Indians, Hindus, Bengalees and specially Kolkatans are highly sensitive about Mother Teresa, proudly claiming her as one of the Nobel Laureates “from Kolkata”.  

After her death, the ‘secular’ Government of India, had decided to break out of protocol and observe state mourning all over the country and accord her state funeral status, an honor normally reserved for India’s highest political leaders.

But few are aware of the other side of the mother ……..

 

Mother Teresa’s altruism and generosity claimed to be a ‘myth’

Washington, Mar 2 (ANI): The myth of altruism and generosity surrounding Mother Teresa has been dispelled by a group of researchers, who claim that her hallowed image-which does not stand up to analysis of the facts-was constructed, and that her beatification was orchestrated by an effective media relations campaign.

Serge Larivee and Genevieve Chenard of University of Montreal’s Department of Psychoeducation and Carole Senechal of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Education have made the claims.

“While looking for documentation on the phenomenon of altruism for a seminar on ethics, one of us stumbled upon the life and work of one of Catholic Church’s most celebrated woman and now part of our collective imagination-Mother Teresa-whose real name was Agnes Gonxha,” Professor Larivee, who led the research said.

“The description was so ecstatic that it piqued our curiosity and pushed us to research further,” Larivee said.

As a result, the three researchers collected 502 documents on the life and work of Mother Teresa.

After eliminating 195 duplicates, they consulted 287 documents to conduct their analysis, representing 96 percent of the literature on the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity (OMC). Facts debunk the myth of Mother Teresa.

In their article, Larivee and his colleagues also cite a number of problems not take into account by the Vatican in Mother Teresa’s beatification process, such as “her rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding, in particular, abortion, contraception, and divorce.

At the time of her death, Mother Teresa had opened 517 missions welcoming the poor and sick in more than 100 countries.

The missions have been described as “homes for the dying” by doctors visiting several of these establishments in Calcutta.

Two-thirds of the people coming to these missions hoped to a find a doctor to treat them, while the other third lay dying without receiving appropriate care.

The doctors observed a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions, as well as a shortage of actual care, inadequate food, and no painkillers.

The problem is not a lack of money-the Foundation created by Mother Teresa has raised hundreds of millions of dollars-but rather a particular conception of suffering and death.

“There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion. The world gains much from their suffering,” was her reply to criticism, cites the journalist Christopher Hitchens.

Nevertheless, when Mother Teresa required palliative care, she received it in a modern American hospital.

Mother Teresa was generous with her prayers but rather miserly with her foundation’s millions when it came to humanity’s suffering.

During numerous floods in India or following the explosion of a pesticide plant in Bhopal, she offered numerous prayers and medallions of the Virgin Mary but no direct or monetary aid, the researchers said.

On the other hand, she had no qualms about accepting the Legion of Honour and a grant from the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti.

Millions of dollars were transferred to the MCO’s various bank accounts, but most of the accounts were kept secret, Larivee said.

“Given the parsimonious management of Mother Theresa’s works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?” Larivee said.

Despite these disturbing facts, how did Mother Teresa succeed in building an image of holiness and infinite goodness? According to the three researchers, her meeting in London in 1968 with the BBC’s Malcom Muggeridge, an anti-abortion journalist who shared her right-wing Catholic values, was crucial.

Muggeridge decided to promote Teresa, who consequently discovered the power of mass media.

In 1969, he made a eulogistic film of the missionary, promoting her by attributing to her the “first photographic miracle,” when it should have been attributed to the new film stock being marketed by Kodak.

Afterwards, Mother Teresa travelled throughout the world and received numerous awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize.

In her acceptance speech, on the subject of Bosnian women who were raped by Serbs and now sought abortion, she said: “I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing-direct murder by the mother herself.”

Following her death, the Vatican decided to waive the usual five-year waiting period to open the beatification process.

The miracle attributed to Mother Theresa was the healing of a woman, Monica Besra, who had been suffering from intense abdominal pain.

The woman testified that she was cured after a medallion blessed by Mother Theresa was placed on her abdomen.

Her doctors thought otherwise: the ovarian cyst and the tuberculosis from which she suffered were healed by the drugs they had given her.

The Vatican, nevertheless, concluded that it was a miracle. Mother Teresa’s popularity was such that she had become untouchable for the population, which had already declared her a saint.

“What could be better than beatification followed by canonization of this model to revitalize the Church and inspire the faithful especially at a time when churches are empty and the Roman authority is in decline?” Larivee and his colleagues said.

Despite Mother Teresa’s dubious way of caring for the sick by glorifying their suffering instead of relieving it, Serge Larivee and his colleagues point out the positive effect of the Mother Teresa myth.

“If the extraordinary image of Mother Teresa conveyed in the collective imagination has encouraged humanitarian initiatives that are genuinely engaged with those crushed by poverty, we can only rejoice. It is likely that she has inspired many humanitarian workers whose actions have truly relieved the suffering of the destitute and addressed the causes of poverty and isolation without being extolled by the media. Nevertheless, the media coverage of Mother Theresa could have been a little more rigorous,” they said.

The research is set to be published in the journal Studies in Religion/Sciences religieuses. (ANI)

 

One can further enlighten oneself from

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Mother_Teresa
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Missionary_Position

 ………. Christopher Hitchens details Mother Teresa’s relationships with wealthy and corrupt individuals including Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and his wife Michèle Duvalier, enigmatic quasi-religious figure John-Roger, and disgraced former financial executive Charles Keating.

Hitchens argues that her support for unscrupulous figures contradicts the alleged humanitarianism of her work

Charles Keating 

The book includes the reproduction of a letter written by Mother Teresa on behalf of Charles Keating to Judge Lance Ito who was presiding over Keating’s trial for defrauding his investors of billions of dollars. The letter urged the judge to consider the fact that Keating had donated generously ($1.25 million) to the Missionaries of Charity and suggested that Judge Ito “look into [his] heart” and “do what Jesus would do.”

Hitchens also includes the contents of a letter written to Mother Teresa by the man prosecuting the case against Keating, Deputy District Attorney for Los Angelos, Paul Turley. In the letter, Mr. Turley pointed out to Mother Teresa that Keating was on trial for stealing more than $250 million from over 17,000 investors in his business. In addition, Turley expresses his opinion that “[n]o church, no charity, no organization should allow itself to be used as a salve for the conscience of the criminal” and suggests:

Ask yourself what Jeses would do if he were given the fruits of a crime; what Jesus would do if he were in possession of money that had been stolen; what Jesus would do if he were being exploited by a thief to ease his conscience? I submit that Jesus would promptly and unhesitatingly return the stolen property to its rightful owners. You should do the same. You have been given money by Mr. Keating that he has been convicted of stealing by fraud. Do not permit him the ‘indulgences’ he desires. Do not keep the money. Return it to those who worked for it and earned it! If you contact me I will put you in direct contact with the rightful owners of the property now in your possession.” 

After the conclusion of the letter, Hitchens notes: “Mr. Turley has received no reply to his letter. Nor can anyone account for the missing moneysaints, it seems, are immune to audit.”

