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, April 30, 2006

MIM wants Urdu state in Hyderabad

Ganesh S Lakshman
Thursday, April 27, 2006

HYDERABAD: Just as TRS leader K Chandrasekhar Rao has begun crowing that a separate Telangana is nigh with the passage of a bill to that effect in the forthcoming session of Parliament, the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), the paramount party in the Old City of Hyderabad, has raised a demand that would surprise all parties to the dispute: should Andhra Pradesh be carved up into Telangana and Andhra, Hyderabad should be made an Urdu-speaking state, or at least a union territory.

The party's MP for Hyderabad, Asaduddin Owaisi, says a consensus is emerging with the Muslim community of the city that there be a separate state for the Urdu-speaking people, just as there are several other linguistic states in the country.

"Urdu played a great role in the Independence struggle. States so far have been divided on linguistic lines. There is a great churning within the Muslim parties as well as the intelligentsia that there should be a separate state for Urdu-speaking people," Owaisi told TOI.

Referring to the Telangana issue, Owaisi said, "When there can be talk of two Telugu-speaking states, Andhra and Telangana, why not a state for the Urdu-speaking people?"

As the representative of a party which is a partner in the UPA coalition, Owaisi said he met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and submitted a memorandum to them seeking a second States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) as well as a Rs 10,000 crore development fund for Telangana.

"But let me make one thing clear. If Telangana is formed, Hyderabad should be made a Union territory. Warangal can be the capital of Telangana and Rajahmundry or some other city the capital of Andhra," he said.

The Muslim community here harbours an apprehension that if Telangana is formed, it will end up in the hands of the BJP, as happened with the creation of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

According to Owaisi, there being no strong Congress leaders from Telangana, the Grand Old Party nor the TRS's K Chandrasekhar Rao would be able to hold off a saffron surge.

Owaisi said leaders espousing the cause of the people of Telangana were speaking of the lack of any development in the region, but the plight of the Muslim community in the country was far worse.

"Muslims are the worst sufferers in terms of jobs, etc. Most of the localities in the Old City do not even get drinking water," he said.

It is because of these reasons that the MIM and the Muslim community is veering around to the formation of a separate state for Urdu-speaking people. "The idea is avidly being discussed both in the party and the community," he added.


HAF Reacts to False Media Reports

Hindu American Foundation Reacts to False Media Reports after Court HearingWashington, D.C. (April 26, 2006)

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) reacted quickly today to errors in media coverage of a hearing for a preliminary injunction filed by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) against the California State Board of Education (SBE) in Superior Court on April 21. The injunction sought to stop the printing of textbooks containing inaccuracies and an unbalanced presentation of Hinduism. In denying the injunction, presiding Judge Patrick Marlette did not pre-judge the merits of the case, indicated that he was "troubled" by the SBE process in approving the contentious textbooks, and encouraged the parties to discuss resolution of the case before the start of the school year.

No journalists were present at the hearing, and according to HAF, several media reports relied on the motivated and biased interpretations of an amateur writer who gained recent notoriety for his anti-Hindu blog. This individual, with no previous experience reporting on legal proceedings, detailed that he attended the hearing and did not rely on official transcripts in his widely circulated report.

"While HAF's legal team would have preferred that the preliminary injunction had been granted, they were pleased that the judge suggested the process followed by the SBE to be problematic," said Ishani Chowdhury, Executive Director of HAF.
"It is sad that one individual's musings that were patently false at best, and blatantly racist at worst, were accepted as truth by too many."

Based on the writer's account, that variously intimated gratuitous comments as to the race and ethnicity of HAF's legal team and of those present in the courtroom, some media reports erroneously stated that a preliminary injunction hearing requires a "lower showing" on the merits. In fact, such a hearing requires the court to balance a number of factors, including any harm that could be caused by granting or denying an injunction. Here, presiding Judge Marlette twice indicated that he was "troubled" by the process used to approve these texts, but in denying the injunction request seemed concerned that even if the books were poorly written, "harm" wouldn't occur until the children actually had the books in hand -- something that is currently several months off.

Judge Marlette also appeared to be concerned that he could not evaluate how "bad" these texts were in the contexts of a preliminary hearing, as that decision would require a lengthy analysis of the texts, comparison with the treatment of other religions and possibly expert testimony. Preliminary hearings are, by contrast, limited. The court rules impose limitations on both the length of the papers that can be submitted and the amount of time available for the hearing.

"Some accounts report that the judge rejected HAF's claims 'on the merits,' when the judge never decided such a thing," said Suhag Shukla, Esq., legal counsel of HAF. "Clearly there is a fundamental lack of understanding as to the standard of proof required for preliminary injunctive relief. It's difficult to obtain -- particularly against the government. More importantly, this particular denial has no bearing on the ultimate outcome of the case."

HAF leaders reaffirmed their commitment to their legal action to ensure that California school textbooks accurately and equitably depict Hinduism

"It is bewildering that these activists will oppose equal treatment of all religions in school textbooks, the lack of which is what led to the lawsuit," said Chowdury. "Hindus are merely seeking parity with other religions in sixth-grade textbooks, where social problems of other religions are not given the same prominence, even as the redeeming features of Hinduism are ignored."

The Hindu American Foundation is a non-profit 501©(3), non-partisan organization, promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism

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Quota: Students to launch nation-wide stir

April 28, 2006 17:07 IST

A day after Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh declined to discuss the quota issue until after elections, agitating medical students Friday said they will launch nation-wide protests next week in continuation with their on going indefinite strike.

''In continuation with the ongoing agitation we have decided to launch the nation-wide agitation next week. At the moment we are coordinating with students in several places including Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chandigarh,'' AIIMS Students' Union spokesperson Sasmit Sarangi told UNI.

''It seems that the Election Commission's code of conduct is applicable to Arjun Singh only and not his other Cabinet colleagues,'' he added.

However, he said resident doctors and interns will not be part of the agitation since patients were suffering.

He said the agitation against the proposal to provide 27 per cent reservation to OBCs in central government educational institutions, was getting support from students of several institutions, including IITs and the Delhi University.

''We are getting letters of support from all the parts of the country.... Students from across the country are ready to support us,'' he added.

Sarangi said the students will hold a demonstration at AIIMS this evening.

Lady Hardinge Medical College Students' Union president Amitasha Sinha said members and representatives of all the five medical colleges, who launched an indefinite strike Thursday, will attend the AIIMS demonstration.

''Representatives of the five colleges held a meeting this morning and we have decided to continue the agitation. All reports regarding suspension of the agitation are baseless,'' she added.

The students of Maulana Azad Medical College, Lady Hardinge Medical College, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, University College of Medical Sciences and Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College have boycotted lectures and stayed away from OPD services.

On Thursday, Arjun Singh met representatives of the students but declined to discuss the issue until after elections.

The students decided to continue with the agitation as they were not ''satisfied'' with Singh's response to their demand for roll-back of the proposal.

They had sought ''concrete assurance'' from the minister with regards to the proposal. They demanded that Singh hold consultations with them before the matter reaches the Cabinet.

A source said the HRD Minister told the representatives that any decision was not for him alone to make. It would be taken by the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

On Wednesday, hundreds of students of the medical colleges clashed with the police after it prevented them from 'petitioning' Union Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh against the reservation policy and road blockade.

The students were tear-gassed and sprayed with water cannons when they blocked traffic on Janpath, near Hotel Le Meridian crossing.

Mild lathicharge was also resorted to in order to break the 'rasta roko', which lasted for more than one-and-a-half hours.

However, no one was reported injured.

Three rounds of tear-gas shells were fired to disperse those who staged a 'rasta roko' to 'apprise' people on the issue.

Before dispersing, students told mediapersons that they wanted the people to know about the consequences of the reservation policy which was why they blocked traffic.


Lurid drama of proselytism after 1947

Lurid drama of proselytism after 1947-I

Sita Ram Goel is an indomitable intellectual Kshatriya in the line of great warriors like Parasurama, Bhishma, Drona, Arjuna and Karna in the history of India that is not Bharath today. I am compelled to say that 'it is not Bharath' only for the reason that India today has been taken over by the mafia of pseudo-secularists whose only aim is to destroy Hinduism and Hindu culture or more precisely 'Sanathana Dharma' at any cost. Sita Ram Goel brings this out succinctly in this manner:

'Hindus from early 17th century Pundits of Tamilnadu to Arun Shourie in the closing years of the 20th century have spent no end of ink and breath to demolish the dogma of Christianity and denounce missionary methods. But it has hardly made any difference to the arrogance of Christian theologians and aggressiveness of Christian missionaries. This is because the dogma was never meant for discussion. It is an axiom of logic that which has not been proved cannot and need not be proved.'

'High-sounding theological blah blah notwithstanding, the fact remains that the dogma is no more than a subterfuge for forging and wielding an organizational weapon for mounting unprovoked aggression against other people. It is high time for Hindus to dismiss the dogma of Christianity with the contempt it deserves and pay attention to the Christian missionary apparatus planted in their midst. The sole aim of this apparatus is to ruin Hindu society and culture and take over the Hindu homeland. It goes on devising strategies for every situation, favourable and unfavourable. It trains and employs a large number of intellectual criminals ready to prostitute their talents in the service of their pay masters, and adept at dressing up dark designs in high-sounding language. The fact that every design is advertised as a theology in the Indian context and every criminal euphemized as an Indian theologian, should not hoodwink Hindus about the real intention of this gangster game. Hindus are committing a grave mistake in regarding the encounter between Hinduism and Christianity as a dialogue between two religions. Christianity has never been a religion; its long history tells us that it has always been a predatory imperialism 'par excellence'. The encounter, therefore, should be viewed as a battle between totally opposed and mutually exclusive ways of thought and behaviour'.

