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Should we ban foreign funding of religious institutions?

31 March 2010 2,104 views 101 Comments

This post was triggered by Sanjeev’s remarks on one of the FTI forums*.  In his note, Sanjeev wrote (emphasis mine):

I believe that India must ban all foreign funding of religious organisations.

Religion is as powerful (or more) than political parties, and if political parties can’t get foreign funding under FRCA (which they should not) so should religious organisations be prohibited from receiving foreign funds. That would stem the flow of the crores of rupees that is being pumped into madrassas and missionary work.

…The more I think about it, it appears to me that instead of taking the route of direct invasion, Islam and Christianity are now taking the easy route of foreign funding to change the essential character of India.

A free society cannot have any problems with conversions (we have discussed this in the past), and Vivekananda confirmed that view (as I’ve outlined in DOF).

However, the free society must protect its fundamental character. This method – of foreign funds being used to change the character of India – is in conflict with India’s sovereignty.

The character of a society matters. For instance, we can hardly doubt that most Islamic societies today are radically illiberal (even though, as I outline in DOF, Islam actually helped save the Greek pagan literature from dying out, and initially was compatible with liberal democracy). Surely we don’t want India to become an Afghanistan or Iran. The way to stop this large scale silent invasion of India is to block funding from abroad.

indigenous Muslims and Christians in India should be free to practice/preach/convert, etc. Like any other – e.g. Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, etc. But not by using foreign funds. That is poison. It gives an under-hand advantage to certain religions which are benefiting temporarily from economic power (whether Western or oil based power in the middle-East). Using foreign funds to save people’s souls means that their loyalties shift outside India at some level. How can one accept a foreigner’s money and still retain independence?

Just like political funding from abroad destroys India’s sovereignty and so is prohibited, so also religious funding from abroad destroys India’s fundamental character as a nation and attacks India’s roots. It should be banned. Such bans should also apply to funds coming from abroad to fund fanatic Hindu activities. VHP, for instance, has benefited enormously from funds from Indians settled abroad. That has not always been put to good use.

I had previously read several critiques of foreign funding of religious organisations in India. But Sanjeev’s remarks were notable for their lucidity and the thrust of the argument i.e. foreign religious funding is altering the fundamental character of India because of the accompanying conversions and propagation of illiberal ideologies.

Christian Missionaries

I held off from immediately posting these remarks since I wanted to add some more data and analysis around this. I also wanted some sense of the amounts that might be flowing in – as part of the covert and overt conversion agenda. Although this matter had previously been discussed under the “Conversions” category of posts on this blog, I had never written anything focused on foreign funding. This post is an attempt to fill the gap.

First, some excerpts from Sanjeev Nayyar’s research which includes figures on the extent of foreign funding.  In his report, Sanjeev identified the following key points:

Between 1993-94 and 2006-07 a sum of Rs 64,670 crs was received as “Foreign Contributions” by organizations registered with the Home Ministry Govt of India and who filed their declarations.

Between 1993-94 to 2006-07 the total funds received went up from Rs 1865 to 12290 crs i.e. an increase of 650%

The % of Associations submitting details of foreign contributions however fell from 66% in 1997-98 to 56% in 2006-07 – meaning that the actual amount of foreign contributions received is much higher than what has been reported.

…Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra are top receivers of foreign contributions.

Tamil Nadu receipts jumped from Rs 775 crs in 2002-03 to Rs 2244 crs in 2006-07, nearly a 200% increase.  Many districts of Tamil Nadu received over Rs 100 crs each in 2006-07.

One of the top recipients in Tamil Nadu during 2006-7 was an NGO called “World Vision“. This is the same organisation one of whose employees is suspected of being involved in the murder of Swami Laxmanananda in Kandhamal. World Vision is a Seattle-based Christian organization with strong evangelical roots. It is also the largest U.S.-based international relief and development organization whose budget has roughly tripled over the last decade.  It boasts of around 40,000 staff members in nearly 100 countries. That’s more staff members than CARE, Save the Children and the worldwide operations of the United States Agency for International Development — combined.

The vast amounts that are being funnelled to such NGOs are not only very likely being misused for changing religious demographics, they are also subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) “altering the character and content of public spaces“. As Smt Radha Rajan wrote:

Chennai, the capital of TN is witnessing the obscene flaunting of Muslim and Christian symbols in public spaces, completely disproportionate to their actual numbers. This flaunting of symbols has been enabled by the astronomical amounts of money pouring into the country from Christian and Muslim countries.

