proselytization, this is a good time to undertake a dispassionate analysis of her life and legacy. Mother Teresa, or the ‘Blessed Teresa of Kolkata’ as she is known after her beatification by the Vatican in October 2003, is undoubtedly considered by the world as a saint who gave care to lakhs of ailing and dying people and salvaged their souls. In the collective imagination of the world, she was a noble soul who dedicated her life to caring for the sick, the disabled, the homeless and the poor and, hence, a saintly soul. The Missionaries of Charity, that she established in 1950, today runs more than 500 missions in over 130 countries and is said to be the richest such order in the world, thanks to the billions of dollars that pour in from all over the world every year.

But, say Mother Teresa’s not inconsiderable number of critics, she and her order, and the work they do, is one of the biggest hoaxes created by western media-orchestrated hype. To them, Mother Teresa’s primary purpose in life was not to provide care to the sick and the destitute, but to spread the word of Christ. Mother Teresa herself said so; she hung a placard outside “Mother House” (the command centre of her order where she also resided) in Kolkata that said: “Tell them we are not here for work, we are here for Jesus. We are religious above all else. We are not social workers, not teachers, not doctors. We are nuns.”

Walter Wuellenweber argues in his incisive article in the December 22, 2006 issue of the German magazine Stern that if Mother and the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity were primarily nuns, what did they need so much money for? She once told British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (who shared her extreme right-wing Catholic views) and was the first architect of the elaborate myth that was constructed around her: “There is always the danger that we may become only social workers. Our works are only an expression of our love for Christ”.

But it’s primarily her work that attracts the fiercest criticism. She, and the Missionaries of Charity (MoC), have been accused of not doing enough for the sick and disabled in her homes, of not utilizing the vast resources at her disposal to provide modern medical treatment to them, of diverting most of the funds received in the name of the poor to the Vatican Bank, of being opaque in financial transactions, of hobnobbing with crooks and fraudsters and accepting their ill-gotten wealth and of promoting her archaic, ultra-orthodox and dogmatic views on issues like abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

Mother Teresa's home for the dying in KolkataHorrible conditions at MoC homes

Former nuns and volunteers who have worked in MoC-run homes have written about the atrocious conditions at such facilities and how the sick are denied proper medical care due to Mother Teresa’s atrocious belief that “suffering was a gift from God”. Mother Teresa once told journalists: “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s passion. I think the world is being helped by their suffering.” And so she, and her order, let the poor suffer as a matter of principle!

Doctors who have visited her homes have spoken and written about a significant lack of hygiene, proper medical care, absence of trained staff and inadequate food for the patients there. S. Bedford, a Toronto-based travel writer and journalist provided a shocking expose of conditions at Prem Dan, a MoC home in Kolkata, in the September 2014 issue of the magazine New Internationalist. The Guardian once described the care given in MoC hospices as an “organized form of neglectful assistance”. Robin Fox, the editor of British medical journal The Lancet, who visited Mother Teresa’s Home for Dying Destitute in Kolkata, criticized the medical care, or the lack of it, being provided to patients there, and held her responsible for the horrible conditions, for not making any distinction between the curable and non-curable patients and for leaving all of them to die.

Amy Gigi Alexander, who spent many years as a volunteer in Daya Dan, a MoC-run home for children with special needs in Kolkata and in MoC homes in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Bolivia, Bangladesh, France, England and America since 2007, writes: “Standards for treatment were antiquated and the children often crawled around on hands and knees rather than using wheelchairs that were kept unused in a storage room”. “Mother House provided the budget for only the children’s basic needs and those needs did not include medical that was not deemed ‘necessary’. The order did not pay for things that would improve the quality of life, extend life, or make life more comfortable. Therefore, many children had had diseases that caused them to suffer, or conditions that were treatable,” she wrote.

Missionary of Charity nuns entering the Chase Bank in New York.However, when Mother Teresa herself required medical treatment, she sought and got it from the best medical facilities in America and India!

No dearth of funds

What is inexplicable is why the MoC ran, and still runs, its facilities in such a parsimonious fashion? There is no doubt that it is awash with money. An extensive study of Mother Teresa and her MoC carried out by Professor Serge Larivee and Genevieve Chenard of the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychoeducation and Carole Senechal of University of Ottowa’s Faculty of Education resulted in a paper (released two years ago) that said the MoC had raised hundreds of millions of dollars. “Mother Teresa was miserly with her foundation’s millions when it came to humanity’s sufferings. During numerous floods in India or following the leak of poisonous gas from a pesticides plant in Bhopal, she offered numerous prayers and medallions, but no monetary aid,” observed Professor Larivee.

Investigations by Stern revealed that MoC used only 7% of the donations for charity and the rest were funneled into secret bank accounts or used to build more missions. Walter Wuellenweber, in his article in Stern, quotes Susan Shields who served as Sister Virgin for nine and half years at MOC’s Holy Ghost House in New York’s Bronx, as saying that every night, 25 nuns there spent many hours preparing receipts for donations that ranged between five and a thousand dollars and during Christmas, the flow of cheques, many for 50,000 dollars and more, became “uncontrollable”. Shields was quoted as saying that one year, an MoC account in a New York bank had more than $50 million. “Fifty million dollars in one bank account in a predominantly non-Catholic country. How much then were they collecting in Europe and from around the world?” wonders Wuellenweber.

Financial opacity

Mother Teresa had consistently refused to provide any accounts of the donations she had received and how they were spent. Stern, which investigated MoC’s affairs, reported that the UK was the only country where MoC, the largest organization of its kind in the world, allowed the authorities a look at its accounts. The MoC has never issued any statement of its accounts in India, even though it is legally binding to do so and when all other similar organizations like the Ramakrishna Mission and the Bharat Sevasram Sangha regularly submit audited statement of accounts.

Walter Wuellenweber wrote that “for book-keeping, the sisters use school notebooks in which they write in cramped penciled figures. Until they (the notebooks) are full. Then everything is erased and the notebook used again!” It is mysterious why Indian authorities have not asked the MoC to submit audited accounts every year.

Mother Teresa & Michele Duvalier of HaitiHobnobbing with dictators and fraudsters

Mother Teresa flew to Haiti in 1981 to receive the Legion d’Honneur from Jean-Claude Duvalier, the maniacal dictator of that country and routinely accepted huge donations from him. She once said: “Duvalier loved the poor and their love is reciprocated”. She visited Eastern European countries during the days when they were part of the Soviet Bloc and ruled by despotic Communist regimes, accepted their hospitality and set up homes in those countries.

She accepted donations from British publisher Robert Maxwell who embezzled $450 million from his own companies’ pension funds. She also took huge sums of money from the infamous American banker and financier Charles Keating and used to travel by his private jet in the US. She infamously pleaded leniency for him when he was prosecuted for fraud, racketeering and conspiracy. She supported the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975 and said: “This is good. People are happier. There are more jobs. There are no strikes.”

Ultra-orthodox views

Mother Teresa harboured Catholic right-wing views on issues like abortion, contraception and homosexuality. She termed homosexuality a “scourge” and said abortion is “the worst evil”. “Abortion is a direct war, a direct killing, a direct murder by the mother of her own child. If a mother can kill her own child, what will prevent us from killing ourselves or one another?” she once said. In the context of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, when an estimated 45,000 women were raped by Pakistani army, she said the women should keep their babies.

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and PracticeThere have been quite a few critical books and films made on Mother Teresa. One of the most well-researched among them is one by Aroup Chatterjee, a London-based physician, who worked in one of Mother Teresa’s homes. His The Final Verdict is a damning indictment of Mother Teresa and her work. Based on his book, British journalists Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ali produced a documentary, Hell’s Angel, for BBC’s Channel 4. Hitchens also wrote the well-known book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa In Theory and Practice, that blew many myths around the nun. Hitchens puts it succinctly when he says: “Mother was not a friend of the poor, but a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from god. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty—empowerment of women and their emancipation from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction”.

