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A Wrong Is A Wrong Whoever Does It…

October 3, 2015

A couple of days back I was surprised to watch an interview in Tamil with N Ram, owner & publisher of Hindu group of newspapers in Chennai. Telecast in a private tv channel, it’s the first time I have come across the media magnate conversing in spoken Thamizh, dressed in a casual official outfit of trouser-shirt in contrast to the young man who was interviewing him in 3-piece suit. I have heard the scion of the Hindu group speak English on earlier occasions but I wasn’t prepared for his matter-of-fact answers in the native tongue as he walked the talk through a shady garden (Hindu estate?) in morning sunlight. One of the (many) things that Ram observed in the breakfast show was how the Babri Masjid demolition triggered a fierce hostility towards the majority Hindus from an increasingly insecure minority Muslim community in India. Mr. Ram jovially admitted to receiving his routine share of hate and threat mails that asked him to rename the paper as ‘Muslim’ instead of ‘The Hindu.’ He went on to stress how during the inception of the newspaper Hindu, the founders insisted that only the name of the paper would remain Hindu but nothing would be Hindu about it. In other words, the paper would remain neutral, secular and unbiased by conception. The Hindu press, Ram affirmed, still retained and practised its original founding principles.

Its true over centuries, Hindus have been at the receiving end with every single place of our worship being desecrated and taken over by muslim invaders but 1947 restored a status quo on existing places of worship to function as they were on the eve of independence. Babri Masjid was unfortunate but it was also an abandoned structure for over 3 centuries that is hardly noted by critics. The masjid was supposedly never prayed in and in a state of total disrepair having ceased to exist as a place of worship since long. Given that, and given the Hindu majority of India footed the Haj subsidy bills with public tax money, our volatile minority could have had a rethinking on the issue. Ayodhya is the birth place of Lord Ram. It is the exact spot where the masjid was demolished that the original Ram Janam Bhoomi temple stood for centuries earlier, until it was razed to the ground by the Afghan invader king Babur. (The victorious attempts at Indianization of the Afghani Moghuls is another congress feat!) Out of sensitivity for the original native population of India, why should not have the Babri Masjid been returned to the faithful. True, one cannot turn the clock back. But to say Babri was a moment of madness is to jump at a hasty and inaccurate conclusion. The idea of Ram Mandir had been brewing for decades beforehand and the mob frenzy that you saw finally had been building into an indiffusible tension from months previously. If Aug 15, 1947 is to be the cut-off date for maintaining status quo among religious places and practices in India, then the Gandhi assassination still happened in 1948 after the date. There are 2 sides to every coin. There are supporters of Gandhi and there are critics of Gandhi (and I am one proudly). While violence of any and every form must be condemned, it is impertinent to say, Babri Masjid is a single isolated event. Nationalists sound perfectly logical considering Babri is a special case given its ancestry and unique cultural-theological status.

N.Ram seemed to misjudge (to me) summing up everything to a single momentary lapse of sanity on the part of ‘kar sevaks’ when it came to the Babri demolition. You cannot reduce the sentiment nurtured for decades or perhaps centuries to thoughtless immature pettiness after all? The idea was bred through the times of successive congress governments from ’50s through ’80s but gathered momentum with the BJP making it big with the onset  of the ’90s. I remember the day clearly: it was a working day in my bank and we heard live radio commentary through the day. Ram Mandir has always been on the itinerary for over half a century if not more. Neither the British nor the string of congress govts could successfully dislodge the idea from the minds of stubborn ‘kar sevaks’ who were on a pre-determined mission. (Similarly the Godhra train burning that started the Gujarat riots never makes it to our tables for proper analysis. From Akshardham temple to Mumbai Stock Exchange and other serial blasts and Delhi/Hyderabad bombings, India has paid a heavy price for one Babri. If a single masjid should extract such a toll, then tell me if Hindus can ever be blamed. If an eye for an eye is to become the norm, the whole world shall go blind. We have to stop somewhere. Sigh.

The 1947 status quo is a highly controversial statute(?) to be maintained, so how do you explain conversions by evangelists sponsored by foreign churches in Indian soil that have been growing unchecked in leaps and bounds since the day of independence.  My regular daily ‘The Hindu’ has the city for home ever since it set up its first printing press, so it is strange their journalists never found time (and/or inclination) to report on conversion gatherings regularly taking place in the Marina (before the demolition of ‘Seerani Arangam) (which have now shifted to a location in OMR.) Is this not in contradiction to the democratic, secular principles of Indian nation Mr. Ram. Soft strategy perhaps by the church that did not invite any investigation? Or is investigative journalism out of bounds (in selective cases).

