Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Dear Mr. Raman,

I read your article on the Hindu-Christian divide and respectfully beg to differ with you on a few points. You say that India is 80% Hindu and that Hindus have a right to form organisations. You are factually correct. But does this assertion imply that Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Bahais and others have secondary rights by virtue of being in a minority? If I got it wrong and if indeed "Indians" regardless of religion have equal rights then should we be dividing Indian society by religion in the first place? What does India being 80% Hindu have anything to do by way of justifying Hindu anger over conversions? Conversions then should be wrong regardless of Hindus being the majority.

Besides, does India "belong" to the Hindus that they are so angry over conversions? Aren't we all ethnically the same? We look the same, our language, food, cultural mores and values are the same.

On a side note, a poor tribal in Orissa, oppressed by the caste system has every incentive to convert to Christianity or Buddhism or any faith that promises him or her a better life. Freedom of religion is enshrined in the constitution. Hindu groups, even if they oppose conversions peacefully, are fundamentally protesting personal liberties. Bribing people into a new religion is wrong but violently or even constitutionally preventing them is wrong.

I wish groups like the VHP spent more time fighting against caste oppression instead of spreading these myths about Hinduism's original claims on the tribals of Orissa or on the people of India.

Please know that I mean no offence to your valuable work.


(The writer is the former correspondent of NDTV in Chennai, who now lives in the US )

In France, the birth place of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, the Catholics are in a preponderant majority. While non-Catholics have been Prime Ministers rarely has a non-Catholic become the President. In the UK, the Anglican Protestants, are in a majority. Only an Anglican Protestant can be the head of State (The Crown). Rarely has a Catholic become the Prime Minister. In all Muslim countries, while the Muslims have the right to convert a non-Muslim to Islam, non-Muslims do not have the right to convert a Muslim to their faith. In many Muslim countries, converting a Muslim to another religion is punishable with death.If a non-Muslim wants to marry a Muslim, he or she has to embrace Islam.In Pakistan last week, four Muslim women were buried alive as a punishment for being friendly with men.Muslims should look inwards and remove despicable practices in their religion before they give sermons to others. India is the homeland of the Hindus. It is the birthplace of their religion, culture and civilisation. India is as holy to the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Jains and the Sikhs as Saudi Arabia is to the Muslims and Palestine and Jerusalem are to the Christians and the Jewish people. The Hindus being in a preponderant majority along with the Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs, have every right to safeguard their interests, religion, culture and civilisation. They have to do it in such a manner as not to infringe on the rights of the Muslims and Christians, who are equal citizens of the country. Equality of rights does not mean freedom for the Muslims and the Christians to eradicate Hinduism from India through conversions. Take care. Raman


Mumble Bee said...

I read in an American publication about(i or a journalist giving his account of meeting American Special Forces both former and active ..doing unofficial operations and training of anti-regime tribes like Karen rebels supporting missionary work in Myanmmar. I was startled to read the piece..coz Karens also supply our Northeast militants with weapons and logistics. So it is not implausible that SF also operate in Mizoram-Assam-Orissa like places supporting "oppressed" population. I suppose you have more insight into predatory missionary practises like Bapist sects..which can destabilize our country. Is it possible to block funds from Saudi Arabia and America that supports seemly harmless "missionary works". Do we have the diplomatic wherewithal to block Saudi-Pak axis from ruining our muslims youths with Wahhabism or ruining tribal culture.

sundaram said...

Mr. Raman: Well said. Just to add a bit to your argument:

I think Alaphia has not clearly understood what 'rights' mean and what the rights pertain to. The 'right' is to oppose *fraudulent* conversions. A Hindu have every right to express his/ner opinion, either individually or collectively (right to form associations and right to free speech) based on their interpretation of the Constitution. In fact, a standard argument against such conversions is that they disrupt public order.

Another point she misses is that a right conferred to Hindus does not necessarily mean the right isn't conferred to another community. The key question here is whether these exercising these rights contravene with the Constitution or not.