Perversion of secularism and the non-implementation of a uniform civil code – Nithin Sridhar

Nithin SridharIndia should have evolved an indigenous social and legal system rooted in Dharma. … Such a social and legal system would have developed unique responses to challenges that are unique to Indian society; would have been fair and righteous towards everyone, irrespective of their affiliations, and would have been, at the same time, firmly rooted in Indian civilization. But since we have already imported an alien system of secularism, it would do us good if we remove the prevalent perversions and implement it in its true sense by enacting a fair uniform civil code. – Nithin Sridhar

Dalai Lama Quote India is probably the only country, wherein the concept of secularism is most perverted, both in principle and practice. After Independence, India, first borrowed this alien principle without giving a thought regarding its necessity and applicability in Indian society, and then perverted it beyond measure to selectively implement it for petty political ends, with disastrous results.

Secularism in simple terms means “separation of State and Religion”. That is religious concerns will not dictate State policies and the State will not interfere in religious activities. This concept of secularism originated in the European society, necessitated by the constant struggle for power between the Church and the Monarchy. Secularism was thus a unique solution in response to unique challenges prevalent in Western civilization in general and European society in particular.

Since Indian civilization, being rooted in the concept of Dharma, wherein even a ruler is subjected to its tenets and answerable to his citizens, no dichotomy between religion and government ever existed. More importantly, the very concept of religion as understood in Western (Abrahamic) civilization is alien to India. Sanatana Dharma is not merely a religion bound by certain principles of faith, instead it is a way of life based on eternal principles that sustains all life—individual, social, ecological, and universal. Thus sacred as well as secular, social and political as well as religious and spiritual, all aspects of life derive their sustenance from Dharma. Thus, dichotomies like religion vs. science, state vs. church, etc., which were an important force in the European society, never even sprouted in India.

Yet, ignoring these realities of Indian civilization, the Indian leaders, after independence, first imported secularism into India and then perverted its tenets and selectively implemented them in appeasement of certain “minority” communities, all the while being discriminating towards the majority community. How else can one explain contradictory actions of various state and central governments during the last seven decades?

Let’s take the example of religious institutions like places of worship belonging to various religions. Various state governments, especially in South India have taken control over Hindu temples and are earning crores of rupees from them. This is a clear violation of secularism, which mandates no interference of governments in religious activities. Add to this is the fact that out of the crores that these state governments are earning from temples, only a fraction of the amount is set aside for the maintenance of temples, and the rest is diverted to the government’s coffers. How is it secularism? Now consider this, the same state governments have allowed a free functioning of churches and mosques without any state intervention in the name of “secularism”. Moreover, crores of taxpayers’ money are spent by some of the state governments to help minority communities to renovate and build their places of worship.

In other words, the state governments have encroached upon places of worship belonging to the majority Hindu community, all the while allowing churches and mosques a free run. They are, further, looting the money from the temples and then spending taxpayers’ money on the churches, mosques, and the like. This is how secularism—the separation of religion and government—is being practiced in India. But this perversion of secularism and discrimination against the majority is, perhaps, most visible in the case of religion-specific personal laws enshrined in our constitution, despite the fact that the Directive Principles call for the eventual adoption of a uniform civil code.

Hindu Code BillsThe presence of numerous personal laws goes against the very essence of secularism. Add to this, the fact that the way these personal laws have been enacted is completely discriminatory in nature. On the one hand, the Muslim community is governed by the laws which are largely derived from Sharia and Islamic jurisprudence. Similarly, Parsis have personal law rooted in their tradition. The Jews are not governed by any personal laws, but instead are governed by the dictates of their religion. Christian personal laws are also in sync with their religious tradition. On the other hand, the majority Hindu community is governed by secularized Hindu laws which are uprooted from Hindu tradition and practices. Though custom and usage have been deemed important in the Hindu personal laws, yet through passage of various civil laws like Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Hindu Succession Act, 1956, Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, etc. the rules governing Hindu marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. have been thoroughly secularized. Regarding the Hindu Code Bills of 1950’s, Dr. Parminder Kaur, Assistant Professor, Guru Nanak Dev University Regional Campus, Gurdaspur, writes in her article thus: “The Hindu Code Bills were a series of laws aimed at thoroughly secularizing the Hindu community and bringing its laws up to modern times, which in essence meant the abolition of Hindu law and the enactment of laws based on western lines that enshrined the equality of men and women, and other progressive ideas.”

Thus the Hindu community has been forced to shed its centuries-old customs and traditions, whereas minority communities like Muslims are freely allowed to retain their practices. Add to this the fact that Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, etc. all come under these Hindu personal laws, and thus are denied personal laws based on their own traditions and practices. It is a different issue that Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists share a common framework of Dharma with mainstream Hinduism and are deeply rooted in Indian culture and tradition. The point is just like various communities within mainstream Hinduism have their unique customs and practices, even Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists have their unique customs and practices, all of which have been discarded and replaced by secularized Hindu personal laws. This is a classic case of discrimination in the name of “secularism”.

The argument here is not that the present secularized Hindu laws are bad for the society, or that Hindus must imitate the customs and practices prevalent in Hindu society many centuries ago. The issue here is one of fairness and equal treatment. Either there should be a uniform civil code keeping with the true notion of secularism, wherein all citizens are treated as citizens, without reference to their religion in civil issues, or there should be as many personal laws as necessary to cater to various local customs, traditions, and practices. Even if one were to have a uniform Hindu personal law in such a scenario, then it must have enough flexibility and space to accommodate diverse local beliefs and practices among various communities, and these are to be framed after discussions with various religious authorities and community leaders from across the country and be rooted in Hindu religion and traditions. This is definitely not the case in the present scenario, wherein minority Muslims are allowed to follow religious principles, whereas majority Hindus, including Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists are forced to follow secularized personal laws.

Ishwar Chandra VidyasagarMore importantly, there was no necessity to secularize Hindu laws and Hindu society to usher in positive changes that were necessary, according to changing times. These positive changes could have been evolved from within Hindu tradition and culture itself. Hinduism has always been an evolving religious tradition. The presence of numerous smritis, dharma shastras, and many other texts, with each putting forward different viewpoints suitable to their own time and space, is the best evidence regarding flexibility and continuous evolution of Hinduism. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, who was instrumental in bringing in the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act of 1856, accomplished it by putting forward evidences, illustrations, and arguments from within the Hindu tradition. Thus, genuine Hindu personal laws, suitable for present times, rooted in values like righteousness, duty, fairness, equal opportunity to women, etc. could have been easily evolved from within Hindu philosophy and culture, through a consensus arrived after discussions and debate among various religious authorities and representatives of various Hindu communities belonging to different geographical regions. But, short-sightedness and a romance with western ideals and systems of governance, made our Indian leaders ignore Indian ideals and models present within Indian civilization.