Exaggerated? Not quite. As Prof R Vaidyanathan notes in his analysis of foreign funds in India:

The interesting information is regarding the purpose of the donations (see Table-2). Establishment expenses top the list

Establishment expenses consist of buying land, buildings, jeeps, setting up fancy offices, mobiles, laptops, expensive cameras, salaries, consultancy fees, honorarium, and importantly, foreign travel etc, which make up 35-70% of the expenses.

This massive inflow of funds and aggressive proselytization is not just causing conflict and creating strains within local communities – for example, in Kandhamal and elsewhere (see: Christian Aggresion in Cauvery Layout), more worryingly, it is creating a cadre of rigid, intolerant and fanatic converts (e.g. read this post about “Kids in Ministry“).

Of course, such a wave of funding, aggressive preaching and “brainwashing” is hardly limited to Churches and Christian denominations.

In Part II: Petro Dollars, Wahhabism and India’s waning liberal ethos. Watch this space.

Thoughts, comments and views welcome - in particular on the question I raised in the title of the post: “Should we ban foreign funding of religious institutions?”

* The initial remarks have been reproduced with Sanjeev’s permission.

Related Posts:

On Religious Freedoms and Secularism

Thou shalt go out and convert

A glimpse into “Church-planting” in AP

Image from: http://www.joelhitchcock.com/JoelHitchcockRevivalInternational.htm

101 Comments »

  • 1. PKD said:

    I think this is a very important point, but we need to be realistic.
    In the present scenario, asking the government to get more involved in “banning” something in the religious field would be not only disastrous for the global public relations work, but it will harm us more than harming the “bad guys”.
    It is amply known that a net keeps only the small fish, because the big fish makes its way through the net by stealth or by mere force.
    If the ban is effected, the Xns and Muslims will keep funneling even more funds into India by using bribery or even legal loops or systems, while the NRIs who send back money to India will suffer.
    And where is the guarantee that “Indian” Xns and Muslims are favorable to the country?

  • 2. Tarun said:

    Yes we should not only ban funding for the above mentioned cause but also remove the word secular from our constitution and make it clear that we are a Hindu state. Conversion by any means should be banned and should be made punishable by law. This should be done irrespective of what the world thinks about it as we need to protect our values and heritage from constant barrage of nonsense from the west. Isn’t it incredible that we study moral science and english literature in India and our students are unaware of our own rich literature.

    This needs to be done as the long term consequences are going to be very sever if we do not.

  • 3. Sanjeev Sabhlok said:

    @PKD: “the NRIs who send back money to India will suffer”

    NRIs are already allowed to send back money to India and they should always be free to do so. They are Indian citizens temporarily living abroad. Only foreigners (including Indians who have taken foreign citizenship) who are not permitted to contribute to Indian political parties, and rightly so – should be prohibited from contributing funds for religious purposes (including to religious institutions or any sort).

    @Tarun: “remove the word secular from our constitution and make it clear that we are a Hindu state”

    Yes, by all means remove the word ‘secular’ which is actually quite meaningless as well as totally irrelevant once a country assures religious freedom.

    But please do not even dream of making India a ‘Hindu’ state! That will be the end of India and the birth of a most disastrous phase in the history of India as a sub-continent. Let’s not destroy India. Let’s foster freedom, above all. I seek to protect freedom in India (and its sovereignty). Let’s not make such wild suggestions (about Hindu state) which will merely create civil war and create a total exodus of good people out of India.

    We should foster freedom but doing so does not require us to destroy India’s character by allowing billions of dollars of political (religious) money to flow into India: money often used to destroy the peace, and generally used to **force** change in a particular direction.

    Let religion uplift morality and guide in mankind’s spiritual journey. That doesn’t require millions of dollars of foreign money. Indians living in India can preach to each other using their own resources. Indeed, to talk about religion needs nothing. A sadhu or a monk or pir doesn’t need more than a chadar. Foreign funding (for religious purposes) is invariably used to advance various political goals, and that is what I am suggesting should be banned. It may be very difficult to control this, but one simple way is to stop FCRA authorisation for all religious bodies – unless they assure the government that the money they collect is not used for any religious purpose.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

  • 4. Anon said:

    How do we, the people, go about getting the GoI to ban it?
    Any ideas? PILs would not be sustainable, IMHO.

  • 5. Rohit said:

    These are the fallacies of secularism “Right to Preach”. Who will preach if there is no money involved? To think that with present myopic secularism, the neo thought process of Christians, who began preaching this because of money in pocket and the dumb cocoon followers of secularism, this can stop, it is foolish. Only a powerful country can wield laws that can govern it’s country. Our country has been made a jerk by successive GANERU governments and it’s laws, policies are dictated by Muslim and Christian countries.