History of Hindu-Christian encounters in our country falls into five distinct phases. In all of them, Christian missionaries stuck to their basic dogma of One True God and the Only Saviour which Hindus should accept or be made to accept. But they kept on changing their methods and strategy and theological verbiage based on changing circumstances from time to time.

In the first phase it opened with the coming of the Portuguese pirates in the 16th century, more particularly the Patron Saint of those pirates, Francis Xavier. The methods of Portuguese Christianity in Goa and other parts of India were cruel. Hindus were helpless against the barrage of atrocities let loose against them by the Portuguese. Fortunately for the Hindus of India, this phase did not last long. The Portuguese lost their power everywhere in India excepting in Goa and some other small pockets.

The second phase began with the consolidation of the British conquest after the final defeat of the Marathas in 1818. In this phase, the British Government in India did not allow Christian missions to use physical methods. But missionary language continued to be as crude as ever. This phase ended with the rise of Reform Movements, particularly the clarion call given by Maharishi Dayananda of the Arya Samaj in the Punjab and Swami Vivekananda in Bengal in the latter half of the 19th century. Christianity suffered a serious set back in this phase.

The third phase started with the entry of Mahatma Gandhi into the Indian national scene in 1917 and his slogan of 'Sarva-Dharma-Sambhava'. Christian missions were thrown on the defensive by Mahatma Gandhi and they were forced to change their language. Sita Ram Goel notes this change with biting sarcasm: 'The foulmouthed miscreants became sweet-tongued vipers. Now they were out to share their spiritual riches with the Hindus, reminding us of a beggar in dirty rags promising to donate his wardrobe to wealthy persons'. This phase ended with the Tambaram Conference of the International Missionary Council (IMC) in 1938 which decided to reformulate Christian Theology in the Indian context.

The fourth phase commenced with the coming of independence on August 15, 1947. It proved a boon for Christianity. The Christian right to convert Hindus was incorporated in the Constitution. Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru who dominated the Indian political scene for 17 long years, promoted every anti-Hindu ideology and movement behind the smokescreen of counterfeit secularism. The congress regimes that followed continued to raise the bogey of 'Hindu Communalism' as the most frightening phenomenon. Christian missionaries could now openly denounce as a Hindu communalist, and chauvinist, even as a Hindu Nazi, any one who raised the slightest objection to their means and methods. All sons of pseudo secularists leaped forward to join the chorus. The missionaries came forward with their new and revolutionary theologies and programmes of Fulfilment, Indigenisation, Liberation and Dialogue in the Indian context backed up by massive flow of funds from all parts of the globe for the glorious work of proselytism in post-independent India. The missionary apparatus in India multiplied fast and became pervasive in the years between 1947 and 1967. The only jarring note from the point of view of Christian missionaries during this period was K.M. Panikkar's book 'Asia and Western Dominance' published from London in 1953, the NIYOGI COMMITTEE REPORT published by the Congress Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1956, and Om Prakash Tyagi's Bill on 'Freedom Of Religion' introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 1978.

The fifth phase, which is continuing now, started with the Hindu awakening brought about by the mass conversion of Harijans to Islam at Meenakshipuram in Tirunelveli District in Tamilnadu in 1981. It resulted in renewed Muslim aggression in many ways and reached its head in Pakistan-backed terrorism in Punjab and Kashmir in the late 1980s. The Ramajanmaboomi Movement was the immediate result. It was aimed at arresting Islamic aggression. Christianity or its missions were hardly mentioned by the supporters of the Ramajanmaboomi Movement. Nevertheless, it was Christian missions which showed the greatest concern at this new and legitimate Hindu stir, and started crying 'wolf'. Christian media power in the West raised a storm, shamelessly claiming ad nauseum that Hindus were out to destroy the minorities in India and impose a Nazi regime. This storm is still raging and no one knows when it will subside, if at all.

With the birth of the new Indian Constitution in January 1950, things were made quite smooth for the Christian missions in India. They surged forward with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. National resistance to the phenomenon of Christian missions which had been viewed as an imperialist incubus during the days of struggle for freedom from British rule, broke down after Indian independence when the very leaders who had frowned upon it started speaking in their favour. Voices which still remained vocally recalcitrant were sought to be silenced by being branded as obscurantist voices of 'Hindu communalism'. Nehru gave a command performance in this sphere by becoming a vocal champion of pseudo secularism. Nehruvian Secularism had stolen a march under the smokescreen of Mahatma Gandhi's 'Sarva-Dharma-Sambava'. What became more favourable to Christian missionaries was the complete collapse of Hindu resistance after 1947 which had been pretty strong during the time of our struggle for freedom. Gandhiji's totally visionary if not imaginary slogan of 'Sarva-Dharma-Sambava' also provided an effective smokescreen for Christian missions in India to steal a march against Hindu religion, society and culture.

In a letter to C.D. Deshmukh on June 22, 1952 Prime Minister Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru said: 'Nothing amazes me so much as the perversion of well-known words and phrases in political and other controversies today. I suppose every demagogue does it'. Nehru was blissfully unaware of the fact that he himself had become the most despicable demagogue in India's hoary history by borrowing the word 'secularism' from Western political parlance by making it to mean the opposite of what it had meant in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. For him it became a glorious Fixed Deposit Account for minority- vote-bank politics. 'Secularism' in Europe symbolised a humanist and rationalist revolt against the closed creed of Christianity and stood for pluralism such as had characterized Hinduism down the ages. But Pundit Nehru had perverted the word and turned it into a shield for protecting every closed monotheistic creed prevailing in India at the dawn of independence in 1947 -- Islam, Christianity and Communism.'

In 1955, a Bill came before India's Parliament which 'if passed would have seriously handicapped the work of Christian missionaries, because it 'provided for a strict system of regulating conversions'. The issue related to 'conversions' brought about by force, fraud or material inducement. But no less a person than the Prime Minister of India, Pundit Nehru, came to the rescue of Christian missions and persuaded the Parliament to throw out the Bill. Another Bill was introduced in Parliament in 1960 for protecting Scheduled Castes and Tribes 'from change of religion forced on them on grounds other than religious convictions'. It was also thrown out because of resistance from the ruling Congress Party.

Lurid drama of proselytism after 1947-II

What is very striking is that the word 'secularism' cannot be found anywhere in Pundit Nehru's pre-independence writings and utterances. Nor was this word used by anyone in the Constituent Assembly Debates which exist in cold print. There is irrefutable documentary evidence to show that it was solely due to Nehru's dishonest demagogy that this word became not only the most fashionable but also the most profitable political term for every enemy of India's age-old indigenous society and culture. There is no doubt what so ever that he used the might of his office and the Government of India to put down Hinduism and Hindu culture in India. The first Prime Minister of independent India thus became the supreme leader of a Muslim-Christian-Communist combine for forcing Hindus and Hinduism first on the defensive and then on a run for shelter. Now on everything which Hindus had held sacred for centuries, they could be questioned, ridiculed, despised and insulted. At the same time, the darkest dogmas of Islam and Christianity were placed not only beyond the pale of discussions but also invested with divinity so that any one who asked inconvenient questions about them invited the attention of draconian laws which were made more and more punitive. To conclude in the apt words of Sita Ram Goel: 'It is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that Nehru, the 'architect' of modern India, was no more than a combined embodiment of all imperialist ideologies which had flocked to this ancient land in the company of alien invaders like Islam, Christianity, White Man's Burden, and Communism'.

In view of his known infatuation for things Islamic and passionate love for Anglo-Saxon culture, Nehru became the greatest enemy of Hinduism in post-independent India. This will be very clear from his own command to Chief Ministers of all States in his circular letter dated October 17, 1952: 'I have sometimes received complaints from Christian missions and missionaries both foreign and Indian about the differential treatment accorded to them in certain States. ��Our policy of religions neutrality and protection of minorities must not be affected or sullied by discriminatory treatment or harassment. While Christian missionaries have sometimes behaved objectionably from the political point of view, they have undoubtedly done great service to India in the social field and they continue to give that service. .. � We permit, by our Constitution, not only freedom of conscience and belief but also proselytism. Personally I do not like proselytism and it is rather opposed to the old Indian outlook which is, in this matter, one of live and let live. But I do not want to come in other people's ways provided they are not objectionable in some other sense�.. I do not want anyone to come here who looks upon me as a savage heathen, not that I mind being called a heathen or a pagan by anybody� �' Thus Nehru was an embodiment of every form of self-chosen conceptual confusion in post-independent India in every sphere of national life�be it the proselytism issue, or the Kashmir issue, or the language issue, or the private vs. public sector issue, or the pros and cons of support-Russia vs. support-America issue or the Tibetan issue or all other vital national issues. The only thing that mattered to him was the political survival of his family.

