Monday, March 30, 2015

Mother Teresa wasn't a respected saint: Pro-Modi economist Jagdish Bhagwati

RSS chief Bhagwat
By Our Representative
Considered by many as one of the world’s most talented economists, who “lost” the Nobel Prize to his imminent rival, Prof Amartya Sen -- and one who has recently gone extremely close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- Prof Jagdish Bhagwati has strongly defended RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for saying that Mother Teresa was more interested in conversion of Hindus to Christianity, and less in the welfare of the poor.
Insisting that “Christians do believe in conversion, as do Muslims”, Bhagwati has defended RSS-sponsored ghar vapsi (home coming), too, wondering, “If Christians can convert non-Christians to their faith, what is wrong with Hindus doing the same?” Bhagwati decided to throw his weight behind the RSS chief more than a month after the remark created a furore across India.
Among those who criticized Bhagwat were Aam Admi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, who tweeted that he has worked with Mother Teresa for a few months at Nirmal Hriday Ashram in Kolkata, asking people to “spare” the “noble soul”, and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who said Bhagwat's remarks came from a "perverted mind".
While the Congress joined those who condemned Bhagwat, even the BJP refrained from defending the RSS chief. While parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, "The government has nothing to do with such statements”, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said, he “would not be commenting on this."
Strongly defending the RSS chief, Bhagwati says in an article in a business daily, “In fact, being a religion that does not normally convert, only a minuscule number of Hindus will do this whereas a far higher proportion of Christians and Muslims will.”
Jagdish Bhagwati
He doesn’t stop here. Bhagwati, who is professor of economics at the Columbia University, and is known to be a mentor of Arvind Panagariya, vice-chairman of Modi’s new planning body, Niti Yaayog, goes so far as to approvingly quote the opinion of those who say that “Mother Teresa is not respected as a saint”.
To prove his point, Bhagwati recalls, “Mother Teresa may have won the Nobel Peace Prize but many doubt her bona fides, including the late Christopher Hitchens whose scathing critique of her was not the only dissenting voice on her.”
Bhagwati continues in the line of fire from many, including senior academics, for still bearing the grudge for failing to “win” the Nobel Prize for economics, and “losing out” to Prof Amartya Sen.
Bhagwati says, currently, a “false alarm” is being raised in India that Christians are under threat, saying among those have raised it include well-known top-cop Julio Ribeiro. Saying that this has become a “common” thing in India today, he says, all this is happening because of “the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the decimation of the Congress by the BJP.”
Despite all this, Bhagwati claims he is a fervent “pro-Indian minorities”, and by way of examples, he says, his “wife, Padma Desai, has converted to Christianity, in a moving ceremony described by her in her memoirs, ‘Breaking Out’, published by Penguin/Viking in India and MIT Press in the US.”
Giving more pro-minority credentials, he adds, “Two of my nephews have married Christians: one is from Mumbai and is a multiple-award-winning psychiatrist practising in London and periodically in Mumbai, whereas the other is a Syrian Christian from Kerala. Another niece is married to a Parsi (who, of course, belongs to a still smaller, and equally beloved minority as Christians in India); and yet another almost married a Muslim young man.”

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