This import of secularism, and later its perversion in the form of discriminating personal laws, have done not much good for the minority communities, especially women of those communities, either. Polygamy is prevalent and legally sanctioned under Muslim personal laws, whereas it is prohibited for everyone else. A Hindu woman has an absolute right over maintenance from her husband upon divorce, but a Muslim woman will not get maintenance beyond the period of iddah. Similarly, the grounds of divorce have been detailed and the elaborate legal process have been thoroughly established in the case of Hindus and Christians, but a Muslim woman could be divorced merely by a repetition of “talaq” thrice by her husband. The Hindu undivided family gets tax rebates, but others are bereft of this benefit. Similar discriminations exist in the case of adoption laws as well.

The gist is the perversion of secularism which has resulted in non-implementation of a uniform civil code, which has not done any good to anyone. On the one hand, the Hindu personal laws have ushered in equality and fairness in certain spheres of social life in Hindu society, but have done so at the cost of uprooting Hindu society and the legal system from the foundations of Dharma, which is bound to have adverse effects over a long-term. On the other hand, presence of separate personal laws for minority communities has kept them away, especially Muslim women, from gaining any benefits that are available for Hindus.

Ideally, India should have evolved an indigenous social and legal system rooted in Dharma (righteous duty) and Indian civilization. Such a social and legal system would have developed unique responses to challenges that are unique to Indian society; would have been fair and righteous towards everyone irrespective of their affiliations, and would have been, at the same time, firmly rooted in Indian civilization. But since we have already imported an alien system of secularism, it would do us good if we remove the prevalent perversions and implement it in its true sense by enacting a fair uniform civil code. – IndiaFacts, 9 July 2016

» Nithin Sridhar is an editor at IndiaFacts and writes on politics, religion, and philosophy from Mysore. He tweets at @nkgrock.

Nehruvian Secularism

Shah Rukh Khan Quote

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Being a faithful Hindu in Hindustan is a difficult proposition – Tarun Vijay

Tarun Vijay“So Aurangzeb, a ruthless father of the ISIS we see today must be defended. A nationalist icon of a resurgent nation, our prime minister must be opposed in foreign lands like modern day Mir Jafars, the reprehensible acts of violence against left-wing authors must be blamed on Hindu organisations even before the probe begins, and defenders of the Hindu faith must be put on the defensive using the powerful tools of journalism in a partisan manner. There remains not a single newspaper in this country … that would agree to publishing the views that differ with their own. So much for free press and its objectivity.” – Tarun Vijay

Asiya AndrabiIf Asiya Andrabi had been a Hindu in an Islamic country and had she tried to assert her religious right, she would have been supurd-e-khaak by now. She must thank her stars that she was born in a Hindu majority country where mocking and insulting Hindu sensitivities is not only tolerated by the state, but also encouraged by those vocal and media savvy Hindus identified as “seculars”.

Think of those like us who have been brought up to worship the cow as their mother, who have been continuously fed stories by Hindu leaders and their ideological mentors that killing a cow is a sin, who were told by them that Shivaji never tolerated killing of cows and had the butchers put on a death row when they did so. Today they choose to keep mum, silently watching something they never imagined.

Some showcase their meat eating habits in a bazaar, standing with a knife and watching blood ooze out of the slaughtered animal. This is considered a rightful, legitimate act – made acceptable to a secular nation by a just, fair, objective and secular media.

Ranjit SinghWe had heard of such incidents only when an invader wanted to teach a lesson to the subjugated people. We had heard that when a Muslim assaulter wanted to humiliate us, he had the Harmandir Saheb, a holy pond in Amritsar, filled with cow blood. Everyone condemned it and now it is a sad, reprehensible act in our collective memory. Maharaja Ranjit Singh too banned cow slaughter and all the Sikh Gurus held it sacred.

Today, the vagaries of political expediency ensure that even Sikh authorities keep silence on this issue, even though there is a coalition government in Punjab. Hindus standing against Hindus has cost the community a Somnath in every period of our history. A studied silence on assaults in the hope that the slaughterer will have mercy one day has resulted in the majority becoming refugees in their own land.

It is astonishingly surprising how Hindus have learnt to live with their assaulters in a meek way since we gained independence. The demographic invasion by the neighbours, the last forgotten days of the founder president of Bharatiya Janasangh in Srinagar, the mocking of the highest revered book, in fact the very first book of the world, Rgveda, the caricaturing of Hindu monks into some kind of foolish, outdated junk, the fossilisation of Hindu organisations into semi-literate, anti-women, anti-minorities and against all those human values that make a person acceptably civil—all this has become a trend in a fashionable, rich society, with the people often getting close to the ruling elite, whatever their colour or belief may be.

Swami Lakshmanananda SaraswatiWe forget the recent history when Hindu temples were looted and images of their deities burnt, while the seculars turned their faces the other way. When an octogenarian Laxmananand Saraswati was silenced forever by alienated violent groups professing another faith. Such incidents never become an issue of public debate. Rather, they are shown as false, fabricated stories by Hindu zealots. When a celebrated music composer works on a Sufi theme, he is a great hero, but when he receives a threat from Islamic clerics, silence is the norm adopted by the secular sirens.

Some did write a few books on the assaults suffered by the Hindus, though a bit apologetically as if we are in a Saudi land, and so much was the marginalisation of the persecuted Hindus that such a literature remained limited to the assertive groups only, never gaining a mention in the secular magazines’ pages. They were forced to leave their homes, orchards, their songs and festivals—forced to die and an entire generation lost a part of their land and sense of belonging. Nothing happened to make their woes a national concern. Like air-crash victims or sufferers of natural calamities, some received compensation, some relief material, some admissions in schools and colleges on compassionate ground. But life remained normal as ever. The nation remained busy in other important work—elections, disruptions and again elections and then the formation of the new government, terror attacks, bomb blasts, and again swearing to end terrorism. It’s now a routine exercise.