Aroup Chatterjee points out that of the few hundred charitable organizations working for the poor, destitute and ailing in Kolkata, the MoC is one of the largest in terms of size and number of nuns, workers and volunteers, but caters to a very small percentage of the people who need help. Even other Christian organizations do much more. Organisations like the Ramakrishna Mission routinely cater to a few times the number of poor and ailing that the MoC does, despite having much lesser funds.

In the ultimate analysis, a lot of that aura surrounding Mother Teresa and her order is a myth created by the media and the Catholic Church which sees in her beatification and eventual canonization the perfect means to revitalize the Church at a time when churches are empty and the Vatican’s authority on the decline. And for many in the western world, Mother Teresa reinforces their deep-seated prejudices that it is ultimately the white man (or woman) who provides succour to the unwashed, heathen masses of the “brown” and “black” world. She made westerners feel good that they still are the saviours of the world. – Swarajya, 16 March 2015

New References

V. S. Naipaul interviewed by Dileep Padgaonkar, Rahul Singh & Sadanand Menon – Media

V.S. Naipaul
Sword of IslamWe reproduce here excerpts of three interviews given by Sir Vidiadhar S. Naipaul on his interpretation of the ethos of the Sri Rama Janmabhoomi movement. Sir Vidiadhar is a Trinidad-born author of Indian ancestry who now resides in the United Kingdom. He has won all the major awards in English literature including the Nobel Prize in 2001. He has also written a number of best-selling books on India.

In one of his interviews (not included here), Sir Vidiadhar said: “The (second) millennium began with the Muslim invasions and the grinding down of the Hindu-Buddhist culture of the north. This is such a big and bad event that people still have to find polite, destiny-defying ways of speaking about it. In art books and history books, people write of the Muslims ‘arriving’ in India, as though the Muslims came on a tourist bus and went away again. The Muslim view of their conquest of India is a truer one. They speak of the triumph of the faith, the destruction of idols and temples, the loot, the carting away of the local people as slaves, so cheap and numerous that they were being sold for a few rupees. The architectural evidence—the absence of Hindu monuments in the north—is convincing enough.” – Editor

Dileep PadgaonkarDileep Padgaonkar interviews V. S. Naipaul, The Times of India, July 18, 1993

Q: The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent rise of Islamic nations in Central Asia, the Salman Rushdie affair, similar harassment by fundamentalists of liberal Muslim intellectuals in India: all these factors taken together persuaded some forces to argue that a divided Hindu society cannot counteract Islamic fundamentalism.

A: I don’t see it quite in that way. The things you mentioned are quite superficial. What is happening in India is a new, historical awakening. Gandhi used religion in a way as to marshal people for the independence cause. People who entered the independence movement did it because they felt they would earn individual merit.

Today, it seems to me that Indians are becoming alive to their history. Romila Thapar’s book on Indian history is a Marxist attitude to history which in substance says: there is a higher truth behind the invasions, feudalism and all that. The correct truth is the way the invaders looked at their actions. They were conquering, they were subjugating. And they were in a country where people never understood this.

Only now are the people beginning to understand that there has been a great vandalising of India. Because of the nature of the conquest and the nature of Hindu society such understanding had eluded Indians before.

What is happening in India is a mighty creative process. Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on, especially if these intellectuals happen to be in the United States. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

However, we are aware of one of the more cynical forms of liberalism: it admits that one fundamentalism is all right in the world. This is the fundamentalism they are really frightened of: Islamic fundamentalism. Its source is Arab money. It is not intellectually to be taken seriously etc. I don’t see the Hindu reaction purely in terms of one fundamentalism pitted against another. The reaction is a much larger response … Mohamedan fundamentalism is essentially negative, a protection against a world it desperately wishes to join. It is a last-ditch fight against the world.

But the sense of history that the Hindus are now developing is a new thing. Some Indians speak about a synthetic culture: this is what a defeated people always speak about. The synthesis may be culturally true. But to stress it could also be a form of response to intense persecution.

Q: This new sense of history as you call it is being used in India in very many different ways. My worry is that somewhere down the line this search for a sense of history might yet again turn into hostility toward something precious which came to use from the West: the notion of the individual….

A: This is where the intellectuals have a duty to perform. The duty is the use of the mind. It is not enough for intellectuals to chant their liberal views or to abuse what is happening. To use the mind is to reject the grosser aspects of this vast emotional upsurge.

Q: How did you react to the Ayodhya incident?

A: Not as badly as the others did, I am afraid. The people who say that there was no temple there are missing the point. Babar, you must understand, had contempt for the country he had conquered. And his building of that mosque was an act of contempt for the country.

In Turkey, they turned the Church of Santa Sophia into a mosque. In Nicosia churches were converted into mosques too. The Spaniards spent many centuries re-conquering their land from Muslim invaders. So these things have happened before and elsewhere.

In Ayodhya the construction of a mosque on a spot regarded as sacred by the conquered population was meant as an insult. It was meant as an insult to an ancient idea, the idea of Ram which was two or three thousand years old.

Q: The people who climbed on top of these domes and broke them were not bearded people wearing saffron robes and with ash on their foreheads. They were young people clad in jeans and tee-shirts.

A: One needs to understand the passion that took them on top of the domes. The jeans and the tee-shirts are superficial. The passion alone is real. You can’t dismiss it. You have to try to harness it.

Hitherto in India the thinking has come from the top. I spoke earlier about the state of the country: destitute, trampled upon, crushed. You then had the Bengali renaissance, the thinkers of the 19th century. But all this came from the top. What is happening now is different. The movement is now from below.

Q: My colleague, the cartoonist, Mr R. K. Laxman, and I recently travelled thousands of miles in Maharashtra. In many places we found that noses and breasts had been chopped off from the statues of female deities. Quite evidently this was a sign of conquest. The Hindutva forces point to this too to stir up emotions. The problem is: how do you prevent these stirred-up emotions from spilling over and creating fresh tensions?

A: I understand. But it is not enough to abuse them or to use that fashionable word from Europe: fascism. There is a big, historical development going on in India. Wise men should understand it and ensure that it does not remain in the hands of fanatics. Rather they should use it for the intellectual transformation of India.

Rahul SinghRahul Singh interviews V. S. Naipaul, The Times of India, Jan 23, 1998

Q: You gave an interview to The Times of India, which was interpreted by the BJP as supporting them in the destruction (of the Babri structure). Do you think you were misunderstood?

A: I can see how what I said then could be misinterpreted. I was talking about history, I was talking about a historical process that had to come. I think India has lived with one major extended event, that began about 1000 AD, the Muslim invasion. It meant the cracking open and partial wrecking of what was a complete cultural, religious world until that invasion. I don’t think the people of India have been able to come to terms with that wrecking. I don’t think they understand what really happened. It’s too painful. And I think this BJP movement and that masjid business is part of a new sense of history, a new idea of what happened. It might be misguided, it might be wrong to misuse it politically, but I think it is part of a historical process. And to simply abuse it as fascist is to fail to understand why it finds an answer in so many hearts in India.

Q: Couldn’t it just be communal prejudice?

A: It could become that. And that has to be dealt with. But it can only be dealt with if both sides understand very clearly the history of the country. I don’t think Hindus understand what Islam means and I don’t think the people of Islam have tried to understand Hinduism. The two enormous groups have lived together in the sub-continent without understanding one another’s faiths.

Saananda MenonSadanand Menon interviews V. S. Naipaul, The Hindu, July 5, 1998

Q: You have been rather vehement about Marxist, leftist interpretations of history. What did you see as a major flaw in their arguments?

A: Probably not so much the Marxist interpretation of history as Marxist politics which, of course, is entirely criminal. Such disrespect for men. I think that is enough; that is condemnation enough. This lack of regard for human beings.

Q: Well, that is not specific to Marxists politics alone. All brands of organised politics, all parties mirror each other in their behaviour and have discredited themselves. But what about Marxism as a tool for analysing history?

A: You see, Sadanand, I have not lived like that. I never looked for unifying theories. I think everything is particular to a country, a culture, a period. In another context, I do not like people taking ancient myths, shall we say, and applying them to their own period. I think the ancient myths come from an ancient world. Sometimes very many ancient worlds come together in an epic work and to apply that narrative to modern life is absurd. Something like that I feel about these unifying interpretations of history. It is better just to face what there is. It is better not to know the answers to every problem, before you even know what the problems are. The Marxists, they know the answers long before they know anything. And, of course, it is not a science. It deals with human beings.

