Atanu Dey On India's Development

Italy is minding its business

The Acorn says that “Italy should mind its own business.” It appears that the Italian foreign minister intends to lodge a protest with the Indian ambassador to Italy about the recent violence in Orissa — “to demand ‘incisive action’ to prevent further attacks against Christians that have left 11 people dead in India so far.”

Uh? Is the Acorn confused or what? Whatever happens in India is Italian business. Has the Acorn forgotten that it is an Italian who is the head of the government of India?

It is an Italian who calls the shots in India. If a fairly large segment of Indians are fine with it, does it not follow that India is de facto an Italian colony and the foreign minister of Italy can summon the Indian ambassador and bitch-slap him?

Let me state what should be obvious but apparently isn’t. An Italian national (who very reluctantly after years of delay became a naturalized Indian for appearances) was made the head of the Indian government thanks to the preferences of a significant enough percentage of Indian voters. That Italian then appointed puppets to carry out her mandate — part of which has to be the redemption of the heathen souls of India, which is understandable given that she is a Catholic and owes her allegiance to the church that is headquartered in Rome which is, as it happens, in Italy. What happens in India is Italy’s business.

It is politically incorrect of me to state it but it unfortunately happens to be true.

The puppet — aka Blue Turban — carries out the orders of his boss, the madam from Italy. The puppet appoints ambassadors. When the Italian foreign minister demands that the Indian ambassador show up, it is quite likely that he will show up and bend his knees and with bowed head say, “jee huzoor, jee huzoor” (or whatever is the equivalent in Italian) and do as told by the Italian. His immediate boss does that to another Italian, doesn’t he? I can imagine that he would then, without turning his back and still on his knees, slowly back away from the presence of the Italian as any subject of an imperial power would do. He is after all the puppet of a puppet who answers to an Italian.

In other news, the chief minister of AP, one Mr Reddy, has decided that public money will be spent on subsidizing Christians who wish to go to their holy land. Mr Reddy is another Catholic puppet of the madam from Italy.

The Acorn reminds us that all Indian Christians are Indians. Yes, but not all Christians are Indians — some are Italians and some are puppets of Italian Christians. Let’s not forget that, shall we?

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  • navneet

    So is the point of your post that self-respecting, sovereign “Indians” should not listen to what Italy has to say because of Sonia Gandhi’s Italian origins? Especially if it is said in a tone that demands ‘incisive action’. Or are you more piqued about Italy expressing its opinions only for Christians killed while it seems to be quiet on other killings that frequently take place in the name of religion in India?

    Either way, shouldn’t the more important question be on the Indian State’s failure to provide protection to its people? While I can agree with some of the stuff you say and some of it is even incisively funny [the Blue Turban], but frankly Atanu, your post in context of Orissa is ridiculous because here’s what’s more important. No one in their right mind can condone the killing of VHP leader Laxmananda Saraswati. Even if he had been fanning hate speech in Kandhamal for over a year, actively campaigning for converting the State’s Christian tribals to Hinduism and had orchestrated riots against Christians last Christmas. He should have been arrested by the BJP government of Naveen Patnaik and tried in a just State. That of course could never happen. It still cannot be used as justification by any group to commit murder, even if the VHP and the Bajrang Dal kill and attack as many Christians or Muslims or whoever they pick as their next target. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Yet it is depressing to see the State in cahoots with those fanning hate speech openly. Here’s a call to arms by Saraswati last Christmas which he said in the presence of Police and journalists:

    You are just burning tyres. How many Isai houses and churches have you burnt? Without kranti there can be no shanti. Narendra Modi has done kranti in Gujarat, the reason why shanti’s there.

    Once again, I repeat that this cannot justify his killing but you cannot deny that there are way too many incidents in India, of the State deliberately standing by and watching Hindu fundamentalist groups go about their carnage. Within this context, if you see Italy or any other country/group/organization expressing outrage (even if it is doing it for their own purposes) I would think that you’ll understand. Since no one in India seems to be expressing any outrage over this or speaking out against State sponsored violence. I wonder if any VHP top leadership will be ever be arrested by Naveen Patnaik’s government unless we the people of India pressure him. And while that ain’t happening in large numbers, someone else might as well speak out even if the widow in power without accountability happens to be from there.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    Navneet:

    You wrote, “So is the point of your post that self-respecting, sovereign “Indians” should not listen to what Italy has to say because of Sonia Gandhi’s Italian origins?”