 In a way admitting “inappropriate methods of exercising mission by resorting to deception and coercive means”.

Christians issue rule book for spreading faith

By Robert Evans 

Reuters – Tue, Jun 28, 2011

 GENEVA (Reuters) – A coalition of major Christian churches including the Vatican launched a rule book on Tuesday for spreading their faith that aims to reduce hostility from Islam and other religions to efforts to convert their followers.

The five-page code of conduct, which has been under negotiation since 2005, was unveiled at a Geneva news conference by the World Council of Churches (WCC), a senior Roman Catholic prelate and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).

It urges Christians wanting “to share the good news of God’s kingdom” — missionary work or simply publicly testifying to their faith — “to build relations of respect and trust with all religions” and adapt their approaches to local conditions.

It reaffirms their right to proselytise, or promote their beliefs and seek converts.

But it also urges them to abandon “inappropriate methods of exercising mission by resorting to deception and coercive means”, saying that such behaviour “betray the gospel and may cause suffering to others”.

The code, entitled “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct”, comes amid growing tension between small local Christian communities and majorities from other religions in many, especially Muslim, countries.

This is often sparked by the activity of missionaries, both overt and covert, who seek to convert non-Christians, and are often denounced by local religious leaders — Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist — as enemies of what they see as the true faith.

In some Islamic countries, a Muslim who converts to another faith can face the death penalty, and Christians who proclaim their religion are often accused of blasphemy, which can also be a capital offence.

In recent years, there have been increasing incidents of attacks on Christian churches seen as the focus for conversion activity — in Pakistan, Egypt, India, Indonesia and others — in which many Christian believers have died.

The new code — initially promoted by the Geneva-based WCC, which unites a wide range of Protestant and Orthodox churches — says conversion “is the work of the Holy Spirit”.

But Christians should “conduct themselves with integrity, charity, compassion and humility, and overcome all arrogance, condescension and disparagement” with regard other religions.

However, it declared that religious freedom — which many activists argue does not exist in Muslim countries — and the “right to publicly profess, practice, propagate and change one’s religion” are based in human dignity.

And it calls on governments “to ensure that freedom of religion is properly and comprehensively respected, recognising that in many countries religious institutions and persons are inhibited from exercising their mission”.

(Editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Alastair Macdonald)

Binayak Sen – connecting the dots.

Arindam Bandyopadhyay

(published in www.ivarta.com)

Fans of Dr. Binayak Sen, a Maoist sympathizer, convicted with life imprisonment for charges of sedition and anti-national activities, by trial court and whose initial bail appeal was rejected by Chhattisgarh high court, have ample reasons for jubilation in recent times. Not only did the Supreme Court grant him a bail but he was also appointed to the National Health Planning Commission’s steering committee.

It is no secret that Dr Sen enjoys a huge popularity and has a long list of national and international supporters, including Nobel laureates like Amartya Sen, other prominent Indians including leftist academician Romila Thapar, Christian leader John Dayal, ill-famed activists Teesta Setalvad, self proclaimed Swami Agnivesh and Suzanna Arundhati Roy, a seditionist and a pro-Maoist herself.

Statements of support for him had come from Amnesty International, The Global Health Council, and various national and international institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge of United States.

His arrest has even been lamented on a British Medical Journal editorial and termed a ‘mockery of justice’ by Lancet, another medical journal form England.

No wonder, he was endorsed by 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights and the South Korean Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in 2011.

The Binayak Sen case has brought our judicial system on to the dissection table. A section of the citizen seem to think that trial court and high court decisions need not be honored and respected, unless a verdict is favorable. The widespread nature of the protests and the vitriolic condemnation that was thrown from all quarters at the lower court’s decision just because it was against the likings of Dr Sen and his supporters, starting from the Maoists themselves up to those in Vatican City, defies logic, unless it is believed that some people think they are special and hence above ‘common laws’ of the country. Unfortunately such whirlwind of protest has also dragged in many unsuspecting onlookers from various walks of life, from students to general public, artists to intellectuals, to join the demonstration across the country and abroad.

Nevertheless, in the imperfect socio-political system that we belong to, where scams and scandals are tumbling from the closet almost daily, there is bound to be some skepticism when unusual things happens specially involving controversial people. And most will agree that nominating Binayak Sen, who has not yet been cleared from his sentence for life imprisonment for charges of sedition and anti-national activities, to the National Health Planning Commission’s steering committee is not only unusual but also against all norms and propriety

The least one can hope is that our Prime Minister, who happens to be the Chairman of the Planning Commission is made aware so that he cannot plead ignorance as he did with the appointment of P J Thomas as the Central Vigilance Commissioner

But in reality it is clear that some strong power is backing Dr Sen. This is obvious from the mind-boggling support and patronage that Dr Sen has been provided all along, including that of multiple Nobel Laureates. One can further judge the level of international interest and influence by the fact that a team of Europeon Union delegates had requested and was actually allowed to attend and monitor Dr Sen.’s court hearings following approval by hidden hands in the External Affairs Ministry of the Government of India.

Surely Binayak Sen is not the first or the only accused, who feels that he may be a victim of injustice, nor is his case the biggest or the most significant in an international or even national scale. Thus it would be extremely naïve to assume that he just got very lucky to draw the huge amount of national and international attention.

As expected, a large group of Dr Sen’s supporters belong to the leftist – quasi liberal – pseudo secular and minority focused Indian civil right activists groups who are often seen up in arms in an orchestrated fashion against common interests, but only in selected cases that give them enough fame and mileage. In the past, they were heard protesting the Gujarat riots of 2002 or the Orissa riots of 2008 but they never spend a word on the 58 Hindus burnt alive in the Godhra express carnage or the brutal killing of the 84 year old, Hindu Swami Lakshmanananda and his associates as the cause of those riots. You did not hear them lament for the lives of our security forces but saw them meeting hardliner separatist leaders for peace initiative, whatever that means. Intriguingly, while elsewhere in the world, Islam and Christianity are in religious conflicts, it is interesting that in India they work shoulder to shoulder whenever they find a cause to fight the majority Hindus.

Perhaps they learn this art of selectivity from the international human rights organizations like Amnesty International that has been up against the Sri Lanka government for coming down heavily against LTTE, an organization with open Christian ties but somehow miss the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits.

It is a profitable and thriving business to be a civil activist or to be associated with a non-Government organization (NGO). Besides providing a sense of superiority and the right to criticize indiscriminately, it also provides an opportunity for continuous limelight and media attention, without necessarily shouldering any responsibility. Most NGOs are not people’s organizations as they are projected but often facades of some well-connected and well-off people.

Indian NGOs collectively receive huge financial support from abroad, often in unaccountable deals. In the decade 2000-2009, about 36000 Indian NGOs received foreign funding of Rs.69,000 crores and in 2008-09 only 55% of them reported their accounts. For some NGOs, up to 70% expenditure is done on establishment and travels.