Q: You have given some signals during your visit here this time about your—it may be a wrong word—your “happiness” with the emergence and consolidation of some kind of parasitic Hindu political order here. How do you sustain such a thesis?

A: No. I have not done that actually. I have talked about history. And I have talked about this movement. I have not gone on to say I would like Hindu religious rule here. All that I have said is that Islam is here in a big way. There is a reason for that and we cannot hide from what the reasons were. The great invasions spread very far South, spreading to, you know, even Mysore. I think when you see so many Hindu temples of the 10th century or earlier time disfigured, defaced, you know that they were not just defaced for fun: that something terrible happened. I feel that the civilisation of that closed world was mortally wounded by those invasions. And I would like people, as it were, to be more reverential towards the past, to try to understand it; to preserve it; instead of living in its ruins. The old world is destroyed. That has to be understood. The ancient Hindu India was destroyed.

Q: Many things changed and many things overlapped in Indian history due to many diverse interventions. But do such processes over time justify the line of “historic revenge” with retrospective effect? Does it make that inevitable? What do you see unfolding before your eyes here today?

A: No. I do not think so. It need not happen. If people just acknowledged history, certain deep emotions of shame and defeat would not be driven underground and would not find this rather nasty and violent expression. As people become more secure in India, as a middle and lower middle class begins to grow, they will feel this emotion more and more. And it is in these people that deep things are stirred by what was, clearly, a very bad defeat. The guides who take people around the temples of Belur and Halebid are talking about this all the time. I do not think they were talking about it like that when I was there last, which is about 20 something years ago. So new people come up and they begin to look at their world and from being great acceptors, they have become questioners. And I think we should simply try to understand this passion. It is not an ignoble passion at all. It is men trying to understand themselves. Do not dismiss them. Treat them seriously. Talk to them.

Q: But don’t you think this tendency is only going to increase—this tendency to whimsically and freely interpret religion or history at the street level?

A: I think it will keep on increasing as long as you keep on saying it is wicked and that they are wicked people. And if we wish to draw the battleline, then of course, you get to battle. If you try to understand what they are saying, things will calm down. – Hindu Vivek Kendra, 199?

Babri Masjid Demolition 1992

Is the BJP hampering Hindu revival? – Shrinidhi Rao

Make In India

Bhagwa DwajDuring the last two years, the Modi government has hardly shown any inclination towards addressing outstanding Hindu issues like uniform civil code, Article 370, revising history curriculum, freeing of temples from government control,  cow protection, and addressing the issue of evangelism. There is no indication that the things will change in near future. – Shrinidhi Rao

Two years have passed, since the so-called Hindu Nationalist Party, the BJP was elected with a whopping majority to the lower house of the parliament, the Loka Sabha. The BJP was successful in creating an atmosphere of positivity and hope for the masses and thanks to its charismatic PM candidate Shri Narendra Modi, it was also successful in rightly tapping the aspirations of a young India. But, electoral pundits have long debated if these were the only causes for the BJP’s decisive victory. Some have, time and again, asserted that it was the cultural aspirations of the Hindus, which brought them to power.

While I cannot tell how the BJP itself views its victory, I can vouch for the fact that a large number of hard-working and dedicated volunteers, who were truly responsible for the win, did see in BJP an end to administration by self-alienated and self-hating “seculars”. There was a huge aspiration to have a government which was sympathetic and proactive towards Hindu causes. But, two years down the line, it appears that the hopes were ill-founded and based on ignorance about political realities. The question, which many are asking now is, whether the BJP is hampering Hindu revival? Whether it is becoming the biggest hurdle to achieve the goal of rejuvenation of Sanatana Hindu Dharma?

The task of Hindu revival is certainly not simple. Enormous challenges and obstacles, especially from well-set, deep-rooted ideologies, would have to be overcome at every single step. To re-establish Hinduism as something more than a “primitive”, “pagan”, “confused polytheistic religion” in the mainstream discourse, adventurous intellectual endeavours must be undertaken. Modern day world is no more measured on the physical strength of the people, but on the strength of their intellect and ideology.

A task like this must need a strong, confident and a well-rooted leader. For long, Hindus have put their weight behind RSS/BJP to bring about Hindu rejuvenation, or rather, RSS/BJP has for long thrust itself [forward] as the leader working towards the Hindu cause and yet, at a very fundamental level, especially in the intellectual sphere, very less progress has been made.

Whenever the BJP has been elected to power, be it at the Centre or at the States, it has neither tried to develop a network of intellectuals and academic think tanks dedicated to creating India’s grand narrative and preparing a Hindu response to various contemporary challenges, not has tried to bring in policy changes, which could be considered as favourable to Hindu cause. Though, of course, it has put forward few initiatives towards this directly, it is too little and too late. More importantly, many of them were implemented hastily and in a compromised manner, and some were even aborted in the middle as soon as an allegation was thrown at it.

The BJP has for long been afraid of getting branded as a Hindu party and has been desperately pleading to Indian Secularists to certify it as a “secular enough party”. This, however, has not materialised for a Dalai Lama Quotesimple reason that no matter what the BJP says and does, BJP/RSS simply do not fit into their secular narrative and political scheme of things. The two years of the Modi government is no exception to this.

During the last two years, the Modi government has hardly shown any inclination towards addressing outstanding Hindu issues like uniform civil code, Article 370, revising history curriculum, freeing of temples from government control,  cow protection, and addressing the issue of evangelism. There is no indication that the things will change in near future.

It is quite evident that many of these issues are simply raked up during elections and once in power, they are put on to the back burner to be used again during the next elections. All these compels one to re-evaluate the role of the BJP in Hindu revival.

The RSS-BJP duo carries with it a sense of apologetic and defensive attitude. Though, presently in power, it is still an opposition in the academic and intellectual contours of the Indian psyche. The RSS/BJP, in-spite of having a strong, nationalistic, self-less and determined cadre base has failed to develop a coherent theory for the Hindu revival movement. It has failed to evolve any political discourse rooted in Indic worldview. Instead of changing the terms of engagement with the people and other political parties in its favour, the BJP, for long, has walked on the path laid down for it by other opinion makers like secularists, Marxists and the West.

This has led to huge information gaps and large-scale misunderstanding of the Hindu revival movement among the intellectual classes, as well as the masses, all across the world. As a result, most information reaching the public regarding Hindu issues, are provided by those intellectuals, who are blatantly hostile to concerns of Hindu community and hence create a Hinduphobic narrative around most such issues.

It is this biased narrative that has created misleading tags like Hindu terrorism, Hindu Nazi, etc. and has falsely branded legitimate issues of Hindu society as fascism. The stray headlines grabbing actions of the Hindu fringe and BJP/RSS’s inability to reign in on them only adds to reinforcing these misleading tags. But, the greatest failure of RSS/BJP is in its inability (and disinterest) to counter these false narratives and build a genuine Hindu narrative on the foundation of truth and Dharma.

This inability and a disinterest in fighting the ideological and perception [battle] by the RSS/BJP make one question whether the BJP is hampering, more than helping, the cause of Hindu revival?

It is high time that Hindus come out of their cocoons and work towards understanding their own culture, tradition and identity. Instead of depending on political organizations like BJP, they should become responsible and make efforts to revive Dharma and create India’s grand narrative. Hindus have become weak not because of others, but because of their own inertia. For India to truly rise, it is time that Hindus build a strong and confident Hinduism rooted in the eternal principles of Sanatana Dharma. – India Facts, 24 August 2016

Hindu Activism

The ‘miracle’ that makes a saint out of Mother Teresa – Jaideep Mazumdar

Pope John Paul II & Mother Teresa

Jaideep MazumdarThis woman drives to the hospital and places the Mother Teresa medallion under her husband’s pillow. And then, even as her husband is being readied for surgery, she drives back to her church to pray! … Did she drive back an hour to be able to pray with the Missionaries of Charity nuns so that the outlandish miracle could be attributed to Mother Teresa? – Jaideep Mazumdar

In early December 2008, 34-year-old Marcilio Haddad Andrino, a PhD in mechanical engineering from one of Brazil’s best institutes (University of Campinas) went on his honeymoon to Gramado, his wife’s hometown. There, he fell seriously ill and was driven 1111 kilometres, a journey that would have taken 14 hours at least, to a little-known hospital (St. Lucas Hospital) in Santos on 8 December.