    No, that is not the point. The point of the post was to say that Indians are bound to follow what the Italians say because they have decided that they are best governed by an Italian. Which part of this simple proposition is difficult for you to follow?

  • http://kalabaaz.com navneet

    Atanu, you said

    The point of the post was to say that Indians are bound to follow what the Italians say because they have decided that they are best governed by an Italian

    And hence your sarcasm implies that this is servile (he will show up and bend his knees and with bowed head say, “jee huzoor, jee huzoor”) leading to the conclusion that any self-respecting Indian would/should not stand for it. Which leads me to my question:

    So is the point of your post that self-respecting, sovereign “Indians” should not listen to what Italy has to say because of Sonia Gandhi’s Italian origins?

    The point I am trying to make here is that what is going on in Orissa is not about Sonia Gandhi or Italy. And I hope I am following your simple proposition that this post is in context of Orissa. This is about us and who we are as a people and what we can do to stop it. There is no point in criticizing Italy or saying “it is an Italian who calls the shots in India”. Especially not in this case. These shots were called by the VHP and Bajrang Dal. Not by Italy or Sonia Gandhi. Even the murder of Laxmananda Saraswati is attributed to the Naxals, not any religious Christian group. But the people killed there were killed by VHP rioters. The forceful conversions to Hinduism are being done by VHP. Not by Sonia Gandhi.

    What Italy or any other country/group/organization says is just additional support to the small groups [most of them Indian Christians] which are trying to bring this an end. You may choose to retort back by saying who the hell is Italy to say anything. But when no else is saying anything to force the Center or Naveen Patnaik to intervene, do you think anyone should care if Italy summons, commands, begs, forces or yells at the bureaucrats to bring an end to this carnage. Whether it is Indian public protest, Italian intervention, Reporters without Borders, Human Rights watch or you. As long as anyone can help bring the killings to an end, it would be welcomed by those who are hiding in the jungles of Kandhamal to return home.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    No, you are not getting what I wrote. I do not care about conversions. What I point out in my post is that as matters stand in India, Italy has a pretty good case for lecturing to India and that Indians are in a position of servility and are forced to listen to Italians about how to do things in India.

    Which part of the above do you have difficulty with? After all is said and done, I state pretty plainly in the title of the post that what happens in India is Italy’s business.

    For the sake of the FSM, do try to follow the argument without reading stuff into it that is not there.

  • Amit

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Correct. So remove the first wrong and the second wrong will automatically disappear – seems like a straight-forward and logical solution to me. One needs to go to the root of a disease, instead of treating the symptoms.

    Or are you proposing that India and Indians continue to tolerate the first wrong? Doesn’t tolerating wrongs lead to injustice? Why would you be in favor of propagating injustice caused by the first wrong? Yes, yes, Rhet. Qns.

    More R. Qs.
    Are you also proposing that the Indian government take up cudgels on behalf of Hindu/Indian-origin citizens of other countries whenever something happens to those citizens, since you seem to think there’s nothing wrong with Italy poking its nose in Indian matters? We should follow Italy’s lead, right? Should we summon the Malaysian ambassador to protest over their mistreatment of their Hindu citizens? Or according to you, is it only one-way street when it comes to India – all give, no take?

  • http://kalabaaz.com navneet

    Atanu, as I said in my first post: “While I can agree with some of the stuff you say and some of it is even incisively funny [the Blue Turban], but frankly your post in context of Orissa is ridiculous because here’s what’s more important….”

