majority yet minority
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: December 4, 2000
Hindus, who comprise the majority population of India, boasts of one the oldest
cultures of the world. Sanskrit is often thought as the mother of all
languages; Hindu philosophy has to considerably fashioned Greek mythology and
Celticlore (as demonstrated by French Indianist Guy
Deleury); and these two
traditions represent the foundation of all European culture.
We all know that the zero concept originated from
India, but it is not so well known that the Egyptians used Hindu arithmetic
concepts to build their pyramids, that Hindus inspired Pythagorean mathematics,
or what an 18th century French astronomers Jean-Claude Bailly had remarked:
‘Hindu calculations of the position of the stars and of solar eclipses were so
precise that we are still using them today’.
Thus the Hindus, inheritors of an immense, noble and
age-old culture, constitute 85 per cent of India and represent the social,
religious and cultural majority of this emerging Asian superpower of the 21st
century. And yet, their voice is rarely heard in India. They are
respected neither in home, nor abroad; and they generally lack self-confidence.
Could it be that Hindus are a psychological minority in
India, whereas minorities, such as the Christians, which constitute only 3 per
cent of the population, wield an enormous moral power in this country, thanks to
the quality of their schools and hospitals and because of the pride they have in
their own religion and moral standards?
All European children, Italian or German, are
brought-up on Christian values and Greek philosophy. It would be
impossible, in France for instance, for the Muslim minority – immigrants from
French ex-colonies such as Algeria or Morocco to impose their views and culture
on the government. In fact, Muslim girls are not allowed to wear a veil
when they go to French school: ‘you are in France, you have been given the
French nationality, so behave like a French first and like a Muslim second’,
they are told bluntly.
Would that be possible in India? Would any Indian
except the much-maligned RSS, have the courage to ask Muslims to be Indians
first, and Muslim second? Or tell Catholics and Protestants that they have to
revert to a more Indianised Christianity, such as the one that existed in Kerala
before the arrival of the Portuguese Jesuits? And see how stridently Muslims and
Christians backed by most of the media – react when the Human Resources
Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, wants to teach Indian children a little bit of
the greatness of their culture.
There are two sets of standards used in India amongst
intellectuals; one for the Christians or the Muslims; and one for the Hindus.
When the Australian missionary Graham Stains and his two sons were killed the
Indian and foreign press spent weeks – if not months – in eulogizing Graham
and making Nazis of all Hindus held responsible for his murder. But if a
few days later 20 labourers, as innocent as Stains’ two sons, are savagely
assassinated by separatists in Kashmir, it will only warrant a few lines in
Indian newspapers, without any of the outraged comments which followed Staines
When the Ayodhya mosque was brought down, it was as if
eternal shame had descended upon India. ‘Death of secularism’,
‘Hindu fundamentalists have taken over the country’, ‘a Black Day in the
history of our democracy’, the newspapers screamed. However unfortunate
the Ayodhya episode was, nobody was killed there; but the terrible Bombay blasts
which followed, orchestrated by Indian Muslims, with the active help of Pakistan
and the silent approval of Saudi Arabia, which took the lives of hundreds of
innocent Hindus, never warranted the kind of moral indignation which followed
Hindus are ironically chased from their own ancestral
lands. There were one million of them in Kashmir in 1900 but only a few
hundred today, the rest having been made to flee through terror. In the
North-East, Hindus are being outnumbered by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and
terrorized by pro-Christian separatist groups, such as the Bodos or the Mizos.
In Karnataka, a bill will bring more than 43,000 Hindu shrines and maths under
the commissioner’s control. This act does not apply to Christians and
Muslims. The Indian government still sponsors the Haj pilgrimage.
Hindus should become a little prouder of themselves:
there is ample talent and brains in India today. Hindu children regularly
top their schools and universities in the US, they are the best programmers of
this planet and are are amongst the richest people in UK, the US or Canada.
Why can’t the majority of this marvelous, diverse, ancient and extraordinary
country stop behaving as if it was a moral minority?