A large number of these Indian NGOs have western connections and often are religiously affiliated to Christianity and / or involved in missionary sponsored activities. Western money funded, Christian NGOs top the list of foreign contribution recipients and it is now an open secret that at least some of that money is spent on various nefarious activities like money laundering, illegal conversion and other blatant anti-Indian use, including funding Maoists and Terrorists.

According to Tehelka, almost all evangelical organizations in India and non-Catholic churches and the Christian NGOs get their funding from their American patrons or from USAID. The largest of such, World Vision, has consultative status with UNESCO and partnerships with UN agencies like UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR and ILO. Thus one can imagine their reach and influence. World Vision’s conversion activities and NGO-Maoist nexus was accused as the root cause of separating the tribal of Orissa that lead to the Khandamal Riot after the brutal killings of Swami Lakshmanananda in 2008 that was carefully camouflaged as Maoist violence. It is used as the harping point of the dubious United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to keep India on a watch list that was gleefully welcomed by John Dayal, secretary of the All India Christian Council.

These self-appointed foreign religious policemen conveniently overlook such Christian sponsored terrorist outfits of North East Indian states like the Nagaland and Tripura or the large-scale conversions and ethnic cleansing sponsored by the Church of Mizoram and neighboring Assam.

To sum up, there seem to be a Christian – western scheme working in full gear in India, where unaccountable foreign money is pouring into India as ‘aid’, that is further funneled though well organized NGOs and activists, who claim to work in tribal and backward areas for development of the “poor and downtrodden”. In effect though, they are involved, overtly or covertly, in various subversive activities. These same areas then happen to give birth to separatists like Maoists and terrorist organizations, which flourish and not unexpectedly happen to promote Christian agendas including illegal conversions and ethnic cleansing. They instigate local agitation with terror and mayhem and then cry foul when retaliated upon or when law and order machinery works against them, taking shelter under such umbrellas as ‘human rights’ or ‘minority protection’ as applicable. They further utilize their civil society friends and other support system including the paid media, to spread their story to national and international audience, in an effort to create pressure over local bodies, judiciary and government alike.

What has all of this to do with Binayak Sen?

Besides being a hotbed for Maoist activities, Chhattisgarh state has also been the site of persistent Christian protests for its anti conversion stand. The CM of Chhattisgarh, Mr. Raman Singh had this to say recently, regarding protests against Binayak Sen’s arrest, “…during the last two years, no one from Chhattisgarh has led a protest in any town, village or city. These protesters came from outside—they would come in aeroplanes, wearing good clothes and perfume. No one recognized that these well-dressed people were coming from France and London. … (Sen) has links with NGOs that work in Chhattisgarh. His close links with missionaries are well known.”

Thus one wonders whether the support of Dr Sen especially from international personnel and organization has anything to do with his association with NGOs, Christians and missionaries.

While Dr Sen has been convicted for his role in pro Maoist activities and while even Church leaders admit that Maoists are sympathetic to the Church and are supporting the priests in carrying out their missionary activities, we are not aware of any direct association between Dr Sen and evangelical or missionary activities though there are ample evidences to suggest that there is a huge Christian backing for him.

Incidentally, Binayak Sen and his wife have an NGO outfit called Rupantar, which reportedly harbored Maoist employees and had bank accounts worth Rs. 4 million without tax returns.

According to his wife, Binayak Sen is associated with Indian Social Institute (ISI) that claims to be engaged in strengthening the people’s movements particularly from among the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, the most Backward Castes, the Minorities, the unorganized and landless laborers and women and incidentally its governing body board members are almost exclusively Christians by name.

Of further interest are news of Christian leaders distressed over conviction of Dr Sen, of the solidarity expressed by The National Council of (Protestant) Churches in India (NCCI) against his conviction, and of the vigor with which his news are published on websites that specialize in Christian prosecution.

In their organized protest including a letter to the PM, representatives of the Delhi Christian community actually compared the ‘situation’ of Binayak Sen to that of Jesus Christ himself and blamed, in a blanket statement, that Human rights defenders are being targeted, and silenced, by all sorts of forces – from sections of the judiciary, administration and police on the one hand to political extremists on the other hand.

One wonders why the Christians leaders are so specifically concerned for Dr Sen?

In this context, it is curious that the first recipient of the South Korean Gwangju Prize for Human Rights award, which Dr Sen got in 2011, was a similar militant and Jesuit activist from Indonesia, who was instrumental in carving out the new Christian country of East Timor with Western aid.

In his defense one may argue that Dr. Binayak Sen, a product of the Vellore Christian Medical College, did actually start working with the poor and underprivileged but somewhere, intentionally or unintentionally, got trapped in the Maoist ideology, like so many others did in the late 60s- early 70s, during the Naxal movements of West Bengal. It is possible that he is just an innocent person who happened to be with wrong people at wrong time and in the process developed some significant acquaintances with Maoists, ending up giving shelters or providing money or acting as an intermediary?

It is even feasible that his popularity is now been used by the central government, aided by civil society activists and NGOs against the state government for political gain. Many of these supporting activists (including noted anti-Hindu personalities like Harsh Mander, John Dayal and Teesta Setalvad) actually also grace the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council which is a superpower that govern the UPA government headed by a meek and often ignorant Prime Minister. As expected, many of these  NAC key members had lambasted the Chhattisgarh trial court ruling calling it a “crime,” a “disgrace” to democracy, a politically motivated “kangaroo trial, with total disregard to the judiciary of the country.

Is there a role of the Catholic high command of the Congress Party or her close and trusted predominantly non-Hindu, associates? In the current state of affairs, where loyal and bogus activists are given free reign to draft rules and supervise over important government institutions though the NAC, one do worry whether indeed we are seeing the making of a banana republic out of India. The recent U turn of Anna Hazare once again confirms that these civil society activist are meant to play special roles that suits the UPA governmant.

The offer and specially the timing of the Planning Commission appointment for Dr Sen make one wonder whether it is part of the sinister design.

Hopefully in due time we will come to know the whole story which our media is too hesitant to investigate or publish now.

Despite our wish to the contrary, we are aware that occasionally our court can be infallible too, as we recently experienced when the honorable Supreme Court chose to reverse its own statement on conversion. We hope that this time, our judiciary stands up and deliver proper justice without being influenced by the cacophony of protests, orchestrated by various vested interest groups of national and international communities.

It is obvious that Dr Binayak Sen, despite being convicted for charges of sedition and anti-national activities, by lower court and high court, has a long list of national and international supporters. 

These include Nobel laureates Noam Chomsky and Amartya Sen, and several Indians including leftist academics like professor Romila Thapar, Lawyers like Prashant Bhushan, Christian leaders like John Dayal and ill-famed activists like Teesta Setalvad and Swami Agnivesh who have all lined up to demand his freedom

Statements of support for him had come from Amnesty International, The Global Health Council, and various national and international institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University, Jadavpur University, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge of United States, Tata Institute of Social Science and Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata,

His arrest has even been lamented on a British Medical Journal editorial and termed a ‘mockery of justice’ by Lancet, another medical journal form England.