    Let me address the Italian grudge first. I agree to some extent with your point on Sonia Gandhi. My main problem with Sonia Gandhi is not so much to do with her Italian origin though. It has more to do with her inadequacy for the job and that even though she holds the most powerful position in India (Forbes names her as the 3rd most powerful woman in the world) she is not constitutionally answerable or accountable to the people. I have never seen her in a Press Conference fielding questions even though we all know that the Government functions as per her diktat. This leads to a situation where she has all this power without responsibility. She can always hide behind this wall of silence and claim innocence since legally she holds no position of importance in the Government. In fact, it is pretty obvious that she seems to be doing everything to bring “Rahul Baba” back in line to continue the dynastic democracy of India.

    As far as Italian interference in India’s daily affairs is concerned, I don’t know if she takes her cues from Italy or vice-versa. However, the reason I take issue, Atanu, is because I know you to be a secular person and what is happening in Orissa is not acceptable. When you started this post you were referring to Italians summoning up the Indian ambassador for putting an end to the violence in Orissa. In this context, hell why not? Anyone is welcome to reprimand these apathetic morons to act. I don’t care about the ambassador or bureaucratic pride because people are being killed and the Indian Government isn’t doing much. That to me should be the more important concern. I have an issue with your context. I am not religious or a supporter of the Catholic effort to promote Christian conversions and I’m sure neither are you. That same position applies to Hindu conversions as well (Vaidehi, I’ll blog about Hindu conversions in detail) which are done at gun point by VHP cadres.

    Amit, I’m glad you picked up the line “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” and I agree with your analysis “So remove the first wrong and the second wrong will automatically disappear.” The first wrong is the Hindu caste system which belittles human beings and locks them into life-long slavery. If you are aware of the country you live in then you must know that bigotry and caste based oppression exist in India to this day. Any possible escape is seen as a welcome change. And if the mission gives them money and the promise of a better life it is lucrative for them to convert. Remove the Hindu caste system, strive to create a more equal and just society and the second wrong (conversions) will automatically disappear.

    As far as India taking up the people of Indian origin cause in Malaysia is concerned. FYI, India did take up that cause and received a knee-jerk bugger-off reaction from the Malaysians similar to the one “nationalists” like you are talking right now towards Italy. So go figure. Are we guilty of a double standard?

  • Vaidehi

    Instead of unequivocal condemnation of the duplicity of missionaries navneet tries to deflect by bringing in the oft repeated ‘ caste factor’.

    Caste & religion based governance has been well honed and practised by govt of India.
    As such , crypto christians still demand caste based concessions and reservations. The converted christians sedulously carry their caste preferences to their burial ground also :) )

    Ditto for islamic brotherhood which is a myth.

    Almost the entire sickular media is controlled by world christian councils , southern baptists etc. With clever fauxtography , do manage to plant their own ‘ findings ‘.

    Today the mighty untouchables of India are muslims & christians.

    Why don’t these secular politicians opt for exclusively muslims & converted christians as their personal bodyguards , black cat commandoes? To prove their secular credentials?

  • Vaidehi

    Recall summoning of Indian Ambassador by the Vatican in the wake of the anti-conversion law, passed by the Rajasthan Assembly?

    Italy is minding its business , you bet.

  • Amit

    navneet, I’m not going to buy your analysis, and I knew that was coming. That’s OK though – most Indians have to go through these steps, and one of them is guilt/shame over caste system. There is probably a business opportunity in India where one can make money helping young ones get past this stage faster.

    Just because there is caste system in India – which is a known problem with efforts to mitigate its negatives (though with the current political situation where new caste-based vote-banks are being created, not sure how it’ll get removed – that’s a whole another discussion) – does not lead me to the conclusion that we have to sit back and do nothing when proselytism happens, kind of “we deserve it.” That is not what the concept of karma means, just in case you’re laboring under that impression.

    So if tomorrow Pakistan or B’desh attack us or do something to harm our national interests, you’d say “caste system – we deserve this.” I hope you do realize how ridiculous it sounds.

    Get over your shame/guilt over caste system – it is a legacy of the past and it’ll take its time to go away. Such social problems cannot be wished away in the blink of an eye, whether you like it or not – and societies all over the world are dealing with their own similar problems. Deal with it. There’s more to India and Hinduism than just the caste system, and if all you can see is the caste system, that’s unfortunate.