Now it can be asked as to what was the provocation for Nehru to send the above letter to all the Chief Ministers in India giving his off-the-cuff vague and confused remarks on the issue of conversion and proselytism. A foot note to Nehru's above mentioned letter informs us that on October 15, 1952 , Rajkumari Amrit Kaur (who was a Punjabi Christian), drew Nehru's attention to complaints of discriminatory treatment of Christian missionaries in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. If Nehru was interested in being objective and neutral, he would have referred the matter to the Chief Ministers of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh for enquiry and report before taking up the matter himself. I cannot help imagining that he was functioning like a proud coolie carrying the White Man's Burden on that occasion. I cannot understand how an allegation from a Cabinet colleague who was a known and powerful mouthpiece of Christian missions in India was sufficient for Nehru to issue a reprimand to the Chief Ministers of all the States within a week of his getting a note from Rajkumari Amrit Kaur. There seems to have been absolutely no complaint regarding maltreatment of Christian missions from the rest of the States. Nehru in his above communication to all the Chief Ministers not only anticipated all possible imaginary objections which he thought could be made against Christian missions and missionary activities and also went out of his way to blunt those self-created objections in his usual 'IF' and 'BUT' way. He wanted the Hindus of India to switch over from the philosophy of 'live and let live' to the philosophy of 'die and let live'. This approach became the corner-stone of the overarching umbrella of pseudo-secularismin India brilliantly marketed by the Congress party after independence.

The bright sunshine in which Christian missions started basking after August 15, 1947 can be best understood in the words of Plattner, who was a Jesuit Missionary, in his book 'The Catholic Church in India: Yesterday and Today' published in 1964: 'The Indian Church has reason to be glad that the Constitution of the country guarantees her an atmosphere of freedom and equality with other much stronger religious communities. Under the protection of this guarantee she is able, ever since independence, not only to carry on but to increase and develop her activity as never before without serious hindrance or anxiety'.

Thanks to the overt and covert support given by Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru and his Government to all the activities of proselytism undertaken by many Christian missions and missionaries in India, they were in a position to smoothly tide over serious exposures relating to their anti-national and nefarious character made during the 1950s. The first jolt they received was from the publication of a book called 'Asia and Western Dominance' in 1954 which was authored by K.M. Panikkar. His study was primarily aimed at providing a survey of Western Imperialism in Asia from 1498 to 1945. He said Christian missions came into the picture simply because they were arrayed always and everywhere alongside Western gunboats, diplomatic pressures, extra territorial rights and plain gangsterism. Contemporary records consulted by him could not but cut to size the inflated images of Christian heroes such as Francis Xavier and Matteo Ricci. They were found to be not much more than minions employed by European Kings and Princes scheming to carve out Empires in the East. Panikkar wrote clearly that their methods of trying to convert Kings and commoners in Asia were through force or fraud or conspiracy and thus morally questionable in every instance. What hurt the Christian missionaries in India most was Panikkar's observation that �the doctrine of the monopoly of truth and revelation is alien to the Hindu and Buddhist mind and to them the claim of any sect that it alone represented the truth and that the other shall be condemned has always seemed unreasonable�. He thus knocked the bottom out of the missionary enterprise founded on monotheism.

In January 1954 a question was raised in Parliament as to whether the right to propagate religion was applicable only to Indian citizens or also to foreigners residing in India, for example, the foreign missionaries. In March 1954 the Supreme Court of India expressed its opinion that this right was a fundamental one firmly established in the Constitution and thus applied to every citizen and non-citizen alike who enjoyed the protection of India's Laws. With this explanation the missionaries were expressly authorised to spread the faith, thus fulfilling the task entrusted to them by the Church. Spiritually and culturally, this was a dark moment of collective national suicide for Bharath Mata.

After the publication of K.M. Panikkar's book in 1953, the next development which completely shook the missionaries all over India was the appointment of a Committee to enquire into the activities of the Christian Missionaries in Madhya Pradesh on April 16, 1954 by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. It was headed by Dr. Bavani Shankar Niyogi, a former Chief Justice of the Nagpur High Court. The Report of the Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee was published by the Government of Madhya Pradesh (called Niyogi Committee Report) in 1956. The Niyogi Committee Report completely exposed the fraudulent conversion activities of Christian missions and missionaries in Madhya Pradesh in the years immediately preceding and after independence.

For more than 40 years after independence, the powers that be, the Congress Government at the Centre and in the States, the political parties, the national press and the intellectual elite either protected the Christian missions for one reason or the other or shied away from studying and discussing publicly the exposures of the Niyogi Committee Report of 1956 for fear of being accused of �Hindu Communalism�, the ultimate and strategically chosen swear word in the armoury of Nehruvian secularism and Communist anti-nationalism.

The Jesuit Missionary Plattner concluded in his book with pride: �The attitude of Nehru and his Government has inspired the Christians with confidence in the Indian Constitution. Nehru has remained true to his British upbringing�. It is not surprising that the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India was quite optimistic when it declared in September 1960: 'With the Indian Hierarchy well established and the recruitment of the clergy fairly assured, it may be said that the Church has reached its maturity and has achieved the first part of its missionary programme. THE TIME SEEMS TO HAVE COME TO FACE SQUARELY THE CHURCH'S NEXT AND MORE FORMIDABLE DUTY: THE CONVERSION OF THE MASSES OF INDIA'.

Lurid drama of proselytism after 1947-III

The non-communal, non-saffronized Islam-embracing and Christianity-coveting Congress Government of Madhya Pradesh by a notification dated April 16, 1954 appointed a Committee called 'Christian Missionary Activities Committee' which came to be called 'The Niyogi Committee'. This committee was headed by Dr. Bhavani Shankar Niyogi, retired Chief Justice of the Nagpur High Court. K.C. George, a Professor in the Commerce College at Wardha, represented the Christian Community. While notifying the appointment of this Committee, the Government of Madhya Pradesh said in a press note: 'Representations have been made to Government from time to time that Christian Missionaries either forcibly or through fraud and temptations of monetary and other gain convert illiterate aboriginals and other backward people thereby offending the feelings of non-Christians. It has further been represented that Missions are utilised directly or indirectly for purposes of extra-religious objectives. As agitation has been growing on either side, the State Government consider it desirable in the public interest to have a thorough inquiry made into the whole question through an impartial Committee'.

What was the background behind the appointment of this Committee in 1954? The Government of Madhya Pradesh was forced to take notice of the agitation artificially worked up and fanned by the Christian Missionaries at that time. They had become too powerful in Madhya Pradesh to be ignored any longer. This will be clear from the observation of the Niyogi Committee when it stated: 'It must be noticed that about 30 different Missions are working in Madhya Pradesh with varying number of centres in each district. Almost the entire Madhya Pradesh is covered by Missionary activities and there is hardly any district where a Mission of one denomination or the other is not operating in some form or the other. More than half of the people of Madhya Pradesh (57.4%) consist of members of the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and other Backward Classes and it is amongst these that Missionary activities are mostly confined'.

At the beginning most of the Christian Missions put up a sham show of cooperation with the Niyogi Committee. But soon they discovered that the Members of the Committee were not ignorant and illiterate aboriginals who could be duped or hoodwinked or influenced through money and other known methods of proselytism! It is not therefore surprising that all the Catholic Missions subsequently withdrew their cooperation by filing a statement of protest against the Niyogi Committee and also moved the Nagpur High Court for issue of a Writ of Mandamus (Miscellaneous Petition No.263 of 1955). This Petition was dismissed by the High Court on April 12, 1956.

When objections were raised by Christian Missions in regard to certain questions listed in the questionnaire issued by the Niyogi Committee, the High Court stated: 'None of the questions represented either the views of the Committee or any individual Member thereof, and their anxiety to have information on various points raised in the questionnaire was due to their desire to find out to what extent, if any, could any Missionary activity be considered to infringe the limits of public order, morality and health imposed by the Constitution'.

The Niyogi Committee Report was published by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in July 1956. This Committee presented the history of Christian Missions with reference to the old Madhya Pradesh and merged States. Even at that time there was a public agitation fomented by the Missionaries for the creation of a new State in Jharkhand. Upon this request, the Niyogi Committee said: 'The separatist tendency that has gripped the mind of the aboriginals under the influence of Lutheran and Roman Catholic Missions is entirely due to the consistent policy pursued by the British Government and the Missionaries. The final segregation of the aborigines in the Census of 1931 from the main body of the Hindus considered along with the recommendations of the Simon Commission which were incorporated in the Government of India Act, 1935 apparently set the stage for the demand of a separate State of Jharkhand on the lines of Pakistan'.

The Niyogi Committee came to the following conclusions:

a) The aim of many of the Christian Missions is to resist the progress of national unity.

b) Their aim is to emphasize the difference in the attitude toward the principle of co-existence between India and America.

c) Their aim is to take advantage of the freedom accorded by the Constitution of India to the propagation of religion and to create a Christian Party in the name of Indian democracy on lines of the Muslim League ultimately to make out a claim for a separate State, or at least to create a 'militant minority'.

In order to achieve the above objectives, the Niyogi Committee stated that the Christian Missionaries in India had received an amount of Rs.29.27 crores from various Western countries from January 1950 to June 1954. U.S.A. contributed an amount of Rs.20.68 Crores followed by U.K. which contributed an amount of Rs.4.83 crores.

The Niyogi Committee concluded: 'Bulk of this foreign money received ostensibly for educational and medical institutions is spent on proselytism. Most of the amount is utilised for creating a class of professional proselytizers, both foreign and Indian. There is a great disparity between the scales of salaries and allowances paid to foreign Missionaries on the one hand and to their native mercenaries on the other'.

The Niyogi Committee also noted various methods of propagating Christianity. Many Missionary publications attacked Hindu Idol Worship in rather offensive terms.