The convenience of 1947 status quo left the church naturally with hell lot of worthy and handsome real estate, British legacy, by current prices (and capital gains) is it not? Why is that when the princely states of India had to give up their estates, the landed estates the British handed over the church were given such a massive exemption. In today’s India, church is the richest and No.1 property owner, right Mr Ram? Have you ever given a thought to tax evasions or even auditing in churches. Have you ever published a single editorial on church estates and their expansions since 1947. Where from were the funds sourced. You are talking about one Babri. I am talking of a 1000 Babris in the making that we let be erected in front of our eyes.  Or is this area out of your scope of ethical journalism. Who is the largest/heaviest tax evader in India other than church. What about foreign flows into church accounts. Is this legal, allowed under Indian constitution. Is it democratic to receive donations from foreign charities for the purpose of conversions?

The indifference shown by Indian media is in quiet connivance with the congress govt that held the fort for nearly half a century in this country that any setting right of things is naturally viewed as non-secular and undemocratic to some.

When you talk about ‘Ghar Wapsi’ you have to address the conversion by missionaries first before you come to the subject matter. The conversion in rural India constitutes the preface and mainbody of any such a future essay on rural masses. The change in their age-old customs and habits and lifestyle is bound to have an effect on India’s future and economy. Social changes are also physical quantities that need coverage by media. Has any newspaper covered in depth the YSR conversion spree in AP? A clear case is that of the Nadar community of whom I read recently (that I failed to bookmark). Tamil Nadars in southern Tamil Nadu vastly converted to catholicism but good many seemingly regret the conversion now that has landed them in dire straits. I hope to search online successfully for the page sometime soon. Ghar Wapsi is more of a reactionary measure. The offices that are first to condemn the ‘coming home’ of natives have rarely shown such an honesty or courage in pointing fingers at either the church or alleged ‘love jihads’ happening in India for a long time now. How many news reports can you lay your hands on, on love jihads, over Shri Ram Sene for instance. What is the conversion figure for coastal Kerala and Karnataka. And Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. One Babri seems to raze and bury with it to ground many a bothersome ugly truth about the defacing of a Hindu India. What the likes of Ram argue for is that perhaps, secularism translates to limitless tolerance and endurance whereas the minorities deserve their rights to act against and in contrary to the interests of the Hindu majority with all due respects.

Finally does it all boil upto only one Babri Masjid when it comes to upholding the unity and integrity of Indian nation? There are a 1000 native and tribal institutions dismantled, thrashed and razed to ground by invisible hands ever since 1947. In Malaysia how many Hindu temples have been bulldozed for highway expansions and promotion of luxury condominiums? How many acts of terrorism have we recorded in the south east Asian nation’s history since. Even  in Chennai, I have witnessed demolishing of a small Hindu shrine that obstructed traffic in the city locality. The deity was removed with reverence to another spot and temple taken down. In contrast, I understand once when a 100 year old temple of the Mother Goddess had to be struck down in Malaysia, the chinese contractors refused the assignment fearing the wrath of the Mother. Finally it was done with bringing in Hindu contractors.

Faith or respect must first be only in the mind. Is it all only in a block of buildings or in the food we eat and clothes we wear. A pious and pragmatic Hindu on the job would not hesitate to bring down a temple if it has to be done for the larger benefit of the society he/she is part of. This shall be my final comment yet on the Babri-Ram tussle.  Legal Barriers not withstanding, a victory for Ram hardly lies in a plot of land wrenched from a cluster of occupiers who believe otherwise. There are thousands of Hindus working in Saudi Arabia, so have they abandoned their faith? It is possible to be a believer without a holy book and loud prayers and a ritual worship.

Communist Kerala would never think twice about tearing down Hindu temples. (And now perhaps that is why the vast and fertile acres of  Hindu temple land and even forest tracts have mysteriously changed hands to church ownership. One more ground our media would try not to trespass into. Temples were amply endowed in ancient India with well paying tenants and rich agricultural farm lands for sustenance. Temple jewelry is another entire different branch of story. The corporation officials who carry out demolition operation of our places of worship are Hindus as well. But is it possible in India to take down a church or a mosque the similar way without any bloodletting?

