Ashwin 30, 2065 Vik Samvat. Yugabda 5110, October 16, 2008

Samvad team wishes a happy Diwali and prosperous new year to all its readers and their families.We happily inform that Samvad is now available via e-mail as well as on a blog ( We appeal to all those who are coversant with the electronic medium to opt for these electronic editions by writing us on In view of doubling of the postage charges, this initiative from readers would help Samvad in its endeavour to reach maximum number of Bharatiyas abroad with selected inspiring news updates from Bharat, besides being eco-friendly.
Durga and Ram need no introduction in England. The low-key celebrations in the 1960s of their triumph over evil on Puja and Diwali are now national events and symbols of diversity in England. Says London Mayor Boris Johnson, “My children are best examples of multi-culturalism. They do not need Wikipedia to learn about Bharatiya festivals thanks to their grandmother DiP Singh. And being young they sure know Diwali means sweets, firecrackers and new clothes.”
Durga’s popularity is largely due to the efforts of a group of young Bengali students. Full of zeal but no funds, they looked at directory pages, marked Bharatiya names and set out in an old rusty Austin collecting donations, determined to celebrate her triumph over Mahishasur.
The Bharatiya High Commission chipped in providing Kichri, Amrita Bazar Patrika owner Tushar Kanti Ghosh donated the Durga Pratima, Ambala Store gifted sweets, and thus the first Puja was held at Maryward Centre in Russell Square in 1963. Now celebrations are held at a grand scale at 14 locations in London with many volunteers chipping in.
One of them Chandana Sanyal, says, “When I came here as a young bride after graduating from the Presidency College in Kolkata, I missed the Bengali environ. So I started attending Puja. But when my young daughter said the five days of puja are the most wonderful for her in the whole year, I realised that the Durga puja was the best link for the generation born here with the values back home.” In fact this year the Hampstead Town Hall puja was organized entirely by the second generation.
Diwali too was first celebrated courtesy Aajubai, an immigrant from Bhopal who with the help of a few Bharatiya students organised an event in the back garden of her home in Harrow. From her £500 house in the 60s, Diwali is now an annual, Establishment-adopted event. Prime Ministers at annual celebration in Parliament do not refer to notes when they hail Diwali’s message of goodwill and harmony.
Celebrated by many, Diwali is spread over two months. It started this year with a London First, United Kingdom India Business Council and Loomba Trust hosted a dinner and have planned events throughout the month. At Whitehall over £150,000 was collected for educating children of poor widows in Bharat.
2. GUJARAT'S BIG CHIEF WINS THE BIG PRIZE: In announcing the relocation of the Nano car project's mother plant to Sanand, a short drive from Ahmedabad, Tata Motors has handed the Gujarat Government its most significant economic medal yet. After the forced departure from Singur, West Bengal, Mr Ratan Tata and his company were courted by half-a-dozen State Governments, as well as, it is understood, a few locations abroad. In selecting Gujarat and singling out the efficiency and speed with which the BJP Government in the State moved to clear the way, to hand over land that was already in its possession and to point to the enormous infrastructural advantages - from a well-developed highway system to major ports that can carry the world's cheapest car to foreign markets - Mr Tata has, as at other times, spoken the mind of Indian business. For the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, it is an achievement comparable in its public appeal to the busting of the Indian Mujahideen terror ring by his police a few weeks ago. It embellishes his reputation as a no-nonsense, businesslike, enterprise-friendly political leader who has put the Gujarat economic story in a new orbit. It is not for nothing that the 'Gujarat Model' has become something of a mantra among businessmen and politicians alike. Mr Modi has sent a crucial and cutting message to his peers, some of whom have been caught in the 'land for industry' swamp. His Government gives no special concessions to any project. It transfers Government-owned land at market price or asks investors to purchase it directly from farmers or landowners. He offers "the intangibles" - to use Mr Tata's words - in the form of a peaceful industrial climate, infrastructural back-up, law and order and policy consistency. This is all that industry wants.