The Niyogi Committee was very clear and unambiguous in its larger perceptions. To quote the Niyogi Committee Report: 'Evangelisation in India appears to be part of the uniform world policy to revive Christendom for re-establishing Western supremacy and is not prompted by spiritual motives. The objective is to disrupt the solidarity of the non-Christian societies, and the mass conversion of a considerable number of Adiwasis with this ulterior motive is fraught with danger to the security of the State. The Christian Missions are making a deliberate and determined attempt to alienate Indian Christian Community from their nation'. It was made clear by the Niyogi Committee that the Christian Missions worked in such a way as to provide a clear proof that religion was being used for political purposes. Evangelisation was not a religious philosophy but a force for politicisation. The Church in India was not independent but was accountable to those who paid for its upkeep. That is why the umbrella concept of 'Partnership in Obedience' covered the flow of foreign finances to the Church and its Missions in India. Against the above background, the Niyogi Committee made the following landmark recommendations:

a) Those Missionaries whose primary object is proselytism should be asked to withdraw and the large influx of foreign Missionaries should be checked and regulated.

b) The use of medical and other professional services as a direct means of making conversions should be prohibited by law.

c) Attempts to convert by force or fraud or material inducements, or by taking advantage of a person's inexperience or confidence or spiritual weakness or thoughtlessness, or by penetrating into the religious conscience of persons for the express purpose of consciously altering their faith, should be absolutely prohibited.

d) The Constitution of India should be amended in order to rule out propagation by foreigners and conversions by force, fraud and other illicit means.

e) Legislative measures should be enacted for controlling conversions by illegal means.

f) Rules relating to registration of Doctors, Nurses and other personnel employed in hospitals, should be suitably amended to provide a condition against evangelistic activities while rendering professional service.

g) Circulation of literature meant for religious propaganda without approval of the State Government should be prohibited.

The Madhya Pradesh Government upon receiving pseudo secular directions from the Government of India buried the Niyogi Committee Report in 1956 itself. However, the Niyogi Committee Report which was accompanied by two volumes of documentation, raised a storm in Missionary circles in India and abroad.

The only Indian leader apart from Guruji Golwarkar who welcomed the Niyogi Committee Report in toto was Rajaji. Rajaji said: 'You expect from me an expression of my views on the specific question: What type of Missionary workers are wanted in India, rather than on the question whether any Missionary workers should come at all to India? I shall respectfully speak my opinion on the latter point. I feel it is not really possible on the ground of logic or on the evidence of miracles to hold that amongst the religions known as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, anyone is nearer the truth than any other. You will permit me to object to the exclusive claims for Truth made on behalf of anyone of these faiths. If this my first point is granted, the only justification for Christian Missionary work in India is proselytism. But is it good on the whole for men and women to change from one religion to another? I think it is not desirable to make any attempt at proselytism. I feel that such efforts will only undermine the present faith of the people, which is good enough for promoting right conduct in them and to deter them from sin. Such Missionary attempts at proselytism tend to destroy family and social harmony, which is not a good thing to do'.

(The writer is a retired IAS officer)

e-mail the writer at

The debate over reservation

Vir Sanghvi
April 29, 2006

When the debate over caste-based reservation began all over again a month or so ago, I felt a sense of dread overcome me. It wasn’t that I was scared of having to give up this column to a worthy writer from the backward castes or that I feared that I would now find it difficult to get my son into college.

No, my dread was less personal, more professional. If you’ve been in this game as long as I have, then you come to loathe the hardy perennials of the columnist’s trade -- the subjects that come up again and again, every four years or so.

By now, I’ve probably done a dozen columns opposing reservation, dating back to the heyday of the Mandal agitation. More to the point, so has nearly everybody else in the business. Almost every argument in favour of and against reservation has been rehashed innumerable times. And, truth be told, there’s not very much new left to say.

In some ways, I suppose, the ‘reservation column’ has become to us grizzled old hacks what Hamlet is to Shakespearean actors. They know every line in the part; they’ve played it themselves again and again. And the only novelty in seeing a new, young actor take on the role lies in observing which bit he emphasises: Does he overdo the indecision aspect? Does he throw away the “to be or not to be” soliloquy? Is that really daddy’s ghost or is Hamlet played as a nutter?

So it is with us journos and the reservation debate. Each time I read a new editorial on the subject, I look with mild detachment to see which arguments have been played up. Has the stuff about “a society based on merit” become the heart of the piece?

Is there a reference to how only the creamy layer has benefited from existing reservations? And what about the traditional para about how Mandal divided Indian society?

As you can guess, I approached this week’s Counterpoint with some trepidation -- and more than a little weariness. Quite apart from the “We’ve all said this many times before” sense of déjà vu, there was another factor: the definitive piece about the current proposals has already been done. It appeared in this paper last week and its authors, Sunil Khilnani and Devesh Kapur, so conclusively demolished Arjun Singh’s proposals that I don’t think that any more need be said.

So, I’m going to spare you all that stuff about meritocracy-versus-caste-quotas. Instead, I’m going to focus on something else: how the manner in which this debate has been conducted tells us five things about contemporary India.

And those five things hold true, I think, no matter which side of this debate you are on.

One: The entire debate is characterised by hypocrisy; by self-interest dressed up as ideology. At one level, it is the Dalits who talk of social justice but actually only support the proposals because they benefit from them. And at another, it is the upper castes who talk about merit but are only worried about getting their kids into medical school.

But there’s another, more significant, level. If you say that quotas are necessary to restore social balance and order, then you must apply this principle across all categories. And yet, nearly everyone uses the argument selectively. You will find hundreds of TV-friendly activists and fiery feminist dial-a-quote peddlers who will tell us that seats must be reserved in Parliament for women to restore the social balance. Ask many of these same women about caste-based reservation in jobs -- or even in Parliament, for that matter -- and they’ll suddenly sing a very different tune. So, reservation based on gender is okay. But caste-based reservation is regressive, apparently.

Or, ask the backward leaders in the BJP who tell us that more castes should be included in the reservation list why the same arguments should not be used to secure reservation for Muslims. After all, they are much worse off than most backward castes on every parameter. But not only will the BJP refuse to concede the logic but even the Congress will pretend that ‘social justice’ only applies to Hindus.

Two: The founders of modern India -- men like Jawaharlal Nehru -- had a vision of a country where caste would soon become irrelevant. In the 1970s and for much of the 1980s, as electoral mandates cut across caste lines, that vision seemed to be coming true.

Then, after Mandal, everything changed. Today, Indian politics is about caste. When I was growing up, I had no idea what my caste was; nor did most of my friends. But the problem with today’s caste-based reservation is that every Indian will now need to know his caste even before he learns what his blood group is: his education and his job will depend on that knowledge.

I find it extraordinary that the Congress -- which Arjun Singh represents -- has so completely betrayed Nehru’s vision. And I think that it is a sad commentary on modern India that nobody even thinks that this is worth commenting on.

Three: In the bad old days of 95 per cent income tax, urban land ceilings and wealth tax, I used to always say that the tragedy of Indian politics was that our politicians seemed to think that India’s problems were about distribution. In fact, they were about production.

The way ahead was not to redistribute the little that there was but to free the economy so that we could produce much more. That way, there would be more to go around and we would not need penal tax rates, foolish laws like FERA and income tax raids.

Fortunately for us, Dr Manmohan Singh saw the point in 1991 and the Indian economy is now booming.

The same holds true for reservation. We must be the only country in the world where every parent is traumatised by the prospect of getting his or her child into school or college -- not because of the expense but because of the scarcity of seats. Indians value education. So why don’t we have more schools? Why doesn’t the government spend its money on more colleges?

If college seats were not so scarce, then nobody would get so agitated about reserving seats on a caste basis. But our politicians have failed to translate the lessons of economic liberalisation into the education sector. So, the scarcities continue. And all solutions are framed in terms of redistributing scarce seats.

Four: As opposed as I am to the current reservation proposals, I have to say that I find the attitude of much of the urban middle class deeply disturbing and, at a more primal level, loathsome and revolting.

In the last five years or so, the Shining India of the towns and cities, of the mega-malls and mobile phones has grown increasingly insular. Most of us have never known so much prosperity. But rather than opening our eyes to that part of India that is not Shining, the money has made us petty, selfish and greedy. We look to Manhattan or Seattle for our reference points; and we forget the debt-ridden farmers who kill themselves a few hundred miles from our homes.

This attitude shows up in everything that Shining India does. And the reservation debate is no different. Once again, it has become a them-and-us issue. And once again, the urban elite has failed the nation by not voluntarily offering some form of affirmative action for the less privileged.

Of course, I oppose reservation. But I am often ashamed to stand next to the self-satisfied, rich people who share my position. Because it isn’t reservation that they are really against. They oppose everybody who is poor, who is disadvantaged, and who is not like them.

Five and finally: If it is true, as this government claims, that 60 years after independence, the backwards still have not got social justice, then whose fault is it? For something like 50 of those 60 years, the Congress was in power. How come Arjun Singh and his Congress pals did nothing till this year?

You and I both know the answer to that. These proposals are not about social justice at all. They are about vote banks. The Congress has lost its traditional voter base over the last decade. And it is now doing all this in an effort to lure back those voters.

Reservation has damn-all to do with balancing society. It has everything to do with winning elections.

So, forget for a moment about the arguments for and against quotas. Think instead of the way this debate is being conducted. And consider what it tells us about today’s India.

There’s not very much to be proud of, is there?


Jihad Watch: Fitzgerald: Why a jihad in Jammu-Kashmir?

Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald discusses the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir, and on the subcontinent in general:

Why do Muslim terrorists attack in Jammu-Kashmir? Because they can. The Muslim claim to Kashmir differs from their claim to all of India (or for that matter to Spain (Al-Andalus), to Israel, to Sicily, to the Balkans, to Bulgaria, to Rumania, to Hungary, and to all the areas once dominated by Muslims) only in the ability to push that claim. Of course, in the jihadist view the entire world in the end must submit to Islam and be dominated by Islam -- though non-Muslims may, should they accept what many Muslims continue to believe is perfectly just, live under those unambiguous conditions of humiliation, degradation, and physical insecurity whose sum is the status we now describe as "dhimmitude".

Any land area, even within the Western countries where Muslims come to dominate, will by many of them be regarded as "Muslim land." The claims made by various local Muslims may seem comical to us, such as that for the "Caliphate" in Cologne, or the insistence that certain areas in Malmo or Rotterdam or Muslim-populated towns in France are not to be treated as any longer under the control of representatives of the Infidel nation-state, but they are quite serious. That seriousness is being demonstrated even now both by Muslims and by the representatives (police, firemen, teachers) of that nation-state, who are often too afraid not to comply with the Muslim demands that they stay out of what is no longer their territory.

Jammu-Kashmir is part of India. It is not part of Pakistan. And the notion that any part of India in which there is to be found a Muslim-majority population is one where therefore Muslim claims have legitimacy is absurd. For what would follow, logically, would be a turning of all sorts of places within India into little Muslim-ruled areas. And given that the Muslim rate of population growth is always higher, in India and elsewhere, then the non-Muslim population, and given that Muslims have not hesitated to push out large numbers of non-Muslims (think of the 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits forced to flee when threatened with death), either one takes a firm stand and rejects Muslim demands or, by even hinting at "negotiating," one emboldens the mujahedin. The Israelis have done the latter, to their own sorrow. In failing to make their own case, they have also failed to help Infidels in Europe understand that the siege against Israel, that Lesser Jihad, is hardly the only, or even the most important, of the local Jihads now being waged. And it will continue to be waged, using all the instruments now available, unless met with well-informed, implacable, and relentless opposition.

India should not be "negotiating" over Jammu-Kashmir. There is no possibility of such a negotiation satisfying Muslims permanently. Since India now possesses this part of Kashmir (Pakistan also controls part), any negotiation will only lead to further Indian concessions, possibly even the surrender of land. What Pakistan would offer -- a grand agreement to cease support for cross-border terrorism -- is no concession at all. Pakistan cannot offer up as a concession what it has a moral and legal duty to do anyway.

And the same is true elsewhere in the world. One suspects that the outside world will be unsympathetic to the Indians unless and until they all begin, at the same time, to talk about the belief-system of Islam, and why concessions here and there make no sense, given the ultimate unappeasable demands that Muslims must, if they are to be true Muslims, continue to make on all Infidels.

Doesn't it make more sense for Infidels everywhere to recognize this and to discuss it openly? This would force Muslims to discuss their own ideology, and be embarrassed or chagrined by such discussion, so that not only will Infidels start supporting each other in their local conflicts, but so that some Muslims will have to cease the taqiyya-and-tu-quoque, and begin to admit that something in Islam, a good deal in Islam, must change if it is not to make Muslims permanently immiscible and un-integrable and regarded with permanent suspicion and hostility by Infidels everywhere.

Hindu civilization in Jammu-Kashmir should be defended. It is a pity that so many in India among those who are called, quite loosely and often quite comically, "intellectuals" -- all shy away from anything that might conceivably be taken as a defense of Hindu (or Sikh) civilization, or culture. Above all, no thoroughly modern Indian will dare suggest that Islam has done great damage to Jammu and Kasmir, as well as to India as a whole, and to Indian civilization. No, there are exceptions -- such as that cosmopolitan of Indian descent, V. S. Naipaul, who is not afraid of anyone. There are Indian-Americans (Hindu, Sikh, and even disaffected ex-Muslims) and their counterparts in Great Britain, who also know how silly it is not to make the case, to ignore history, or to shy away from the slightest hint of Hindutva, which is often mocked. Why, exactly? Is K. S. Lal to be mocked for "The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India"? Is Sir Jahundath Sarkar? Are all the other Hindu historians of India who have been unafraid to discuss what Muslim rule did to India?

Those of us who are not Indian should find out a good deal more about what happened on the subcontinent, and cease to so readily accept the "advanced" view which holds that anything smacking of "communalism" (a word used to indicate, of course, those who wish to show their sympathetic interest in, and identification with, Hindu India, and who refuse to play the game of sanitizing the history of Muslim rule) is ipso facto evil.

One hopes that those in the Western world who are articulate and aware, and of Indian (Hindu or Sikh descent, primarily) will help to educate others -- but that can only be done once one has educated oneself. Lal and Sarkar should be household words. The two volumes in which Sita Ram Goel simply lists tens of thousands of Hindu sites destroyed should be better known. Those Indians who become internationally famous, and always -- as a matter of course -- are quick to demonstrate that they have absolutely nothing to do with "communalism" (i.e., Hindu causes, Hindu history, Hindu interests) -- one thinks here of Amartya Sen -- would do better to study their own history, and not to assume that intelligent Hindus and Sikhs who show a bit of that supposedly terrible "communalism" must be wrong. They aren't.

But it is difficult for them to make their voices heard, given the received ideas, and cliches, of the day -- both those concerning Jammu-Kashmir, and those concerning the Jihad in general.

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Attacking minority: Terrorists kill 20 Hindus in Kashmir

JAMMU: At least 20 Hindus are feared been killed by terrorists in Kulhan area of Bharat in Doda district, about 200 km north-east of Jammu late Sunday night, according to reports reaching here.

Women and children were among the victims, initial unconfirmed reports said. The terrorists showered bullets and also used sharp-edged weapons to kill the victims, the reports said.

The police have confirmed the incident, on the basis of the reports of terrorists having shot dead some people belonging to the minority community in the hill villages of Jammu region, but did not have exact details on the number of the killed.

"We have sent parties to verify the details. The areas is hilly and far off, it will take a while to confirm the exact details," Deputy Inspector General of Police L D Mohanty said.

Mohanty said initial reports suggested the victims were Hindus, though their exact number was not known.

These killings have come close on the heels of the killings of four Hindu shepherds in Lallalan Galla, a mountainous pass in Udhampur district on Sunday. The fate of three other shepherds is still not known .

"We are on the job," Inspector General of Police S P Vaid said.

No militant outfit has claimed responsibility. They have never taken responsibility for the killings of minority Hindus in Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir.

The killings of Hindus started in Jammu region in August 1993, when for the first time 16 Hindu bus passengers were segregated from others, and shot dead near Kishtwar in Doda district. This trend continued till late 2002. Thereafter, there were a few isolated incidents, till the back-to-back killings this weekend.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Secularism is not just pleasing Muslims

Author: M V Kamath

The world "secularism" is unquestionably the most misused word in the Indian political language. In the Indian context it means that one must make a deep bow before the so-called minorities and give them no offence. Artist Husain can draw vulgar and indecent pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses, but one should not complain. One must take it in the "right spirit".

If deliberate efforts are made to convert adivasis or people from the depressed classes to Christianity there should be no protests. It would be against the spirit of the Indian Constitution. Missionaries have the right to preach. For years now the Congress has prided itself on its secularism, no matter how poorly defined.

Now H D Kumaraswamy, chief minister of Karnataka, has blown the whistle. He has preferred to align himself with the Bharatiya Janata Party, long condemned as a communal organisation, simultaneously making the point that communalism is practised by all political parties whatever their claims to the contrary. But here again, how does one define communalism? In what significant way is it different from casteism?

The Congress Party itself has practised casteism without the slightest apology in every possible way in the past, sometimes with serious consequences. Thus, at the instance of two Gujarat Congress leaders the Chandod Karnali Conference in 1975 thought up a plan to bring together khatriyas, harijans, adivasis and Muslims (KHAM) to fight elections, quite brazenly.

In 1972 the Bhakshi Commission appointed by the Ghanshyam Oza Ministry had suggested additional 10 per cent allocation of seats in educational institutions for 82 castes in Gujarat identified by the Commission to be socially and economically backward.

When the Solanki Government in turn sought to implement the Commission recommendations, riots followed. So rampant is casteism that, unconcerned about any possible social repercussions, the Second Backward Commission headed by Justice Rane added a further 63 occupational groups to the backward castes listed by the Reservation Quota Commission. Is it any wonder then that yet another Committee the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee appointed now by the Congress-led UPA government wants a head count of how many Muslims are employed in the Armed Forces? To say the least, it is sickening.

The explanation given is that the Muslim head-count is not Army-specific and that the Committee has been tasked to secure relevant information from various government departments and agencies about Muslim-inhabited regions, their economic activities, their asset base and income level, etc. as compared to other groups across all states and regions.

The Sachar Committee, it would seem, has also been instructed to determine the level of socio-economic development among Muslims, in the matter of literacy, school drop-out rate, share in public and private employment, etc., the idea being betterment of Muslim social welfare. But why should government concern be Muslim-specific? Isn't the UPA government concerned about the social and economic welfare of other citizens? Why does the UPA government have to communalise welfare activities?

Justice Sachar has been quoted as saying that his committee is "just carrying out a factual survey of the representation of Muslims in all services and is not limited to the Armed Forces". He doesn't carry any conviction. Why carry any Muslim-specific survey at all? The Armed Forces have registered their shock and resentment. Even the Armed Forces chief, Gen. J J Singh has felt it necessary to raise his voice.

In a statement attributed to him says: "We never have this kind of a thing like where you come from, what language do you speak or what religion you believe in. That's always been our policy. We are a professional force. That's the way I would like to look at it." He is further reported to have said: "Our system for entry into the Armed Forces and for enrolment is based on merit and on the ability to perform the task that might be assigned." It is as simple as that.