  • 7. gajanan said:

    From the first web posting. earlier post

    In early 2009, Pope Benedict XVI met the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and agreed to stop all conversion attempts directed at Jews. A month later, Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran, president of Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, visited India and was asked while there if he would offer Hindus the same respect. He refused. There is a degree to narrow mindedness in every religious tradition, but when that is coupled with fundamentalist arrogance and powerful backing, nothing good can come from it.

  • 8. Gypsy said:

    This is a mind boggling expose` on conversions. It would be interesting to investigate if some of these stupendous amounts are diverted to buy “paid news” or even buying silence of some sections of the press. The way some of the main stream English media blew Kandhamal out of proportions by projecting partisan views while keeping Lakshmananand assassination on low key are some indications.

  • 9. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Thanks all for the comments…I will reserve my response on this until the second part (out tomorrow)…

    @gajanan (#7): You stole my thunder! That bit is the concluding excerpt of the second part!

  • 10. Should we ban foreign funding of religious institutions? - Offstumped Community Portal said:

    [...] Source: Should we ban foreign funding of religious institutions? [...]

  • 11. Sid said:

    Shantanu,

    The problem can be broadly categorized into three distinct questions:

    1. Should we ban foreign funding for religious conversion?
    YES.

    2. At present, can we ban foreign funding for religious conversion?
    No, not possible. Some of the top chairs in most important policy making bodies as well as English Media are occupied by Evangelists. The attitude of the supposed minority would amuse you too. I was engaged in a debate with few Keralite Christians who are members of other Christian sects. They expressed their dissatisfaction with Evangelists but showed unwillingness to offer any support or criticism for them. It appeared to me that they would not have complained if Evangelicals were supporting their sects.

    3. So, what needs to be done, if we can not take the obvious steps?
    Unfortunately, I can not see a very good answer to this question. Hindus appear to suffer from a strange twisted form of Stockholm Syndrome. There is a characteristics of tolerance latent in Hindu belief. However, tolerance is not same as cowardice, secularism is not a synonym for confused inaction. History shows that even a small group of focused and resourceful group of people always win against larger but weak, lazy and procrastinated adversaries. Our main problem is not the evangelists, but the supposed Hindu geniuses who would continue to act like crabs in the boxes where all crabs ensure none gets out.

    A few of us have the right knowledge, but the attitude of a larger Hindu society did not change from the attitude of Rajputs under Islmic rule: majority either believes that conversion did not happen or they believe if it is happening, then it is happening to their neighbors, they will not be impacted. Wait, till you see more comments and then identify the patterns.

    For those, who are protesting the idea of a Hindu state, may I know how and where a Hindu state would force people to create domestic war? India was mostly a combination of Shaivite, Vaishanvite, Tantric and Buddhist state powers before Turkish Islamic sword landed on the subcontinent. Can you tell me a single incident where these states went to war with each other because of their belief systems? One may argue that religious minorities would not be agreeing to the idea of a Hindu state, but if there really is a Hindu state, then it would be a liberal state because when you are a good Hindu, you are a liberal. In our case, temple owners/priests were never responsible for domestic policies or foreign policies, thus we never needed the western certification of separation of Church and State. Therefore there is nothing in a Hindu state, that is in direct contradiction of idea of a secular state.

    Waiting for your next installment.

  • 12. Dr. Ambekar said:

    Dear Shantanu
    There is some validity in the argument that Foreign Funds in Religious Activities must not be allowed. But When some one says that
    “Such bans should also apply to funds coming from abroad to fund fanatic Hindu activities. VHP, for instance, has benefited enormously from funds from Indians settled abroad. That has not always been put to good use.”

    IS THER ANY EVIDENCE THAT VHP WAS INVOLVED IN “RELIGIOUS FANATICISM” SUCH AS CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES AND THEY REGULARLY DEPEND ON FOREIGN FUNDS. THERE HAS BEEN ALLEGATIONS BY THE MAIN STREAM ENGLISH MEDIA.

    IF ONE REMEMBERS THAT WHEN LORD AHMED PATEL COMPLAINED TO CHARITY COMMISSIONER OF UK THAT FUNDS RAISED BY SEWA INTERNATIONAL WERE GIVEN TO TERRORISTS ORGANIZATIONS IN INDIA SUCHA S VHP, BAJARANG DAL AND SO ON. WHICH WAS INVESTIGATED BY THE CHARITY COMMISSIONER AND THEY DID NOT FIND A SHRED OF EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE LORD PATELS ALLEGATIONS.

    I KNOW HOW MUCH INDIAN MEIDA, LIKES VHP, BAJARANGDAL OR FOR THAT MATTER ANY HINDU ORGANIZATION.

    COMMENTS OF ENGLISH MEDIA ABOUT HINDU ORGANISATIONS MUST BE TAKEN WITH WITH NOT “PINCH BUT POUND OF SALT”

    DR. AMBEKAR.

