Skip to main content

The clever ploy of conversion: Hunting with the hound and running with the hare

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
No one can deny that Narendra Modi is very adept with ‘hunting with the hound and running with the hare’ - the latest being the ‘bogey of conversion’ which is raising plenty of heat and kicking plenty of dust all over. A clever ploy indeed!
A peep at some of the actions and utterances done in very strategic ways will provide one with an inkling of their meticulous plans to defocus from the real issues which grip the country and simultaneously target the minorities through systematic denigration.
So the ‘hindutva’ agenda hogs the limelight day-in and day-out.
Nathuram Godse, the one who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, overnight becomes a hero and a patriot; Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS Chief calls for the establishment of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (nation); a Union Minister, Niranjan Jyoti turns abusive saying that in India, one is either ‘ramzadon’ (those born of Ram) or ‘haramzadon’ (illegitimately born); the HRD Minister through a circular states that Christmas Day (December 25th) should be a working day for schools (and then denies it); the Government however continues to insist that it is not a holiday for Government employees.
So no more the study of German as a foreign language but instead Sanskrit is designated as the ‘lingua franca’ of the country. D.N. Batra’s textbooks complete with myths, falsehoods and innuendoes are being mainstreamed in the curriculum in Gujarat and in other States. It is the Bhagwad Gita and not the Constitution of India which should be our ‘national book’. In Gujarat, groups are going about wanting to speak about the Gita in minority institutions. The hate-speeches from several of the BJP leaders and their cohorts, will make any Indian who cherishes all that India stands for, to wince.
In the bogey of ‘conversion and reconversion’, these fringe groups conveniently forget that Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees to every India “freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion” and Article 19 the “protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc”.
The votaries of hindutva have also thrown to the wind Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which unequivocally states that “everyone has 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.”
In all this Prime Minister Modi remains completely silent even as others ask him to ‘rein in’ these fringe elements. It is rather unbelievable that the average Indian can be so naive! A good section of the media has either been bought up or has been coopted. News reporters are very careful of how they word an article or a headline (this is understandable since their careers are at stake and it is their bosses who call the shots). But let’s not fool ourselves – Modi and the Sangh Parivar are one and the same. He would never have become Prime Minister if not for them and for their total support to one of their own.
One needs to revisit Modi’s election campaign in the run-up to the 2002 election in Gujarat and particularly his promise to bring in an anti-conversion law once they assumed power. True to his word, on March 26th 2003 (and without any opposition) they passed the ‘Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003’ and five years later in 2008, they introduced the rules that are necessary to govern the implementation of the law. It is one of the most draconian laws of the country which necessitate that anyone seeking to change his or her religion, must first seek the permission of the District Magistrate. The Constitutional validity of this law was challenged in 2009 in the High Court of Gujarat and a judgement is still awaited.
Meanwhile in February 2006, in a Shabri Kumbh programme (supported by the Gujarat Government) in the Dangs District of Gujarat, Modi warned the Christians with a blatant assertion, “It is my constitutional duty to prevent conversions. Our Constitution disapproves of them, and yet some people turn a blind eye.” Morari Bapu accused the Christians of bringing in plane-loads of missionaries from the Vatican “who come here to carry out conversion activities but when we organise a ‘ghar wapsi’ why should it be termed as bad?” Both Modi and Morari Bapu clearly endorsed the ghar wapsi programmes which were part of that programme and the later ones orchestrated by Swami Aseemanand.
Once the opposition starts screaming, Modi gets Arun Jaitley to ask in Parliament, “Should we introduce a law against conversion or only against forcible conversions?” Through his heavy silence, Modi indulges in another manipulative game in order to emerge as ‘a hero’. Without directly “targeting” the minorities of the country (mainly Muslims and Christians) he will show that he is able to address the ‘nefarious deeds’ of those who have mentored him by piloting an anti-conversion law. So of course, the world will say he has dealt with the Hindu right-wing when in factuality he is just following to the ‘T’ an extremely well-crafted strategy.
What does ‘ghar wapsi’ mean? Is it about Indian culture and may we ask who is culturally the real Indian? From North, South, East or West? The one who speaks Bengali or Marathi, or Tamil or Hindi or any of the other 22 constitutionally recognised languages? Is it the adivasi or the Parsi or the Muslim, the Christian or Hindu? And to which caste, if Hindu? I believe in a God today; if I stop believing that there is a God, do I in any way, lose my Indian identity? In a democratic country like India why should the Government decide which religion I should embrace and which God I should worship? Do I have the freedom to choose or adopt a religion of my choice?
The ghar wapsi programmes are “red herrings” – no one knows if these people are actually ‘Christian’ or not and even from where they are brought. If one goes on the ‘facts’ given to the media by the ‘hindutva’ forces (at least where Gujarat is concerned) one wonders as to why they are not following the law ‘in toto’. Don’t they also have to seek permission from the Collector according to the existing anti-conversion law? Perhaps they want to prove that this law is very special and very selective in targeting only those who want to embrace Buddhism, Christianity and Islam!
Narendra Modi has been proving that he has absolutely no agenda to govern the country. Perhaps, that is why he wants to have at least December 25th to be called ‘Governance Day!’ All their election promises are slowly falling apart, proving to be a bunch of lies, myths and illusions. With several of those in Government with criminal records and absolutely corrupt – they have pretty little to offer the people of India who are gradually awakening and will surely say sooner or later ‘one can never fool all of the people all of the time’.
The bubble of “achche din” will soon burst! Though dark times await many in the country; truth will ultimately triumph!
---
*Director, the Prashant Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, Ahmedabad

Comments

Anonymous said…
Definetly sir ,,, Dark times for false form of secular ways ,, where for more than a quarter century Kasmiri Pandits are in exile, but no cares because they are Hindu? Entire demography of North East is being changed by illegal immigrants, but no one cares as they are the new added vote bank to the minority. Tribals are converted saying they will get jobs and better amenities. Why can't they get it when they are still following their ancient religions? Many missionary schools and bible society schools preach bible in the name of Moral.. why does morality have to be taught in perspective of a particular text and you are worried about Gita. Sir, GITA doesn't teach about Gods .. it teaches about way of life, I don't think it says that go sit in a temple and worship a god, it just says follow your karma. So is karma only for a religion or for all humanity? If Jesus loves us all, then why do you think Ram or Krishna will hate?
A true Christian said…
Correct observation

TRENDING

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

River interlinking to transfer tribals' drinking, irrigation water to Maharashtra industries

Counterview Desk
Top advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), recently submitted its comments on the Damanganga–Vaitarna-Godavari Intrastate Link project to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), a project sought to be packaged by the Maharashtra chief minister as diversion of water from allegedly water surplus Konkan region to the drought-affected Marathwada region.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

RSS 'demonizing' Muslim demographics: Hindus' growth rate decline 2.5% lower

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The RSS is riding its old hobbyhorse again. Addressing the Yuva Dampati Sammelan attended by reportedly 2000 young couples organized by the RSS’ Kutumb Prabhodan in Agra on August 21, the RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, apparently concerned about the “declining Hindu population” exhorted young Hindu couples to have more children.

Kashmirisation of India? Ayodhya communal harmony meet: Activists stopped, detained

Counterview Desk
In a joint statement, three civil rights organizations, Rihai Manch, National Alliance of People's Movements and Lok Rajniti Manch, and Socialist Party (India), have taken strong exception to the Uttar Pradesh government taking "preventive" steps against those seeking to hold a meeting on communal harmony at Ayodhya.