According to a news report that appeared in Avvenire (an Italian newspaper that is affiliated to the Vatican) Andrino, of Lebanese origin, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus (abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain) and eight abscesses (tumours) in the brain, and had gone into a coma. But his wife left the hospital and drove for over an hour to São Vicente (where the couple used to reside) to pray at her church—Our Lady of Aparecida Church.

The priest at the church, Father Elmiran Ferreira, who very conveniently had a medallion bearing a portrait of Mother Teresa in his pocket, gave it to Andrino’s wife and asked her to take it back and keep it Mother Teresa Medalunder her husband’s pillow at the hospital before returning to the church to pray for her husband. The woman dutifully returned to Santos and did the priest’s bidding.

The next day, even as Andrino was being readied for surgery, his wife drove back to São Vicente to pray at her church along with Father Elmiran. A group of Missionaries of Charity nuns living at São Vicente also joined the lady and the priest to pray for Andrino’s recovery and ask for Mother Teresa’s intercession.

Meanwhile, Andrino, who was comatose, was wheeled into the operation theatre at 6.10 pm on 9 December. But doctors could not perform the tracheal intubation for anaesthesia. They, quite inexplicably, left Andrino in the operation theatre (OT) and, presumably, went to drink coffee! Half an hour later, they returned to the OT to retry the procedure and nearly jumped out of their skins when they saw the patient fully awake and without pain.

“What am I doing here?”, Andrino is said to have asked the doctors, who were possibly too dumbfounded to reply. The next (10 December) morning, when his wife went to the hospital, she was startled to see him sitting on his hospital bed sipping coffee.

A couple of days later, he was back home with all the excess cerebrospinal fluid and the eight tumours having mysteriously disappeared. Soon after, he landed a good job with the federal government and shifted to the country’s capital, Rio de Janeiro, with his wife, who has since borne him two children.

This fantastical story, with its plethora of loopholes, will form the basis of Mother Teresa’s canonisation a little over two weeks from now on 4 September. Thousands from India, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj—who will lead the Indian delegation, will journey to the Vatican to attend the ceremony, where this “miracle” will be celebrated.

The detailed account of this “miracle cure” of Andrino—which appeared in Avvenire, the first to announce the date of Mother Teresa’s canonisation (conferring sainthood)—stretches one’s credulity and throws up many questions. Why would a seriously ill patient be taken to a nondescript hospital more than a thousand kilometres away when Porto Alegre, the city nearest to Gramado (where Andrino was on a honeymoon; and what sort of person would go to his wife’s hometown on a honeymoon anyway?), a major city in Brazil, was just 125 kilometres (2.5-hour drive) away?

Porto Alegre has the Hospital de Clínicas, a renowned university hospital in Brazil that has 60 specialities, and gets patients from across Brazil. In a medical emergency, it would be natural for a patient to be taken to the nearest hospital, more so if that hospital is highly reputed, rather than being taken to a nondescript one more than a thousand kilometres away.

The whole account of a (presumably) newly-wed woman (since the two had gone on their honeymoon) rushing off to her local church leaving her critically ill and comatose husband in a hospital is quite implausible. That is not normal human behaviour.

But after having left her comatose husband in hospital and met her parish priest, this woman drives back to the hospital and places the medallion under her husband’s pillow. And then, even as her husband is being readied for surgery, she drives back to her church to pray! Which woman would ever do that? Did she drive back an hour to be able to pray with the Missionaries of Charity nuns so that the (outlandish) miracle could be attributed to Mother Teresa?

And even as her, and her priest’s and nuns’ prayers are answered almost instantly by the “Blessed Teresa of Kolkata” (as Mother Teresa came to be known after her beatification in October 2003), the Mother Teresa & Pope John Paul II(distraught?) lady remains unaware of her husband’s miraculous recovery. This at a time when, less than eight years ago, Brazil had (according to this Wikipedia entry) 150.6 million mobile phone users.

Would not a woman whose husband was dying call up the hospital using a mobile phone (borrowing one if she doesn’t possess one) to know about her husband after his scheduled surgery? Would she wait till the next morning to physically visit the hospital to find out about her husband’s condition?

This story is also full of coincidences. Many outside the Santos diocese came to know of this miracle, but it was not reported to the Vatican. It was only eight years later, in 2013, that Pope Francis got to know about it during a visit to Rio. A neurosurgeon in Rio, Jose Augusto Nasser, was assigned as the Pope’s personal physician during the visit and told him at the time.

Nasser also happened to be the personal physician of Father Caetano Rizzi, who was the judicial vicar of Santos when this miracle occurred. Incidentally, there are no accounts of Father Caetano suffering from any neurological disorders that required surgical intervention. And a surgeon is not usually a personal physician of any person. But we are talking about fantastical stories here.

Father Caetano, like Andrino’s wife, also hails from Gramado and knew the lady’s family. Father Caetano had told Dr Nasser, a devout Catholic, about the miracle cure of Andrino. Nasser then narrated the account of this miracle to the Pope and sent a report on it to the Vatican as well.

Last year, Father Caetano was told by the Vatican that it was examining the miracle. In the next week, three representatives from Rome reached Brazil, heard testimonies of Father Elmiran and 14 others and returned to Rome. They prepared a 400-page report on the miracle.

Fr Brian KolodiejchukA team of three senior priests and two doctors carried out more investigations to conclude that the miracle was “instant, perfect and complete, lasting and scientifically inexplicable”. One of these priests was Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, a member of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, a religious community of priests founded by Mother Teresa. It would be in Father Brian’s interest to have Mother Teresa declared a saint.

Of the two doctors, one was Marcus Vinicius Serra, a neurosurgeon who had treated Andrino and had “witnessed the miracle”. The other was Monica Mazzurana Benetti, a surgeon, who is Father Caetano’s niece and close to him. Benetti also hails from Gramado, a town with a strong Catholic influence.

Father Caetano also oversaw the case for another miracle that happened in Santos and that led to Josephine Margaret Bakhita, a Sudanese-born former slave who worked in Italy as a nun, being declared a saint in 2000 by the Vatican. The miracle attributed to Josephine occurred in Santos in 1992 when a local woman miraculously recovered from ulcers caused by diabetes and hypertension in her legs. Father Caetano played a pivotal role in having the cure of the woman being declared a miracle that propelled Josephine to sainthood.

Mother Teresa visited São Paulo soon after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Soon, her nuns arrived in São Paulo and Santos, where they have a good presence. They regularly visit the Our Lady of Aparecida Church in São Vicente that Andrino’s wife used to frequent. This church is a simple building painted in white with thin blue lines stencilling its doors and windows. The similarity with the blue-bordered white saris worn by the Missionaries of Charity nuns is uncanny. – Swarajya, 19 August 2016

» Jaideep Mazumdar is a journalist with many years of experience in The Times Of India, Open, The Outlook, The Hindustan Times, The Pioneer and some other news organizations. He lives in Kolkata has reported on politics, society and many other subjects from North, East and North East India as well as Nepal and Bangladesh.

Sushma Swaraj

Mother Teresa did not care for the poor. She cared for poverty and made it into a very lucrative business. Her religious order is now the richest in the world. It is therefore entirely inappropriate for a high-ranking minister of the secular Indian Republic to attend the sectarian religious programme for this sadistic woman at the Vatican on Sept. 4th. Those who agree may sign the petition requesting Sushma Swaraj not to go HERE.