If Babri Masjid did trigger angry reactions in the ’80s, would the Indian media take responsibility for the developments thereof on non-reporting of crimes committed by the minorities since 1947? How about the jealous guarding of privacy of the juvenile delinquent of the Nirbhaya gang rape case who was a muslim by faith and who was let off the loop by 6 months and who will walk free shortly even though it was he who was the most heinous perpetrator of the crime among the pack of those bloody rapists? And is it true he is now getting radicalized in prison ? Is that why he is being alienated from mixing with fellow muslim criminals in the jail? So 1947 status quo requires that minorities are not to be named and shamed in any of civil/criminal offences they commit(ted)?

India remained an oasis of peace and stability only until the majority backlash started with a new awakening kindled by the rightwing BJP government whose alma mater seems to be a vigilant RSS. So long as we decide to remain the quiet scapegoats and keep issuing more and more licences and visas for foreign missionaries, we are a tolerant and secular nation. It is when we come to think ‘enough is enough’ that we get labelled a pseudo-secularist nation for fighting our offenders, for challenging our abusers and exploiters.

It seems to be a universal philosophy that the secular and the democratic have to bear the brunt and take in the crap for all the misdeeds of others as it has happened with Europe having come to host the fleeing Syrian/Iraqi refugees when the Arab nations cool their heels and think about fixing the migrant issue with building for them some 200 mosques. But the Europeans have been voyeurers of adventure in Africa and Asia historically and have a substantial bill to repay. India on the other hand does not tote such a pricey bill.

When media fail in their role to report just and fair news, sometimes the public tend to take law into their hands. One more reason for biased reporting is said to be the media ownership in India which is mostly held by christian missionary charities or gulf-based corporations.  Even the ownership of ‘The Hindu’ is believed to have changed hands which some say is the reason for Ram’s stance on many national issues. By no means am I trying to justify what has happened in the UP village last evening or reportage on the same.

If a man could be killed for consuming beef and if the FIR can be managed to be filed without referring to ‘the beef’ then I am no more certain what is right or wrong with this country. What is then the difference between us and Pakistanis or other mad and unstable west Asian nations? On one side we are talking about Digital India and on another we seem to belong to the stone ages.

A vegetarian principle means ‘Ahimsa’ first. Those of us Hindus who are vegetarian are vegetarian because we do not want to prey on other living creatures.  What is the purpose of vegetarianism if you have to kill for securing steadfast your vain ego and tenets of religion? No Hindu scripture tells us what to eat or wear. Everything is allowed for us including homosexuality to soma bana (vine) and meat. Goddess Ma Kali is usually treated to a variety of meat. There are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian factions among Hindus. Some rare exceptions like the Kongkani people of Kodagu valley for instance eat pork (not beef) yet they are very staunchy Hindus. Beef ban is fine as it is against animal cruelty but care must be taken at the same time to rehabilitate the ageing and sick cattle. We Indians famously say we wouldn’t drive out our parents to old age homes but start neglecting the elderly once they get weak, dependent and infirm.

But thinking about it, is it possible some vested interests decided to create imbalance in the local area by playing the ‘beef’ card. Someone out landgrabbing, someone trying to cash in on fear psychosis. It is very much doubtful beef could be the factor behind the murder. A thorough investigation is needed. But if ‘beef’ indeed is to blame for the murder, then we are in serious trouble. And if ‘beef’ could come in handy as ‘bait’ for any other injustice, then the idea of India stands defeated.

Let Modi government wake up in time to harsh realities of mindless crimes committed by those sycophants who expect to be treated with leniency under the guise of nationalism. The communal fabric of India is all the more important to secure safe and sacred. India comes above all. As a common (wo)man I would want nothing short of the culprits being brought to books and taught a lesson. Communal harmony of India has to be preserved as it has been over centuries. That way I can relate to N. Ram who I don’t normally see ‘eye to eye with.’ I read his papers diligently but can hardly agree with a couple or more of their opinions and editorials. Many times I have wondered whether this is for any social responsibility. There have been unfortunate ‘incidents’ here and there through our history, but by and large India is better off as a secular, democratic nation. It is the duty of the govt at the center as well as the respective state government(s) to ensure, the ordinary plain citizen of India whoever he/she may be from whichever religious/linguistic/ethnic background feels safe and secure living in our soil.

We are an NRI family on and off for nearly 2 decades. So what will become of us if everyone of the natives decides to ‘preach us and teach us?’ We are relishing and cherishing the generosity of a global community. We have to give some and take some.

Do our guys know that Gujarati patels own the largest network of motels in the US of A. Minority Hindus. Ethnics. Browns. And that the same Patels could be perhaps serving beef and pork in the hospitality industry to their esteemed guests.