The big gainer from Mr Tata's decision to "come home" - Gujarat was the birthplace of the conglomerate's founder, Sir Jamsetji Tata - is Mr Modi. He has India's two most powerful business barons, Mr Mukesh Ambani and Mr Tata, acknowledging his leadership acumen. From China to the US, Russia to Singapore, he has attracted a wealth of FDI. The new financial and IT city he is building near Gandhinagar could challenge Mumbai in a decade. India can't wait to have more of him. Excerpts from the editorial, Daily Pioneer, Ocober 9, 2008.
3. BLAME NAXALS, NOT SALWA JUDUM: NHRC -- The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has given a clean chit to anti-Naxal movement Salwa Judum, accused of extra-judicial killings in tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, and held Naxals responsible for forcing it to take up arms.
In a report to the Supreme Court, the rights panel justified the anti-Naxal movement, saying, “The tribals cannot be denied the right to defend themselves against the atrocities perpetrated by the Naxalites, especially when the law enforcers are themselves ineffective or not present”.
A three-member NHRC team — which investigated the alleged rights violations by Salwa Judum highlighted in a PIL filed by activists, including historian Ramchandra Guha — found the charges to be mostly based on hearsay. Taking a dig at the petitioners, it said: “Surely, the petitioners wouldn’t support the subjugation and killings of tribals by Naxalites for years before Salwa Judum.” “Selective killings by Naxalites of Salwa Judum leaders and activists and attacks by Naxalites on Salwa Judum rallies were responsible to a large extent for changing the complexion of the movement from a non-violent one to an armed resistance,” it added.
(Salwa Judum, peace initiative, is an expression of tribal anger who have suffered at the hands of Naxals. It was launched in mid-2005 under the leadership of Mahender Karma, the Leader of Opposition, to restore peace in Bastar region. Initially the activists were peaceful, but took up arms to fend off Naxal attacks.)
4. GREEN HERO IN TIME MAGAZINE: The US-based Time magazine has profiled environmentalist Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal as one of the 30 “Heroes of the Environment”, chosen from around the world.
A recent issue of the magazine recognised Baba Seechewal’s efforts to transform a 99 km long holy rivulet ‘Kali Bein’. The rivulet, which has historic links with the first Sikh guru, had been “reduced to a filthy drain” into which 6 towns and 40 villages situated nearby emptied their waste.
The Kali Bein is now thriving, families head there for picnics and the devout bathe during religious festivals, all this due to the efforts of Baba Seechewal and the villagers who volunteered to clean the rivulet.
Former President APJ Abdul Kalam had twice visited Sultanpur Lodhi, where Kali Bein flows through, to preview the work done by Baba and the villagers and had discussed Baba Seechewal's effort at international forums. Kalam had also specially mentioned Baba Seechewal's achievements at a gathering of intellectuals in Athens.
5. ARAVIND ADIGA WINS MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2008: Debutant Bharatiya novelist 33-year-old Aravind Adiga's book The White Tiger was on October 16 declared the winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize in Fiction category for 2008. Adiga's novel was described as a "compelling, angry and darkly humorous" novel about a man's journey from Bharatiya village life to entrepreneurial success. It was described by one reviewer as an "unadorned portrait" of India seen "from the bottom of the heap". Adiga becomes the fifth Bharatiya author to win the prize, joining VS Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai who won the prize in 1971, 1981, 1997 and 2006 respectively.
6. 13 BISHOPS FACE PROBE IN KERALA: The left Democratic Front in Kerala has asked the Director General of Police (DGP) to conduct a high-level probe against 13 senior bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church following a complaint that the Church was implementing religious laws that were against the Constitution.
Catholic Laymen’s Association central executive committee member M.L. George has petitioned the government accusing the prelates of running kangaroo courts, collecting court fee, insisting on plaints on stamp paper, appointing priests and nuns as parallel judges and evading income tax after collecting huge foreign funds.