No wonder, he was endorsed by the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights in 2008 and the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in 2011.

Furthermore, Europeon Union delegates expressed their desire to visit Dr Sen’s court hearings and sure enough some unseen hands in the Indian government allowed  these people to ‘monitor’ our court.

This is what the CM of Chhattisgarh, Mr Raman Singh had to say,  “As a doctor, no one knew Sen in Chhattisgarh. …….. during the last two years, no one from Chhattisgarh has led a protest in any town, village or city. These protesters came from outside—they would come in aeroplanes, wearing good clothes and perfume. No one recognised that these well-dressed people were coming from France and London. … (Sen) has links with NGOs that work in Chhattisgarh. His close links with missionaries are well known.”

Interestingly Christian leaders have been specifically distressed over conviction of Dr Sen, lending support that there is a different angle to the whole story which our English media is too afraid to investigate or publish. After all the existence of Maoists and Christists nexus is not unknown in tribal belts of India where conversion activities are creating havoc. 

 

UPA endorses a Maoist

 Seditionist on Planning Commission panel

It is absurd, to say the least, that the UPA Government, obviously acting on the instructions of the Congress, should have thought it fit to nominate Binayak Sen, found guilty of being involved with Maoist activity in Chhattisgarh and sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of sedition, to the Planning Commission’s steering committee on health. Binayak Sen has been sentenced by the trial court; his appeal against the verdict is pending in the High Court. The reason he is out of jail is not because the verdict has been overturned, but the Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, has granted him bail that was denied by the lower courts. It is possible — and there are sufficient examples of courts letting off offenders for a variety of reasons that do not require elaboration —that the Supreme Court may ultimately absolve Binayak Sen of the charges framed against him and upheld by the trial court. That verdict would have to be accepted as it is the highest court of the land. But as BJP leader Arun Jaitley has pointed out in a separate matter, the fact that the Supreme Court is the highest court of justice does not necessarily make it infallible. That apart, for the moment Binayak Sen stands guilty as charged; he cannot be, indeed must not be, treated at par with law-abiding citizens of this country. In brief, he cannot be considered for membership of a Planning Commission committee as that would be tantamount to making a mockery of the laws that are meant to control criminal deeds and punish those who wage war on the state by willingly, actively associating themselves with terrorists — in this case Maoists. Let us not forget that Binayak Sen was charged — and found guilty — under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, which has been amended by the UPA regime to effectively combat terrorism of all hues, and the Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam, 2005, which is meant to specifically deal with the Red menace. It was not a kangaroo court that tried Binayak Sen, but a secular court of the republic.

By nominating Binayak Sen to the Planning Commission’s steering committee on health — on the specious pretext that he has done ‘sterling’ work as a “people’s doctor” for which he has won foreign awards — the Government has questioned the very legitimacy of a law it has in the past showcased as an instrument to fight terrorism as well as a State-specific law it has approved as necessary to deal with Maoists. The Left-liberal intelligentsia, which has never been known for being mindful of the national interest and whose leading members are known for being propagandists of those who wage war on the nation, especially the Maoists, has been the most vocal in its support for Binayak Sen, as have been NGOs with dubious records. This is not surprising. But that the Government should have acted in such manner is both surprising and shocking. Are we to assume that the National Advisory Council, which is stuffed with Left-liberals and jholawallahs, is behind the decision to nominate Binayak Sen as a member of the Planning Commission’s steering committee on health? That would be of a piece with the ‘Save Binayak Sen’ campaign that has been mounted ever since he was arrested for acting as a courier of top Maoist leaders, facilitating their stay and movements in Chhattisgarh.

Binayak Sen: Convicted of sedition, advising the plan panel

 DNA / R Vaidyanathan / Friday, May 20, 2011 3:13 IST

 Within weeks of getting bail from the Supreme Court in connection with charges of sedition, Binayak Sen has been made a member of the Planning Commission’s steering committee on health, which will advise the panel on the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-2017). Interestingly the mainstream media reported Sen as a human rights activist — whatever it is — rather than his conviction for sedition. The steering committee will review the National Health Policy, 2002, and explore the possibility of adopting the right to health as an approach with special focus on women, children, life-cycle care and preventive and curative healthcare.

Other than doing seditious activities, Sen is supposed to be running a healthcare organisation in Bilaspur and so Syeda Hameed, another jholawala [silk variety, not jute] in the Planning Commission, has appointed him as a part of the 40-member committee on health chaired by her. Hameeda’s claim to fame is being from Miranda House and a human rights activist, and a founder of the South Asian Human Rights group other than researching on Bhutto. None of it has anything to do with health.

His appointment has been confirmed by Montek Singh Ahuluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, and the chairman of the Planning Commission, namely the PM, will claim, as usual, that he knows nothing about such events. Binayak Sen himself has also been gracious to accept it.

Many of the civil society groups, both in the NAC and outside, are silent. The rule of law is primary and critical for these groups if it is pertains to Narendra Modi’s Gujarat but not to the naxals of Chhattisgarh. The session’s court has convicted Binayk Sen for sedition and facilitating Maoist insurgency, which seeks to destroy the Indian State and replace it with the dictatorship of the proletariat, where power stems from the barrel of the gun controlled by the politburo.

The conviction (remember these are not allegations) was upheld by the Jharkhand high court and he was refused bail. There was a hue and cry after the high court judgment, with reports mentioning him as a doctor and globally known right activist who has won several awards. As if a Nobel laureate, for instance, cannot be a murderer.

Suddenly, the mainstream media (MSM), which is part of the civil society jholawalas, forgot about the rule of law and the need to respect judicial verdicts. Then the Supreme Court gave him bail, which was reported by the MSM as Sen “walking free”. That is a distortion since he is still a convicted person and is out on bail.

Sedition, as we all understand, is a serious charge and there are civil rights groups that carefully tabulate the number of convicts and accused criminals standing for election. They have reported the number of persons with a criminal background in the various legislative assemblies and even in parliament. Civil groups and MSM routinely condemn their presence in these august bodies.

Sen has not committed a misdemeanour but felony, or a very serious crime. Unless he is acquitted, he is a convict for sedition.

He may be the national vice-president of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties, but he cannot work to destroy all our liberties under a Maoist rule.

The chief minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh, has expressed his indignation at the appointment of a convict for sedition by the central government in the Planning Commission. Baijendra Kumar, principal secretary to the chief minister, said that “the chief minister had disapproved of Sen’s nomination as he is convicted and out on bail. The case against him continues in court.”

But Raman Singh is merely an elected chief minister and not an unelectable jholawala — who currently hold de facto power at Delhi. It is all the more surprising that the ministry of home affairs is silent.

What next? Arundhati Roy, who is accused of treason, can be put in the National Integration Council and of course, Kasab can be part of the foreign ministry panel on Indo-Pak Aman ki Asha. And rule of Law – what is that?

