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This Is Neither Secular Nor Scientific, Mr PM

Author: Aravindan Neelakandan
Publication: Swarajyamag.com
Date: February 18, 2015
URL: http://swarajyamag.com/politics/this-is-neither-secular-nor-scientific-mr-pm/

Why Prime Minister Modi should have desisted from attending an event related to the canonisation of Catholic saints from India

When Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi attended an event related to the canonisation of two Indian Catholic ‘saints’ by Vatican, the media was deafeningly silent about the much flaunted scientific temper. It is a fact that the hagiographies of all religious personalities are filled with miraculous divine interventions of dubious, mostly unsubstantiated claims. But what sets apart the canonisation of individuals by Roman Catholic Church is that it claims to do it on the basis of authentic miracles which fly on the face of medical sciences. Clearly this is both anti-science and pseudo-science, more so than the claim of Vedic flying machines.

Given the rampant ‘healing miracle’ convention run by Christian cults throughout India by fly-by-night evangelists targeting vulnerable population, it is really unfortunate that the Prime Minister has attended the canonisation-celebrating event, which is based on institutional anti-science claims. While the Roman Catholic Church would have shed its anti-science image of the medieval times in the West for the post-colonial developing countries, many of its stands are problematic in combating poverty. Faith healing through prayer may well become yet another problem for Indian masses if the Prime Minister’s participation lends credence to the anti-science basis of the canonisation process.

The sudden discovery of ‘saints’ in India started with the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1980s and then it resurfaced with the vigour after he called to plant the Cross in Asia during his visit to India in 1999. Then Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government was in power and the Pope made a blunt gesture to Hindus choosing the Diwali season to proclaim the planting of the Cross. Soon Alphonsa was made a saint. ‘The first woman saint of India’ screamed the English media, forgetting India’s own rich tradition of women saints dating back thousands of years. One of the important glorified acts of Alphonsa was her burning of letters from a bishop. With such a person canonised as role model, goodness knows what kind of obedience is sought in the convents of Kerala where there is already many allegations of abuse and exploitation of nuns. This sudden discovery of brown-skinned saints by the Vatican is very much similar to Western beauty contests suddenly discovering Miss Worlds and Miss Universes from India when they wanted to create a huge market for their beauty products in India.  We can expect more ‘saints’ approved by Rome in the near future.

Though one is pained to see the Prime Minister at the abject anti-scientific ceremony, one can understand the public relations problems faced by Narendra Modi and his government. From the very outset the Church had started a well-designed campaign against Modi government in the international arena. At Sarajevo, on 18 June 2014 Cardinal Cardinal Alencherry delivered a lecture on ‘Non-Violence vs. Fundamentalism in Contemporary India’ in which he talked about RSS as a Hindu fundamentalist group which has watered down its agenda in order to capture power. Yes, the same Cardinal who stood by the Catholic Italian marines against the Catholic Indian fishermen. Soon every stray statement from some loose cannons from the ruling party or totally unrelated fringes like the present-day Hindu Mahasabha (a fringe outfit in no way resembling the older pre-1948 HMS) were blown out of proportion or projected out of context creating a fear psychosis among the minorities. This followed the so-called attacks on the Churches. Even ordinary thefts were turned into hate crimes.

 – One remembers how when UPA got into power many of its strong political allies started abusing Hinduism. Derogatory as well as hate statements were made, particularly by DMK ministers from Tamil Nadu. For example TR Balu who was close to DMK supremo M Karunanidhi and who was a powerful minister for shipping in UPA government chose a massive evangelical meeting to declare that he was ashamed of being born a Hindu. There were no television debates. There was no outrage.

- More importantly in South India in March 2007 a Muslim woman was stoned and publicly executed to death in Taliban style. Local Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK) leader demanded that stoning ‘immoral’ women be made part of Indian constitution. Same March 2007 saw  CPI(M) Politburo member Brinda Karat and  CPI leader D Raja attend a rally by TMMK in the nation’s capital. At that time they were all part of the UPA or supporters of UPA (unlike Hindu Maha Sabha which is in no way related to BJP today). There were no television debates and no media outrage.

- The number of Hindu temples getting vandalized was ever since on the increase in Kanyakumari district particularly after UPA came to power. No media except the local vernacular evening dailies reported these ‘vandalisms’, some of which were definite Christian hate acts – like the destruction of snake temple at the entrance of a sacred grove by evangelical Christians. In another attack on a temple , the night watchman was murdered by the assailants. Generally it was the anti-Hindu hate rhetoric of Dravidian ideology which makes the attacks on temples increase. However the national media and of course the paid-media merchants preferred to look the other way.

It is this silence of the media during the UPA regime, towards the anti-Hindu hate speech by politicians and the taking for granted of the attacks on Hindu temples and which need to be contrasted with the way media is making mountains out of molehills. It is a well planned coordinated media campaign. The Prime Minister has done well to counter it with a statement against all violence and hate propaganda. It is high time Hindus too start meticulous documentation of evangelical hate crimes and hate propaganda against Hindus and demand justice. It is high time Hindus bring these hate crimes of evangelism which is happening throughout India as a phenomenon rather than as isolated events into the focus of the media – and if the mainstream media refuses at least in the social media and thus force the mainstream media to take them up.

Otherwise the casualties will be not only Hinduism but also the scientific spirit of India.
 
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