Some thought there are traitors in the Valley who demand secession and flock to meet the Pakistani high commissioner. It’s another kind of a jiyarat for those who want to have another Partition.

Still some think they are honourable political satyagrahis. They get all the government funds to travel, enjoy a strong security bandobast and regular health check-ups at the expense of the patriotic Indian taxpayer.

The demand to have the bovine cattle slaughtered in Kashmir valley—openly at Lal Chowk—has nothing to do with the supposedly irresistible taste of cow meat or a Cow Slaughter Srinagar 2015presumptuous religious dictate not enshrined in the Quran or the Shariat. Beef fest during Eid is undoubtedly aimed to tease and hit the Indian state and send a message to the rulers in Delhi—look, we are openly challenging your sovereign authority and defying the high court orders. Do whatever you can.

Beef eating, as a challenge to India, and its public display as an act of bravado is like destroying the temple at Ram Janma Bhoomi—which was meant to humiliate the subjugated Hindus and show them their place. It’s a political act that has nothing to do with culinary practice or religion.

The deafening silence of the Hindu outfits and preachers on the nauseatingly hateful statements of the Asiya Andrabis from the north to the south of this country arises from some noble wish to keep peace. Hindus must leave the Valley to make peace with jihadis. They must keep mum as they watch their icon of religious reverence slaughtered openly, only because it helps to keep peace. Hindus shouldn’t demand that the national anthem be sung in the Valley’s schools and they have a greater responsibility and shouldn’t provide the slightest chance to provoke assaulters. The powerful decide the rules. Like we saw in Chennai Express, the station is where the goon wants to disembark. How media moguls mock at the innocent and accurate depiction of women power during Rgvedic times. The intellectuals of the secular shade pounce upon statements of RSS-inspired history organisation. These are the “know-it-alls” who have “read” the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas. They think those who speak anything favourable about Indian culture must be as vehemently countered and mocked at as was done during the British. They know Gargi, Maitreyi, the rebellious Janaki, mother of Nachiketa—the challenger to the god of death. They even know about the annihilator of the wicked Durga, Andal, and Velu Nachiar—who descended on the earth from Mars and Venus. They had nothing to do with the ethos and culture of this land.

Aurangzeb Road renamed Dr APJ Abdul Kalam RoadSo Aurangzeb, a ruthless father of the ISIS we see today must be defended. A nationalist icon of a resurgent nation, our prime minister must be opposed in foreign lands like modern day Mir Jafars, the reprehensible acts of violence against left-wing authors must be blamed on Hindu organisations even before the probe begins, and defenders of the Hindu faith must be put on the defensive using the powerful tools of journalism in a partisan manner.

There remains not a single newspaper in this country—a part of the mainstream media—that would agree to publishing the views that differ with their own. So much for free press and its objectivity.

Roads and power lines do not make a nation. Remember the fate of the Soviet Union. It is the core values a nation represents that must be safeguarded—for India, this means we respect the sensitivities of all citizens and protect the rights of the minority, irrespective of how small they are.

Pluralism doesn’t translate into the display of your animal instincts to a religious group that has suffered exodus at the hands of Andrabis’ cousins. What is most shocking is the silence of the so-called “liberal, secular Muslim intellectuals” who had progressed not only because of their talent and brilliance but also because Hindus supported them. – DailyO, 22 September 2015 

» Tarun Vijay is a renowned Indian author, thinker, social worker, freelance journalist, and parliamentarian.

Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

Who really oppresses Christians in India? – Rajeev Srinivasan

Rajeev Srinivasan“A case could be made that it is internal issues that haunt Christians in India today. In fact, unlike, say, in Pakistan, Christians have almost never been hurt by Hindus (although the reverse is not true, for instance the assassination of octogenarian monk Swami Lakshmananda in Kandhamal, Odissa). The average Christian enjoys constitutional and other privileges the average Hindu can only dream of.” – Rajeev Srinivasan

Thomas & JesusAt this time of one of the biggest festivals of their mythology, the death and resurrection of their founder-deity, I wish all Christians a happy Easter Sunday. A time of new beginnings, the arrival of Spring, and a Jesus rising from the dead is a metaphor for the revivification of the earth and the beginning of a new cycle. In Kerala, the extraordinary spun gold blooms of the Indian laburnum, kani konna, gladden the heart as we await the Spring festival of Vishu on April 15th.

This year, of course, we have heard a great deal about how Christians are oppressed in India. Famous people including an admired chief of police and a former chief of naval staff have said that they feel uncomfortable in India because of their Christian faith. There was also the case of a 71-year-old nun in West Bengal, who was allegedly raped by some young men (although she has since mysteriously disappeared). There is a meme that implies that the new dispensation at the center, with the Narendra Modi administration, is deliberately hounding Christians.

I admit that there is in fact a lot of oppression of Christians in India, except it’s not coming from the PM or Hindus, but rather from certain Christians themselves, which is a sad fact that’s seldom commented on. Let me present to you three nuns whose stories are startling. All three of them are from Kerala, which has the maximum number of Christians in India. These are Sisters Abhaya, Anita and Jesme.

Sister AbhayaSister Abhaya was found dead in the well of a convent exactly 23 years ago: on 27 March 1992, to be precise. The teenaged girl’s death was ruled a suicide. In a sense, this is not unusual, because young nuns are periodically found dead, some of them in wells, some pregnant: a sad commentary on their lives. But something was not right in Abhaya’s case, it was rumored.

An activist named Jomon Puthenpurackal took up the case; he found certain irregularities in the conduct of the investigation, including what appeared to be the willful destruction of evidence such as Abhaya’s viscera and clothes. Jomon reasoned that someone was trying to sweep things under the carpet, and so he and other activists went to court. The case wound through the courts, and eventually, based on suspicion that the local crime branch’s inquiry had been compromised, the CBI was brought into the picture. There were some irregularities with the forensic lab in Bangalore, too: a sitting judge in Karnataka who had nothing to do with the Kerala case was fully briefed on the lab’s findings, which I find distinctly odd as he had no locus standi.

Yes, twenty-three years later, Sister Abhaya has not gotten justice.