The Theology of Ingratitude – Aravindan Neelakandan

The Office-Bearers of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) headed by its President, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis and accompanied by the Secretary General, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas and the Deputy Secretary General, Msgr. Joseph Chinnayyan, met the Prime Minister in his Office in the Parliament

Aravindan NeelakandanProactive acts by the Modi government, which brought joy to its own community members, never deterred the Church from crusading against the Indian government. It does not even hesitate to join hands with political forces that are against the idea of India. – Aravindan Neelakandan

Barely months after the BJP won the parliamentary elections in June 2014, Cardinal George Alencherry of India was speaking at a conference organised by Oasis International Foundation in Sarajevo. In his address titled “Non-Violence Vs. Fundamentalism in Contemporary India”, the archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church in Ernakulam, Kerala, spoke of “the vicious nature of Hindu fundamentalism”, never bothering to mention, even in passing, the virulent proselytising activities aggressively pursued by churches across India. He accused BJP legislators and the Sangh Parivar of inciting violence against Christians and Muslims.

This address set the tone for how the Church should position itself against the BJP rule. Unsubstantiated reports of attacks on churches started pouring in soon after the new government took office. Electric short-circuits and children accidentally breaking window pane of a church were trumpeted as attacks by Hindu nationalists. Delhi police chief had to clarify these facts after the fictional fear mongering unleashed by the clergy.

Against the backdrop of such malicious campaigns, the Modi government did not indulge in any discriminating acts against the Christian community and acted proactively to help Indian citizens in John Dayal: Professional Christian agent provocateur and mischief-maker.distress abroad—in some cases those rescued were Christians.

In February 2015, even as John Dayal, the journalist-turned-Christian-crusader, was spewing venom against the Modi government at every forum available to him, John Joseph, the brother of Alexis Prem Kumar, a Jesuit priest abducted by Islamists in Afghanistan, received a call from Prime Minister Modi, informing him that the government had secured the release of his brother from his abductors. “This is because of our Prime Minister. He saved me.”

Another Jesuit missionary, Joy Karayampuram, spokesman of the Jesuit Refugee Service in New Delhi, also expressed his gratitude:

“Thanks to PM Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.”

Interestingly, the Catholic News Service completely downplayed Prime Minister Modi’s personal intervention, as well as the many steps taken by various government agencies to ensure their safe return. Except a very informal thanks expressed by the Catholic Bishop Conference of India (CBCI), the apex body, there was no mention of effort undertaken by the government of India. Titled “God has saved me, says Jesuit priest released by Taliban” (Catholic Herald, 23 February 2015), the report highlights how the rescued priest thanks the God, the Vatican, the Jesuits (Jesuit Refugee Service), but avoids mentioning the role of the Indian government led by Prime Minister Modi.

The so-called “most complete Catholic news source of America”, National Catholic Register, has a report titled Priest Freed by Taliban: God Has Saved Me” (24 February 2015), in which CBCI reluctantly thanks Prime Minister Modi, but the main focus of the report was the released Jesuit “thanking God Almighty” for his rescue, completely ignoring the efforts of the Indian government.

While the international Catholic media was downplaying the role of the Indian government in securing the release of the priest in Afghanistan, official publications of Catholic diocese in Tamil Nadu were Peter Remigiusdemonising Prime Minister Modi. Thenoli (Voice of the South) is a Tamil magazine published by the Catholic diocese of Kottar. Part of Kanyakumari district, Kottar diocese represents one of the most powerful dioceses in terms of Catholic domination in the general population.

The December 2015 issue of Thenoli features two articles on politics, both written by Catholic priests. One, rejoicing the Bihar defeat of BJP, described the party as “Hindu supremacist”. It described Prime Minister Modi as behaving like an “ignoramus lacking basic knowledge of Bihar”. Another article written by Fr Dr M. C. Rajan called the Prime Minister names—“hero of 2002 communal riots”, “the spoiled brat of inhuman western capitalist forces”, “a candidate promoted by NRI money and by fanatical casteist fascist forces”.

In June this year, Judith D’Souza, an Indian aid-worker, associated with Aga Khan Foundation, was kidnapped at gunpoint in Afghanistan. Once again, international Catholic news agencies, including Vatican Radio (a Catholic from Kolkata), (Indian Catholic worker kidnapped in Afghanistan) etc. highlighted her religion. The archbishop of Calcutta, Msgr. Thomas D’Souza, had mobilised Catholics to send appeals to the government and organised “prayer vigils”. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is known for her prompt responses to overseas Indians in distress, had responded to the appeal of D’Souza family calling her “India’s daughter”, as well as securing her release. Her family members tweeted their gratitude to Swaraj, the Prime Minister and the Indian ambassador to Afghanistan.

Such proactive acts by the Modi government, which brought joy to its own community members, never deterred the Church from crusading against the Indian government. It does not even hesitate to join hands with political forces that are against the idea of India.

A case in point is the recent meeting organised by Tamil Nadu Bishops Council on 30 July to criticise the new draft for the National Education Policy (NEP). After making the usual accusations of Sangh Parivar Kanimozhiconspiracy, the clergy tried to find fault with the draft for alleged introduction of Sanskrit as a third language in schools and yoga as a precondition for gaining recognition.

Interestingly, the draft questions most schools in Hindi-speaking states because “contrary to the spirit of three-language formula, no south Indian language is generally taught” in these schools. And as early as 1986, the NEP had suggested that yoga should receive special attention in schools and efforts should ‘be made to introduce yoga in all schools’.

The key portion in the draft of the education policy only states yoga as one among several features needed for the development of the child:

Physical education, yoga, games and sports, NCC, NSS, art education, bal sansad, local art, craft, literature and skills, and other co-scholastic activities will be made an integral part of the curriculum and daily routine in schools for the holistic development of children. Facilities for the above will be a pre-requisite to the recognition of schools.

The statement is a far cry from the one suggested by the Catholic clergy. The key speaker in the Catholic bishops meeting was Kanimozhi, the Rajya Sabha MP from the DMK. Criticising the Modi government, she assured DMK support to the Church’s “struggle against the new draft”.

Thus the theology of ingratitude is a strategic driving force in the crusade against the pagans in independent secular India. – Swarajya, 3 August 2016

» Aravindan Neelakandan is an author, economist and psychologist. 

Sushma Swaraj has been chosen by Modi Sarkar to represent India at the Vatican on September 4th.

There are two petitions on requesting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to not attend the canonization ceremony for Mother Teresa at the Vatican on September 4th. See the petitions HERE and HERE, and sign them if you agree that Sushma’s attendance at the sectarian Catholic religious service for Teresa is inappropriate for an Indian government minister.

Gosamrakshana: Mr Prime Minister, if government will not act, then people will act – Radha Rajan

Narendra Modi

Radha Rajan is the editor of Vigil OnlinePrime Minister Modi, just as Gandhi did nothing for cow protection, … you and your government have done nothing for cows and cow protection. Your government is anti-animal, not just anti-cow. Until you put action where your mouth is Mr Prime Minister, more power to gaurakshaks. – Radha Rajan

Before I begin this exercise Mr Prime Minister, I want to know why you and your party’s government failed to use your political power, government funds, political will to protect the cow. Why did 500 cows die in a goshala in Jaipur?

Incidentally Mr Prime Minister, the Madras High Court which is hearing a case about banning camel slaughter during Bakrid, made the Union of India a respondent in the case. Your government did not even file a reply in the court and this drew a very sharp response from the Chief Justice. So in BJP ruled Rajasthan and Modi’s India neither the cow is safe nor camels.

Mr Prime Minister, you can be as angry as you want because some people believe the cow is sacred and they will do everything they can to keep it sacred and protected. This they have to do Mr Prime Minister, because you and your party have not done it. Not even two years after you came to power. So, I am all for empowering gorakshaks (Reference).

First Mr Prime Minister, you plucked a leaf right out of Gandhi’s politics and asked our army to observe restraint in the Kashmir Valley. Mr Modi, you played politics of minority-ism and playing the Muslim appeasement card exactly like Gandhi; oh, exactly like Gandhi.

Now Prime Minister Modi has put his foot in Gandhian “mouth’ again—by insulting gaurakshaks. Exactly like Gandhi.

Let us look at Gandhi first; then we can better see how startlingly alike Modi is to Gandhi and his anti-Hindu pronouncements and actions.

