“These very high intellectual persons who wake up every morning...see what they can find to demolish, to undermine, or cast away.” – Winston Churchill.
Somehow that quote reminds me of the National Advisory Council (NAC). Whenever members of the NAC meet I wonder what sets their agenda. The outcomes have been either more subsidies or proposals on more communal laws. The quote also reminds me of the workings of a divisive media. Much has been written about the Communal Violence Bill and of the ‘Secular’ Indian media. We will get to all of this a bit later. This post loosely connects issues and events.
Read the post ‘Govt. Shouldn’tCensor News, But NBA Will...’ There was this mosque at Jangpura in Delhi. A relatively posh locality in Delhi. This mosque, Noor Masjid, was demolished by the DDA under orders from the High Court. The mosque was built on encroached DDA land and therefore the court order for demolition. This followed with rioting by muslims in protest. Some newspapers and websites reported the incidents but TV news channels apparently blacked out the whole incident. The blackout was supposedly done through an understanding reached at the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) and supposedly to prevent the violence or riots from spreading. Sounds alright!
Then, there was this case of a Bangalorepastor: Bangalore Mirror, June 17 “A city pastor has been accused by his own wife of being a paedophile and of misappropriating church funds. The charges against K Shantaraju, the 45-year-old pastor of the Bethel Church and Bethel Student Centre in Siddhartha Nagar, Jalahalli West, are being probed by the police after a complaint was filed by his wife Priyalatha at Gangammanagudi police station on Wednesday…" This news was once again blacked out by our secular TV channels. That might hurt secular sentiments. Sounds alright!
Another incident from AP on June 29: Minor girl allegedly raped, killed by pastor (The Hindu): "A minor girl was sexually assaulted and allegedly burnt to death at Nadendla village in Chilakaluripet mandal. The shocking incident came to light on Wednesday when police began an enquiry into the death of the girl, who was admitted with severe burns in the area hospital on Tuesday night. The police took the accused, Ajay Babu, a pastor at the village into custody. The police said that Ajay had allegedly lured the girl and when she demanded that he marry her, he strangulated and then burnt her to death". Blacked out again by TV channels. I presume communal harmony was the motive. Sounds alright!
Most churches and Christian organisations in the modern world, and in India too, are developed under the concept of charity work. And, of course, to preach the word of God or Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong in the preaching. But there are those who operate under the principle that the poor or downtrodden will not be uplifted or their diseases may not be healed unless they convert to Christianity. Do you really need religion for charity work? Almost all faiths have charitable work undertaken in the name of their religion but currently the practice of conversion is most prevalent in Christianity. Quite often that sounds like Amway’s get-rich-quick schemes. One can also point to the miracle cures of a Benny Hinn or the many Hindu babas who offer such cures.
So why does the media blow out of proportions crimes by Hindu babas and swamis and yet maintain an eerie silence on crimes by other religious groups? I am no social scientist but simple logic tells me that if Hindus are in majority in India most crimes will likely involve Hindus. Although even that logic is not really sound when you think that our movies have more minority characters as ‘bhais’ or that blacks are stereotyped as more criminal in the USA. But this isn’t about mere crimes. This is about why, if at all, do we need religion to undertake any charity work. There are unconfirmed reports that many missionary workers first asked victims to accept Christianity before being served after the Tsunamis in India. If at all India is really ‘secular’ in the sense that all religions are equal why should conversions not be banned in all the states. Is changing one’s religion a substitute for miserable policies of the government which have consistently failed to uplift the poor? Keeping people in poverty and backwardness is also a recipe for religious confrontation.
John McCain, the Senator who ran for President against Obama, is on record stating that the USA was founded as a Christian nation. Well, that’s how politicians utter untruths and absolute fallacies and that is as pseudo-secular as some Indian political parties are. A closer look at the video below (From Religulous) will explain what the founding fathers of the US really thought about religion and why the US Constitution does not have the word God:
Senator Mark Pryor who features in the video is also an evangelical Christian and there is something truthful he says: “You don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the senate”. Isn’t that true for our own parliament?
If you go back to your school textbooks or go to a current school textbook you will not find any mention of the various castes and sub-castes of India. So who taught you all this stuff about Kurmis, Gujjars and so on? Certainly not your school! This education has come mostly from politicians and the media who continuously divide the nation on these lines. This motivates the ‘marketing’ effort of various groups for religious undertakings. And if you’re still unclear where castes and identities are concerned here’s something to help you:
|Joshua Project (Enlarge pic for better education)|
That’s a map of the Joshua Project. It’s a great guide on emerging markets for religious products. Here are some more interesting pages on the growing ambitions of Christian evangelists and some on the media twists:
India Today: Independent churches mushrooming across India attracting foreign funding. Rediff.com Varsha Bhosale - The Balkanisation of India. George W Bush made a statement to the effect that “God wants people to be free and that is part of my foreign policy”! That was in additiional justification of the Iraq war. Not surprisingly since Bush II, the faithful, came into office in 2000 there has been a massive increase in evangelical activities in the US and across the world. Tehelka ran a story "Reaping the harvest" on this phenomenon. The Indian tribal and backward class market is a clear target as the Joshua Project indicates.
The RSS mouthpiece Organiser carries an article titled “Sonia compromising Indian security, Congress capitulating before foreign powers”. Obviously, the RSS has its own reasons for these articles. However, not every part of this article can be dismissed as religious bias. All of these are indicators that we do not need more religion related bills.
The NAC’s Communal Violence Bill is bound to pit community against community rather than bring about any justice. There is a strong need to ban conversions, carefully limit influence of foreign evangelicals and religious outfits meddling in India. We have enough religious outfits of our own that are capable of creating abundant chaos.
The government itself has an organisation called the ‘National Foundation for Communal Harmony’ (NFCH). Why not pass more bills FOR communal harmony and create more branches of this organisation across the states? The NAC itself must be disbanded. It is the singular failure of the Congress party in bringing about communal harmony. Far from harmony the Congress has consistently indulged in identity politics which has seen the birth of many regional political parties on the ideology of ‘victimhood’. I am no fan of Mayawati but I doubt she has caused as much damage in five years as the Congress has in 60 years in UP. Blaming the RSS, the BJP and others can only do so much.
The Ten Commandments is a much revered scripture or document. If that were the only document ever needed we would be fine. That document still doesn’t mention child rape or child abuse. We have come to discover these crimes without religion. We can be just as sure that we don’t need religion for any charity work. We don’t need communal violence bills, we need governments to completely get out of religion. We need government to get out of the Tirupatis and the Gurvayoors. There can be better mechanisms to control temples without direct government involvement. The media should be talking about these issues but they won’t. Perhaps the same evangelicals with global ambitions also fund much of our media. Indian governments must stop being secularly communal.
PS: Do vote on the communal violence poll at the top-right of this page.