  • 13. gajanan said:

    Oh! Arjuna , there is no such thing as victory or defeat , it is Dharma which must triumph” says Lord Krishna in Gita. So there is no such thing as stealing or cheating. If it is for Dharma ALL IS WELL.

    About Prof Ramadas Lamb. Here is an interesting web site run by him

    http://www.ramnam.net/. Please explore this web site. It is interesting. See the links site also in the left side.

  • 14. SKS Mumbai said:

    A 10 year old article by Pradip N Thomas:
    While it certainly talks about RSS in same terms as done by our secular media, it also deals with the use of the new media by the Christian right in India (something none of our secularists have the guts to say)

    http://archive.waccglobal.org/wacc/publications/media_development/archive/1999_4/web_wars_and_inter_faith_futures_in_india

  • 15. SKS Mumbai said:

    Guess, what kind of Manual are the following extracts from?

    ‘but to rely exclusively on it is like going to war with only artillery; it packs a punch but it’s big, unwieldy and very costly. What is needed to compliment the artillery is a fast, agile, lethal team of Special Forces who, before the army shows up, can move behind enemy lines and wreak havock on the enemy’s infrastructure. Thus, we believe that training national leaders to field and support their own team is a necessary tool for completing the Great Commission’
    Check this:
    http://www.aims.org/msfo.php

    Now, how you bring in the ‘HARVEST’? Read:

    ‘observed the local fishermen rowing their small boats out to sea. As they began to throw their nets out over the water I realized that these men were fishing the same way Peter and James did in their day. Below: Fisherman on the Indian Ocean Once the nets settled into the sea they began the task of pulling them back in. As they began to pull there were only two groups working, one group was on the far side of the beach and the other was positioned immediately in front of me. As they worked their nets the two groups slowly drew closer to each other. While they did this other fisherman, in an effort to drive the fish into the nets, slapped the water and shouted excitedly. As I watched this event I could hear the Lord whisper, “See, this is how you bring in the harvest.”

    http://www.aims.org/mslh.php

  • 16. Rohit said:

    *** COMNENT EDITED ***

    Besides one may find it interesting to note that JL Nehru and Maulana Azad opposed construction of Somnath Temple in past…

    *** NOTE by MODERATOR ***
    Pl stay on topic. Thanks

  • 17. Vikas said:

    Dear Shantanu
    I refer to your post “Weekend Reading: Indonesia Special” dated March 20, 10. It is the same case here.

  • 18. Amrita said:

    Dear Shantanuji,

    I was wondering, what proportion of the funds you quoted in the post above, are directed towards Christian/ Muslim organisations? And what percentage for Hindu?

    This is the extract I’m referring to:

    “Between 1993-94 and 2006-07 a sum of Rs 64,670 crs was received as “Foreign Contributions” by organizations registered with the Home Ministry Govt of India and who filed their declarations.

    Between 1993-94 to 2006-07 the total funds received went up from Rs 1865 to 12290 crs i.e. an increase of 650%”

    Many thanks,
    Amrita

  • 19. Moderator (author) said:

    *** COMPILATION of COMMENTS from Offstumped.in ***

    Comment by Palahalli:

    Good food for thought…but you cannot have it both ways. Sorry.

    So Hindus need to decide if they want:

    1. “A free society cannot have any problems with conversions”

    Or,

    2. “However, the free society must protect its fundamental character.”

    Let us understand that implicit in an act of conversion is change. An act of “paradigm” conversion that involves change of Religion and/or Nationality (?)does and must necessarily involve a change in character (Btw, what is fundamental??)- If not on the day or before, of the act of conversion; then in the days to come.

    Hindu Dharma does not proscribe or plead against “conversion”. Our Dharma’s very essence is “conversion” – for the better. Not an outward change in books and Gods but a deeper change for the better in terms of how we relate to our surroundings. Our Dharma does not denigrate (different) Gods and Goddesses and books and scriptures. That’s not our style.

    Come reality, Hindus and their Dharma are faced with a simple foe with a simple message that frightens or confuses Hindus – as manifested in the quotes above.

    In my view there is a way we can deal with the issue of conversions – Try to change *it’s* character. Make the act and motivation for conversion – more Hindu-like.

    Can we organize more public dialogues with leaders of the professionally proselytizing faiths? We have a model in the Hindu-Christian dialogue.

    Let’s make such discussions public et al.

    In the meanwhile – We must not stop foreign funds but funnel all funds into a common kitty and then distribute per proportions of the population. So a Christian institution must receive funds proportionate to it’s (Christian population)size.

    Such a measure will work to curb what Hindus call, forced conversions and the use of coercive/fraudulent methods.

