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Cry O my beloved India!

By Francois Gautier
June 07, 2004 16:57 IST
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I have lived for 35 years in India. I can say without boasting that I am one of the few Western journalists who believe in India, believe in the greatness of this country, believe that India is on the way to becoming a superpower, industrial, economic, social, military, and above all spiritual.

Throughout my professional career, both as a journalist and a writer, I have tried not to dwell too much on the negative, the superficial, the anecdotic, and the folkloric that most of my peers are affectionate to when reporting on India. On the contrary, I have strived to the best of my ability to change the image of poverty, of corruption, of untouchability, of the City of Joy and Mother Teresa, which is hanging on India's neck since the British, the Christian missionaries, and, later, the Marxists fashioned it.

It has cost me dearly. I have had trouble with all the newspapers I have worked for and been bitterly attacked by most of the French India specialists who think I am a right-wing Hindu fanatic and anti-Muslim, though the only thing I have ever said is that the greatness of India lies in its Hindu ethos -- the eternal spirituality beyond religion, which has influenced even India's minorities -- and that there is a serious problem with Islam in South Asia.

Today I feel sad. By voting out a government that, whatever its faults, had given back to India some pride, some stability, some recognition in the world, I feel Indians do not really know what they want. As usual, it is not about the people, but the system. There are good people in the Congress, but a party which was founded by a Briton (A O Hume) for the British has had throughout its history some craving for Western rule, as symbolised today by this irrational hankering of so many Congress leaders and a greater part of the Indian intelligentsia for an Italian Christian to rule them.

No doubt, the new government has some very good people, but it also boasts of many members who have only their selfish interests at heart and will pull India down without thinking for a second of the harm they are doing to their country.

Everybody is raving about coalitions nowadays. But only people who wish India ill can wish for a coalition government. What happens in a coalition such as the one we see today? A weak government where everybody is pulling to his or her side, where there is no single, united aspiration for the good of one's country, no rallying point of common programmes.

What India needs now is a strong, united government, which can muster enough popular support and votes in Parliament so as to initiate the changes that this country so badly needs: a common civil code, a presidential system, a reform of the judicial network, an Indianised education curriculum, where you learn about India's past greatness, about Ayurveda and Vedic mathematics and the science of pranayama and the history of its proud kings and the art of meditation.

The BJP government has fallen. You are exulting, O Christians! You seem to forget how much this country gave you: the first Christian community in the world, that of the Syrian Christians, was established in Kerala in the 1st century. It was welcomed by the local Hindus and Christians there were always allowed to practise their religion in peace, at a time when other Christians were persecuted all over the world. Indeed, it is the Portuguese of Vasco da Gama and Albuquerque who clamped down on the syncretic, all-inclusive Christianity that had evolved in Kerala, thereby splitting the Syrian Church in two.

The BJP government has fallen. You are rejoicing, O Muslims! You seem to forget that Arab merchants came to Hindu India long before the first Muslim invasions of the 7th century. They were also welcomed and allowed to practise their religion in peace and to trade as they liked.

Islam has flourished in India in a way that it has not flourished anywhere else: you have a Muslim President now and Muslims are free to practise and preach. Do Muslims in India think Hindus could have one of their own as president of Pakistan, or king of Saudi Arabia? No way! They can't even practise their faith openly there! And are you also forgetting that the BJP government made so many efforts to reach out to you and prove that they loved you too?

The BJP government has fallen. You are rejoicing, O Marxists! But do you understand that Marxism is dead all over the world; and that even in China it is Marxism in name only, as its government actually implements capitalist policies? In India you have been free to practise Marxism as you wish and have democratically governed two states for decades. Even more, Marxism here is an Indianised brand of Marxism, often with a human face, that was baldly missing in the Soviet Union or China. Don't you have any gratefulness to the Hindu ethos for that? Are not most of your converts Hindus themselves, who practise Marxism with a zeal unknown in the world today?

The BJP government has fallen. Your are rejoicing, O members of the Indian intelligentsia! You think that reading the latest New York Times bestseller, speaking polished English, and putting down your own countrymen, specially anybody who has a Hindu connection, makes you an intellectual. But in the process you have not only lost your roots, you have turned your back on a culture and civilisation that is thousands of years old and has given so much to the world. Your are forgetting what a privilege it is to be born an Indian -- and a Hindu at that -- inheritors of a spirituality that accepts that God manifests Himself under different names, at different times, when today the world's two biggest monotheistic religions still think their God is the only true one and it is their duty to convert everybody by guile or force.

Maybe Indians need to go through this painful process, maybe they need to be faced with a government that will show its selfish and ineffective face openly, maybe they need to experience the confusion and greed of their politicians with full force, before they realise that they had a good government going before that, one that brought stability and pride to India, not one that pulls India down just to please the minorities, the Vatican, and the Western powers who do not want India to emerge as a strong and independent nation.

But in the process, India's economy is going to suffer. It has already lost thousands of crores in stockmarket crashes. India's image will again go down in the eyes of the world. India's foreign affairs will go haywire, with such useless policies as getting close to Palestine in vogue again. And India will get a little more divided along caste, ethnicity, and religion, thanks to those who are now in power in Delhi.

At the moment, there are forces at work to destroy India, not by dropping a nuclear bomb on it, but simply by pitting one against the other, by blindly copying the fads, failures, and excesses of the West, by siding with forces that are inimical to India, by attacking from all sides its ancient spirituality.

For the greatness of India is spiritual. The world has lost the truth. We have lost the Great Sense, the meaning of our evolution, the meaning of why so much suffering, why dying, why getting born, why this earth, who we are, what is the soul, what is reincarnation, where is the ultimate truth about the world, the universe... But India has kept this truth. India has preserved it through seven millennia of pitfalls, genocides, and mistakes. And this was meant to be India's gift to this planet in this century: to restore to the world its true sense, to recharge humanity with the real meaning and spirit of life. India can become the spiritual leader of the world, if only its own people will allow it.

Today I feel sad. Sad for India, sad for the world. For India is in mortal danger, its eternal sanatana dharma is under threat from its own people. And if India dies spiritually, the world will die also. India is the last chance for the world to avoid pralaya, self-destruction.

Cry O my beloved India, look what thy children have done to thee!

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Francois Gautier