Economic growth has brought prosperity to a rising new middle class in India. For some it has offered up vast wealth. But there are plenty of emaciated beggars, many of them badly malnourished children, in India'scities, which are gigantic slums in plain fact.
The new wealth has led to a grotesque vulgarity that is apparently the necessary counterpart of ungodliness. A palpable spiritual void is enveloping the soul of urban Indians, with arrogant delusions of self-worth displacing any notion of self-restraint. But this ugly conceit is the outcome of the cancerous reach of India'shollow secular ethos. It has become the justification for an unbounded intellectual duplicity that nullifies self-awareness and reflection, nurturing instead bottomless cynicism. Since the world is now officially godless all things are possible, unfettered greed and cruelty being its defining manifestations.
On a recent visit to India I was struck by the material prosperity enjoyed by quite a number I knew to have made a modest start in life only a couple of decades ago. They are habitually able to purchase expensive consumer luxuries and enjoy a lifestyle that would only be possible for someone earning $200,000 annually in the US. They are intelligent and decent people in many respects, prepared to underwrite the costly medical care of their own domestic staff. But what mystified was their dogged defence of Islam and Sonia Gandhi. No arguments are adduced to explain their perverse support for Wahabbi sectarianism and Sonia Gandhi except that it institutes an aura of one'smoral invincibility by espousing what they imagine is traditional Indian tolerance. They visit temples, but simultaneously excoriate something they exasperatedly describe as Hindu extremism. Much of their disdain in fact stems from Anglicised dislike of provincial India.
Gujarat is instantly on their lips, but none remember the victims of the Godhra mass murder, the women and children burnt to death by what is now alleged to have been spontaneous combustion. Of course it is also being suggested by an historian that something similar evidently happened to Somnath, not the result of Mahmud of Ghazni'siconoclastic destructiveness as contemporary chroniclers had recorded. Besides, the Godhra victims were extremists, not ordinary Indian citizens going about in their own country for the legitimate business of a pilgrimage. Incinerated Hindu women and children are a small price to be paid for a good press. Many Hindus have become part of a very Gandhian tragic-comedy indeed! But Gandhi was apt to justify the worst sectarian atrocities of murder, rape and conversion of Hindus because he asserted that the perpetrators were motivated by genuine religious conviction!
More harm has been done to India and Hinduism by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru than any invader or iconoclast. The latter in fact catalysed the unprecedented patriotic resistance to Islamic oppression of the Marathas and the Sikhs. Gandhi'sabsurdly quixotic convictions on religion and society were inspired by expressly Christian beliefs and practices on turning the other cheek, martyrdom and obedience to established political authority. Except for the Jain ?heresy? such puerile fantasies have no basis in the robust realism of Hindu thought. And Nehru only looks agreeable when compared to some of his other socialist contemporaries like Nasser, Nkrumah, Tito and Soekarno, since their countries have barely survived into the 21st century.
Yet India endured not because of Nehruvian foresight, but owing to its inner resources of resilience, which happen to be the strength of family life, devotion to education, when feasible and absence of intermittent millenarian religious hysteria. It is this extraordinary reality that continues to sustain India in the modern world. The most remarkable aspect of this Hindu tradition is that it has survived at all, for more than a thousand years, with little political patronage and in the face of virtually unremitting genocidal violence. But the vicious denial of its Hindu identity and heritage by every organ of the contemporary Indian State causes grievous damage to the essential social fabric and spiritual underpinnings of Indian society. And the social and spiritual vacuum engineered by Jawaharlal Nehru'sbanal secularism and socialism is being filled by American evangelical imperialists, Wahabbi Islam and mindless consumerism.
Secularism usually meant the embedding of post-enlightenment modernity and what Max Weber described as the onset of disenchantment of this world. The variant the Indian State has effectively espoused is aggressive despoiling of religious sensibility itself, which has its roots in the French revolution, and directed it exclusively against Hinduism. But of course India'shalf-baked Leftist catamites, Jawaharlal Nehru most of all, lacked the intellectual acumen to think any of this through and quickly succumbed to the political machinations of Islamic and Christian imperialism. Amazingly, while opposing everything American (except for funded seminar invitations, academic positions and scholarships for their children) the Indian Left has become a staunch supporter of the US CIA-Church nexus that undermines Indian national autonomy through religious conversion. What these American churches preach first and foremost is not fidelity to the uplifting teachings of Jesus, but loyalty to the American flag. Lest it be forgotten, the same Indian Left opposed the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, pointedly supporting Pakistan'smurderous generals and the war criminals Kissinger and Nixon. And this treasonous behaviour occurred at the behest of the biggest criminal of them all, Mao Tse Dong, who despised all things Indians.
The contemporary secular Indian State has adopted the most hostile and demeaning anti-Hindu impulses of the British colonial era, something even the British hesitated to allow free rein. Simultaneously, the Indian State itself is in the process of political fragmentation since the Centre cannot discipline truculent regional satrapies at all, except to concur with them in visceral hatred of Hinduism. The moment these regional gangsters (an accurate description of politics in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal) withhold federal tax revenues the de facto break-up of India will become de jure. Having a President and Prime Minister loyal to the person of Sonia Gandhi rather than the nation already symbolises calamity, which, even more remarkably, Indians seem to have taken in their stride! In the meantime, by granting Islam and Christianity extraordinary privileges to propagate in the guise of tolerance and democracy towards minorities (actually they are only the Indian affiliates of the richest and most powerful international political movements in world history) the demise of Hinduism has become the raison d?tre of the Indian State.
The diabolical posture of regarding Hindus as dispensable is observable in the conduct of all major Indian political parties, including those who proclaim nominal Hindu allegiance, but merely aspire to political power. In a few short decades, Islamic and Christian imperialism and their surrogates in states like Tamil Nadu (fraudulently professing atheism, but pandering to the sworn enemies of Hinduism though only the latter regards atheism as philosophically legitimate) will comprise a quarter to a third of the entire Indian electorate. They will then set about the task of extinguishing what remains of Hinduism by utilising State power. Very little time remains for Hindus since intellectual and political slavery will demolish everything they hold sacred within two decades. Any doubts should be dispelled by the brazen denunciation of Lord Rama by Sonia Gandhi'sChristian Cabinet ministerial minion and a government that does not include a single practising Hindu.
This is the backdrop to the remarkable case of the unspeakably self-indulgent and stupid Calcutta girl who ran away with her now deceased paramour who became her husband. The execrable Barkha Dutt of NDTV and the hysterical participants in their discussion programme were unanimous in denouncing the violation of civil liberty entailed by the intervention of the parents in response to the elopement. There can be no defence of criminal conduct in doing so, but the contemptible circus arranged by NDTV was careful to only address the issue of an adult woman'sright to choose her own partner unhindered by her parents, to the accompaniment of the standard subtext about Hindu prejudices.
The objection of Hindu parents to a Muslim groom stems from the fact that she will be invariably required to convert, resulting in her eventual permanent separation from them and the loss of their future grandchildren as well. Significantly, both families sought the religious conversion of the partner marrying their offspring. The woman'sfamily was not poised to gain a son-in-law as much as definitively lose a daughter, their own flesh and blood, completely. To insinuate this ought to be a non-issue merely illustrates utter bad faith. Of course the apostasy of a Muslim woman marrying outside her faith and the Sharia punishment of death for the transgression was not considered worthy of discussion.
(The writer taught at the London School of Economics and Political Science for over two decades.)