Gandhi did all this on gosamrakshana

1. Tilak headed the local gosamrakshana samithi and spearheaded the larger movement which was led by sadhus, sanyasis, thousands of ordinary Hindus and Nirankari babas. Gosamrakshana movement (1860-1920) galvanised the Hindu community with a passionate desire to be rid of British rule.

2. Tilak’s gosamrakshana movement was to protect the cow from both Muslim and British slaughter and like the Ganesh Utsav, to unite the Hindus in a politico-religious bond.

3. Gandhi when he wrote Hind Swaraj (PDF) in 1909, had begun to position himself as a political thinker to supplant Aurobindo and Tilak. That is why he wrote the vacuous Hind Swaraj which is addressed to a below normal IQ “Reader”. Gandhi is the “Editor” who asks leading yes or no questions for which this Reader has no answers.

4. This foolish “Reader” in Hind Swaraj is the archetypal Hindu Nationalist of Gandhi’s wishful thinking post 1907 split of the Congress into two factions—Nationalists and Moderates. Gandhi had to make the Nationalists look foolish and he did this by inventing the “Reader” in Hind Swaraj.

5. This is what Gandhi wrote in Hind Swaraj in classic Gandhi style—uttering the most vicious, poisonous views coated in syrup. He used the same sugar-coated poisonous language when he debunked Bhagat Singh, Madanlal Dhingra, Savarkar, Subhash Bose. Now let’s see what he wrote about the cow and cow protectors:

“I myself respect the cow, that is, I look upon her with affectionate reverence. The cow is the protector of India, because it, being an agricultural country, is dependent on the cow’s progeny. She is a most useful animal in hundreds of ways. Our Mahomedan brethren will admit this. But just as I respect the cow, so do I respect my fellow-men. A man is just as useful as a cow, no matter whether he be a Mahomedan or a Hindu…. When the Hindus became insistent, the killing of cows increased. In my opinion, cow protection societies may be considered cow-killing societies. It is a disgrace to us that we should need such societies. When we forgot how to protect cows, I suppose we needed such societies….”

6. Please note—nowhere does Gandhi say cow is sacred to Hindus. Instead he mouths the same claptrap like Nehruvian secularists—it is an agricultural country, it is a useful animal. And by now familiar argument of the secularists—is the life of a cow more important than a human being?

7. Let me ask this question: If the cow or her progeny cease to be useful, what does Gandhi say we must do to them? Or Modi? Are the cow and her male progeny to be protected only because and so long as they are useful?

And as for “Is the life of a cow more important then a human being” argument—the question is all wrong—suggestio falsi suppressio veri kind of thing. Because if a person can kill and skin and eat a cow in Hindu majority India without fear of law or ostracism, then these people will kill, skin and eat anything. If “go” is upalakshana for all living beings and is therefore totally sacred, then Mr Prime Minister because you and your government have done nothing for gosamrakshana, it is for the people to act to protect the cow. Your Gandhian self-righteous anger notwithstanding.

8. Gandhi’s bare-faced lie about cow protection: Gandhi got idiot Hindus to die for his civil disobedience during the Khilafat Agitation with a two-faced lie. This is what he told Hindus who wanted Muslims to give up cow slaughter as quid pro quo for their support for the Khilafat agitation.

Dealing with the criticism of the Modern Review in his article in Young India for 20th October 1921, Mr Gandhi said, “I claim that with us both, the Khilafat is the central fact; with Maulana Mahomed Ali because it is his religion, with me because, in laying down my life for the Khilafat, I ensure safety of the cow, that is my religion, from the Musalman knife”.

Taking Gandhi’s preposterous claim that he was ready to lay down his life for the cause of Khilafat hoping to prevail upon the Muslims to give up cow slaughter at face value, a section of the Hindus insisted that their participation in the satyagraha for Khilafat was conditional upon Muslims agreeing to give up cow slaughter. But to substantiate the charge made earlier that all of Gandhi’s exhortations were binding only upon the Hindus: “I submit that the Hindus may not open the Goraksha (cow protection) question here. The test of friendship is assistance in adversity and that too, unconditional assistance. Co-operation that needs consideration is a commercial contract and not friendship…. It is the duty of the Hindus, if they see justice of the Mahomedan cause to render cooperation…. I do not want to make the stopping of cow killing a condition precedent to co-operation”.

The gosamrakhsna movement started and spearheaded by Hindu religious leaders and ordinary religious Hindus is dated 1860-1920. It looks and sounds like an obituary: the cow protection movement was born in 1860 and died in 1920. It was indeed killed by Gandhi’s Khilafat agitation. Hindus who were waging a dharmic war to protect the cow and ban cow slaughter were coerced by Gandhi to give up their gosamrakshana struggle to follow him in the senseless agitation to restore the Islamic caliphate in Turkey! The gosamrakshana movement which had gathered momentum and attained its peak under the leadership of Lokmanya Tilak was effectively killed by Gandhi during the Khilafat agitation.

Mr Modi, Gandhi did not protect the cow, Gandhi did not allow Hindus to protect the cow. You are going down the same Gandhian road. You appointed a totally insensitive and anti-animal person as Minister of EF&CC. Prakash Javdekar not only ordered mass killing of Nilgai (this despite the fact that this animal belonging to the antelope family is still called “gai”. Javdekar, like Gandhi had scant respect for “gai”  and those named “gai”), wild boars and monkeys. Not that alone, just because AWBI opposed Javdekar’s funny GO permitting jallikattu (another anti-cow action by your government Mr Modi) he withheld much-needed funds from the AWBI—money used for several animal welfare purposes including financial aid for goshalasThe Ministry of EF&CC under Jallikattu Javdekar had released only 40% of Rupees 20 crores for 2015-2016 sanctioned by the government for animal welfare schemes and projects.

And while you fulminate against gaurakshaks Mr. Modi, can you explain why you or your government has still not tabled and passed a uniform, anti-cow slaughter bill which will include jihadi Bengal and cow-eating Kerala?

While MOEF&CC will withhold funds from AWBI which can help set up new goshalas and extend financial aid to goshalas already functional and doing exceptional work, your government is still continuing with the Congress’ meat export policy. Even in Modi’s India Mr Prime Minister, this ancient Hindu civilization, which worships the cow and there are people who live for the cow and die for the cow, and yes, kill for the cow, is the world’s largest exporter of beef.

I don’t give a damn that beef is also buffalo meat (carabeef). If cow is upalaskhana then buffalo is “gau” too. Your government is subsidising the meat industry which includes modernising slaughter houses and setting up new mechanised slaughter houses.

Prime Minister Modi, just as Gandhi did nothing for cow protection, I repeat, Gandhi did nothing for cows and cow protection, you and your government have done nothing for cows and cow protection. Your government is anti-animal, not just anti-cow. Until you put action where your mouth is Mr Prime Minister, more power to gaurakshaks.

And Mr Prime Minister, has it occurred to you Sir, that dalits and Muslims who skin cows in full public view, who slaughter cows in full public view, are goaded, instigated, and funded by very powerful Abrahamic forces—both Church and Islam? There is no automatic innocence of dalits and Muslims and so Mr Prime Minister, please don’t make gorakshahks Gandhi’s brand of villains.

You don’t want cow vigilantism, then you and your government should step up and protect cow, male cow, buffalo cow, buffalo bull and all calves. Do that first. Until you bring in a all-India uniform law banning cow slaughter, until you reverse the country’s meat production and meat-exporting policy, you do not have the right to anger or criticism Mr. Prime Minister.

Mr Prime Minister for more information about your government’s anti-animal ways please read:

As if to reinforce the allegation that Modi Sarkar has not moved in the direction of halting and then reversing the country’s meat production and beef export policy:

“With the new government taking charge in May last year, growth in meat exports did indeed see a dip in the April to June quarter. While exports rose 24 per cent in April 2014, shipments slowed in next two months—growth was a modest 10 per cent for the April to June period. But it has recovered since, rising 16 per cent in the first half of 2014/15 and 17 per cent in the first 10 months. Meat export is now a $5 billion industry, not only replacing basmati rice as the biggest revenue earner in India’s processed foods category, but also making India the second-biggest meat exporter. The supportive policies Modi railed against remain in place—the government still offers a grant of up to Rs 15 crore to set up new abattoirs or modernise existing ones” (Reference).