7. ADVANI FLAYS CONVERSIONS, RE-CONVERSIONS: Church leaders and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Lal Krishan Advani have condemned forced conversions and reconversions, which have been at the centre of the debate following communal violence in Kandhamal district of Orissa.
A delegation led by Archbishop of Orissa Raphael Cheenath and his Delhi counterpart Vincent Concessao called on Advani on Oct 8 to discuss the situation in Kandhamal.
8. ISRO FIXES OCT 22 AS LAUNCH DATE: India’s maiden moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, is scheduled to take off from Sriharikota at 6.20 am on October 22, ISRO officials said on October 6.
The moonbound spacecraft with the 11 scientific instruments—six from abroad and five of India was moved from the Isro Satellite Centre in Bangalore to the Sriharikota launch centre on October 3 where it is undergoing some more pre-launch tests at present. Once these are completed, the process of integrating the spacecraft with the fourth stage of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will be initiated.
Officials said all the four stages of the rocket have been completed. A regular PSLV has six strap-on motors attached to the first stage of the rocket that use nine tonnes of solid propellants.
9. NOT IN OUR NAME, SAY 63M PAKISTANIS: In a gesture that has attracted record participation from ordinary Pakistanis, 63 million citizens — a third of the terror-battered country's population — have signed up to a unique anti-terror campaign.
Billed as the biggest lobby effort anywhere in the world, Pakistanis signed a petition called "Yeh Hum Naheen (This is not us)" in a four-week period. It is seen as the strongest signal yet from Pakistanis — one could almost call it the cry of a nation stained with shame — that they don't want fundamentalism or terrorism to be known as the Pakistani way of life. The campaign apparently ensured that most of the signatories were verifiable individuals.
10. ‘GUJARAT FOSSIL IS THE OLDEST’: Four fossilised teeth found in a coal mine in Gujarat could be the oldest remains of anthropoids — the primate lineage of monkeys, apes and humans, say researchers from Duke University and the Indian Institute of Technology.
The new species named Anthrasimias gujaratensis is believed to have walked the earth around 55 million years ago. The discovery of the tiny teeth reopens the debate on the centre of anthropoid origin — as previous research had suggested that the earliest primates could have lived in Africa or China. Details of the study were published in September in the American scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where researchers wrote: “Anthrasimias may be the oldest anthropoid in the world.”
“Anthrasimias is the oldest anthropoid found in Asia. The previous record of the oldest anthropoids found in Africa is currently being disputed — the Bharatiya find could be the world’s oldest as well,” said Professor Sunil Bajpai of IIT-Roorkee.
The specimen which represents a new species of anthropoid was named from the Greek word ‘Anthra’ meaning coal, Latin ‘simias’ for monkey, and Gujarat where the teeth were found.
The teeth measuring 9/1,000th of a square inch was excavated in 2006 by a team of scientists led by Bajpai and students and included Professor Richard Kay of Duke University and Dr BN Tiwari of the Dehradun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology.
11. SCARED NRIs FIND BHARATIYA BANKS SAFER: Anand Patel, a hotelier in New Jersey, US who hails from Nadiad, has just called up his brother Dilip to find out more about NRI deposits in Bharatiya banks. Anand told him he wanted to send him $1,00,000 for safe keeping, because he was worried about the turmoil in the US financial markets. Many others have already made the move, much to the delight of public sector banks. Far from getting hit by the turmoil in the US financial markets, the collapse of American banking has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Bharatiya banks, now being seen by NRIs as a safe place to park their funds. In recent weeks, many US-based NRIs have switched their funds from US based entities to Bharatiya banks by way of NRI deposits.
12. AS RECESSION RAGES ON, BEDS TURN INTO BANKS: Beds were once seen as the best places to stash your goods, but with the global recession gaining momentum, it is now being seen as the place to stash money. For many it may not sound like the best option, as it does not provide the same securities as a current account, but there are some who have decided that they would like their weekly wages stashed there. The option to hide their savings in a bed is picking up in London.