  • Amit

    PS. If you’re so against caste system – which got corrupted into a person being superior than the other based on birth-caste – I don’t see how you can justify Christian proselytism which is based on a similar false idea of one religion (Christianity) being superior to rest all. If you want to be consistent, you should be speaking out against proselytism too, unless you happen to be a Christian. Then I can understand.

  • http://kalabaaz.com navneet

    Amit: You make some bizarre sweeping assumptions about me, build it up in your head and then proceed to negate them. Its almost like you’re having a conversation with yourself. But something you said, obviously to yourself, struck me as odd.

    Get over your shame/guilt over caste system – it is a legacy of the past and it’ll take its time to go away. Such social problems cannot be wished away in the blink of an eye, whether you like it or not – and societies all over the world are dealing with their own similar problems. Deal with it.

    Buddy sitting in your armchair pronouncing judgments on the world, you don’t see the obvious. The caste system is not for me to deal with. It is for that lower-caste man, woman or child who is being oppressed, killed, not allowed water, not allowed basic human rights to deal with. I wonder if you can tell him, don’t convert, deal with it. This is thousands of years old and it will take time to fix it. So deal with it. And if you don’t I’ll kill you.

    Please get over yourself.

  • Amit

    navneet,

    Are you familiar with the details of what’s happening in Orissa? Ever heard of Pana and Kondh? And how Pana (SC) are clamoring for ST status after being converted to Christianity? I’m not sure how that is going to take care of ills of caste system. Perhaps you can explain your logic and the steps that will take us to a caste-free society based on the Kondh-Pana rivalry, though you’ll have a tough time with your pretzel logic and some inherent contradictions as you try to explain it. But give it a try anyway – I’m willing to read. Just make sure to state your assumptions upfront.

    Unless you’re in Orissa working with the tribals and typing this from a village, I think your point about “armchair” is quite irrelevant to the discussion. Let’s keep the discussion on points if you are serious about discussing it.

    And you haven’t responded to the point in comment # 15.

    Just because I don’t share your deep guilt over the caste system doesn’t mean I don’t care for the issue. Your stance reminds me of a clueless person making a stupid statement along the same lines after 9/11 – “You’re either with us or you’re against us.”

    I would tell you to get over yourself, but what’s the point?

  • Amit

    navneet,
    you might want to read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_among_Indian_Christians
    especially section 3.

  • Amit

    Vaidehi,

    For the most part, I don’t mind engaging someone in a debate. :)

    I am seriously interested in knowing navneet’s views on how what all is going on today in the name of caste reservation is actually helping take care of the negatives of caste system or is a positive development, because I don’t see it that way.

    At least we (navneet and I) do agree that caste-based discrimination is a negative – that’s a start. But I don’t understand her/his reasoning and application of “two wrongs do not make a right” to this whole issue of caste-system and proselytism.

  • http://kalabaaz.com navneet

    Amit, sorry, I’ve been out all day so could not reply.

    No, I do not think I have to be in Orissa right now to ask you to rethink your arm chair position when you ask me to get over the guilt of the Caste System. I am not the one asking you to “deal with it”. I’m asking you not to ignore it and see it for what it is. You and I are not the victims of the Hindu caste system. These people are. Hinduism is a rich and deep philosophy but that is no excuse for the caste system to persist. And I’m glad you and I see eye to eye on that.

    I am presently not in Orissa but you may be happy to know that I have traveled the tribal regions of Jharkhand and Orissa and met with various different groups regarding these issues. So I’m not entirely talking in the abstract. But I’m sorry I do not know all the details of the Pana and Kondh.

    You wanted to know my views on the Reservation system. My position is complex so please bear with me. I do believe that historically Hindu society has violently and inhumanely oppressed the Dalits so there should be a way to repatriate them if we aim towards a just society. However the present forms of reservations are inadequate and will most likely fail to help a large number of people. Most reservations kick in either for higher education or for Government Jobs. But a majority of the Dalits do not even reach that level. The founder of Dalit Voice V. T. Rajshekar, once told me in a post conference conversation that by the time a Dalit Child reaches high school almost 70% have already dropped out. By the time a he/she graduates from college almost 90% have dropped out. And the reasons for their dropping out are numerous and quite complex and this space is too short to get into all those reasons. In a gist, most drop out due to economic pressures to earn, their social stigmas and expectations of what a man or woman should be doing. So as per these figures, reservations only end up helping about 5-6% of the SC/ST population.