There is no law in India that says that Muslims or citizens belonging to any minority should not apply for service in the Army. Every citizen has the right to apply for any job, but he does not have an automatic right to claim it for himself. As was stated in a court case (N T Bevin Kutti v. Karnataka Public Service Commission 1990): "Though a person by making an application for a post pursuant to an advertisement does not acquire any vested right to be appointed to that post, he acquired a right to be considered for selection according to the terms of that advertisement. The eligibility of a candidate for selection for a post depends upon whether he is qualified in accordance with the relevant rules as they existed at the date of the advertisement for recruitment." There can't be one rule for a non-Muslim and another for a Muslim.

The UPA government, for that matter, any government has every right to know how any people, religion or caste-wise are faring economically, but when an inquiry becomes religion-specific there is reason for eyebrows to be raised. Terming the Congress-led UPA government's current move as "ill-advised", a former deputy chief of army, Lt. Gen. R S Kadyan has moved the Supreme Court to issue directions to the Centre to stop the head count of Muslims in the Armed Forces and to keep the data collected so far, secret. As the officer put it, the move for the head-count would cause colossal damage to the integrity, camaraderie, morale and professionalism of the forces in the long run. And he is so right.

To divide the people into Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Jains, etc., is not only harmful to the country but is clearly anti-secular. It is not just the Opposition that has been shocked. One can hardly condemn the commander-in-chief of the Indian Army as biased. It is not the Opposition that is communalising the issue; it is the UPA government that is doing so even with the best of intentions. Good intentions are not necessarily wise decisions.

The government should be concerned with the economic betterment of all people and not of any one class, caste, creed or community. One does not become more secular by wishing one non-Hindu community well. Has the UPA government heard of the Vedic prayer: Sarve janaha sukhino bhavantu? The Sachar Committee and the UPA Government would do well not to appear to be favouring any one community.

Their aim should be the well-being and happiness of all. In this day and age, is that asking for too much? Does one have to polarise society in the name of secularism? And does one have to break up the essential unity and integrity of the Armed Forces also in the process? When the head of the Armed Forces himself feels it necessary to state his views it is time for some thinking.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bit of Malay Culture Is Now Vanishing Under Muslim Rules

Chris Prystay
The Wall Street Journal, 21 April 2006

KAMPUNG BUNOHAN, Malaysia -- Rohimah Zakaria, dressed in a fringed black tunic and matching pants, with a silver dagger tucked into the waist, rocked hypnotically on a wooden stage at the edge of this rural village.

The 53-year-old grandmother was dressed as Dewa Muda, a mythical Malay god raised as an earthly prince who travels by magic kite to meet his fairy princess in the sky, only to be slain by her attendant. Arms outstretched to a starry, palm-fringed sky, Mrs. Zakaria moved slowly to the discordant wail of a three-stringed fiddle called a rebab.

Mrs. Zakaria, who is a Muslim, is one of the last experts in Mak Yong, an endangered form of dance theater rooted in the animist and Hindu religions that held sway in Southeast Asia long before Islam arrived eight centuries ago. In more recent times, the dance has been deemed un-Islamic by Parti Islam, the political party ruling this lush, tropical seaside state of Kelantan on the South China Sea.

Since the local arbiters of taste banned Mak Yong 15 years ago, people like Mrs. Zakaria have performed it in secret. And because interest is waning, her troupe has been able to stage just a handful of shows in the past year.

The version Mrs. Zakaria did this recent night was just a 20-minute sketch, not the traditional three-hour performance. And there was no shaman to put in his traditional healing appearance at the end. The performance was put on mainly to give visitors from Kuala Lumpur a taste of the culture.

"It's not the same," Mrs. Zakaria sighed. "But at least people can see a little of what it's like."The steady creep of a more fundamentalist version of Islam throughout Southeast Asia -- which is home to more Muslims than live in the Arab world -- began in the 1970s when Muslim students and scholars overseas were energized by the emergence of Iran as an Islamic state. They brought home fire and brimstone.

Ethnic Malays, who are Muslims, make up the majority of Malaysia's population. But about 25% are ethnic Chinese, who are largely Buddhist or Christian. About 8% are ethnic Indian, many of them Hindus. In Malaysia, most rural villagers are Muslim Malays.Indian traders brought Hinduism and Buddhism to Southeast Asia in the third century, and Hindu and Buddhist monarchies dominated the Malay peninsula and what is now Indonesia until the 12th century. Traders brought Islam to the region around the 13th century, and Islam eventually supplanted those religions.

For centuries, ancient traditions coexisted easily with Islam. In Malaysia, village girls learned dances like the Mak Yong, which is performed by an all-female cast. Village boys learned the Wayang Kulit, a shadow puppet theater that originated in Indonesia and Malaysia to tell Hindu epic tales.

No longer. A handful of senior citizens in Kelantan, the heartland of Malay culture, are the last to practice traditional theater.

"What you have is the gradual emergence of a new generation of Malaysian Muslims who will be completely cut off from their past," says Farish Ahmad Noor, a Malaysian political scientist at the Center for Modern Oriental Studies in Berlin. "They're losing their cultural compass.

"Many Southeast Asian Muslims now navigate by guideposts from the Arab world. Young men in Indonesia are starting to wear turbans and grow beards. In Malaysia, Malays have adopted the Arab word for prayer, salat, to replace the Malay word, sembahyang, which literally means "offer homage to the primal ancestor.

"Kelantan, a leafy state of shimmering rice paddies and thick jungle, is Malaysia's front line in the clash between Islam and local Malay culture. Many Malay traditions, like the Mak Yong, originated here.Kelantan is also Parti Islam's stronghold. When the party won the state in 1990, its ultraconservative state leader, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, ordered grocery stores to provide separate lines for men and women, and told girls they could no longer take part in Quran reading competitions that are popular in schools. He banned Mak Yong and Wayang Kulit.

"We need to purify our local theater from those alien elements," says Mr. Aziz, a somber-looking man in a flowing white robe who has a thin gray beard on the point of his chin. Mak Yong and Islam co-existed peacefully for so long only because Malay Muslims didn't know any better, he says.

That view baffles Mrs. Zakaria, the fifth generation in her family to dance the Mak Yong. When she was 12, her grandmother built a small practice stage next to the rice paddy behind her house and gave her lessons every day. Later, she joined a troupe and toured the state full-time. "Our traditions are very old. Why is it wrong now?" she asks.

A Mak Yon performance, which runs over two or three nights, tells one of a dozen stories of mythological royalty. They are typically morality tales about the perils of lust or pride. The story of Dewa Muda, who struggles with sadness because he can't reach his princess, is the most popular.

The performances are also therapeutic. Villagers seeking a cure for depression or other emotional ills don the same costume as the lead dancer and shadow her as she dances around the stage. By acting out Dewa Muda's own struggle, they purge their own. At the end of the play, the shaman leads the villager into a trance dance, chanting verses to banish the illness.

Rituals like this are now performed in secret by a handful of retirees like Mrs. Zakaria and Mek Jah binti Deris, 61, another Mak Yong dancer who grew up in a village in South Kelantan. Mrs. Mek Jah last performed in October for a neighbor who was feeling low. Mrs. Mek Jah knows Mak Yong is illegal, but she doesn't care. "We have to do this to balance nature," she says.Mrs. Mek Jah's two sons-in-law are having none of that. They have forbidden their children to learn the dance. The two men used to pull Mrs. Mek Jah aside at family dinners and beg her to quit, says her brother, Muhammed Nor, 64. "It's terrible. Nowadays, you have young people who tell their parents 'Don't die and go to hell because of this.'

""The younger generation is very narrow-minded," sighs Mrs. Mek Jah, a compact, feisty woman dressed in a tunic and a bright yellow Muslim headscarf.Life is more black and white, argues Mr. Aziz. Things are either Islamic or they aren't. He recently lifted the ban on the Wayang Kulit, provided puppeteers substitute Islamic stories for the traditional Hindu epics. And shamans are out. "That kind of 'healing' is not in line with Islam," he says.

Although many moderate Malays worry that their culture is fading, few speak up. One of the most vocal champions of Malay culture in Kelantan is Eddin Khoo, who is of Chinese-Indian descent. He runs a foundation to keep Malay arts alive and has scrounged up funding to stage a few traditional shows each year and train youngsters in Kelantan in traditional Malay arts. No kids have signed on.

He worries about Mr. Aziz's move to water down Malay arts. "Without the rituals, it's meaningless. The Mak Yong would just be some movements," he says.This tension is beginning to worry some in the capital of Kuala Lumpur. "The upsurge in Islamization is part of the process of searching for identity," says Culture Minister Rais Yatim. "If we don't guide that, it could well go off on a tangent, and it could be very difficult to revive culture.

"His office staged Mrs. Zakaria's recent performance of a watered-down Mak Yong. Her bit was followed by a five-minute Wayang Kulit show. The event drew a few hundred villagers. At the back of the field, a group of women wearing headscarves sat on the grass, feeding their children rice and coconut curry. It was enough, however, to upset Parti Islam, which later described the show as "a sign of disrespect."

The Wall Street Journal

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Double standards of American intellectuals

By M.V. Kamath

How many nuclear weapons does France have? And the United Kingdom? How many of their plants are under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency? Why did the United States let China leak out nuclear secrets to Pakistan? Why hasn’t the United States tried that notorious Pakistan nuclear scientist guilty of selling nuclear secrets right and left to all and sundry—and why has it allowed that criminal to be let off easily?