Evangelical Christianity: Devils in high places

DNA / Yogesh Pawar / Sunday, March 27, 2011 2:00 IST

 

In his explosive new book The Armies Of God: A Study In Militant Christianity, British-born, Malaysia-based academic Iain Buchanan blows the lid off a subject that most scholars and journalists tend to shy away from: the rise of US evangelism as a force in global affairs. 

His book looks at how some of the powerful evangelical outfits operate — often as US government proxies — in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and of course, India, and the disastrous effects this has had on the relationship between the Christian West and non-Christian cultures, religious communities and nations. He also unmasks the role played by the seemingly secular ‘success motivation’ industry, and its leadership gurus such as Zig Ziglar and Ken Blachard, who are not only management experts but also conscious agents of US-style Christian evangelism.

Excerpts from an interview:

What led you to write this book?

I grew up in an agnostic family with respect for spirituality of all kinds — from animism to true Christianity. I suppose one of my strongest incentives for writing the book was to show how, in the West, inherently decent things like liberal secularism and Christian spirituality (no necessary conflict here!) are so deeply corrupted by political power and so dishonestly vaunted as marks of cultural superiority.

Not many would want to come out in the open and talk about the issues raised in your book. Was that a concern for you?

In the West, certainly, there is a reluctance to enquire too deeply into the affairs of organised Christianity — both at home and overseas. Western culture is a deeply, subliminally Christian culture, and even committed secularists have trouble avoiding Christian parameters in their arguments, and recognising the Christian capacity for wrong-doing. Among other things, this leads to a rather benign view of the behaviour of our missionaries overseas — fed partly by ignorance, and partly by a sense that the Christian mission can be equated with civilisation. And such myopia has increased dramatically over the past 40 years, as the secular West has managed to define a global order largely in its own terms, with decisive help from its Christian missionaries. By contrast, of course, the behaviour of non-Christians (especially Muslims) is scrutinised ruthlessly, misunderstood, and demonised.

Academics who have attempted to study the work of missionaries in India have been accused of helping the right-wing Hindutva brigade. Has this been your experience too?

The glib response to this would be to say that religious extremism of any kind needs to be exposed. But it is more complex than this. There is a need to go beyond the purely religious objection to Christian missionising, and examine the global forces which define it, and which are subverting countries like India in a far more comprehensive and profound way than most people realise.

A key contention of my book is that the extremism of Christian evangelicals is no more benign than the extremism found in non-Christian religious groups. Indeed, its local impact can be hugely destructive — precisely because of its ability to draw upon a vast global network of forces (including powerful secular ones), and its ability to penetrate and shape local forces, whether they be ethnic, religious, political, or social, according to alien priorities.

You speak at length of the US’s use of Christianity for it own geopolitical designs. Is this manifestly part of US strategy worldwide?

Most Western leaders (not just Bush and Blair) will claim they are inspired by their Christian beliefs. Sometimes, as with both Reagan and George W Bush, they quote chapter and verse in support of policy, although usually it is not so blatant. Certainly, deep in Washington, self-professedly Christian pressure groups (like the Fellowship Foundation and the Council for National Policy) have a highly influential membership and a powerful grip on policy.

Of course, one can debate whether US strategy is manifestly Christian in inspiration — few Americans would say it is not, although most would probably insist that such strategy is guided primarily by secular concerns.

But there is no doubt at all that US strategy makes deliberate (and somewhat cynical) use of Christian agencies in pursuit of foreign policy — and that the distinction between the religious and the secular is deliberately blurred in the process. There are over 600 US-based evangelical groups, some as big as large corporations, and between them they constitute a vast and highly organised network of global influence, purposefully targeting non-Christians, and connecting and subverting every sector of life in the process.

Most of the major evangelical corporations (like World Vision, Campus Crusade, Youth with a Mission, and Samaritan’s Purse) operate in partnership with the US government in its pursuit of foreign policy goals. World Vision, which is effectively an arm of the State Department, is perhaps the most notable example of this. There is also the benefit of a custom-built legislation, with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 providing necessary sanction to bring errant nations into line.

This means that evangelisation is an intensely secular pursuit, as well as a religious one. In turn, of course, the secular powers, whether they be departments of state or corporate businesses, find such evangelicals to be very effective partners.

Indeed, most missionaries are not obviously religious. A case in point is the Success Motivation industry.Many of the most popular ‘leadership gurus’ — Zig Ziglar, Paul Meyer, Os Hillman, Richard DeVos, John C. Maxwell, and Ken Blanchard, for example — are not just management experts, they are also evangelical Christians and conscious agents of US-style evangelisation. Conversely, groups which, on the face of it, are primarily religious, may also serve a powerful secular agenda, such as the collection of intelligence, the grooming of political or commercial elites, or the manipulation of local conflicts.

Some accuse the church of fomenting dissent among poor tribals by exploiting them; others say the church is a liberating force. This debate has gone on for decades in India’s North-East. What is your view?

The situation of India’s tribal people, like that of tribal people elsewhere in Asia, is certainly tragic. And it may be that Christian activity offers an opportunity to escape the various forms of homegrown oppression — state and corporate abuse, Hindu contempt, and so on. But Christianity in India is a very diverse thing. There are many situations where the Christian church has taken firm root, and is deeply involved in local administration, social welfare, education, and so on. Nagaland is a case in point. There are movements for tribal welfare elsewhere which are Christian-inspired and doing excellent work.

But there are many cases, too, of evangelical missions which go into tribal areas with little respect for local realities, and with an agenda far removed from tribal welfare. In this, they may be no better and no worse than the home-grown oppressor. But there is an important difference. Such missionaries often belong to an evangelical network whose strategic purpose is defined elsewhere, and which has little loyalty to the local population, its cultures, its communities, and its welfare, let alone to the nation as a whole. This is particularly true of the new breed of US-inspired evangelicals, led by Baptists and Pentecostalist/Charismatics, who have spearheaded evangelisation over the past 50 years. It is the working of this wider, and self-consciously global, structure of behaviour which is of concern.

It is unfortunate that missions doing good work in tribal areas have their efforts tarnished by others whose approach is more opportunistic and exploitative. For the new evangelicals, distaste for paganism is just part of the equation — oppressed tribal groups are a relatively easy target to penetrate in a much wider war against non-Christians generally, and for influence in strategic (especially border) areas. In this respect, even a relatively long-established Christian presence — as in Nagaland — has utility as a strategic outpost.

These are turbulent times for India as its number of hungry and poor are growing exponentially even as the wealthy in the cities are becoming billionaires. Does this make harvesting of souls easy? Do missionaries love turbulence?

It certainly seems, sometimes, that evangelicals thrive on suffering and disaster. India’s own KP Yohannan, for example, welcomed the tsunami of 2004 as “one of the greatest opportunities God has given us to share His love with people” — and he was only one of many expressing such sentiments. There is no question that many evangelicals exploit the poor and marginalised for reasons which have a lot to do with narrow theology and political self-interest, and relatively little to do with long-term practical help.

