Intro: Being a religion, Hinduism has the right, entitled by the Constitution of India similar to all other religions, to accept and accommodate those who want to live the Hindu way of life. Much has been talked about the majority-minority conundrum of India. In a recent, Mr. Julio Ribeiro IPS (Rtd.), venerable police officer and the former Ambassador to Romania, has triggered a fresh controversy followed by the publication of his ‘deeply personal’ article in The Indian Express titled “As a Christian, suddenly I am a stranger in my own country” on March 16. As usual, the so called secular brigade made a big fuss about it. Later, Miss Mari Marcel Thekaekara, a freelance writer, also wrote an article in relation to this in The Hindu dated March 27 that apparently endorsed the views of Mr. Ribeiro. After having decided to stay self-deluded, both of them have purposefully dismissed the ground reality to cook up their exclusive versions of the story. When reading between the lines, we can unequivocally conclude that they are the birds of the same feather that flock together.
Not surprisingly, some fringe elements are relentlessly working to fuel further and escalate the situation and create panic among Christian minorities. In this perplexing scenario, Mr. Ribeiro’s stance should be analysed very seriously as he was one of the most distinguished police officers holding the supreme rank of the Indian Police Service (IPS) before his retirement. His service to the nation has no parallel. For the same cause, he was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India. Now in his article, he is dubious about his being Indian. The article, at times, is amusingly self-contradicting as the author begins it with a seemingly secular perspective and ends up revealing his ambivalence.
“The Indian army was headed by a Christian general, the navy more than once, and same with the air force. The country’s defence forces have countless men and women in uniform who are Christians. How can they be declared non-Indians by Parivar hotheads out to create a pure Hindu Rashtra?” says Mr. Ribeiro. Being a former IPS officer, his tendentious views on such sensitive issues will certainly dismantle his credibility. Such follies will not only dent the communal harmony but also affect the morale of our armed forces. His views are scarcely worth repeating as they are regressive remarks which send out a dangerous message to the society.
Being a crusader of the Church, Mr Ribeiro has not left a single point untouched including the RSS Sarsanghachalak’s remarks about Mother Teresa. Is Mother Teresa a holy figure for all communities? In a fair democracy, no one is above criticism, so in that sense even Mother Teresa not above criticism? Now we all know the motives behind her charity works and social service. I think no one dares to question ‘the secular credentials’ of the famous American journalist and writer Mr. Christopher Hitchens.
Mr. Hitchens, being a vehement critic of Mother Teresa, explained in his famous book Missionary Position, how she was being used as a puppet by the Catholic Church to protect their interest. He stripped off the veil of holiness surrounding Mother and exposed her connections with powerful personalities with dubious backgrounds. He lucidly described how Mother Teresa and the West feed each other. In a review of Missionary Position, published in The New York Times review, a critic summarised that “Mother Teresa is less interested in helping the poor than in using them as an indefatigable source of wretchedness on which to fuel the expansion of her fundamentalist Roman Catholic beliefs.”
Throughout his article, Mr Ribeiro eloquently evokes religious and caste identities to implicate his hideous views. In this view, it is generally perceived as a departure from his old secular image.
Similarly, in her article, Being Christian in India, Mari Marcel Thekaekara in her article in the English Daily, The Hindu, proclaims loudly that India should understand the meaning of ‘conversion’ at least in terms of Christianity. Well, in spite of the literal meaning, the meaning of conversion is better understood in India through our real life experiences. The aftermaths of the mass conversions carried out in the North-East areas, by the missionaries with the help of the British colonial empire is still haunting India even after six decades since Independence.
She also finds solace in inculcating an old story in praise of the British Empire for not having converted the entire Hindu population of the Indian peninsula.
It is already identified that some North Indian states like Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya have turned out to be 90 per cent Christians. All the non-Hindu majority states of India are becoming a graveyard of minorities, where no Leftists or Secularists dare to speak out or extend their support to the suffering Hindus tribals.
Another important point she clings to is the statistical figure of the Christian population. It is figured up that the Christian population of India comprises 2 per cent of the entire demography of India. This has been the major argument of India’s pseudo-secularists since the time immemorial. Recently I came across a Facebook post which was uploaded by an ardent Christian group entitled to share their internal affairs. Disregarding its validity, they claimed on that post that India’s Christian population has hit around 6-7 per cent. The concerned authority ought to carry out a detailed enquiry and research over this bizarre claim. Interestingly, it was not an allegation raised by any Hindu outfits. It was created and circulated by the some hardcore Christian groups. It purports that 4-5 per cent of Christian population still remained as Hindus only in the official records. They are following Christianity by enjoying all the benefits of backward Hindus that are provided by the Constitution of India. Whatever, it is obvious that a pretty good population of converted Christians camouflage their identity for reservation and other benefits.
Strange though it may seem, Miss Mary is intolerant towards ‘Ghar Wapsi’ which is just a platform provided for those who are interested to join Hinduism.
What she does not understand is that being a religion, Hinduism has all rights, entitled by the Constitution of India similar to all other religions, to accept and accommodate those who want to live the Hindu way of life. Ghar Wapsi is none other than that. Marketing religion has never been attributed to Hinduism. Hence all such flimsy arguments are not good enough to besmirch Hinduism. Meanwhile, 200 Mahadalits from 40 families of Atiya village were converted to Christianity at a Christmas function in Bihar last year. No secularist was seen to be upset over the issue.
While whitewashing the Church, Miss Mari is unnecessarily worried about the Hindu proselytisation of ‘emotionally starved’ Westerners. At last, she hit the panic button and says, we should extend the conversion debate to that. In fact it is out of our jurisdiction and we have nothing to do with that. For the sake of argument, let us accept that premise. Even if so, the westerners are less vulnerable when compared with poor starving Hindu tribal populations. You cannot lure them by offering food and coins to get them converted to Hinduism. But the Indian situations are profoundly different from that. Well, to soothe the emotional starvation of the Westerners, they have sufficient number of brothels and night clubs across their country. It is not about emotional starvation, it is the spiritual starvation which is repressed and not being attended in the Semitic religions. Unlike Miss Mari thinks, Hinduism has been the centre of attraction of the West ever since they came in contact with our culture. It has been because of its innate features like universal tolerance and freedom from the monolithic culture and ideology of Semitic religion etc and not because of the wickedness of missionaries.
The Christian society needs to be more vigilant against such interventions of the progenies of Judas cult. I agree with Mr. Riberto that Christians have contributed much to the developments of our country. But Mr Riberio and Miss Mari do not have to shy away from the fact that the allegiance of every Indian Christians is to their Motherland India, and that cannot be generalised with the personal fantasies of you both. Those who raise unnecessary concerns must remember that India and Hindus never persecuted other religions ever in the history. Instead of blaming each other, the religious leaders and public figures should come forward for the rapprochement of the strained relationship with other religions. As the renowned Economist Jagdish Bhagwati recently requested in an interview to those panic mongers among Christians, “Look at your Own History and Relax a Bit.”
Ganesh Radhakrishnan (The writer is a freelancer based in Chengannur, Kerala)