13. DELHI, MUMBAI IITS IN TOP 200 UNIVERSITIES: In a compiled list 'Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings, 'IITs of Delhi and Mumbai are among the top 200 universities of the world. The two institutes are the only one from Bharat to make a mark in the list. While IIT Delhi is ranked highest at 154, a climb from 307 in 2007, IIT Mumbai is ranked at 174 from last year's ranking of 269.
14. CHRISTIAN MAOISTS KILLED SWAMI: BJP MP: First he said Christians, and not Maoists, killed Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati. Now, after a Maoist leader appeared on TV claiming responsibility, BJP parliamentarian from Orissa M A Kharabela Swain believes he can still justify that stand, simply with a little modification.
The 55-year-old legislator from Balasore now says "Christian Maoists" killed the Swami on August 23, which led to riots in Kandhamaland other parts of Orissa.
15. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Visitor: Chaman Lal Gohil, UK.
16. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.
The world is moved along not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. -- Helen Keller
By MG Vaidya
Supposing that we became enamoured of the word ‘secular’ because of our contact with the Britishers during their 150 years rule or because of our association and appreciation of the British polity, why are not Pakistan and Bangladesh secular states?
This is apropos of Hon’ble Lord Bhikku Parekh’s article “Cracking India” published in The Indian Express on August 27, 2008.
The article can be flouted on many counts; but before debating the main thrust of the article, I have a few questions for the Hon’ble Lord to answer.
The first is what is the exact meaning of the word ‘secular’? The dictionary meaning of that word connotes, ‘not connected with religion’. I hope Hon’ble Parekh will not quarrel with this meaning. He appears to be in total agreement with Nehru’s policies and actions. My question is why did Nehru want to reform the Hindus society alone? Is it because he thought that the identity and the characteristic centrality of this nation or state or country is inextricable linked with the Hindus society? Why did he not take even a small step towards, reforming the Muslim society or the Christian society? Was it due to the absence of a single blemish in those societies?
The learned Lord must be aware that when our Constitution was passed, it did not contain the word ‘secular’ neither in the Preamble nor in any of its 378 Articles. The words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ were forced into the Preamble, during the extraordinary times of the infamous Emergency in 1976. For all the intervening period of more than 26 years, what was our state like? Was it a theocratic state or a communal state or an atheist state? Why did the apostle of secularism Pandit Nehru, tolerate that lacuna for such a long period of fourteen years of his rule? May I remind the Lord and the large number of readers of The Indian Express, that Prof. KT Shah, a member of the Constituent Assembly, had moved an amendment for inclusion of the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in the Preamble, but the Constituent Assembly rejected the amendment? Why? Were those members anti-secular or communal? I think there was no member, belonging to or sympathetic for any Hindus outfit.
Supposing that we became enamoured of the word ‘secular’ because of our contact with the Britishers during their 150 years rule or because of our association and appreciation of the British polity, why are not Pakistan and Bangladesh secular states? The people, there too, had experienced the benign qualities of the British rule. May I risk an answer? Is it because Pakistan and Bangladesh are Muslim-dominated, and therefore theocratic and India being Hindu-dominated, therefore secular, not only in word but deed also, because prior to the end to 1976, there was no word ‘secular’ in our Constitution? May I raise another question, though slightly irrelevant—why could less than half a million of Hindus not live in peace and honour in a population of about three and half million of Muslims in the Kashmir Valley and why are 120 millions of Muslims living in comparative peace and honour among 850 million Hindus in the rest of India?
