Two learned Indians have penned a response to Prof. Jagdish Bhagwati’s article in MINT. If Bhagwati’s article was disappointing, the response is distressing. Their specific ‘complaints’ are seven. They are listed below. I provide responses to each of them.
(a) six or more churches have been attacked or vandalized
Anand Ranganathan of News Laundry had written on this on March 18th:
“Delhi Police admitted to a spurt in crime against religious places but mostly of the Hindus and Sikhs. Data since 2012 indicates 36 and 69 theft cases at temples were reported in 2012 and 2013. Similarly, only 19 theft cases were registered against gurdwaras in 2012 and 2013, which substantially rose to 30 cases in 2014. Three mosques were targeted by burglars in 2012-13, increasing in 2014 to 14 thefts. The 325 temples were looted by thieves between 2013 and 2015 in Delhi.”
(b) a nun has been raped,
Investigations have now revealed this to be a case of a larger plot from across the border, from Bangladesh. The authors fail to mention that and take cognisance of that.
(c) the Union government has declared Christmas day as Good Governance day and the ministry of human resource development has asked students to sit for an essay competition on the subject,
The Union Government announced that Dec. 25 would also be a Good Governance Day. It must be a matter of satisfaction to Christians that 25.12 has been picked for reminding Indians of something that is essential for India. The authors would have been justified in feeling offended had the Government announced that the day would also be celebrated as ‘Sisupala Day’ or ‘Narakasura Day’.
It is both wrong and mischievous to state that MHRD had chosen that date for an Essay competition to be held. One, it was an on-line essay competition. The deadline was by Dec. 25. Students could have submitted the essay earlier too. The last date of submission was timed to coincide with the observation of ‘Good Governance’ Day. It was extended by a day to Dec. 26. It was a voluntary on-line essay competition with submission possible on any day up to Dec. 25.
(d) the Chief Justice of India has called a meeting of state chief justices on Good Friday, a gazetted holiday which on the calendar is no less significant a day than Diwali or Bakr Id,
Assuming that the above news is true, the question is why should this be lumped together with other items? The authors must be well aware that the Government cannot and does not interfere with the decisions of the Supreme Court – administrative or otherwise.
The only common element between this item and the rest is that all of them are unjustified and factually incorrect.
(e) Mother Teresa has been charged with being in the business of conversion by no less a person than the head of the RSS,
Mr. Bhagwat said that the late Mother Teresa was interested in proselytising and evangelism. It is a statement of fact. It can be rejected or accepted, based on argument. Many Hindu Gurus too have been criticised. None is above scrutiny for their work as mortals. ‘Spreading the faith’ – whatever it means and by whatever means – was a legitimate goal of the late Mother Teresa.
(f) the Sangh Parivar is on a concerted and systematic campaign of ‘ghar wapsi’ across the country from Kerala to West Bengal to Uttar Pradesh, etc., and
They cannot have it both ways. If conversion is legal and legitimate, so must re-conversion be. Why this hue and cry over ‘Ghar Waapsi’? If the hue and cry were justified, then the hue and cry over conversion activity, in the first place, is more than justified too.
(g) the government took a long time to condemn the attacks.
Since when the Government of India had responded to acts of vandalism, theft and arson. As mentioned earlier, did the Government of India condemn the theft and vandalism in Hindu temples and Gurdwaras?
In fact, successive Governments in India have done nothing to stop the theft of Hindu idols and sculptures; not made much effort to retrieve them while they are brazenly displayed in Museums in Western countries; successive governments in India have not done anything to make it safe for Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homeland. They have taken a very long time.
In these instances, the government was right to wait for police investigations to be over, for facts to be established before responding, if these events needed a response from the Government of India, at all.
The truth is that the PM spoke at a conference organised by the Church to celebrate the beatification of two Indians in February. He gave categorical assurances on the protection of minorities.
The authors fail to mention the efforts that the Government made, with remarkable alacrity, to rescue an Indian priest taken hostage in Afghanistan.
The authors fail again in acknowledging the rescue efforts of the Government of India in Yemen. Most of the Indians being rescued from Yemen are Christians.
Final comments (not necessarily only with respect to the article in question):
If supposedly educated and learned Indians can deliberately distort truth, omit facts, conflate issues and fail to acknowledge contrarian evidence, what does it tell us about their scholarship or intent or both?
What is the agenda here – intended or unintended? Why is paranoia being whipped up? Is it to paint India as an unsafe place to do business in and business with?
Is it to stop India’s economic recovery and revival and to ensure that the Modi-government is eventually judged politically and socially dangerous and economically incompetent?
What is the government’s response?