The CBI conducted a detailed investigation, and the results were sensational: under truth serum or sodium pentathol, three people confessed to the crime. Father Puthrakkayil and Father Kottoor and Sister Seffi confessed that they were engaged in three-way sexual activity in the kitchen of the convent at 2 am. Abhaya chanced upon them when she came for a drink of water. Seffi beat Abhaya over the head with the blunt end of an axe and apparently killed her, and the trio threw her into the convent well.

Unfortunately, and very conveniently for the accused trio, the Supreme Court ruled that narco-analysis or truth serum would no longer be accepted as evidence, with the result that it was mistrial, and the trio walked free. Yes, twenty-three years later, Sister Abhaya has not gotten justice.

Sister AnitaAnother story that broke on 27 March 2015 was that of Sister Anita. The 40-year old nun had embarked on a hunger strike, alleging that she had been sexually harassed by a priest in her Madhya Pradesh convent. When she protested, she was packed off to Europe. Then she was sent back to Kerala, and when she appeared determined to seek justice for herself, she was physically thrown out of the convent. She threatened to sit in hunger strike, supported by local activists. The latest news was that the church had settled out of court with Sister Anita, offering her twelve lakh rupees and defrocking her. It was not immediately known what happened to her alleged assailant.

Sister JesmeThen there is the story of Sister Jesme, who published a sensational autobiography titled ‘Amen’ in 2009 in Malayalam, about rampant abuses in convents, including non-consensual sex with senior priests, and forced lesbian experiences with another nun as well as “humiliation, sexual abuse and mental torture”. Jesme was also expelled from the order after serving it, including as a college principal, for 33 years.

There have been serious allegations of sexual predation by priests in an official document published by an investigating Vatican official some time ago. It appears that many nuns find themselves as captive sex objects for predatory priests. In fact, there was the case of a nun in Europe just a few months ago who claimed when she delivered a baby that it was an “immaculate conception”.

Beyond this level of exploitation of vulnerable women (which is not unusual: there is the story of the Magdalene laundries in Ireland where generations of unwed mothers and other ‘fallen women’ were brutally abused and used as slave labor in nunneries) there is also the allegation about ‘nun-running’ of Indian nuns to Europe to do the cooking, cleaning and other menial tasks there, as the supply of natives there dries up.

Swami Lakshmanananda SaraswatiThus a case could be made that it is internal issues that haunt Christians in India today. In fact, unlike, say, in Pakistan, Christians have almost never been hurt by Hindus (although the reverse is not true, for instance the assassination of octogenarian monk Swami Lakshmananda in Kandhamal, Odissa). The average Christian enjoys constitutional and other privileges the average Hindu can only dream of.

As an example, consider two cases, both from Kerala. One is a small boy, seeking admission in 5th grade in a Christian school. Despite good grades from his prior school, he ‘flunks’ the entrance test. His professor parents get a recommendation from a Christian friend of theirs, and the boy is admitted. Thereafter, he stands first in his class, and the school, and upon graduation, he is a topper in the state.

The other is a teenager, an average student. His parents try to get him into the most prestigious and exclusive college in the country. The parents are confident that he will St. Stephen's College, Delhiget in because he is a Christian and the college is run by Christians (it is St Stephen’s, Delhi). In fact the boy manages to get admitted.

I have intimate knowledge of both situations, as I was the boy in the first case. I remember some of my teachers from that school fondly, and my best friends there were Paul, Mathew and Tony, but the injustice of the shabby treatment I got – the blatant discrimination in admission – I have never forgotten. I have not been back to that school even once after I graduated decades ago.

The average Christian enjoys constitutional and other privileges the average Hindu can only dream of.

The second case is that of a neighbor of mine; his father and he consulted me on how to conduct himself in the interview. The kid is a decent sort, and I was happy to advise him. But I was appalled at how the father said, at least four times in the hour we spent together: “We Christians have preference in admissions at St Stephens”, as though it was an entitlement. And of course it is. That is astonishing in a secular nation where I imagine a good bit of the funding for the college comes from the public purse.

The same discrimination holds good in many other educational institutions, for instance at a famous medical college in the south, which discriminates blatantly in favor of Christians. In Kerala, more than 70 per cent of the educational institutions are run by Christians, including those ‘aided’ schools and colleges where the management chooses teachers, and their salaries are paid by the taxpayer.

Bishop of Tuticorin Roman Catholic Diocese Rt. Rev. Yvon Ambroise offering juice to a protester at Idinthakarai The preference for Christians runs deep in Kerala where they are nominally about 25 per cent of the population, but given the massive conversion drives and the very large number of churches there, it is likely they are already in a plurality there, as in southern Tamil Nadu. Many converted Christians still retain their Hindu names, often to continue to enjoy government affirmation action programs to lowest-caste Hindus.

The Christian hold on Kerala was demonstrated when the current state government was formed: it was negotiated by two Christians and a Muslim. No Hindu leader was involved. Similarly, during the UPA days, with Sonia Gandhi, a devout Christian in charge, it was clear that all the plum positions in the center would go to Christians – an example is Leela Samson, who became culture czarina. Indeed, quite unlike the US, where any Indian who wants to seek electoral office has had to convert to Christianity, Christian politicians are in senior positions not only in Kerala, but also in Karnataka. During the UPA regime, a remarkable number of Christian IAS officers were deputed to Delhi. If you look at the media, there are disproportionately more Christians in positions of power.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral, PuducherryA remarkable factor about Christians in India is their real-estate ownership. In particular, large grants under British rule have ensured that Churches have enormous land holdings, worth billions of rupees and generally untaxed, in every city center. The Church is said to be the largest landowner in the country after the central government. A particularly telling example is in Trivandrum. There is a large cathedral in the city center, a prominent mosque, and next to them, a tiny postage-stamp sized Hindu temple. Behind the temple, there is another large church. It is a vivid demonstration of the status of Hindus in the state: dominated by Christians and Muslims.

Prof C. I. IssacAcademician C. I. Issac has pointed out, with voluminous data to support him, that in Kerala, Christians own twice as much land on average, have 50 per cent more in bank deposits, and run the vast majority of trade and education. A telling statistic: 92 per cent of those committing suicide in Kerala, mostly due to financial problems, are Hindus.