    Even with such a dismal success record, there is a huge brouhaha against reservations which should give you an indication of how grossly misrepresented the reservation debate in India is. So I think reservations in their present form are meaningless and should be applicable from the ground up entry level, not merely from College and Government Jobs because that helps very few people.

    I’m also aware of the other view, that requests to make the reservations economic and not caste based. But income calculation of a person in India is mired and besides we all know how easy it is to show lesser income. But I do agree that with the Supreme Court decision that Reservations should be time-based and open to review every 10 years. But that review must include representation from the Dalits themselves.

    I’ve also weighed in of the opposite side of the debate before taking my position. The opposite side says: What about Merit? It sounds like a a legitimate question but assumes that a level playing field exists in India. It fails to see that Money is Merit. A simple example: When a child from a well-off family is not doing well, he/she is surrounded by a well paid for support system (coaching, tuitions etc) and is given the foundation to stand on his/her feet. That’s great for this kid. But if you ever see the world most Dalits are living in, you’ll agree that they don’t stand a chance on merit. One or two exceptions of brilliant Dalit Students does not mean that all of them can rise up this way.

    Then there is the issue of Corruption and the upper-caste reluctance to implement Reservations. For example those in government offices in Chhatisgarh who are supposed to be issuing SC/ST certificates are mostly from Upper Castes. Tribals have to pay huge bribes to get these certificates. Amounts they cannot afford. And also many fake certificates are issued to upper caste people looking to hijack the benefits of Reservation for themselves. So there is an implementation problem with Reservations. But that does not mean that Reservations are wrong. Just as the government has been able to address, with some success, massive corruption in urban Government Offices there has to be a sincere effort to curb this corruption at the implementation level for reservations as well.

    You were also keen to know my view on proselytizing. I do not support any Missionary efforts at proselytizing and am well aware of the manipulation and promises they offer Dalits to convert. But that does not mean that we condone killing them as is happening in Orissa. One can always justify their own cruelty by pitting it as response to someone else’s cruelty. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Dalits themselves may have many reasons to convert. It could be the money since most of them are destitute and our system doesn’t seem to be helping them. It could be the sense of self-respect that Buddhism or Christianity offers them as human beings or it could be a symbolic statement against the Hindus. And as free citizens of a free nation they have every right to do so.

    And in response if the BJP or some other group starts killing them in the name of National Interest then to f**k national interest because I don’t know whose interest is that. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Hopefully this post will clarify my position on what I think of both Christian and Hindu proselytizing.

    I hope I’ve been able to answer all your questions and I wish you the best of luck in your own future learning.

  • Amit

    navneet,

    While I’m not aware of all the ground realities that you write about, they do not come as a surprise to me – Indian system of governance does not have independent non-partisan groups acting as watch-dogs, nor an unbiased media; and corruption is rampant. Also, I’m not carrying water for any particular group or organization or political party, nor do I approve of breaking the laws.

    In my analysis, I still think that Christian proselytism needs to go away because the long-term effects on the society are pernicious and divisive – for the reason I mentioned in an earlier comment – it’s based on the false idea that Christianity is a superior religion and rest all are inferior. I’m sure there are other solutions that could be implemented (that is, what I’m saying is not the only solution which would help solve the problem), and good luck to you as you continue your learning too. :)

  • Vaidehi

    One who generalises generally lies.

    For many Indians , the rich & elite become the most convenient punching bag. They also love pet theories like the dalits are all (sic )angelic.

    Two dalits set a busload of passengers on fire and all of them died. Not allegedly or purportedly. The 2 dalits were sentenced to death .

    Enter the dalit president ( now dead) called k.r.narayanan , who also happened to be a crypto christian ( hence the hindu name narayanan) . Grants them presidential pardon and sets them free . Why ? Because they were dalits.

    It is better one interacts with people and not hasten to form opinions.