On the otherhand, the India media is at it again claiming Indian muslims are living at the mercy of Hindus. Yah? So what stops them from joining the migrating millions? Please, good riddance. If anyone can bite the hand that feeds, you know who it is.

But if you ask me I can say this: India gets violent as we go north. Indian temper worsens as we proceed up the Tropic of Cancer! No wonder, the former parts of India which constitute today’s Pakistan are most trouble-torn presently. Knifing, thieving all this is pretty common crime. You need no provocation and you could get killed for a gain of mere 100 bucks. This is the reality about northern India. Murders/crimes are happening in the south ever since north Indian labourers started arriving for menial works. We have absolutely no complaint about North Easterners or Nepalis but North Indians – sorry to say are the worst offenders. Land prices started escalating with their arrival. Land hoarding is their prime occupation. Real estate is the money spinner once the land had been hoarded and held for a considerable value of time.

So while our media is busy giving a communal colour to ‘beefing’ up a good provocative story, I tend to look at it otherwise. It is through the prism of North Indian penchant for crime that I may want to look at the murder over beef. It is more about rowdy elements and thugs trying to prevail over some poor and demoralized inhabitants. LAND GRABBING. It could all come down something as simple and straight as that. Or is it all a well-planned election time gimmick (as polls are around the corner in Bihar). Entirely possible. I wouldn’t wanna rule out any angle sorry.

India is for all. Each and everyone of us must be able to live peacefully and happily in any part of India, any state of India without any linguistic or geographical barrier. Yet we have to agree with Bal Thackaray sometimes. This is what happened with Bombay and this is why the Shiv Sena got angry.  The Bombay of ’50s and ’60s was supposedly a dream. Gangrapes to kidnapping, north is crime-ridden. Where is law and order in the country. You just saw the much-touted Gujarat model up in flames in the recent Patel reservation stir. Where is self-control. Why is not police doing their duty. The nation is witnessing unprecedented mob violence these days which is very disturbing. The trend is not healthy. In Tamil Nadu, situation we say is worsening but our ‘Amma’ is known for ‘staging’ encounters if any rowdy/dada rears up his ugly head too very often. Human Rights or whatever, we see to that the commanman in the street is not disturbed. JJ’s police forces did not think twice about shooting dead the gang of Beharis rounded up in connection with a couple of ATM/bank heists in the city some time ago. To hell with human rights I say!

Modi govt, when there is a crime, when there is injustice, you have to act. You have to own up responsibility and you have to restore the shattered balance. Muslims and christians are also citizens of this nation, where will they go. Crack down on missionaries, you have every right to, crack down on madrassas spreading hate, but let not any innocent man/woman be victimized in the name of religion.

Beef is a very poor reason for polarization of an otherwise co-existing Indian populace. Even if beef ban is legally effective in most states in India, the prudent thing for the administration to do would be to ‘turn a blind eye and move on.’ Even antibiotics and some prescription medicine cannot be sold over counters in India, but don’t our pharmacies sell them all the time? Don’t we violate traffic rules? Don’t we file tax returns late? Don’t we contribute towards ‘building fund’ for securing admission to our children into elite schools.

Beef is the cheapest meat that can come to a poor man’s table. This, I was told, by a local muslim. Most tamil muslims do not  consume beef but those urdu muslims of the state who do say so. Its economical than mutton or chicken which is the reason they get beef. Considering the fact that a majority of Indian muslims are poor or lower middle-class, both the central and the state govts must know better not to make things worse for them. We side-step a lot of things in life, why not beef-ban. Let officially the ban stay but let’s not make it an issue by strict enforcement.

In any case, its not worth it paying with the life of a middle-aged man. My heart goes out to the family. Their palpable sense of insecurity is something that crushes my heart. This is not good for the idea of India.

As we brag about a digital India, harsh truth is that, there are pockets in our society where modern education and science have not yet made a mark or any remarkable impact, which needs to be dealt with first. Ignorance seems to be the scourge of these sections ridden with poverty and crime. The UP village looks like a basket case. Only literacy and improved employment opportunities can prevent a recurring of another beef-like story. In those parts of the country known for ‘honour killing’ why must the murder for beef surprise us.


Finally responsible journalism also could mean pointing fingers at the follies of even muslims. A minority status hardly merits exclusion from criminal charges in extortion, drug trafficking, hawala funding and sourcing, smuggling and terrorism cases and privileged treatment. It is a shame that the minority of India should take refuge under such an umbrella from the fierce glare of law of the land.





From → Dilli Durbar

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