But evangelicals court the wealthy and the powerful of a society with equal passion. One of the most telling features of the new evangelism is the way it has turned Christianity into a force for protecting the rich and powerful. US Protestantism, in particular, has worked hard to undermine the impulse in the church towards social justice and reform. A measure of its success has been the defeat of Liberation Theology and the remarkable expansion of US Pentecostalism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. More than a quarter of all Christians now belong to Pentecostalist and Charismatic churches.

In these, as in most new evangelical churches, great attention is paid to a ‘theology’ of economics which stresses individual profit, corporate obedience, the sanctity of making money, and the power of “miracles, signs, and wonders.”This ‘theology’ is a key part of modern imperialism: it offers something to both rich and poor, it is safely counter-revolutionary, and it ties tightly into the wider global network of more secular influences (in business, government, education, the media, the military) which underpins Western expansion.

So the evangelical church has a key role to play in a society as disparate as India’s. It is a form of social management: it gives divine sanction to the rich, it gives hope to the struggling middle class, and it cultivates discipline (and distraction) amongst the poor — and it does all this with a keen eye to the West’s self-interest. This is not to suggest that India does not have its own mechanisms for doing the same things. But such evangelisation, as a concomitant of Westernisation, is bound to strengthen as India urbanises and looks ever more Westwards.

A recent issue of the Texas-based magazine, Gospel For Asia, says: “The Indian sub-continent with one billion people, is a living example of what happens when Satan rules the entire culture… India is one vast purgatory in which millions of people …. are literally living a cosmic lie! Could Satan have devised a more perfect system for causing misery?” How and why does such propaganda work in a developed country like the US in the era of the Internet and the media?

There are two important points here. First, we must not assume that the ‘developed’ West is free from wilful ignorance. Indeed, wilful ignorance is often a very useful weapon. We need enemies, and, as religious people, we need demons. The utility of Islamophobia is a case in point.Besides, there’s a useful role for such bigotry within the system: as a foil for the liberal powerful to prove their liberal credentials.

But such attitudes are nothing new, of course. Christians have waged such ‘spiritual warfare’ against their enemies for centuries, and with the same kind of language. What is new is the vastly increased facility, offered by the electronic media, for fighting such a war. And this is the second point.

New technology is spreading, and hardening, such bigotry. Since the mid-1960s, the evangelical movement has systematically computerised its entire global operation, creating huge databases of information on its non-Christian enemies, centralising administration, and linking some 500 million ‘Christian computers’ worldwide for the purposes of fighting ‘spiritual warfare’ against non-believers in strategic places. And ‘spiritual warfare’, for the evangelical Christian movement, is not just a matter of prayers and metaphor: it is also, very decisively, a matter of ‘virtuous’ troops, tanks, and drones.

Arindam Bandyopadhyay

(also published in http://www.indiacause.com/blog/2011/03/17/conversion-corruption-congress-bloody-indians/)

Recently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured a Christian delegation  that he was trying to evolve a consensus on granting Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. This is interesting since just a few days ago; the Gujarat High Court has rejected a plea filed by a converted Christian seeking access to benefits extended to him earlier as a Scheduled Caste Hindu  

In addition the Prime Minister reportedly promised “to act on the Saldanha report on violence against minorities in Karnataka”. This is in reference to the independent inquiry report of Michael Saldanha, of The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (Catholic but Secular? Hmm!), a retired judge of the Bombay and Karnataka High Courts, (and just happen to be the President of the Catholic Association of South Kanara or Dakshina Kannada, the place where violent incidents had taken place) in which he accused the state government, including the Chief Minister, B. S. Yeddyurappa and the former home minister, Dr. V. S. Acharya, for playing active roles on the 2008 attacks on churches in Karnataka.  

However that accusation was not supported by another recent Commission of Inquiry by Justice B.K. Somasekhara that reported  (among other things)  

(a) There is no basis to the apprehension of Christian petitioners that the Politicians, BJP, mainstream Sangha Parivar and State Govt. directly or indirectly, are involved in the attacks.

(b) Some incidents of attack are true, some self inflicted, some make believe, some blown out of proportions and some totally politicized. 

(c) The issue of conversions and circulation of derogatory literature with insulting attitude against Hindus has been the recurring impressions of large number of Hindu petitioners and is being projected as the reason for attack. 

(d) There appears to be no conversions at all by Roman Catholic Churches or its members except for routine purposes like marriage or voluntary instances. But there are clear indications of conversions to Christianity in the districts of Bangalore, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bellary, Davanagere, Chikkamagalur, Udupi by few organizations and self styled or self appointed Pastors continuing as Hindus by religion for all benefits of law by circumstances and inducements and as a commercial bargain using unaccounted local and funds of the foreign countries but not necessarily by compulsion or fraud or coercion but definitely by inducements.

Despite officially being only 2.3% of the population (2001 census) Christians in India have been a privileged class. It is hard to believe the allegation that Christians are victims of discrimination. Perhaps unknown to many, the church controls 30 percent of academic institutions and 22 percent of health services in the country. After the Government of India, it is the church that possesses the largest landed property in the country, and a major portion of this land is in posh areas. Over 70% of the 25 million official Christians are converted from the section of Hindu schedule castes and schedule tribes, but even after being promised an egalitarian status in their new faith, they hardly get the same benefits that their upper caste Christian leaders enjoy. They still remain dalits – hence the term Dalit Christians! Conversion to Christianity has not redeemed the 19 million Dalit Christians from social discrimination and untouchability. It has only added to their misery. Conversion disqualifies the Dalit Christians from a whole lot of constitutionally guaranteed protection and privileges, which the Church leaders would like them, continue to enjoy, as part of maximum leverage that they can extract from the government and the society. Hence is the attempt to claim the SC status and benefits for Dalit Christians.

The vast majority of the Christian community of India is happy to coexist with other religious followers within the secular framework of India, but the same is not true about the Christian leadership in the country. Christians at large, like most Hindus, are perhaps not even aware of the menace of conversion by force, allurement or other unethical means that is the root cause of conflict between the followers of Christ and members of other dominant faith, especially in the tribal areas in the country. The Christian community is often held as pawns when the fight against fraudulent conversions to Christianity is projected as a campaign against Christians themselves by the power brokers and by local, national as well as international media. One is tempted to ask that if there is no fraudulent conversion activity, why are the Church leaders bothered with anti-conversion bills

Foreign funds are increasingly pouring into India and the vast majority go to Christian organizations. The church is long suspected to be involved in nefarious and subversive activities in India as they have been in Nepal and Sri Lanka. The hand-in-glove relationship of separatists and Maoists with the missionaries and the church in India is now an open secret. Conversion activities are in full gear, and evangelists are much more daring over the last several years. It is not too difficult to understand that all of this is happening because of overt or covert patronage of the Catholic President of the Congress Party.

India is being sold out, her traditions and values eroded and her civilization disintegrated by her own people.

Ironically this Congress boasts to carry the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi, who had proudly proclaimed, “I am not interested in weaning you from Christianity and making you Hindu, and I do not relish your designs upon me, if you had any, to convert me to Christianity. I would also dispute your claim that Christianity is the only true religion …… I hold that proselytizing under the cloak of humanitarian work is unhealthy to say the least.”  