    Thank you

    ***

    Comment by Ajay:

    Ban on funds from abroad is not correct.

    If Hindus donate to build a temple for greater good, in say Haiti, wouldn’t it be wrong for the country to ban such funding?

    We should instead reciprocate the freedom offered by the other country when dealing with them.

    Funding from Europe and US should be allowed, because these countries offer full freedom for Hindus to practice and preach our religion.

    Countries like Saudi etc should be banned from funding any religious activity in India as Hindus are treated as second class citizens under their laws.

    In addition, funding from abroad should require full transparency. No divertion of money meant for charitable activities to Maoist groups etc

    ***
    Comment by Vivek:

    But Ajay, as with any other system. Money from Saudi could be transferred to India through UK. In that case, wouldnt the system have difficulty handling it. In case, there has to be provision in the system to check this, then every case has to be dug deep into the source of the money. Wouldnt that be too difficult to do?

    ***
    Comment by dubash:

    There is an unexamined idea that Hinduism is or will always be underfunded. I wonder what the collective funding ability of all the temples in India is.

    And to what extent is temple money spent on “retaining” current members? Why are Hindu temples unable or unwilling to cater to the spiritual and practical needs of all their followers.

    ***
    Comment by Vivek:

    Dub ash, there are many temples which are able to cater to both spiritual and practical needs. I have a list of such temples. But they are so because of determined people on the board who are intelligently and cautiously fighting the corrupt endowment ministry thugs!

    Only reason why so many temples are facing problems is intervention of govt in administration of the temples. These temple boards are directly controlled by Endowments ministry and all the money collected as offerings from devotees goes directly to Endowments ministry and there in lies the problem. Most of the temple boards are manned with people with vested interested, mostly related to the various minsiters/mlas of the ruling party.

    My own state AP, has been fighting this problem. Temples like those in Basara, in Srisailam, in Amaravati dont have basic aminities. In these situations, the Dharma Satrams run by philanthropic people are filling the gap.

    People visit these places, but the whole administration is under control of those who dont care. Pujaris who are dependent on these temples for lively hood are paid something like a few hunderds of rupees. In today’s India, with inflation and other things, how can a pujari of a temple in a small town make ends meet! So he is instructing his children to find better jobs, or move to a city where there could be small temple where he can do daily puja. Such small temples are not controlled by Endowment ministry. So, in a vague way, philanthropic people are creating alternative livelihood to suffering priests.

    IMHO, solution is to immediately close down all controlling authorities on temples. There should be something like a vigilance body to check that offerings from devotees are used only for temple maintainance and activities related to temple. May be some kind of govt audit once or twice a year would be good to keep a check that such money is not misused.

    ***
    Comment by Palahalli:

    The point to remember is that Hindu Dharma is not a proselytizing religion in the same sense as Islam & Christianity.

    This is about numbers and not development indexes.
    Highly affluent societies like the Koreans are losing/have lost out to Christianity.

    Therefore we need to remain focused on changing the rule book.

    Money is a huge factor. The Church and Islam have vast resources at their command. They are fine tuned to play and win because right now they set all the rules. Hindu society cannot compete no matter how much money we have unless we also change the rules in H’sthan at least.

    Yes, Temple admins have to be freed. Hindu society can start by evolving a “catcher” when finally the ball comes to land.

    ***

  • 20. Ranga said:

    Few of the receipents of these funds cannot be termed legally as Religious organisations, as they take refugee in Charitable work-eg., World Vision, ActionAid,Rural Development Trust. Hence it is their design of operation which has to be curtailed.Govt. should mandate an external Audit for organisations receiving funds in excess of 5 Cr.- there are 296 organisations only,to ensure that they are into charity work & not conversion. All Hindu temples are controlled by Govt., all their funds are utilised for the public welfare measures of the Govt. The Wakf board gets Central & State Govt Aid, for their welfare measures.
    As stated by you majority of the expenses have been claimed as Establishment Expenses -07-08 fig:3421 Cr (35%)of 9663 Cr total receipt.
    Under the guise of freedom to practise religion, they are into mass conversion. Bharath has been tolerant, due to our religious practise of being tolerant, hence they take advantage.

    @Amrita – for the period from 2001-2008 only for 3 years 3 different Hindu/other organisations received foreign funds, but rest of the organisations have been funded on YOY basis.
    source:mha.nic.in/fcra.htm

  • 21. Palahalli said:

    Sanjeev said :

    “But please do not even dream of making India a ‘Hindu’ state! That will be the end of India and the birth of a most disastrous phase in the history of India as a sub-continent. Let’s not destroy India. Let’s foster freedom, above all. I seek to protect freedom in India (and its sovereignty). Let’s not make such wild suggestions (about Hindu state) which will merely create civil war and create a total exodus of good people out of India.”