As regard the content, the learned Lord is either ignorant or oblivious of the connotation of two words viz ‘Hindu’ and ‘Dharma’. The root cause of immense confusion in the so-called intellectual world is the inadequate if not wrong English translation of the world Dharma as religion. Hindu is not a religion. There is no one Prophet. There is no one Son of God. There is no one scripture. Those who accept the authority of the Vedas are Hindus, those who do not accept that authority are also Hindus. Those who follow idol-worship are Hindus, those who are against idol-worship are also Hindus. ‘Hindu’ is not a religion, it is a commonwealth of many religions. It is a ‘Dharma’, meaning a principle of universal harmony, i.e. harmony between the individual and the society, harmony between the human society and the environment and harmony between the individual soul and the universal soul. On the basis of this fundamental principle, a distinct culture, a distinct value-system, a distinct ethos was evolved, very long long ago. This culture or value-system laid down that the statecraft is a secular activity. Therefore, no king was made a Shankaracharya, and no Shankaracharya or religious guru was allowed to become a king. Except for an honourable exception of Emperor Ashok, no king in ancient India used the state power for propagation and promotion of any religion, or sect, or faith, or denomination. Even in medieval times, neither the Vijayanagar empire nor Shivaji’s rule, used the state power for the propagation of any faith. Even though many a Muslim ruler before them had mercilessly vandalised the Hindu temples, mosques were safe during their regime. It is pertinent to note that over the seat of the Speaker of our Lok Sabha is written the motto Dharmachakra Pravartanaya and on the entrance of the Supreme Court is written Yato Dharmastato Jayah. What sort of religious wheel the Speaker was expected to give momentum to, or what sort of victory of religious practices was Supreme Court to proclaim? My request to all intellectuals is to appreciate the difference between ‘Dharma’ and ‘Religion’. Religion is a part of Dharma not the whole Dharma.
Another misconception about the basic construct is regarding our culture. Yes, our Hindu culture, our value-system is appreciative, not merely tolerant, but of plurality. It is not shaped by any foreign influences. It is the life and breath of Hindus value-system.
The talk of composite culture is misleading. Culture is an integrated whole. Therefore, it cannot be ‘part Hindu, part Muslim, part Buddhist, part Christian’ as the learned Lord thinks. It seems, that the Lord has forgotten the basics of true Dharma. It is nobody’s contention that there was no influence of the teaching of Lord Buddha, or Prophet Mohammad or Jesus Christ. But all they were integrated into the national value-system, whose essential element was and is Hindu. So many small and big rivers and rivulets meet the holy Ganga. Its water cannot but be influenced by these different streams. But the name of the stream remains the Ganga. Therefore, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and so many other faiths are included in the vast and noble umbrella of Hindu. This was the conviction of the founders of our Constitution. Therefore, explanation No. 2, below the Article 25 of our Constitution says: “In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.”
The Hindu Code Bill, though its title is Hindu, is applicable to Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs. When Dr. BR Ambedkar introduced the bill, one Sikh MP objected to the application of the Hindu Code to the Sikhs. He had then said that by applying it to the Sikhs you are obliterating their identity, but Dr. Ambedkar rejected that plea. I don’t have the record of the parliamentary debate before me, to quote the exact words of Dr. Ambedkar but I remember the central idea of Dr. Ambedkar’s reply. He purported to say that Sikhs cannot forget their history and now it is too late for them to say that they have nothing to do with the epithet Hindu. It is more than half a century that the Hindu law is prevalent, have the religious identities of Sikhs, Jains, or Buddhists erased? In Goa, there is a common civil law for all of its citizens; has the identity of Muslims in Goa blotted out? Why can’t we, a secular state, have a common civil law, in spite of the explicit direction of our Constitution (vide Art. 44). Our endeavours for national integration should move in that direction of integrated national stream. But for narrow political ends, we are pampering to the fissiparous propensities of certain groups, and to cover their tendentious intentions, ‘secular’ and ‘secularism’ are used.
The rampant misuse of these words has resulted in creating an anti-Hindu atmosphere in the country. In the end, I will like to ask the learned Lord, whether, he considers Great Britain a secular state or not. If it is a secular state why is it that no Catholic ever because the Prime Minister of that country? Leave aside the office of the executive head, why can no person with a Catholic linkage become the King or the Queen, a mere titular or at best a constitutional head? The people of the ilk of Lord Bhikku Parekh delight in putting Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains in opposition to Hindus. If we accept their terminology, then we will have to come to an absurd conclusion that the Prime Minister of India that is Bharat with more than 80 per cent of Hindu population is a non-Hindu. Even our some Presidents, some Commanders-in-Chief, many Governors, and so many Supreme Court Judges were and are non-Hindus. Can anything be more absurd and more perverse than this?