Like Muslims leaders, the Christian leaders and Church authorities are pampered by the Congress lead UPA government for their dirty vote bank politics. The Christian community has an unwritten alliance with the current Congress Party and that is obviously due to the presence of Sonia Gandhi as its leader. This explains the disproportionate percentage of Christians like Ambika Soni, A K Anthony, Ajit Jogi, the late Y S Reddy, Margaret Alva, Oommen Chandy Oscar Fernandes, P N Sangma and Digvijay Singh in her close circle within the Congress Party over the last few years. Many of these people (along with the presence of Ahmed Patel, Gulam Nabi Azad and Salman Khurshid, all Muslims), as core members of Sonia’s think tank has been the reason for concerns for the majority Hindus, who apprehend that they are cornered in their own country and their interests are not dealt with appropriate values to their rights and sentiments. This is substantiated by the handling of the government of such issues as the Amarnath shrine, the Ram Setu or the Ayodhya issues.

Also obvious is the promotion of noted anti Hindu, Christians of debatable integrity in various important posts and positions in the government, under controversial circumstances. One may recall how Rev. Valson Thampu a Christian theologian, who had a brief and controversial tenure as Principal of St Stephen’s College, Delhi, was made the Chairman of NCERT Curriculum Review Committee and member of the National Minorities Commission and the National Integration Council (NIC).

Another such member of the National Integration Council is Mr. John Dayal, the President of All India Christian Council who was thus assessed by a fellow Christian, PN Benjamin, who runs the Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue, “John Dayal opens his mouth and wields his pen only to spew venom on the Hindu community.” 

In this regard, it is to be remembered that many converted Christians keep their Hindu names. It is also often difficult to ascertain the religious affiliations of such person, because our media often conveniently fail to disclose that kind of information for non-Hindus.

It is intriguing that some of the names that surfaced in the recent allegations of corruption and infamy happen to be Christians. One of them is K G Balakrishnan, former Chief Justice and current Chairman of National Human Rights Commission. Another name that came up in the 2G scam involving the disgraced telecom Minister A Raja, is Father Jegath Gaspel, accused as a main link for Tamil Tigers in India, whose NGO office was raided by CBI, in relation to the telecom scam. Our Prime Minister however has selective amnesia and needs to be reminded from time to time; often by the court that he is leading a corrupt Government. Perhaps out of shame and disgrace Mr. Honest Prime Minister finally admitted “an error of judgment”  in the appointment of another tainted Christian, PJ Thomas as Chief Vigilance Commissioner.

Thus it seems that there is a pattern where tainted persons are given prestigious positions by Congress lead UPA government (remember the controversial appointment of Chief Election Commissioner, Mr. Navin Chawla, author of a biography on Mother Teresa and recipient of the Italian government’s Mazzini Award for his contribution to promoting ties between India and Italy), and it is more than coincidental that quite often these persons come with a Christian background.  

The Prime Minister may be a ‘super-academician’ with an impressive CV but he must be a fool to underestimate the intelligence of the aam aadmi. Corruption, manipulation and arm-twisting have been integral parts of Congress success all along. The aam aadmi knows that all these irregularities occur around the PM, either because he has full consent to it or else because he does not have any power to oppose them, which substantiate the accusation of being a weak and lame duck PM, despite his meek protest.  

Thus when the Prime Minister promises action “to allay fears and insecurity Christians are experiencing”, it cannot be good news for the majority community. This is the same PM who once announced that Muslims have first right to national resources, repeatedly failing to rise above petty political and religious bias. One recalls that he was quick to condemn the Khandamal riots as national shame without giving a moment of thought on the brutal assassination of Swami Lakshmananda and his associates or trying to understand the resentment of the tribal’s as the root cause of the riots. Despite censors, news does come out about mutual accommodation between the Church and the Maoists. It cannot be that hard for the Prime Minister to find out about Radhakant Nayak, the chief of the local chapter of World Vision and his suspected role in the conspiracy to kill Swami Lakshmananda. He remains scot-free off course, being a Christian Congress MP.

Thus it was not at all surprising when recently Mr. Ninong Ering, the person who called the Hindu Guru, Baba Ramdev a “bloody Indian turned out to be a Christian Congress MP. Neither was it coincidental that the bloody Indian happened to be a Hindu Guru donning saffron attire and revered by millions of followers, national and international. 

Has the PM ever cared for the feelings and sentiments of Hindus, the majority population of the country? He has highlighted Gujarat riot on multiple occasion but did anybody hear him spend a word of empathy for the 59 karsevaks, burned to death in the Sabarmati express at Godhra, even after the court’s recent verdict of Muslim lead conspiracy?. 

The PM and his government, his party and its high command, should better realize that the majority of people with Indian blood are aware, despite the best efforts of a biased and soul-less media, that the Christ – influenced and corrupt Congress Party lead by Sonia Gandhi is becoming a threat to the nation.

They, the bloody Indians, had once thrown the mighty British Empire out. Rest assured when the time comes, they will not hesitate to do the same with the current rulers, to save their country.

Fraudulent Conversion is an invasion of the sovereignty of our nation by the imperial Western colonialists. It is unfortunately, mostly trapping the unknowing and ignorant,  poverty-stricken, tribal communities, while the majority community remains dispassionate about the slow erosion of the Indic society, caused by the harvestors of souls.

Fraudulent Conversion happens because there is a overt or covert backing of the secular (read anti Hindu) leadership of the country, starting from the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi.

 

The question of Evangelism in India

 

Suhag A. Shukla.

“Conversion, murder and India’s Supreme Court” by Mathew Schmalz, Professor of Religious Studies at College of the Holy Cross, was featured on Washington Post’s On Faith a few days ago. I take this opportunity to respond to two questions he posed, namely, “Is conversion wrong?” and “Is anger over conversion an extenuating circumstance for murder?”

I’ll respond to the second question first, as the answer is simple. No — anger over conversion is not an extenuating circumstance for murder. Violence of the kind inflicted on Graham Staines and his two young sons is wholly unacceptable, and against teachings of the Hindu religion, India’s legacy of peaceful intra and inter-religious coexistence, and the law. Many, including the Hindu American Foundation, though, see the specific comments by the Indian Supreme Court now modified, not as a basis for justifying extenuating circumstances, but rather an expression of the growing concern over foreign missionaries and their impact on India’s hallmark pluralistic ethos. This takes us back to the first question: “Is conversion wrong?”

The answer, as one might expect, is complicated. Professor Schmalz states that many Indian Protestant and Catholic denominations “eschew overt conversion efforts,” but the reason he cites as to why — that of “political repercussions” — short-changes the overriding influence Hinduism’s pluralistic worldview has had not only on Christianity, but other religions in India. India has long been a beacon of religious pluralism. The sage Hindu observation — Ekam sat vipraha bahudha vadanti (The Truth is one, the wise call It by many names) — has fostered an environment in which an unprecedented diversity of traditions and religions have, for the large part, peacefully co-existed for millennia. Like America, India’s shores accepted and sheltered the religiously persecuted — from Jews arriving 2500 years ago, to early Christians bringing the message of Christ, not to Hindus, but to their brethren, the Cochin Jews. Later came the Parsis from Iran. Others came not to escape but on their own free will — Arab Muslims to trade, and others from far away lands seeking India’s spirituality. Each one of these newcomers sought to live and let live, mixing in, as the legend goes, like sugar in milk.