There is a fair case to be made that there is an elite group of privileged Christians, and that includes the priests in the church hierarchy as well as politicians. They are the ones oppressing or exploiting poor Christians, as well as Hindus. It is not at all the case that Hindus are oppressing Christians, although that fits well with the (fake) martyr meme. The biggest martyr story in India, that of Apostle Thomas being killed by Hindus in Chennai, is a complete fabrication, as Thomas never even arrived in India, as certified by the Vatican. From that myth to the current myth of Hindu oppression of Christians is but a small leap, a lie that is highly damaging for India, nonetheless. – IndiaFacts, 6 April 2015

» Rajeev Srinivasan is an author, columnist, and consultant in sales in the software industry. He lives in Thiruvannanthapuram and blogs at Shadow Warrier.

Sister Mary Chandy

Ex-Priest K.P. Shibu

Ivan Cardinal Dias

Christians are being used, not abused – Swapan Dasgupta

Swapan Dasgupta“The fact that neither Mr Rebeiro nor Adm. Kumar have been able to give satisfactory explanations as to why they have suddenly gone public with their fears over the citizenship rights of Christians has, in turn, prompted a number of conspiracy theories. There are accusations flying all over social media that the Churches have taken a conscious decision to target the Modi government politically, first by attributing political motives to every incident involving a church building or individual Christians and, second, by enlarging its significance to suggest that an entire community is under attack.” – Swapan Dasgupta

Prof  Jagdish BhagwatiThe most comic fallout of Jagdish Bhagwati’s interview to NDTV about the spuriousness of the brouhaha over persecution of Christians in India may yet happen if his great economist rival Amartya Sen decides to publicly assert the opposite. So far the outgoing chancellor of the controversy-gripped Nalanda University has chosen to remain silent. But I am sure that the pressure on him to stand up and repeat Pastor Martin Niemoller’s “First they came for the Jews…” must, presumably, be intense.

Let’s be clear on one point: the opponents of Narendra Modi have smelt blood and seem determined to pursue their single-minded campaign to suggest that a majoritarian madness has gripped India. Earlier, and particularly during the 2014 general election, this campaign had seen the outpourings of anguish on the part of intellectuals and a small section of the media. On his part,

Mr Modi had (and has) provided absolutely no ammunition to substantiate the fear that the multi-religious character of India would be jeopardised by the exit of a Congress-led government. True, there was a pre-existing Hindu-Muslim faultline that manifested itself in the minority community staying away from the BJP. However, in the first 11 months of the Modi government, the concerns have been on the relative inadequacy of Muslim political representation rather than the security of the community. Even on this count, there was consternation among professional secularists that the Bharatiya Janata Party and the People’s Democratic Party managed to forge a coalition in Jammu and Kashmir.

Julio RibeiroUnder the circumstances, the so-called fear that is said to have gripped the Christian community following some small incidents has come as a surprise. What is even more unexpected is that these have become the occasion for a number of prominent Indian Christians to agonise over the community’s future in India. First there was the retired police officer Julio Rebeiro who asked whether he had become an alien in his own country. Subsequently, Sushil Kumar Isaacformer Navy Chief Adm. Sushil Kumar (Retd.) expressed a fear that the “communal virus” could affect the camaraderie of the armed forces — a grave concern in view of the fact that the armed forces have always been well and truly insulated from all political schisms. Finally, various functionaries of reputed Christian education institutions have added their voices to the campaign over Christian persecution. Indeed, there is now every possibility that international Christian voices could be added to the list of those who question the ability of the Modi government to maintain religious harmony.

I don’t think it will be exaggeration to suggest that the charge of Christian vulnerability has been greeted with a sense of disbelief in most of India. While the BJP’s political opponents may delight over any discomfiture felt by the government, particularly anything that shifts attention from the main agenda of economic reconstruction, the use of the tiny Christian community as a vanguard of any anti-Modi movement has been greeted with a measure of exasperation. Was Mr Rebeiro, it is being asked, ever rewarded or discriminated on the strength of his religious faith? On what basis has Adm. Kumar suggested that the “communal virus” could also affect the well-being of the armed forces? Did he ever face discrimination because he was a Christian?

Bangladeshi Nun RapersThe fact that neither Mr Rebeiro nor Adm. Kumar have been able to give satisfactory explanations as to why they have suddenly gone public with their fears over the citizenship rights of Christians has, in turn, prompted a number of conspiracy theories. There are accusations flying all over social media that the churches have taken a conscious decision to target the Modi government politically, first by attributing political motives to every incident involving a church building or individual Christians and, second, by enlarging its significance to suggest that an entire community is under attack. If this understanding of the “church agenda” is correct, it would follow that the third phase of the campaign would lie in making common cause with all the anti-Modi forces in the country.

We saw a small trailer of the third phase in the last day of campaigning for the Delhi Assembly poll when a small (but lavishly reported) demonstration of Christians became the signal for all members of the community to come out and vote against the BJP two days later.

Baselios Cardinal CleemisWhatever the real motivations of the clergy of various Christian denominations, there is no doubt that it has succeeded in putting Christians at the centre of a previously non-existent political divide. The political storm has served to resurrect subterranean schisms over religious conversions and the global links of the churches. Whether unwittingly or otherwise, Christian activism may even have prompted a large measure of countervailing reaction, much to the delight of a cynical media that seems intent on keeping the cauldron of communal politics boiling. Making Christians more aware of their religious self-identity may be a legitimate exercise on the part of community leaders. But when this results in non-Christians seeing Christians as being removed from the mainstream, the results can be self-defeating. Unless, of course, the avowed aim is to sharpen the sense of differences.

Sonia Gandhi with Cardinal Archbishop George Alencherry, head of the Syro Malabar Church in Kerala.A very dangerous game is being played by a handful whose idea of harmony is at variance with the consensual view of composite Indian citizenship. In the short-term, and thanks in no small measure to this unwarranted desire to cry wolf, we are likely to see a sharp focus on the entire issue of religious conversions — an issue that has been troubling Hindu communities in southern India. The government may feel that the emerging truth of the Ranaghat nun rape will cool passions. Unfortunately, I get an uncomfortable feeling that in the battle between propaganda and truth, the latter may become a casualty. We are not witnessing a religious conflict. These are just the opening shots of a political battle, using Christians as a human shield. – The Asian Age, 3 April 2015

» Swapan Dasgupta is a senior journalist in Delhi.