There is a curious article written in the New York Times by its columnist Thomas Friedman. The subject is the recent agreement between India and the United States on the issue of nuclear cooperation.

India has agreed to put 14 of its 22 reactors under international safeguards by the year 2014 while agreeing to decommission its tiny military Cirus Reactor by 2010. The Indian arsenal can draw on its big three reactors now functioning and will also have six other power reactors under its control. Importantly India can build as many military reactors as it wants, since India has not been a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India even now has two fast breeder reactors which won’t come under international controls and there is going to be no capping on India’s strategic programmes. The fourteen reactors that will come under international monitoring will be kept under safeguards “in perpetuity”.

But given the situation as it is, even under the agreement signed with the United States, India can, at least in theory, choose to have one hundred to a thousand nukes. This has become a cause for worry for people like Thomas Friedman, who claims that he has high regard for India, that he “applauds” President Bush’s desire to form a deeper partnership with India, only he feels the United States should not go ahead with the nuclear deal already signed “until India is ready to halt its production of weapons-grade material”.

The fact that India has never sold nuclear secrets to any country, unlike Pakistan, is forgotten. The fact that India is—and has been—under threat from Pakistan is forgotten. Pakistan, as is well known, and as President Bush made it abundantly clear to General Musharraf, a proliferating agent and a determined aggressor. It has waged war against India with the tacit support of the United States. The United States further never scolded Pakistan when it received nuclear secrets from China. Indeed, the entire western world has all these years put India on the defensive. India would be only too happy if all the countries of the world destroy their weapons of mass destruction.

How many nuclear weapons does France have? And the United Kingdom? How many of their plants are under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency? Why did the United States let China leak out nuclear secrets to Pakistan? Why hasn’t the United States tried that notorious Pakistan nuclear scientist guilty of selling nuclear secrets right and left to all and sundry—and why has it allowed that criminal to be let off easily?

For the best part of five decades all the western powers, led by the United States kept giving Pakistan arms, equipment and economic aid, knowing fully well that they were all going to be used by Pakistan against India. Why are we being compared to Japan? Japan had waged an unrelenting war first against China in the thirties and against the Allies in the forties. Has India waged any war against anybody? It hasn’t even attacked Pakistan except when being forced to go on the defensive. India’s record is clean every which way. Even while pretending to be friends with India, the United States has raised its ante compelling India to divert its scarce resources to defence purposes.

India has all these years borne American antipathy with patience and perseverance. If tomorrow the United States reneges on the deal it has meanwhile struck with India on the specious grounds that US Congress support is not forthcoming, there is nothing that India can do except bear with American hypocrisy as it has done all these years. India has survived over five thousand years of alien attacks on its culture, economy and all the rest and can survive another five thousand years, but it doesn’t want to be lectured to by the likes of Friedman or anyone else for that matter. To suggest that if the US Congress approves the agreement now signed, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will come apart is no argument. Pakistan, as can well be expected, has already started to blackmail the United States by saying that if the United States does not scrap its nuclear deal with India, it will be free to go its way.

Which way? Is it going to let A.Q. Khan loose on an unsuspecting way? Will it go to Beijing to seek help? Will it give aid to Iran to spite the United States which has been its main prop all these decades? Will it try to ditch Washington and become Beijing’s supplicant? After the manner in which it has acted all these years as a nuclear proliferator does it really think that it has even a leg to stand on? And does it really believe that it can afford to alienate the United States which has been its godfather all these years? Which raises an even more relevant question: Does the United States need Pakistan any longer as a bulwark against an expanding Soviet Union?

The Soviet Union is dead. Russia has no desire to waste its resources on fighting another Cold War. Russia wants no more wars, whether Hot or Cold. Can Pakistan be a bulwark against China? China has no desire to expand or even inflict its ideology—if it has one—on any other nation. It is content with expanding its economy which has been growing and it long ago realised that ideological warfare went out of fashion as an instrument of coercion. And if Musharraf believes he can do without the United States he is living in an unreal world.

Today Musharraf is important to Washington as long as Osama bin Laden is alive and kicking. The day Osama is either captured or killed and Al Qaeda becomes a forgotten name, Pakistan may come to realise that it has no one to depend upon except—and that may not at first be acceptable to the policy-makers in Islamabad—its good neighbour India.

In fact it is India alone that can help Pakistan grow. If it thinks it can depend upon China, it is again living in a make-believe world. True, China has helped Pakistan in the past and may continue to do so in the future as well. But Pakistan’s best bet is still India. The future beckons to Pakistan to make its peace with its eastern neighbour. After sixty years of unceasing hostilities if it still has not come to realise that war and terrorism against India will take it nowhere, it will only continue its downward slide into the fundamentalist abyss, despised and shunned by all progressive forces in the world. India’s phenomenal rise will continue, Pakistan or no Pakistan.

George Bush told Musharraf as much when he declined even to play a role in settling the Jammu and Kashmir issue. If by now Musharraf has not learnt that Pakistan has no more role to play in world affairs he has learnt nothing. Turn eastward to India for strength and enlightenment, Islamabad. That’s where the sun is rising.

Tell the youth about India’s glory, future vision

—Dr Murli Manohar Joshi

"WE Indians are considered weak today because we have forgotten our culture, identity and glorious past. The reason of most of our problems including poverty, illiteracy, etc. is also the weakness of Hindus. Since this country belongs to Hindus, the responsibility of solving its problems also lies on them,” said Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, noted educationist and former Union HRD Minister. He was speaking at a function organised by Sadhna TV to celebrate its third anniversary in New Delhi on April 17.

Referring to the mushrooming of TV channels in the country, Dr Joshi said the content of the programmes shown on most of the TV channels today is unhealthy and misguiding. “It does not suit to the requirements of our country and the new generation. In fact, it is useful for none. Blindly following the western channels, our own people in this field have forgotten as to what we are and how such content will affect our culture and people. The entertainment programmes, preferred by westerners, are unsuitable to us. But in such a situation also the Sadhna TV has successfully taken the values of life to every home,” he added. Talking about the glorious past of the country and also the much-talked saffronisation, he said the country was prosperous and super power till it followed the saffron. He stressed the need for making the new generation aware of the glorious past of the country so that they can feel pride and also try to achieve that standard.

Sadhvi Ritambhara, while describing the Sadhna TV as a movement, said those who today feel pride in following the western culture would repent in future. But then it would too late for both the country and them. Shri Joginder Singh, former CBI director, Shri Rakesh Gupta, managing director and Shri Shayamlal Garg, director of Sadhna TV also shared the dais. The brief presentation of Bharatman ki aarati by Baba Satyanarayan Maurya thrilled the audience. (FOC)

Expectations from Hindu organisations

What is to be undone?
By Shankar Saran

We haven’t seen any serious effort by any Hindu organisation to fight against any of such dangerous happenings: be it Bills in legislatures, the wilful insult of a revered Shankaracharya, misuse of the temple funds towards Haj subsidy, bringing anti-Hindu bias into school text-books, giving more and more favours to Islamic, Christian institutions and many other affronts.

Swami Vivekananda once said that the most noteworthy weakness among the Hindus is that they do not allow their brother to work in peace and rise in the esteem of the society. They pull his legs. They fight among themselves on flimsy grounds. This consumes much of their energy and ability to the detriment of each other and the society.

A century has passed, but we have not managed to get over this weakness. Many a Hindu organisations have been working for Hindu causes, but they failed or not succeeded up to the expectation, because they are victims of the habit of correcting and criticising fellow Hindus.

The way different Hindu organisations today publicly censor each other, sometimes entire organisations, sometimes individual leaders, is a testimony to the age-old unfortunate tendency. They are doing it at a time when internal-external inimical forces are increasingly pressing us from many corners. Just in the last one year several things happened to the detriment of Hindu society. The 104th Constitution Amendment Bill just passed in the Parliament is the latest, giving a clear message that in this only homeland of Hindus, the Hindus have just three options (in the pithy words of Swapan Dasgupta): “convert, perish or migrate”. But, we haven’t seen any serious effort by any Hindu organisation to fight against any of such dangerous happenings: be it Bills in legislatures, the wilful insult of a revered Shankaracharya, misuse of the temple funds towards Haj subsidy, bringing anti-Hindu bias into school text-books, giving more and more favours to Islamic, Christian institutions and many other affronts.

However, in the very mean time, all kind of accusations, reprimands and ill-considered suggestions and demands have been floating publicly by one Hindu leader or organisation to other ones. Sometimes even within an organisation by one leader to other or others. Is not it the same malaise Swami Vivekananda spoke about?

Every Hindu organisation must have been formed to achieve some particular goal, or to do some specific job contributing to a goal. Isn’t it so? Then why each one is not concentrating on its own piece of work, and is seen instead greatly concerned about what another one is expected to do and say, or not to do and not to say?

Now, it is obvious that almost every Hindu organisation, at least among the mass organisations, has developed a serious misgiving about the role and use of political power and state machinery. Consciously or unconsciously they have come to believe that only through the state machinery they can do any good, or stop any bad. This is a highly erroneous understanding. It is also an un-Hindu thinking. Here in Bharatvarsh the state system has always been a subordinate organ to the larger social system. Kings themselves were guided by dharma, gurujan and various social dictates. And the state had little to do in comparison to various social units towards economic production, education, culture and maintaining order. That social attitude is still with us. ‘Everything through state’ and ‘state is all-powerful’ is a western notion, where village society, kinship and other institutions either did not exist or had almost nothing to offer. In any case, as the western experience (and our experience for the last sixty years) also shows that the state institutions, laws and forces are not able to deliver so many vital things, or to remove so many ills. Rather, as our competitive secular polity demonstrated during the last five decades, it only compounded the problems in many areas and created new ones.