But since the 12th century, starting with the Islamic invasions and colonizing European missionaries to today, India faces a different kind of religious visitor — one that seeks not to sweeten the milk, but curdle it.

Exhibit A — the evangelical Joshua Project — is just one example of what India, at the heart of the 10-40 Window, is facing. The Joshua Project is an information powerhouse — detailing logistical information about people groups around the world, and providing ideas to Evangelicals committed to mass church-planting, and in turn conversions, among every ethnic group. The data is meticulous and well-researched, and both shocking and disturbing.

The Joshua Project lists the percentage of unreached in India as 93.3% — that’s basically every Indian Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist. Last-name, clan, caste, or tribe-based communities are catalogued according to location, religious affiliation, language, and population — the data collection puts the postal systems of most developed nations to shame. Technical acronyms such as CPI, or Church Planting Indicator, with a ranking system of 0 to 5, measure the progress of church growth based on churches established and number of “believers” regularly attending. Then there’s the progress scale which allows the “Saved” to track, well … “progress” of the “Harvest” — red indicating less than 2% Evangelical and less than 5% Christian, yellow indicating less than 2% Evangelical but greater than 5% Christian, and green indicating from 2% to greater than 5% Evangelical. And of course, what worldwide project of this scale and in this century would be complete without an iPhone App?

The response by a few states in India to campaigns inspired by projects like Joshua, and what can be characterized as nothing less than primarily American and European faith-based ops intended to alter Indian religious demographics, has been what most outside of India refer to as “anti-conversion” laws. Interestingly, many of these same states, as well as Indian states with rising inter-religious tension, when cross-checked with the Joshua Project’s “progress” scale, are states that show increasing green and yellow. Some may ask, what’s the big deal? Doesn’t the 2001 Indian census indicate only 2.3% of the population as Christian? Yes, but these percentages have come under question given the fact that a large number of converts retain their Hindu names and claim Hindu status for a variety of reasons. The data from Joshua Project, which doesn’t account for non-Evangelical efforts, also suggests rapid growth.

Contrary to what “anti-conversion” laws may imply by their title, they do not outlaw the right of any individual to convert based upon genuine faith, belief, study, or religious experience. They also don’t restrict Christians who provide social services in various parts of India with no ulterior conversion motive. Most anti-conversion laws seek only to address conversions “by force, allurement, or fraudulent means.”  They are the effort of sovereign states to regulate those, mostly Christian aid groups, for which the provision of aid to these vulnerable communities is not altruistic, but rather part of a soul-saving numbers game. While such motives have proven difficult to document, media reports following the 2004 Asian Tsunami revealed incidents where missionaries actually packed up and left when the residents of some tsunami-shattered villages in India refused to convert as a precondition for receiving material aid.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and other human rights groups have long decried these laws against fraudulent conversion that have emerged throughout the 10-40 Window, or as is more affectionately referred to by some missionaries, “The Resistance Belt.” Human rights violation or denial of religious freedom are the frequently recited mantras in these “watch-dog” circles. But as adherents and advocates of a non-proselytizing, non-exclusivist, pluralistic tradition, we at the Hindu American Foundation have always asked — the religious freedom of whom? The freedom of foreign missionaries to proselytize and prey upon vulnerable, generally poor people to convert them to a myopic religious worldview that denigrates or denies the legitimacy of all other traditions, or that of adherents of mostly non-exclusivist and pluralistic traditions, to be treated medically, educated, or employed without having to sell their souls?

Religious freedom, according to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, incorporates, “the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” This concept of religious freedom has unfortunately failed to address, at the expense of adherents of pluralist and non-exclusivist religious traditions such as Hinduism and other Dharmic traditions, the right to retain one’s tradition and to be free from intrusion, harassment, intimidation, and aggressive, exploitative, and predatory proselytization by non-pluralist and exclusivist religions.

The world community has for too long turned a blind eye to aggressive and predatory proselytization and resulting conversions that have been carried out for centuries in Asia, Africa, North and South America, the Middle East and Europe. This collective complacency is counter-productive to peace and has bred a resurgence in international campaigns which harass, intimidate, and exploit the most vulnerable segments of society by, among other ethically questionable methods, conditioning humanitarian aid or economic, educational, medical or social assistance upon conversion; overtly denigrating other religions to seek converts; and intentionally promoting religious hatred, bigotry (hate speech), and violence. Conversions gained through such means must be recognized for what they are — unethical, fraudulent, forced, coerced, or provoked.

Professor Schmalz says that the concerns about conversion are unfounded. But we need only look to the annual statistics of just one missionary organization and recognize that there is a multiplicative effect.

Exhibit B — Houston-based Central India Christian Mission. In 2010 alone, its evangelical missionaries proselytized to over 320,000 people and converted more than 19,600 inhabitants — that’s enough people to fill a basketball arena — in central India. This is only one of countless U.S. based Christian organizations engaged in aggressive and predatory “soul harvesting” campaigns. Consider the plethora of Catholic and Protestant organizations that are actively pursuing the monopolistic path of religious exclusivity, and the numbers, and more importantly, the impact, are beyond mind-blowing.

Exhibit C — eye-opening information from India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act which collects data on incoming foreign aid. In 2007, the top two non-governmental donors to India were U.S.-based missionary organizations, World Vision International at ~$155 million and Gospel for Asia ~$99.5 million — together that’s $255 million into India in just one year. Overall, an astonishing 18,996 organizations in India, a disproportionate number linked to Christian missionaries, received donations totaling $2.4 billion in 2007 alone.  And the inflow has been growing rapidly. 2007 showed contributions more than double of 2002. With these numbers, how can we say the concerns are unfounded?

At the end of the day, numbers and statistics, though illustrative, fail to address the very real human factor on the losing side of the proselytization and conversion equation. Conversion, when born from genuine faith, belief, study, or religious experience, can be beautiful. But, conversion begot by aggressive or predatory proselytization is a form of violence. As one of the co-founders of HAF, Aseem Shukla, eloquently stated, “The violence of conversion is very real. The religious conversion is too often a conversion to intolerance. A convert is asked to repudiate his sangha (community), reject the customs and traditions of his family passed down for generations, and refuse to attend religious ceremonies that are the very basis of daily life in much of the world. A person’s conversion begins a cascade of upheaval that tears apart families, communities and societies creating a political and demographic tinderbox that too often explodes.”

Got milk? India does and she’d like to keep it sweet.

Also Read: 

One more evidence: Sonia led Congress working for Christians

 Interview of an ‘honest’ Christian Evangelist in India

Fraudulent Conversion: Insider’s statement