Christians are not under attack in India

Hindus don’t have equality with minorities – Rajeev Mantri

Rajeev Mantri“Mother Teresa is seen as a saint by some devout Christians. But to assert that she was universally seen as a saint is not just false, but unacceptable to any liberal and secular individual. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comment that Mother Teresa had an evangelical agenda is simply a statement of fact; it is something which she herself proudly admitted.” – Rajeev Mantri

Julio RibeiroAn article written by former police officer Julio Ribeiro, initially headlined “I feel I am on a hit list“, has ignited a debate concerning India’s Christians and their security under the Narendra Modi government.

The 86-year-old Ribeiro—who admitted later he “slightly exaggerated” to attract attention—makes a series of scathing allegations against the Modi government, writing, “I feel threatened, not wanted, reduced to a stranger in my own country.” He points to reports of church vandalism, asserting India’s Christians are threatened because of such incidents.

It speaks to the discourse prevalent in India that every incident of vandalism or crime where a minority community is involved is viewed through the lens of communalism and secularism. Investigations into these incidents have found that they were petty crimes and localized incidents, not necessarily motivated by religious hatred, but those who stoutly believe that minorities are under siege allege the investigations are compromised or influenced. No facts can convince them that there may be no grand design; the assertion of motivated attacks itself serves as proof that there is a conspiracy against minorities, and that assertion isn’t allowed to be undermined.

Mother Teresa & Michele Duvalier of HaitiRibeiro makes one tenuous claim after another. First, he asserts the Christian community has made significant contributions to India by building educational institutions and hospitals. Second, he proclaims that Mother Teresa was an “acknowledged saint, acknowledged by all communities and peoples”.

It is true that many of India’s leading schools and colleges are run by Christian organizations, and have done yeoman’s service for the country across generations. But this has not been entirely without an agenda. The missionary organizations running these institutions received substantial subsidies from the Indian public; in the British era and even after independence, missionary-run institutions received prime land in city centres at subsidized rates.

More importantly, they were allowed autonomy and freedom in how they should run their institutions. Even today, top ranked institutions like St Stephen’s College, Christian Medical College in Vellore, St Xavier’s College and countless missionary schools across India clearly declare themselves to be minority institutions and admit Christian students through explicit quotas; all of this is done at a subsidy, implicit and explicit, from Indian taxpayers, who are largely Hindus.

Dr Ida ScudderFor example, Christian Medical College clearly states in its admissions prospectus that its aim is to “train individuals for service in needy areas, especially in Christian mission hospitals”, and “a large number of Christian churches and missions make use of training” it offers in medical education. It has a special “sponsored category” constituting up to 50% seats, reserved for Christian applicants. For the nursing programme, 85% seats are reserved for Christians. The college says that “staff and student retreats led by eminent Christian thinkers are an important feature of the spiritual nature” of the college community.

Church of North India Minister Valson ThampuSt Stephen’s has a 50% Christian quota and lower entry cutoffs for Christian applicants. Its principal, Valson Thampu, made news recently when a staff member alleged he was being coerced by Thampu to convert to Christianity. The principal of St Xavier’s College in Mumbai went so far as to issue a political statement to the 3,000 students of his college criticizing the Gujarat government’s economic record and praising the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government during the 2014 general election campaign. Why must a college principal make political proclamations to his student body?

When premier schools and educational institutions funded by public money have large religious quotas—and protectionism through government regulation certainly helped these institutions achieve their premier position—it’s a clear incentive for Hindus to convert, for becoming Christian increases one’s chances of getting admission to some of India’s top schools and colleges. The obvious implication is also that India has a system of government-funded Christian evangelism; is that secular?

It’s acceptable that these institutions retain Christian quotas. The problem is the alternatives for Hindus are limited by state diktat because of stifling regulations in the education sector that have created artificial shortages.

By not liberalizing the education sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be supporting a quasi-monopoly enjoyed by Christian evangelical organizations. Liberalizing the sector would level the playing field and create a more equal India. By the same token, if non-Hindus enjoy the religious freedom to convert Hindus, Hindus too should have the freedom to propagate their faith.

Ramachandra GuhaBut these are facts that are well-known to even left-liberal intellectuals. Writing in June 2007, when St Stephen’s College talked of raising its Christian quota to 50%, eminent historian Ramachandra Guha had said, “According to the Union ministry of education, fully 95% of the expenses of the college are met by the University Grants Commission. Why should a college that draws so heavily on the public exchequer be allowed to choose 40% of its students from 2% of the country’s population?”

Today, because there is a government in New Delhi headed by a man and a party they despise, the intellectuals maintain a calculated silence and merrily bandy Ribeiro’s victimhood-filled article as evidence of a state conspiracy against minorities.

Mother Teresa is seen as a saint by some devout Christians. But to assert that she was universally seen as a saint is not just false, but unacceptable to any liberal and secular individual. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comment that Mother Teresa had an evangelical agenda is simply a statement of fact; it is something which she herself proudly admitted.

A staunch Roman catholic, Mother Teresa was opposed to birth control and abortions, calling it “the greatest destroyer of peace” in her 1979 Nobel Prize acceptance lecture—the so-called liberal movie stars who jumped to Teresa’s defence might be blissfully ignorant of her beliefs.

Contrast Teresa’s regressive views on this issue with that of Modi, who said last year in an interview to a television channel, “Women should have every right to take all the decisions of their lives. How much they want to study, where they want to study, when to marry, whether to marry, what work to do, where to work, when to have children, how many children to have, whether to have children—all these decisions should be in the hands of the woman alone.” Yet, Teresa is a secular-liberal icon and Modi is a fundamentalist.

A committed harvester of souls for her God, Teresa received criticism for baptizing the impoverished on their death beds. It is for such unethical and fundamentalist acts that British writer Christopher Hitchens called her the “ghoul of Calcutta”.

Mohan Bhagwat & Narendra Modi“If my DNA is tested, it will not differ markedly from Bhagwat’s”, writes an impassioned Ribeiro. But the reality today is the Indian state treats a Ribeiro or a John differently from a Bhagwat or a Gupta. Christian educational institutions are regulated less strenuously than Hindu ones. Christian places of worship are not controlled by government, but Hindu temples are. In flesh and blood, Christians, atheists, Muslims, Parsis, Buddhists and Hindus may all be the same—but in the eyes of the Indian state, they are not.