    - Why does the mere suggestion of a Hindu State invoke such fear? I suppose there must be a rationale’ somewhere and at some point in the present and past(?)

    So perhaps Sanjeev can let us know.

    Thank you

  • 22. Anand said:

    I think as a Christian, perhaps i can contribute some inside info and thoughts.

    1.Basic question is, what is unacceptable conversion? and how do we prevent that? The presupposition in this thread and Dr. Sanjeev Sabhlok’s argument is that foreign money is the root of this evil and so stopping it will stop it. Incomplete, but fair enough. More in point 3

    2.Dr. Sanjeev’s argument that “the free society must protect its fundamental character.” seems contrary to the basic tenets of classical liberalism. A free society should be free to do whatever it damn well pleases to do. Was slavery not a”fundamental character” of America? And if the “fundamental character” of western society had not been changed by Liberal thought, would Dr. Sabhlok (or me) have had opportunity of being one? As pointed out by Palahalli, what is the fundamental nature of India? Today it is a mass of corrupt and apathetic nukkad philosophers, is that our fundamental nature? Who gets to decide what “fundamental” is. In this context I think it is best we forget this bit and agree that purchasing of converts is immoral, and that is enough to oppose it.

    3.Even if foreign money is identified as the main funder of unacceptable implementing a funds-ban is impossible for these reasons:

    a. Much of the money that comes for “purchasing” converts comes through private channels, not big organizations, usually via pastors who travel abroad and bring back “gifts”.

    b.Very few of the major money getting Christian organizations declare that the money is for gospel work, most are development/charity organizations

    c.A substantial segment of the development and charity organizations in India including some of the best and biggest hospitals and colleges in India are directly or indirectly funded by Christian organizations, cutting these off will result in large scale public distress.

    d. Even if you ban foreign Christian aid, the money can still come in through Christian NRI’s and there is no justification for cutting it off, unless a direct link can be established to anti-national activities in court.

    e.Not all Christian charities are here to purchase converts, in fact most of the best ones, genuinely care about the poor, and use evangelical catch-phrases for the sake of the donors.

    f. Please do not forget that the call of Jesus was essentially a one of love and compassion, and the great commission, as misquoted a lot, was for making disciples, not purchasing converts, it is a few, albeit big-muscled organizations that convert through unscrupulous means.

    4.There is an underlying belief in this anti-conversion argument, and that is that a converted Christian is somehow less Indian. That conversion will make them pawns in the hands of a western/Christian agenda to undermine Indian culture. I agree, sort of. A majority of western and Indian Christians even now do not have the decency to accept Indian philosophy as comparable to western or Christian in its stature, this is not a result of foreign money, but the sad civilizational habit of bowing to the gora sahibs wisdom and out sourcing our brains. Hindus in India are just waking up from the same stupor that affects Christians even now, fortunately, I think it is bound to change.

    5.As pointed out above, the role of the sate must be only to prevent crimes committed by religious organizations, irrespective of who commits them. If Pepsi is allowed to spend millions to “convert” coke lovers, to Pepsi lovers, in principle, what is different in someone “purchasing” a Christian? I agree that giving financial incentives to someone to turn Christian is highy immoral and goes totally against the core beliefs of Christianity, but does a truly free person not have the right to decide which religion he will follow and for what reason?

    6.What needs to be done is creating a wide spread and national conversation between religions about conversion and a consensus about not using certain immoral ways of converting. Religious problems must have social and religious solutions, bringing the law in will result in division and subterfuge, not openness and unity.

    Anand Philip

    @Uberschizo on twitter

  • 23. Sid said:

    @Palahalli,

    There is no disagreement with what you said. This line caught my attention:

    “So Hindus need to decide if they want:”

    Hindus, for a long time have not decided what they want. In the past, Turks/Afghans/Mughals decided for them and later Europeans decided for them. Now-a-days, “secular”s and Sonia Madam are deciding what those “Hindu”, “bigot”, “dehati”, “illiterate”, “in-secured”, “losers” (to quote some of the English Media geniuses) want. The trend is not going to change any sooner. If Hindus want their faith to exist on the face of the earth, they need to work for it. If not, then in future, few temples in west and places like Cambodia would be the only proof that there existed a civilization called Hindu civilization.

  • 24. Armchair Guy said:

    I think a Hindu state would be terrible. Freedom starts with equality, and I think privileging Hindus over others is definitely a step in the wrong direction. It is not about demonstrating a specific thing that would go wrong. It’s about the general principle of equality.

    I’m not sure I agree with the idea that all Indians should be allowed to convert other Indians. The problem is that missionary activity is always a form of social engineering.

