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HVK Archives: India's anti-nationals

India's anti-nationals - The Observer

A Ghosh, Houston, USA ()
January 3, 1998

Title: India's anti-nationals
Author: A Ghosh, Houston, USA
Publication: The Observer
Date: January 3, 1998

On December 1, 1997, the Asia Society of America held "An Evening
Talk" on India in New York, to celebrate the country's 50th
independence anniversary.

The speakers were Salman Khurshid (the grandson of Zakir Husain,
India's first Muslim president), T N Ninan, Ashish Nandy (brother
of Pritish Nandy) of Delhi, and a few comparably unknowns, such
as Vijay Mehta and Ms Shaheen Kumar.

Mr Khurshid failed to arrive and in his absence, Ashish Nandy
took the lead. At the total surprise of everyone, Mr Nandy
unleashed a wholesale vituperation of India and everything that
is Indian, the country's culture, religion, and so on. Mr Nandy
highlighted India's many castes and sub-castes (according to him
they ran into thousands), dialects, nationalities and sub-
nationalities, customs, regional loyalties and so on: in short,
according to Nandy, it was not right to consider India a nation:
it was, according to him, a conglomeration and a hodgepodge of
many divergent and antagonistic entities. In short, Nandy's
description of India was false: it was a totally negative image
that was even criminal to present to listeners abroad.

Ms Shaheen spoke on a voluntary organisation of which she was an
organiser. This organisation had some 600 members and it served
the needy as part of an NGO (non-governmental organisation).

It was fortunate that our friend, Mr Kataria, a long-time
resident of New York, was present in that meeting along with a
few of his friends. After Nandy's diatribe, Mr Kataria stood up
and requested permission from the chairman of the Asia Society,
an American gentleman, to say a few words. The permission was
granted.

Mr Kataria openly and bluntly contradicted all that Nandy had
said during the long 20 minutes of his diatribe. He mentioned
that Mr Nandy was speaking of an imaginary land and that he was
hopelessly misguided. That India has been known since antiquity
as a land of great civilisations, the land of Shankaracharya,
Buddha, Ashoka and Mahavira. If India fell on evil days in the
recent past, that was, as everyone present in the auditorium well
knew, first due to Islamic onslaughts in the middle ages and then
Western exploitation. India's inherent nature has not been
vitiated by these catastrophes from abroad. India's message is
still of peace and social and cultural amity. Gandhi's message
tells us that. It is incredible that Mr Nandy should miss the
good points of his country and speak ill of India, in such vile
terms in America today.

At that point, Mr Nandy stood up and in an unseemly outburst said
that he was not a Hindu: that he didn believe that India is a
viable country for the modem world (we came to know later that
Nandy was an Indian Christian). Someone cooed, why then did he
carry a Hindu name? Nandy was silent.

On Ms Shaheen's short lecture, Mr Kataria reminded that it was
not right that Ms Shaheen totally omitted to mention the world's
largest (and that according to the BBC of Britain) volunteer
organisation, the RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which had
30,000 social projects for the needy, currently at work in India.
Ms Shaheen had no response.

The meeting terminated on a note of despair for the organisers
and the Indian visitors. One is amazed that the GoI spends the
poor people's money on such anti-national activities. In any
other self-respecting country, a man like Nandy and have been
put behind bars for indulging in false and anti-national
propaganda abroad. Is this the free speech the secularists brag
about?


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