Saturday, December 27, 2014

New York Times blames Modi for failing to rein in Hindu "militants" seeking to reconvert Christians, Muslims

By Our Representative
In one of the sharpest comments in the recent past on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the powerful American daily, "The New York Times," has chose the Christmas (December 25) to editorially declare its opposition to the way in which he has been dealing with the whole issue of conversion. The daily’s editorial has said, “Hope is in danger of crumbling that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would rein in the divisive agenda of his militant Hindu-nationalist supporters and allow India to concentrate on the important work of economic reform.”
Saying that “the blame lies squarely with Modi”, the daily has, surprisingly, echoed the Opposition parties which, it points out, have insisted that “Modi must break his silence and issue a stern warning to emboldened Hindu militants before their actions turn further progress on economic reform into a sideshow, with the politics and divisiveness occupying center stage.”
The daily recalls, “During the last days of its winter session ending on Tuesday, Parliament was unable to deal with important legislative business because of repeated adjournments and an uproar over attempts by Hindu groups to convert Christians and Muslims.” Suggesting that the issue has come to a head following a ‘homecoming’ campaign by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, whom the daily terms as “groups dedicated to transforming India’s secular democracy into a Hindu state”, the daily strongly takes exception to the efforts being made to “reconvert” Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.
“In recent weeks, Hindu militants have engineered conversions of Muslims and Christians in Agra and in the states of Gujarat and Kerala”, the daily says, adding, “Police are investigating accusations that people have been induced to participate in mass conversion meetings by a combination of intimidation and bribery, including the promise of food ration cards.”
But what appears to worry more is, “attacks on Christians and their places of worship have intensified in recent weeks.” The daily cites two examples for this: “One of New Delhi’s biggest churches burned down on December 1 — arson is being blamed — and Christmas carolers were attacked on their way home in the city of Hyderabad on December 12.”
The daily suggests how the hierarchical Hindu caste system was the main reason behind past conversions, which were different from what the “Hindu militant groups” are doing right now. It says, “More than 80 percent of Indians are Hindus, but Muslims, Christians and Sikhs form important religious minorities with centuries of history in India. Religious pluralism and freedom are protected by India’s Constitution. The issue of religious conversion is contentious in India. Many Dalits, known formerly as untouchables, and other low-caste Hindus and Tribals admit they convert to Islam or Christianity primarily to escape crushing caste prejudice and oppression.”
To prove its point, the daily points towards how the “main architect of the Constitution, Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, born a Dalit, famously converted to Buddhism to escape caste-oppression under Hinduism.”
The commentary, significantly, comes close on the heels of the RSS declaring that it would make India cent per cent Hindu. The declaration has not been taken kindly by international media. Well-known site, http://www.bloombergview.com/, has noted that this comes from an "all male Hindu nationalist outfit", calling it a "crude campaign", adding, Modi’s "non-gesture" reflects his "divided allegiance between the oaths and responsibilities of his present post and the convictions and prejudices of his often murky past."

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