Narendra Modi with Christian and Muslim clerics.Correcting this heinous perversity is the Modi government’s mandate—it is telling that not one self-described soldier of secularism ever asks that Hindus be granted this equality. During the 2014 general election campaign, Modi faced opprobrium from the intelligentsia for declining to wear the Muslim skull cap. Not wearing the cap amounted to an insult to Muslims and a violation of secularism, we were told. But Modi took the firm and principled position that as a practising Hindu, he could not and would not wear a religious symbol only to garner votes.

It’s a question that begs to be answered—will Hindus have to circumcise or baptise themselves to prove they are secular and tolerant?

It should be revolting to every secular Indian that Hindus and non-Hindus are treated differently by the Indian state. Under the Nehruvian template, special treatment of minorities in several areas has become the norm in our country. It is equally true that freedom has been denied in areas such as personal laws to minorities. Muslims, for instance, are forced to abide by a religious personal law code.

Jawaharlal NehruNehruvian India is a discriminatory, bigoted India that arbitrarily affords more freedom to one religious group and less to the other. This is immoral and grossly unfair, for the Indian state should not be favouring or disfavouring individual citizens based on their religion.

Given his mandate and his clearly articulated stand on religious freedom during and since the election campaign, Modi has a historic opportunity—an India where all citizens are equal in the eyes of the state is within reach. – Live Mint, 19 March 2015

» Rajeev Mantri is an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, fund manager, writer, policy wonk, and WSJ Live Mint columnist. He tweets at @RMantri.

Thefts in Delhi's churches, gurdwaras, mosques, and temples.

 

Christians are not under attack in India – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth“What is more of a hate crime: when a stone is thrown at a church by a drunkard or when respected clergy declare without any proof that Hindus are damned to eternal hell-fire if they don’t become a member of the Church, and when they brainwash Christian children to believe this? Will TV anchors be outraged at such a discriminatory, baseless allegation which can lead to real hate crimes?” – Maria Wirth

Bishop Joseph of Edessa: Thomas of Cana, a Mesopotamian merchant and missionary, brought a mission to India in 345. He brought 400 Christians from Baghdad, Nineveh, and Jerusalem to Kodungallur. He and his companion Bishop Joseph of Edessa sought refuge under King Cheraman Perumal from persecution of Christians by the Persian king Shapur II. The colony of Syrian Christians established at Kodungallur may be the first Christian community in South India for which there is a continuous written record. T.R. Vedantham showing his own perspective on Christianity was the first to propose in 1987 that Thomas of Cana was confused with the 1st century apostle Thomas by India's Syrian Christians sometime after his death, becoming their Apostle Thomas in India.There is probably no other country where members of other religions were as safe as in India. Hindus always gave shelter to those who were persecuted in their homelands. Jews gratefully acknowledged that India is the one country where they were never persecuted. Syrian Christians under their leader Thomas of CanaThomas the Apostle did not come to India—were given refuge in the 4th century. Parsis came in the 10th century to escape the Muslim invaders in Persia. And in 1959, some 100,000 Tibetan Buddhist refugees found shelter in India—only 12 years after the British had left the country, divided and poverty-stricken.

In contrast, the rich USA with an area three times the size and only a quarter of India’s population allowed only in 1991 one thousand Tibetan families to enter.

Indians never hesitated to accept those who were in trouble and who wanted to preserve their faith because they did not distinguish between human beings on religious lines. Their attitude was that all belong to one big human family and all have the same divine essence in them. For them “religion” was not an identity but a natural, ideal way of life.

So what happened that nowadays there is a lot of talk that Christians are under attack in India? Have Hindus become intolerant?

No. Hindus have not changed. All the so-called attacks on churches which were hyped up recently on many TV channels turned out to have been minor crimes unconnected with “Hindu extremists”. In other countries they would hardly find space in the local paper. Why were they flogged for days on TV channels? Why were Christian spokesmen given plenty of airtime to falsely blame the “Hindu right” and claim that Christians are under attack? There seems to be an agenda by the Churches and it would need to be investigated why so many TV channels obliged.

A smashed glass pane outside one church, a fire due to short circuit in another church, a theft of 8000 Rupees in a convent school, stones thrown by a mixed group of Hindus and Muslim surely don’t warrant hours of hyped coverage.

Yes, there was also the break-in into a convent school in West Bengal, where not only 1.2 million Rupees were stolen but a 72-year-old nun was allegedly gang raped.

This was shameful no doubt and this news reached in no time all corners of the world. It fitted well into the image that had already been crafted over the last 2 years—of India as a rapists’ nation. The Vatican radio spoke of India’s shame which went viral on the internet.

It turned out that Bangladeshi Muslims, probably encouraged by the Pakistani secret service, were behind it.

Cardinal Archbishop Baselios Cleemis is the current President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.Typically, the media fell silent. The BBC ran a scroll that an arrest has been made in the nun gang rape in India. They didn’t mention that he was a Bangladeshi Muslim. Neither the Vatican, nor the cardinal or the bishop apologized for their wrong, greatly publicized pre-judgment of the case that it was connected with the Hindu re-conversion drive of RSS and VHP.

The campaign of media and Christian representatives against “Hindu extremists” is not likely to end soon. New incidents will come up and the Christian spokesmen will again peddle the “truth” that under Narendra Modi as Prime Minister the Hindus are emboldened to “attack” Christians in hate crimes and that Christians feel helpless and insecure. The TV anchors will continue to prod them: “Do you feel unsafe in India?” and all Christian spokesmen will again reply “Yes” and claim that hate crimes have increased since Modi came to power.

There are other voices, too, who do not take part in this back stabbing of their Hindu brothers and, probably closer to the truth, blame the Christian clergy for trying to sow discord between communities. Yet those Christians, like Robert Rosario or Hilda Raja, are not likely to get an invitation to represent the Christian side, because they wouldn’t further the agenda to portray Hindus in poor light.

Mainstream media has tremendous power to shape opinions. Churches have tremendous financial and political clout. Both obviously cooperate to portray Hindus as intolerant and hateful of other religions—contrary to facts. There is a third power that wants India to get a bad image the world over, at least as bad as its own image is. It is Pakistan. The Sunday Guardian of 21th March exposed that the Pakistani secret service increased its budget six-fold to achieve the goal that India is put into the same bracket with Pakistan on human rights issues and downgraded by the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

This goal has already been achieved in regard to projecting India as a rapist country. In the west, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are now seen as being on the same level. In fact, India stands out negatively: it is openly thrashed for its ‘anti-women attitude’, while it is politically incorrect to thrash Muslim countries. The German professor who quoted India’s rape culture as reason to reject an Indian shows the huge damage that this false portrayal of India has done.