Atul Thakur
Contrary to PC's Prediction, India Actually Ranks 24th. Responding to IMF's scaling down of India's growth rate to 7.9%, finance minister Chidambaram on Wednesday (October 8, 2008) said, "(Even at 7.9%) India will still be the second fastest growing economy in the world." That, Mr FM, is not quite true. In fact, this is just a frequently repeated myth that is fast acquiring such legitimacy that everyone believes it. Actually, there were 23 countries whose economies grew faster in 2007, with 19 growing at double-digit rates. Even China, with its 11.4% growth ranked only 12th in the list. The tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan was ranked second with a growth rate of 22.4% a little behind the 23.4% recorded by oil and gas-rich Azerbaijan. The third country in the list was not from Asia or Latin America but was Angola, in southern Africa. These three were also the only countries in a list of 200 that registered growth of over 20% in their GDP last year. To be fair to the finance minister, most countries in the list of the fastest growing economies are small nations where even a minor economic change can escalate the growth rate. If one looks at the world's 20 biggest economies, then indeed India has the fastest growsth rate, next to China. One reason behind the high growth rate in Bhutan is the Tala Hydroelectric project. Similarly, Timor-Leste's 19.8% growth can be explained partly by the destruction of economic infrastructure in the unrest period, which lowered the base, and the recent joint petroleum development project with Australia granting 90% revenue to East Timor, which fuelled the already small GDP. Another important factor fuelling the growth rate of several countries is the extent to which the export of oil and natural gas contributes to their economy. Countries like Angola, Azerbaijan, East Timor, Qatar, former CIS countries, Venezuela etc, have registered high growth rates because as major oil exporters they gained big time from the spike in international crude oil prices. Ethiopia registered 11.4% growth, becoming the fastest growing non-oil dependent African nation. Although export of coffee and other agricultural products are helping the economy in earning foreign exchange, in Ethiopia's case too a small base clearly makes it easier to achieve high growth rates. It is also easy to see why the developed world has relatively low growth rates. Given an already huge base, it takes a lot to achieve high growth. Thus, the GDP of the US, France, Japan, Germany, and Canada all grew at less than 2% per annum. This explains why the myth about China and India being the world's fastest growing economies is so prevalent. Of the really large economies they are indeed the fastest growing. According to the World Bank nominal GDP list of 2007, China was ranked the fourth largest economy and India the twelfth largest. Look at the list of the 25 fastest growing economies in the world and you would find that India and China apart, none of the others is anywhere near the top of the list of the world's largest economies. Strange as this may sound, calling India the world's second fastest growing economy may be incorrect, but it is not really misleading. Times of India, October 10, 2008.
Francois Gautier
I WAS born in a Catholic family. My uncle was a priest, a wonderful man of warmth and compassion and I spent most my early years in Catholic boarding schools. When I was young I wanted to become a missionary and to 'convert' pagans in Asia. What I was taught by priests was that Hindus worship false gods and they needed to be brought back to the True Word by Jesus Christ.
Then of course, I came to India and discovered that actually Hindus, far from being the heathens, as had been portrayed in Europe, not only believed God's diversity, the wonderful concept of avatar, but had given refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world, whether the Syrian Christians, the Parsis, the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted), the Armenians, or today the Tibetans.
