Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. 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.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

India In The Dock

by Dasu Krishnamoorty

The United States has stuck to its guns expressing inability to revise its decision on Modi visas. Time to celebrate for all those secular-minded countrymen who deposed against their country before foreign commissions on religious freedom, for scholars who thrive on distorting history, for foreign-funded campus pedagogs, for proselytizers, for terrorists and in short for all those who wish an egg on India’s face. They have succeeded in besmirching India’s image as a secular country where, despite Akshardhams and Coimbatores, the minorities flourish and prosper as well as any member of the majority community in any area of public life.

Delighted they all must be that a country with debatable human rights record has humbled a billion people. Thanks are no less due to those English newspapers for which famine and hunger can wait but not the call of secularism. Indeed, it is this galaxy that prepared the ground for US State Department’s action in revoking visas for an elected chief minister of a major state of the Indian Republic to visit America. For all its sins of the past, including the 1984 Sikh massacre, the Congress has seen it fit to rise above partisan politics and protest the US diplomatic aberration.

The Hindu, no friend of Modi, reported, (Gargi Parsai’s report from New Delhi, 19/03/05) “Political parties across the spectrum sunk their differences in the Rajya Sabha today to unanimously condemn the United States action of denying a visa to "a constitutionally elected authority" of the country — the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.” It shows that all parties in the country regard the American action as derogatory to India’s sovereignty. For once, they have survived the temptation to draw political advantage from what detractors of the BJP see as its discomfiture.

The Manmohan Singh government did not stop at making formal noises but called the American envoy to its foreign office and handed him the strongest possible protest. Our Foreign Office gave the American administration a few lessons in international jurisprudence that exposed the ridiculous logic behind the withdrawal of the visas. The refusal, as a matter of fact, is an irreversible evidence of America’s disrespect for secularism of the right kind.

But why blame the Americans when Indians themselves did India in. All those award-hungry human rights activists, rabid communal organizations representing the Indian minorities, intellectuals hiding their Indian identity behind South Asian masks and media persons with strange loyalties to the fiction of a global community saw nothing treacherous in appearing before foreign tribunals pillorying their country even as they are aware that their activities have weaned the minorities permanently away from the mainstream. They did the greatest damage to what they fondly call the country’s secular fabric.

That this is the handiwork of these worthies is evident from the explanation of a State Department spokesman who said, "The fact of the matter is that it was the Indians who investigated the riots and it was the Indian Government who determined that state institutions failed to act in a way that would prevent violence and would prevent religious persecution. So, this isn't a matter of the United States saying something happened or something didn't happen. It's a matter of the United States responding to a finding by the Indian National Human Rights Commission pointing to comprehensive failure on the part of the state government of Gujarat to control persistent violations of rights," he said.

See the explanation of the State Department: Under Section 212 A 2G of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The relevant US law is reproduced below: “Foreign government officials who have engaged in particularly severe violations of religious freedom — Any alien who, while serving as a foreign government official, was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time during the preceding 24-month period, particularly severe violations of religious freedom, as defined in section 3 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, and the spouse and children, if any, are inadmissible.” This means that the state Department is the prosecutor. Okay. Did it ask Modi if he has anything to say to contest visa denial? Had it no knowledge of Gujarat riots when it first granted visas?

The American logic does not stand a minute’s scrutiny. The US has every right to deny any person visas in exercise of its sovereignty. But the reasons for such denial are not only irrational but a contradiction of America’s due process tradition. First, the Americans have no jurisdiction over Narendra Modi. Second, even if they have, due process demands that all sides be heard.

No. They depended on lies spread by the media and the NGOs.Even as the cars of the Godhra Express and bodies trapped inside were burning, the country’s English newspapers unleashed a media genocide of the majority community spreading unabashed lies about what happened in Gujarat. Wealthy NGOs flew fact-finding teams into Gujarat to deserve the generosity of their donors. Editors left their air-conditioned workstations to visit trouble-torn spots in Gujarat to find evidence that matched their findings. Anti-democratic forces traveled all the way to the United States to appear before the State Department’s International Commission for Religious Freedom. All of them forgot that there is a well-documented history of communal riots in the country, much of it in the 40 years of Nehru-Gandhi rule.

The American Gujarati hoteliers delivered the worst blow to a country to which they belonged once, thereby bringing disgrace to their parents and relatives who still live in the country of their origin. It is totally unethical to withdraw an invitation. Why invite Modi in the first place if the hoteliers agreed with the American logic? It is clear that the hotelier community is torn between the lure of the dollar and the throwaways that Indian states offer for nothing more than a promise to invest. Every chief minister visiting the United States is wined and dined by avaricious leaders of the immigrant community. The hoteliers have brought a bad name not just for themselves but also for Gujaratis and the NRI diaspora. In this diabolic drama the silence of minority groups in the country is in contrast with the uninhibited glee of their counterparts in the US. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA) has said that it is "pleased" at the US government's decision of denying a visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The Times of India that has done its most in popularizing an internationalist culture, says in an editorial (19 March) says, “Modi acolytes are certain to harp on the fact that he is a democratically elected leader. Hence to shut the door on the chief minister is to insult the people who elected him. In a globalizing world, no state or politician can afford to be an island. Democratic credentials have to be validated not just locally but also by the global community. This has been central to New Delhi's foreign policy. When South Africa was under the apartheid regime, India refused to have bilateral relations with its 'democratically elected' white government.” Does it mean India’s election results have to be submitted to a global community for approval? Which country in the world does it? What are the credentials and legitimacy of this farcical global community to review or revise decisions of a national community? Such utter nonsense can pass off for serious comment only among the editorial community of the English media in the country.

Dasu Krishnamoorty is a former edit page editor of three national dailies in India.


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