If the mandate of Nehru’s historians was to re-write the history of the Hindu nation without any mention of Hindus in the narrative, Nehru’s economists in the Planning Commission were mandated among other things to make meat and hide an integral part of economic planning and implementation. If the ideological origins of de-sanctifying the cow may be attributed to Gandhi, the origins of commodifying the cow, other animals and their meat, thereby de-legitimising and rejecting ahimsa as this nation’s defining characteristic and emerging as the world’s top exporter of beef may be found in Nehru’s economic agenda for the country and in the character of the economists in the Planning Commission. Speaking of institutionalised intolerance in Nehru’s Idea of India, renowned economist Bibek Debroy, in an interview to Times of India had this to say:

Q: A debate has been raging on the issue of intolerance in the country. What has been your experience?

A: What is generally not known is that Jagdish Bhagwati was essentially made to leave Delhi School of Economics and had to go abroad because his life was made very uncomfortable. He left DSE because there is a certain prevailing climate of opinion and if you buck that, your life is made uncomfortable.

In the course of the second five-year plan, a committee of economists was set up to examine the Second Five Year Plan. Dr B. R. Shenoy, member of the Panel of Economists constituted to analyse and apprise Nehru about the ambitious Second Five-Year Plan which made the self-destructive transition from investing in agriculture to investing in industries, was the only one to strike a dissenting note. As one of the several examples that Bibek Debroy gave for Idea of India’s institutionalised intolerance, he asked “Do you find Dr Shenoy’s name mentioned in the history of union policy-making? No. He was completely ostracized. He could not get a job in India and he ended up in Ceylon.”

The second Five Year Plan centred on a shift towards developing capital goods and heavy industry for long-term economic benefit. Of the Rs 4,672 crore in public spending, there was a significant shift in allocation from agriculture to industry between the first and second Five Year Plans. During that period, agriculture spending fell from 37 percent of public spending to 20.9 percent, while industry allocation increased from 4.9 to 24.1 percent” (Economic Milestone, Second Five Year Plan (1956)).

It must mean something that while Forbes India thought the Second Five Year Plan was a milestone, B. R. Shenoy wrote a dissenting report (PDF) on it; the only dissenting note as it turned out in the Kaurava Court.

Some numbers about meat production and beef export 

India officially does not export cow meat. While “beef” is cow meat in Government of India trade jargon, beef is the legally accepted name for meat of all bovines. I know from personal experience that pregnant cows, milch cows, pregnant buffaloes, very young cow and buffalo calves aged between 2 and 5 years, calves less than a year old, heifers—all of them are transported to Kerala for slaughter from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, sometimes even from Maharashtra and from cattle markets in Tamil Nadu. This means all bogus pronouncements of no cow slaughter and no cow meat export, the country was slaughtering cows, even pregnant cows, pregnant buffaloes (so much for worshipping mothers and motherhood) are being slaughtered either for domestic consumption or for export or both. Nehru and Nehruvian economics alone has degraded this ancient civilization to the world’s largest exporter of beef. India is also all set to become the world’s largest meat producing country in the world.

1. Meat exports from India commenced in 1969.

2. According to data released by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the Ministry of Commerce, Indian buffalo meat exports touched an all time high of Rs 13,917 crore in value terms in April-October 2013, representing an increase of nearly 58% over same period last year. In terms of quantity too, there has been 23% rise in buffalo meat exports from India.

3. India has about 58 per cent of the world’s population of buffaloes. Two schemes in operation in the country, namely, Salvaging and Rearing Male Buffalo Calves (SRMBC), and the Utilization of Fallen Animals scheme (UFA) have created new incentives to slaughter previously under-utilized buffaloes.

4. India has now 40 world-class export-oriented integrated meat processing plants and 35 meat processing units. A few more are in the pipeline.

5. The share of bovine meat in the total meat production in India is about 60% as against small ruminants (15%), pigs (10%) and poultry (12%). To produce the necessary quantities, the extraction rates in cattle are about 6%, buffaloes 11%, sheep 33%, goat 38% and pigs 84%.

6. Among Indian states, Uttar Pradesh (UP) has emerged as the biggest exporter of buffalo meat, followed by Punjab and Maharashtra. Besides having the country’s largest buffalo population, UP also has the highest number of abattoirs-cum-meat-processing export units. The state has 317 registered slaughterhouses and, in addition, 24 export-oriented units for buffalo meat. Of total Indian carabeef exports, 67% originates from this state.

7. Hind Agro Industries, Al Noor Exports, Al Nafees Frozen Food Exports, FrigericoConservaAllana, Rustam Foods, Rayban Foods Private are some of the major exporters from UP. “The state has 645 cattle markets, which ensure that there is a steady supply of the raw material,” said an exporter. Spurting meat exports from India reflects the importance attached to the livestock sector in the country’s agro-economy.

8. According to estimates of Central Statistical Office, the value of output from the country’s livestock sector at current prices was Rs 4,59,051 crore in 2011-12, which is about 24. 8 per cent of the total value of output from agricultural and allied sector at current price. The value of output from the meat group in 2011-12 was Rs 83.641 crore.

9. India is endowed with the largest livestock population in the world. It accounts for about 58 per cent of the world buffalo population and 14.7 per cent of the cattle population.

10. MPS Meat Processing Systems of the Netherlands is the global market leader in the supply of advanced red meat slaughtering systems, CO2 stunners, blood collection plants, carcass splitters, food logistic systems, and industrial wastewater treatment systems. Helmus Damen, Area Sales Manager, MPS Meat Processing Systems, The Netherlands, in a brief interview with Agri Business & Food Industry, talks about his company’s India plans, why India is a big market in red meat processing markets, issues like after-sale service and pricings, food safety, among other things. Excerpts:

Q: You must have some attractive plans and offerings for India. What are they?

A: We have our MPS Lines in operation in India already for 20 + years. We have also installed several MPS buffalo and sheep lines in India where we have produced critical parts in India, by our design and specifications, as such reducing costs to acceptable levels for the India market. In addition MPS has its internal and external global training Management solution where not only the Technical, Maintenance and Operation staff is trained but also trained on the Application (who/what/where/when).

India is set to become world s largest meat exporter, while in production—5.5 million tonnes valued at Rs. 83,600 crore in 2011-12—it ranks eighth.

There is huge demand for halal meat, the market for which is growing rapidly throughout the world, specifically in the Middle East.

Per capita meat consumption in India is low—around 5 kg as compared to the world average of 47 kg. This shows the huge potential for expansion. The meat industry is likely to grow at a good pace, say, at a compound growth rate of 8% over the next five years. The processed meat industry is growing even much faster, at about 20%.

Considering the increasing demand for buffalo meat, Government of India has commissioned three modernized abattoirs in Hyderabad, Kolkata and Shimla. The Government has plans to set up 25 more new abattoirs, including modernization of existing ones, in the ongoing 12th Plan at a cost of Rs. 240 crore.

Indian meat is exported to 65 countries, the biggest markets being Vietnam (forty per cent), Malaysia (nine per cent), Thailand (seven per cent) and Saudi Arabia (six per cent).

A visit to the districts of Meerut, Aligarh and Muzaffarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh—the state is the country’s meat hub, exporting $3 billion worth per year—shows rearing buffaloes has indeed become much more popular than keeping cows. Nor is the phenomenon confined to Uttar Pradesh. “Booming meat export has triggered large-scale farming of buffaloes in states like Maharashtra and Punjab,” says Mohammed Ather, Managing Partner of New Delhi-based meat exporters, the Azan Group.

Two large, new markets are likely to be added soon—Russia and China. Russia has approved buffalo meat imports from India after its Western sources dried up, following the sanctions imposed on it by West Europe and the US over the Ukraine standoff. “India can expect $500 million to $1 billion increase in buffalo meat exports once shipments to Russia picks up,” says Santosh Sarangi, Chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) a division of the Commerce Ministry, with which all abattoirs and meat processing plants have to register.