I am also aghast at the one-sided coverage by the Indian media of the Christian-Hindu problem: blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus in Varanasi, Delhi, Mumbai train blasts, Jaipur, etc. Yet, neither Manmohan Singh nor Sonia Gandhi have pronounced once the word 'Islamic terrorism.' But when furious Hindus, tired of being made fun of, of witnessing their brothers and sisters converted by financials traps, of seeing a 84-year-old swami and his Mataji brutally murdered, of reading blasphemy about their Gods, vent their anger against churches, many of them makeshifts, the Indian government goes after the soft target which the Hindus are. The same thing applies to the United States: they never warned Muslim organisations in India about the killing of Hindus, but when dollars are used to buy new converts and it angers the majority community of India, Washington has the arrogance to issue a warning, and Manmohan Singh does not have the pride to tell the US to mind its own business.
Neither the Indian press nor the western correspondents bothered to write about what made Hindus angry in Karnataka: Newlife, one important westernfunded missionary centre (, began making conversions in and around Mangalore by accosting poor people in market areas, or in bus stands, befriending them and then taking them to churches to introduce them to the father.
Upon introduction they were paid Rs 2,500 per person and then taken to the Velankanni shrine, in Tamil Nadu, where they would get another Rs. 3,000.
When they finally converted to Christianity by changing the name, they got an incentive of Rs 10,000 onwards.
Newlife would then give them instructions to abandon wearing tilak on forehead, not to visit and offer prayers at the Hindu temples, replacing the photos and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses with a Cross, etc.
But what really angered local Hindus was when Newlife went one step further and published a book in Kannada — Satya Darshini — which was widely distributed by its missionaries. Here below is the translation of some of the most abusive passages: "Urvashi — the daughter of Lord Vishnu — is a prostitute.
Vashistha is the son of this prostitute.
He in turn married his own Mother. Such a degraded person is the Guru of the Hindu God Rama. (page 48).
When Krishna himself is wallowing in darkness of hell, how can he enlighten others? Since Krishna himself is a shady character, there is a need for us to liberate his misled followers (page 50). It was Brahma himself who kidnapped Sita.
"Since Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva were themselves victims of lust, it is a sin to consider them as Gods. (page 39).
When the Trinity of Hinduism (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) are consumed by lust and anger, how can they liberate others? The projection of them as Gods is nothing but a joke. (page 39). God, please liberate the sinful people of India who are worshipping False Gods. (Page 39)." When blasphemy and much worse is brought against the most sacred Hindu Gods, Hindus are supposed to take it meekly as sheep and let themselves be converted to a foreign religion! There are more than 4,000 foreign Christian missionaries involved in conversion activities across different states.
In Tripura, there were no Christians at the time of independence. There are 1,20,000 today, a 90 per cent increase since 1991. The figures are even more striking in Arunachal Pradesh, where there were only 1,710 Christians in 1961, but 1.2 million today, as well as 780 churches! In Andhra Pradesh, churches are coming up every day in far-flung villages and there was even an attempt to set up one near Tirupati.
Christians throughout the ages have strived on the concept of persecution and as a brought up Catholic, I remember feeling bad about all those martyred saints of Christianity. Christians in India like to say that they are only two per cent and can do no harm. But it is a sham: in the Tamil Nadu coastal belt from Chennai to Kanyakumari, there must be now 10 per cent Christians post-tsunami and the same may be true in other parts of south India.
My heart goes out to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa who took a courageous stand against unethical Christian conversions, but is now under pressure from the Centre.
The BJP, having learnt from bitter experience that the Congress has no qualm in invoking President's rule under fallacious pretexts in states which are ruled by non-Congress governments is in a quandary: it must show some action against militant Hindu groups while remaining true to itself.
This is why Yeddyurappa took some action against Hindu groups while saying that his government will not tolerate forcible conversions and will take stringent action against missionaries involved in conversions.
And ultimately, the blame must fall on Hindus: they are 800 million in India, the overwhelming majority; they have the brains, they have the money and they have the power. But either their intellectual and political class sides with the minorities, out of fear, inferiority complex imbedded by the British or just sheer crass political opportunism, or the bigger mass is indifferent inert, selfish, un-civic conscious. Every Hindu is the inheritor of the only surviving spiritual knowledge which at the moment is under a concerted attack by Christian missionaries, Americanisation, Marxism and Islamic fundamentalism.