    As long as it is chaotic, disorganized and done on a small scale society can absorb it and gradually adjust. But when it is massive, directed and managed, the chance that it will lead to huge changes is high. And so there are larger potential risks.

    It’s a bit like changes in an ecosystem. New species develop all the time, but if you introduce a new species in massive numbers you might end up destroying the ecosystem. There’s a chance you could create more diversity but you just don’t know.

    So I think it is the scale of this social engineering that should be monitored. Limit large scale Indian missionary activity. Foreign activity is more potentially dangerous than Indian activity. So limit Foreign activity to an even smaller scale.

  • 25. Sid said:

    @Anand,

    I appreciate you taking your time and adding to the discussion here while most from your community would come here to accuse us of being “unreasonable” and “fear mongers”. Here is my point of view:

    1. point 2: fundamental character -> I may agree. Sanjeev really needs to expand on “fundamental character” thing. I do not think he believes that India’s fundamental character has anything to do with Hinduism.

    2. point 1 &3: purchasing converts, point a -> Are not pastors part of big organizations?
    point b -> How does that matter what they declare? Are they accountable towards their declaration in any way?
    point c -> Were not Indians treated medically before evangelicals built their hospitals? The christian schools make it mandatory to read Bible or Bibilical stories as part of their curricula. In certain places where parents are not concerned, they also teach their version of creation as opposed to evolution. Spreading ignorance in place of the education – what sort of charity work is this?
    point d -> NRIs are NRIs, there is nothing Christian or Hindu about them. But foreign funding needs to be regulated.
    point e -> such as?
    point f -> I may agree about Jesus’s message. So why do not Pope declare the purchased converts as unacceptable? Did it ever happen? No? So, one have to conclude that “few big” organizations take “unscrupulous” methods and use message of Jesus as a front. And the holiest organization of the biggest christian sect does not have a problem with that? Why is this complicity and then claim of the Christians in private that they really do not support such tactics? Apparently what you say and what you do does not match.

    3. point 4 &5 -> I think we can agree that carbonated water and religion are not same thing. Thus the comparison does not hold. But, then, “but does a truly free person not have the right to decide which religion he will follow and for what reason?” I think you agreed that newly converts are somewhat more loyal to the outside interests and outside interests are hell-bent on seeing the competing religion wiped out. So, if tomorrow, 50% of Indians become newly converts, does the freedom of another 50% to choose their religion stay intact? This is not a hypothetical question. One have to look at Rwandan genocide in nineties and the role of Roman Cathloic Church in the killing of Tutus and then answer. As a Hindu, I do not want my future generation to become the subject of another wikipedia article on genocide.

    4. point 6 -> I welcome inter-faith dialogue, although I can not see how would that counter the mischiefs being played right now.

  • 26. Col. Murty said:

    What you have written is only half the story.It is not merely the change of çharacter óf the Hindu ethos.It is creation of committed cadres for militancy soon to be launched in Chattisgarh, parts of Andhra, and of course Bihar, WestBengal and Nagaland.You must have heard of the RED corridor from Nepal to Sri Lanka.Soon it will be followed by train stoppages etc. All these preliminary forages have started.

    I have in two or three such mails drawn attention to the headlines in the Deccan Chronicle or Deccan Herald) of ) Oct 24, 2004 when the PWG were called for discussions with the then CM. late Shri YSR. tHe headlines read “DESTROY HINDUISM”say the PWG leaders.Is it not a treason to post such a news in the head lines? by a political party? Why was it not taken up by any Hindu organization as a treason against the state?

    In fact they were called for talks within days of YSR coming to power, as a proxy to Sonia Gandhi in the state/, and that was after Chandrababu Naidu refused to discus with them unless they laid down the arms!!

    Then followed a large number of tragic events , policemen dying etc. A fake withdrawal of the forces from AP , a sort of mythy story of AP being successful in their anti naxal ops was given, while in actual fact the PWG safely withdrew to Chattisgarh and Orissa with more arms !!( supplied by YSR himself?