Unfortunately, India did nothing to put the issue into perspective when the maligning campaign started, and it seems that India again does nothing to prevent an equally damaging, also false perception that Hindus are prone to hate crimes against Christians. Sometimes I wonder whether Indians are even aware how detrimental to India’s image abroad the media campaign has already been.

Over 2 lakh men and women raped in US prisons each year!At least the government, if not the public at large, would know that India is neither in the top league of rape countries, nor are Hindus known for hate crimes and discrimination against members of other religions.

They would know that India has presently a population of 1270 million, and that it is unfair to compare absolute numbers of crimes with other countries. If the crimes that happen in the USA, Canada, in all European countries including Russia plus Australia were added up, then they could be compared with the number of crimes that happen in India. Can the media be made to give a balanced reporting on the issues it takes up? Does anyone remember the hype that media created about AIDS some 20 years ago? “India second only to South Africa” they screamed. Nobody mentioned that India had 1000 and South Africa 50 million inhabitants.

If the media were fair, they would discern that the charge of 160 hate crimes against Christians in the last 10 months, especially when those include theft and a stone thrown by a drunkard, is no reason to shout “Christians don’t feel safe in India”? Why do they play into the hands of the west which will be pleased to get a stick to beat India with?

In England, there were over 1,000 hate crimes only against Jews in the last year. This would equal over 20,000 hate crimes in India if it is put in proportion to the population. In USA, several Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were killed only because they were Sikhs, Hindus or Muslims. Should the USCIRF not put the US and Europe on its watch list, before it even thinks of condemning India?

There are several indicators that clearly show that Christians are not persecuted in India and are even pampered:

The percentage of Christians keeps increasing. Their places of worship multiply manifold and are free from government interference, unlike Hindu temples. Many Christians are in high positions. Missionaries have the guts to openly declare that they want to plant hundred thousand churches in India and “evangelize the whole country in this generation” (from a Christian youth magazine called “Blessings”). Christians and other minorities are privileged and get special benefits like scholarships, etc. Christians can teach the catechism in their schools to Christian students, while ethic teachers in those schools must not mention Sri Krishna, or Hindu philosophy to Hindu students. Compare this with the situation in Pakistan and it becomes evident that the “operation equal blame” depends entirely on spreading falsehood and manipulating the world opinion.

Former IPS officer Julio Francis RibeiroHow to counter this mischievous agenda? Certainly not by going on the defensive and giving special attention to Christians. “Justice for all, appeasement for none” is the way to go. The nun gang rape has been carried to the eight corners of the world as a ‘communal crime’ because the victim was a Christian. How would the kin of a Hindu girl feel who has been raped and maybe even killed by Muslims or Christians, yet neither the media nor even the police take any interest in the case, because it is not communal enough when Hindus are at the receiving end? Crimes need to be treated as crimes and religion should be out of consideration.

Hindus have no reason to be defensive. Spokesmen are dishonest when they claim that Christian are unsafe in India. It will be difficult to find any other country where Christians in minority are as safe and pampered, as among Hindus. If someone needs to be on the defensive, it is the Christian clergy and they may know it. Maybe that is the reason why they act as bullies in tune with the dictum ‘attack is the best defense’. They will stop playing the bully only when they perceive their opponent as strong.

Strength here doesn’t mean to bully back. It simply means to be clear, stick to truth and stick to dharma. It also means not to be afraid to point out the adharmic, divisive aspects in Christianity.

We live in the 21st century when science has discovered that there are different levels to reality. The apparent variety in this universe is based on uniform oneness. Our deepest essence is made of the same stuff, as it were. The Indian rishis knew this, ages ago. Where then is there place for a huge fire where billions or maybe trillions of heathens will burn for eternity after the Day of Judgment?

What is more of a hate crime: when a stone is thrown at a church by a drunkard or when respected clergy declare without any proof that Hindus are damned to eternal hellfire if they don’t become a member of the Church, and when they brainwash Christian children to believe this? Will TV anchors be outraged at such discriminatory, baseless allegation which can lead to real hate crimes? Will Hindus (and other heathens like Buddhists, atheists, etc.) demand an answer from the Churches?

Christians who originally came as refugees, and later went berserk during the Goan Inquisition, are now on a well-planned mission with huge funds from the west to change the broad-minded attitude of Hindus from “We revere ALSO Jesus” to a narrow-minded “We revere ONLY Jesus”?

Are Hindus Demonic Lunatics?Contempt and intolerance for other religions is inbuilt in Christianity. Its goal is clear: all must follow Christ. Hinduism must disappear. If they say something else in interfaith dialogues, it is deception. The spread of Christianity is not in India’s interest. It is not in humanity’s interest either.

Hinduism unlike Christianity and Islam, has no agenda and never had an agenda to wipe out other religions. In India, there always were innumerable paths to the one truth. It is India’s job not only to honour her valuable heritage and educate her own people and the world, but also prevent her people from being deceived, threatened or allured by unfair means to a divisive ideology.

The Churches don’t succeed anymore to enforce belief in unreasonable dogmas among Christians in the west, yet their financial and political power is mind-boggling. They have plenty of funds to defame Hindus and Hinduism the world over. India is no equal in this fight, as most of her own media seems to have switched sides.

Maybe the Prime Minister himself needs to point out on his visit to Europe that Christian Churches are on a massive conversion spree in India because they have this strange and baseless notion that otherwise Hindus go to hell. They should relax. Hindus won’t go to hell. Most Europeans will agree with him.

However, I don’t know how much damage the media campaign “Christians are under attack” has already done. I just checked with a cousin in Germany. Yes, he heard already that there were attacks on Christians in India…. – Maria Wirth Blog, 30 March 2015

Church and temple thefts in Delhi

Country comparison of rape rate per 100,000 of population.

South India Church Mission Logo

See also

  1. Part One: The Anti-Modi Christian Agenda
  2. Part Two: The Anti-Modi Christian Agenda

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, Chennai. After retirement she has been a consultant on various government and international development projects. She lives with her son in Vadodara, Gujarat.