Given such a reality it is sad to observe Hindu organisations and their leaders a great deal enamored with the Government(s), the Parliament and Legislative Assemblies. With passage of time they have developed a false conception about what can or can’t be done with/without the state machinery. Even the Indian experience of the last one hundred years is a proof to the contrary. Every major positive movement owe to voluntary efforts, every creative idea came through non-state individuals and institutions. On the contrary, every harmful proposition and persisting problem in the independent India is largely the making of state leaders: for instance, Partition and Pakistan, Kashmir problem, Article 370, unfriendly China, centrality of public sector enterprises, penchant for reservations, divisive personal laws, permitting organised conversions, socialism, secularism, supremacy of English, west-oriented anti-Hindu education and rampant corruption.

That pretty little can be achieved by way of being in government is evident from the experience of 1998-2004 at the Centre and from various state governments led time to time by Hindu swayamsevaks. This is not to say that conscious Hindus should not aspire to occupy government situations. They should (an Arun Shourie is always desirable over Ram Vilas Paswan), but without illusions that merely being there will solve the problems Hindu society are facing. That without Hindu unity, courage, determination and understanding nothing worthwhile can ever be achieved. Whether it is to defeat anti-Hindu strategy of various forces or to strengthen our own society.

As the founder of the RSS, Dr Hegdewar had correctly visualised, all problems will be solved once the Hindus are united. The organisation was constituted to unite Hindus. The need is still there and the goal is largely unfulfilled, as we can see in competitive Muslim-appeasement among all kind of leading Hindus. That even swayamsevaks are seen in the competition is a proof positive that they have not put their trust in Hindus, that they do no more believe that once Hindus are collectively engaged in national endeavour, disregarding what others ask or do, everything including the ‘minorities’ participation will involuntarily follow.

Although many Hindu leaders believe otherwise, there are, unfortunately, no short-cuts to this essential work. On the other hand, as we have seen time and again the illusion of doing good mainly through state power not only remains an ever distant mirage, but instead it willy-nilly transforms the swayamsevaks themselves into petty self-seekers. We have seen it in New Delhi as well as in Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Bhopal, Patna, Kolkata et al. Naming names is not necessary, every newspaper reader knows those dignitaries. With time they became something else—at best a common administrator, at worst as operations ‘westend’, ‘duryodhan’ and ‘chakravyuha’ victims exposed by hidden cameras—which only shows how wrong it is to heavily lean on state structure for doing good to the society and nation.

It is indeed a very big question to formulate a better path of action. In the meantime, a common Hindu expects from the Hindu organisations to consider few points. Which are:


They should concentrate more on educational, creative, propagation work than on politics. They must be more concerned to counter views, theories, doctrines and propaganda of anti-Hindu, anti-national forces on day to day basis.

They must have cooperative feelings towards other Hindu organisations.

Try never to show the failings of each other, at least in public. Nor insist another Hindu organisation to take this or that particular course on any given issue.

Each organisation must try to accomplish its own duty most perfectly. Another will automatically learn from it. On the contrary, the urge to correct other will not only deviate one from its own duty but also infect others to do the same: meddling in others’ work.

Every non-political organisation must keep its non-political character intact. In doing its educational, social or service work, it must have a kind of friendly attitude towards all political parties and outfits. Keeping in mind that persons with nationalist or Hindu feelings are in every political party. A Hindu organisation must perform its duty truthfully, confidently, and without malice to different parties and organisations. If volunteers of a Hindu organisation are so working among the people, with time all around would come to understand the worth of their work. In fact, if the message is transmitted to all, no party would be able to ignore it. At the same time, one must not be worried about it, i.e., a Hindu organisation should work without concern to whether its efforts are influencing parties and people.

Generally speaking, educational, propagation work is considered a bit less important or require less skills or means. It is a grave mistake and must be removed forthwith. Everyday something happens in the world, in the county and locality about which the Hindu society must be fully informed from the perspective of its national interest. If proper education about such happenings is not done regularly, then the Hindu population, especially its so-called educated section comes to acquire erroneous, sometimes harmful views about the events and ideas. Its damaging consequences are not immediately seen but it does affect Hindu interests adversely. Therefore, educational work requires ever more vigilance, dexterity and untiring efforts. Sloppiness in this essential work by the Hindu organisations contributes in equal measure to strengthening of inimical ideas and forces.

The writer is a senior journalist and can be contacted

Witzel takes his Aryan Invasion to Pakistan

California textbook controversy
By N.S. Rajaram

A few months ago, California education authorities accepted recommendations to make changes to the depiction of Hinduism and India in textbooks to be used in the state. Uninvited, Harvard Sanskrit Professor Michael Witzel went on a lobbying spree to stop the proposed changes. But here is a curious fact: while he seemed to be campaigning against what he called ‘Hindutva-inspired changes’ his real agenda was to save his pet Aryan invasion theory from being axed.

Michael Witzel and a small group of his followers, mainly Europeans and the usual Indian hangers-on like Romila Thapar, are almost the last holdouts for the foreign origin theory of the Vedas and Sanskrit as products of the Aryan invasion. Their academic reputation, what is left of it, rests on the survival of their Aryan theories.

Though largely ignored by the Indian media, two major developments have sounded the death knell of the Aryan invasion theory. These are: (1) genetic evidence showing that the Indian population is almost entirely indigenous with negligible input from outsiders going back to the last Ice Age (more than 10,000 years); and (2) British admission that the Aryan invasion theory was concocted to serve imperial interests, because, “it gave a historical precedent to justify the role and status of the British Raj, who could argue that they were transforming India for the better in the same way that the Aryans had done thousands of years earlier.”

In 1929, the British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin stated in the House of Commons: “Now, after ages, …the two branches of the great Aryan ancestry have again been brought together by Providence… By establishing British rule in India, God said to the British, I have brought you and the Indians together after a long separation, …it is your duty to raise them to their own level as quickly as possible …brothers as you are…” Need we say more?

Disgraced at Harvard
It is obvious that these revelations are devastating to Witzel’s academic reputation. This goes to explain his desperate lobbying in California schools, begging education authorities to keep his Aryan theories in the books. He made several trips, spending hours waiting in the outer offices of California bureaucrats and arguing with his opponents. This is not the kind of undignified behavior that one expects from an elderly professor at a prestigious university like Harvard.

Even before the California scandal, Witzel’s reputation had taken a severe beating at Harvard. Recently, he had started an Internet e-group called Indo-Eurasian Research that was little more than a hate group that repeatedly attacked those who disagreed with him in violent and abusive language. This was brought to the notice of Harvard authorities.

Ten years ago, Witzel had to step down as chairman of the Sanskrit Department because of professional irregularities and personal misconduct. He was charged with misusing his position to bring unqualified people to Harvard and also threatening one of his students (possibly more) with a lawsuit for disagreeing with him.

One of his favorites, Enrica Garzelli, was expelled by Harvard and sued the university. His latest favorite is one Steve Farmer who claims that DNA research discrediting Witzel’s theories is an international conspiracy! So far Witzel’s troubles had been confined to Harvard. Thanks to his political meddling, what was Harvard’s embarrassment is now an international scandal.

Looking for money in Pakistan
There also seems to be a mercenary angle to his campaign. Even before the California controversy could be resolved, Witzel, along with Romila Thapar, Emeritus Professor at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, announced the formation of The Academic Indology Advisory Council, and Indian American Public Education Council.

According to Witzel and Thapar, their goal in forming these is “to counteract this threat to the integrity of the material taught to our children,” to which end their group “will offer its expertise to any school boards and publishers who may call on it, as a service to the field of Indian Studies.” (“Our children” sounds a bit strained since neither Thapar nor Witzel is an American, much less parents of school-going children in California.)

In other words, it is a consulting outfit that hopes to benefit from the unprecedented media coverage that the controversy received. Given his record, it is not surprising that Witzel’s newfound business venture has failed to takeoff. Publishers are avoiding him like the plague, having incurred delay and losses due to his meddling in California school curriculum. Some are facing lawsuits, as is the California State Board of Education, for violating the civil rights of Hindu children.

His failure to attract money in America is what seems to have sent Witzel to Pakistan looking for business as an anti-Hindu lobbyist. In the March 12 issue of the Karachi newspaper Dawn (Internet edition), Witzel proudly proclaimed Defeat for Hindutva revisionists, thanks to his lobbying efforts in California.

The interesting thing about this advertisement masquerading as an article on education is Witzel’s identification of himself as “Professor of South Asia Studies at Harvard.” This conceals his real position as Professor of Sanskrit. He no doubt sensed that Sanskrit is closely associated with Hindu religion and culture. “South Asia Studies” may sell better than Sanskrit in Pakistan.

While it is too early to say what all drove Witzel’s plunge into California school politics and form his business venture, it is hard to take at face value his claim that it was to help school boards and publishers maintain integrity in the field of Indian studies. Saving his reputation and making some money to cover his growing legal and other costs seems a more likely explanation.

All this places Witzel and his colleagues in their true place—not as heroic fighters or larger than life demons, but pathetic figures trying desperately to save themselves and their discredited discipline from collapse.
(The writer is a former U.S. academic and historian of science. His book Sarasvati River and the Vedic Civilization: History, Science and Politics will be released this year.)

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