So too, India and China signed a memorandum of understanding in 2013 over China providing market access to Indian meat. “It is well-known that much of our meat exports to Vietnam ultimately reach China,” adds Sarangi. “Direct access to China will lead to another quantum jump in exports.”

From her answer to a question on the country’s import and export Union Minister for Commerce and Industry in the Rajya Sabha on 18th March 2015, we know:

  • From April 2013 to February 2014, the value of exports from leather and leather products was 5078.84 million USD and the value between April 2014 and February 2015 was 5661.16 million USD.

  • Value of export of Meat, Dairy and Poultry products for the same period was worth 4773.01 million USD and 4942.06 million USD respectively.

  • The value of total exports for this period was 284 billion USD and 287 billionUSD.

  • The percentage of the value of export of leather and leather products and meat, dairy and poultry products is less than 2% each of the value of total exports and together less than 4% of total exports.

The Indian GDP in 2015 is around 2.2 trillion USD. The country’s total exports are around 13% or less than 1/7 of the GDP and based on the figures presented by Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, the value of exports from leather, leather products, dairy and meat export is less than 4% of the value of our total exports (Reference).

This being the case, intolerant Hindus who refuse to wear the tolerant Hindu dunce-cap and sat down in the corner of national public discourse space must as Modi Sarkar to reconsider the nation’s meat production and beef export policy. Notwithstanding the fact that revenue from exports from the livestock sector is less than 4% of our total exports, it is still a fact that the beef industry is resource intensive. The numbers of India’s Asian Water Buffalo is decreasing alarmingly; as alarmingly as the numbers of elephants and camels. By commodifying animals and using language which takes away the sanctity of their lives in Creation, successive governments from Nehru to Modi have built and are building our economy from killing—from the flesh, blood and bones of defenceless animals which if they could would run away or protect themselves from humans and their greed.

Closing word

This timeless civilization is soulless today. There is more to life than “acche din” and development. There was a massive leap in meat production, around a 100% leap, between years 2006-07 and 2007-08. Even states which prior to this period were not big meat producing states are now showing high numbers for meat production. Crying “intolerance” cannot brush aside the fact that Idea of India is escalating its attacks against Hindu religious sensibilities to test Modi and his government to see how they react to the provocation. So far, Modi and his government have shown great resilience to withstand the infamy being heaped upon them; but equally true is the fact that Modi and his government have also not warned these intolerant Idea of India goons that needless provocation of Hindu religious sentiments will come with a cost. If the government will not take steps to protect Hindu religion and its articles of faith, well then intolerant Hindus who have unpinned the tolerant dunce-cap from their heads will continue to do all it takes to discourage such affront.

New post script

Narendra Modi in his Townhall speech played to the anti-Hindu gallery and instead of warning the agent provocateurs, chose to offend Hindu sensibilities by haranguing gaurakshaks. And then did a face-saver by amending his original insult and claiming that he meant people should beware of fake gaurakshaks. Not good enough Mr Prime Minister. – Vigil Online, 8 August 2016

For more Mr Prime Minister, please read

  1. Meat Tech Asia 2016 in Bangalore
  2. India: Top buffalo meat exporter
  3. Indian buffalo meat has become a serious business proposition
  4. Contrary to fears, buffalo meat exports are thriving under the Narendra Modi government

Narendra Modi

Buffalo slaughter in New Delhi

Al Kabeer abattoir in AP

Slaughter Houses India

Namdhari Sikhs hung by British for killing butchers a freeing cows at Amritsar and Ludhiana slaughter houses in 1871.

Why Mayawati will never abolish caste – R. Jagannathan

Mayawati's one crore rupee garland

R. JagannathanMayawati is not trying to abolish caste; what she is trying to do is build a political super-caste by latching on to atrocities on Dalits and developing a larger tale of common victimhood that will make her powerful. – R. Jagannathan

Anybody who believes that Mayawati is protesting against the uncouth remarks made by Dayashankar Singh, or that the Dalit anger is about nothing but this insult and other atrocities perpetrated against them elsewhere, is missing the wood for trees. And to those pious “liberals” who think abolition of caste is something only the Brahminical Sangh leadership is opposed to, one can only say how little they understand human proclivities.

Let us be clear: caste tensions cannot be abolished. You can annihilate caste, as Ambedkar would have wanted, through extreme coercion and violence, but what you will get after this annihilation is another form of identity and differentiation that will again have tension in-built into it.‎ You may not call it caste, but ethnic, racial, religious and linguistic differentiation will exist. So trying to abolish caste by achieving some kind of uniform identity is impossible. People from the Buddha to Mahavira to Vivekananda to Ambedkar to Gandhi to Kanshi Ram to Periyar to the Communists have attempted it – and failed.

Dayashankar SinghMayawati is not trying to abolish caste; what she is trying to do is build a political super-caste by latching on to atrocities on Dalits and developing a larger tale of common victimhood that will make her powerful. This is no different from Muslim parties trying to build another powerful agglomeration, and the Sangh to build an overarching Hindu narrative. The Communists try and do this on the basis of class, but caste and religion offer better options for building common narratives than class, which tends to be fluid. Castes too were fluid once upon time, but the British tendency to slot people into boxes of identity and post-Independence electoral realities have ensured that castes have become more rigid than before.

Caste can wither away under the pressures of urbanisation and modernisation but can never be abolished through social action alone. The reason for this is simple: it is fundamental to human existence next only to biological imperatives like the need for food or sex. ‎

What is caste? It is a system of differentiation that allows human beings to decide who constitutes “us” and who is “not-us” or “them”. All systems based on the “us and them” narrative will ultimately degenerate into “us” thinking about “them” as somehow inferior, leading to the ultimate demonisation of the other.

If we didn’t have caste, we would use other markers to separate “us” from “them”. Why else would Muslims want to think of themselves as superior to non-Muslims, and why would Sunnis think of Shias and Ahmadiyas and Bahais as despicable, and so on, despite all of them believing in Allah and his Prophet? Is this not just another form of caste discrimination, even though caste is indeed different?

If, one day, we annihilate not only caste, but religious, ethnic, racial, and linguistic differentiation, we would still discriminate on the basis of which football club or IPL team we support.

So, rest assured, Mayawati is not trying to decry caste. She needs caste more than anybody else, for that’s all she has got. This is why when the BJP immediately tried to undo the damage done by Dayashankar by sacking him and expelling him from the party, Mayawati upped the ante and said she would have accepted this action as genuine if the BJP itself had filed an FIR against him and arrested him. And when her supporters threatened Dayashankar’s wife and daughter, far from apologising for the language of misogyny used by them, Mayawati said Dayashankar’s wife should have condemned her husband.

Dalit with Bahujan Samaj Party Flag‎In other words, Mayawati upped her demands every time they were met. This is not someone who is fighting casteism, but someone who is revelling in her caste identity and playing up victimhood for power and electoral gain.

The larger point is all the critics of caste tend to see caste in a unidimensional way, as a system of oppression. It is much more than that. It is kinship and social capital too. Critics of caste are on the wrong track. And political critics are empty vessels making all the noise. They like to use caste as a stick to beat their political opponents and also to demonise other castes, but they have gotten nowhere. The Communists did not abolish caste (show me one Dalit in the top rungs of any Communist party), the OBC parties did not abolish caste, the DK/DMK parties did not abolish caste, the Congress did not abolish caste, and even the Dalits are never going to abolish caste. Nor will the BJP do so, though it has the most to gain from a Hindu consolidation.

Caste will wither away when it is no longer useful to anybody, or to most people, but that day is far away. Right now caste is useful to everybody – to the ordinary individual, since it is a form of social capital, and to the political parties, as it helps mobilise voters to press the right EVM buttons. Ask Mayawati. There is a spring in her step, now that she has been insulted by the “upper caste BJP”. When she was ignored, she was in the dumps.

Caste may ultimately wither away, but in the short-term the best thing we can do is learn some political correctness, and ensure that it never results in violence. Fantasies about abolishing caste are just that: they will just drive discrimination underground. – Swarajya, 23 July 2016

» R. Jagannathan is a senior journalist and the editorial director of Swarajya Magazine.





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