As India enters into its next phase of its political journey, with the selection of Mr. Narendra Modi as the candidate for Prime Minister by the principal opposition party, in the next general elections to be held next year, there are certain usual quarters where the consternation has already begun, and for very special reasons. Gardiner Harris in New York Times is just one such gentleman whose bile production seem to exceed his appetite for ethical reporting. In his recent column – “Campaign for Prime Minister in India Gets Off to Violent Start“(New York Times, September 17th, 2013), his consternation with a prospective Modi-led BJP government becomes too obvious. This seems to be an encore of “Divisive Nationalist to Lead Opposition in Indian Vote” (New York Times, September 13th, 2013).
Modi, the “unapologetic Hindu”
Gardiner’s report is full of factual inaccuracies to say the least, but it is his derivative analysis that unravels his agenda. He writes inter alia “… Mr. Modi, the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, is an unapologetic Hindu chauvinist who has been accused of mass murder.” What does he precisely mean by saying that Mr. Modi is an “unapologetic Hindu”? Does he mean Hindus must forever necessarily apologize for just being Hindus? Would Gardiner run down Obama as being an “unapologetic Christian” or Benjamin Netanyahu as an “unapologetic Jew.” By calling Mr. Modi as an “unapologetic Hindu”, if he has his way, perhaps he would let all Hindus breathe the air and live, provided they render an unqualified apology for their being Hindus. It is quite clear that he wants Hindus to live like second-class citizens in India (where they are a majority), and by derivative implication in the United States as well (where they are a minority).
Now, what could be the underlying ideological basis for such an expectation?
Such an expectation from a people has a stark parallel with the concept of Dhimmitude – a state of existence of Christians and Jews in an Islamic state (ref – Understanding Dhimmitude by Bat Ye’or, ISBN 978-1-61861-335-6). Not precisely the same, but very very close. But why would Gardiner expect servitude from Hindus? (Koranic prescription for Hindus – aka as Kafirs in Islamic theology – is actually not servitude but one step beyond, but that is out of scope here). If one were to put himself into Gardiner’s “liberal” worldview it actually becomes clear. It is because Gardiner is a “liberal” writing in a “liberal” publication, it is ok for him to let Hindus live and breathe some air. Had he been a “non-liberal”, by easy derivation, it could be asserted that he would have advocated what his “settler-ancestors” did to the natives in America? Gardiner must indeed be applauded for his liberal values.
Then, he goes on to write: “… Mr. Modi has tempered his anti-Muslim tirades and replaced them with a message of development based on a record in Gujarat that even critics acknowledge is impressive. But critics also say he and his Hindu nationalist party have benefited from past violence between Hindus and Muslims, using it to paper over Hindus’ historic differences over caste and get them to vote as a bloc along religious lines. …” (Campaign for Prime Minister in India Gets Off to Violent Start, New York Times, September 17th, 2013). It looks like logic is being too unfair to Gardiner (wonder why?). First he builds up the make-believe narrative of Mr. Modi’s “tirade against the Muslims,” and then uses that false narrative to make Mr. Modi temper it, but also have him replace it with development. But immediately he writes that “his Hindu nationalist party has benefited from from past violence between Hindus and Muslims.”
Now if someone is getting benefits out of Hindu vs. Muslim violence then why would they replace it with something else? Obviously, Gardiner offers no explanation.
Few lines later, Gardiner offers yet another suggestive “gem” – “… Hindus make up roughly 80 percent of India’s population and Muslims 13 percent, a share about equal to that of blacks in the United States. …” (Campaign for Prime Minister in India Gets Off to Violent Start, New York Times, September 17th, 2013).
Such absurd comparison takes the cake. Why the muslims of India need to be compared with “blacks” in America (note he did not use the more proper term “African American”)? There are many thirteens all over. There is a Friday the 13th, and then Obama wears shoe size 13. Does that mean Obama is behind the mask as Jason? I know this sounds absurd but that is precisely what Gardiner is implying.
What could motivate Gardiner in making this equation? If at all any correlation could be established, it would exactly be the opposite. Historically, Muslims have ruled the Indian subcontinent since 1200 CE for at least 5 centuries. During this period, it were the Hindus who were at the receiving end – in the form of feudalism and the special tax on Hindus, i.e. the Jiziya. It is the Muslims who walked away with the chunk of land in the form of Pakistan. In fact the position of Hindus in India, could be compared to the African American experience.
But Gardiner is not alone in his tirade against the Hindus. One can easily recall Barbara Crossette’s reporting on India in New York Times many years back, round about the time when BJP-led NDA alliance was running the central government in New Delhi. Barbara Crossette’s work has been analyzed by academcians, who found her to be an Indophobic and a white racist (ref – Indophobia: The Real Elephant in the Living Room, Vamsi Juluri, Huffington Post, January 10, 2010).
Looks like after a lull of 10 years, the spirit of Barbara Crossette is rising like a phoenix at New York Times, this time perhaps in the form of Gardiner Harris.
Hindus should expect some more patronizing and insulting columns from Gardiner Harris.