    Here I have to digress a bit and recap the event when the three top CPI leaders of Andhra, Basava Punnaih, Chabrarajeswara Rao and ( Pullareddi?) went to meet Stalin in 50s/. It appears Stalin said ‘where is Telengana , ‘and when shown said ‘how foolish to start when they can’t have a shore to get weapons?”
    As of today if Indonesia did not go down so fast, Chinese would be dumping weapons through Lank.
    Also recap, how soon after the break up of Pakistan, Chinese were one of the first to come to Bangladesh.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

    Now going back to the religious conversions.I wonder how many have seen the little , innocuous green book,”let the hills rejoice”.it was written by on REV Daniel”wholives in DELHI, the capital city , and I am sure is the main distributor of MANNA.The book describes a “Gear method of Conversions”eveolved after about 24 missionery bigwigs of Kerala met in CALIFORNIA in a conference to study the methods employed by a certain missionery,B….? who in 1641 converted some 100 odd villages around Palghat, single handed in a decade or so.Havinfg studied that , which was considered slow, the group evolved a top gear method( hebce the name) of conversions.The book was published around 1995(?) and you can clearly see how successful it is.
    The method, as I recall consists of a few simple rules. 1. Spot some one who is discontented
    2. Give him suport and confidence
    3 get the whole family, never a single one.
    4. Continue to feed his discontent.
    I do not remember the rest.

    In 2005 or so I saw posters of the selfsame REV Daniels talks in Chennai.
    Now why could we not take the REV to the court for deliberate p0lanning of a methodology to convert?why only Hindus?
    The answer lies in the fact that we rely on Emails and not on the court.

    I feel, and have written mails, that a small team of experts on law should be formed to go to the court with due complaints. Unless we do it whatever we know or come to know will not be of much use.
    For example, we all know that Haj is subsidized. Can an allegedly secular government do it?
    ONLY HINDU temples are placed under Estate /executive officers . Is it not disparity?

  • 27. Anand said:

    @sid

    thing i forgot to mention was that though i am by birth a Christian, i am an agnost, and believe that the state should maintain an equal distance from ALL religions.

    Also, i believe that it is high time there is a serious dialogue between religions, speaking truth, and accepting faults.

    purchasing converts

    a–> not necessarily, for example a pastor belonging to shalom pentecostal church is technically part of shalom organization, but in real life his own boss. the money most probably goes into his own pocket. basically how can you stop money coming in from outside to churches? they can claim that it is needed for sustaining pastors..

    b–> how does cutting off money make them accountable? it will just turn public opinion against us. to make them accountable, either thy need to be brought under a legislative authority, in which case all temples and mosques and hndu charitable organizations will have to be, too.

    c–> most hindu schools make children recite shlokas from hindu scriptures, and often teach bits of their own breed of Hinduism too. by your argument, what sort of charity is that? religion should be eradicated altogether from schools, not just Christian or Muslim ones.

    as for healthcare in india, think again what will happen if some of the best hospitals in india are shut down overnight? and what evidence do we have that hospitals lead to purchased conversions?

    e–> CMC vellore, has distanced itself completely from evangelical jargon, even though they have “chapel” wing, it does nothing but show Christian movies and distribute pamphlets, because it is committed to medical care and is judged by strict academic/medical standards. there are many uch organizations.

    f–> it is in the nature of religions to eventually embrace violence and violate their own basic principles. the catholic church has centuries of history in doing all sorts of shi* hardly the people one should expect honesty from. i do not want to point fingers and start off on a tangent, but the hindutva movement in India doesn’t exactly have a stellar human rights records.

    point 4-5
    in the sense of what i am trying to say, there is no diff, but even if my simile is broken:
    how will india ever 50% turn Christian? in spite of “centuries” of subterfuge and “forced conversion” as claimed, Christianity is still a minority. and by implying that 50% turn Christian you are saying that there is a chance that 50% of the people of india, hinuds, can be “purchased”?

    you need to realize that conversion in india comes at a very high price, you are ostracized, culturally and socially cut of from your family and often marginalized in your community, so unless there is an overwhelming reason, people dont convert. would you convert for a billion dollars? why assume that the majority of Indian Hindus are less hindu in their convictions than you? and if they are, what makes the hindutva-vadis of today their ambassadors?

    was the way of preventing rawandan genocide to have promoted another religion? i think we are way far off from reaching rawanda. and if we start now, we will never reach there.

    I would loath it too to see the glorious tradition of inda being taken over by anything, but to prevent it is not by turning ito a religious tate, but be turning truly secular.

    point 6 considering what i have said, what sort of legislation would we be abel to enact that would stop foreign money from purchasing people.?

    anand

  • 28. Ranga said:

    @Anand, your first line could have been corrected, you could have been an Indian First, then a Christian. We are all citizens of India & then belong to different faith. That would address your pt.2, Bharath Varshi have always welcomed any religion, or else you would’nt have the Parsi’s & one of oldest Jewish establishments in Kochi. Fundamental Nature of this society was & is Freedom of Expression, Thought, Practise of Religion, not now, it goes back to few thousand years.
    In Pt.3-a: Large organisations like Worldvision, ActionAid, Rural Development Trust,etc.. some 293 organisations who receive more than 5 Cr.
    In Pt.3-b:Most of the organisations are registered as minority religious trusts, Jesus Calls, Gospel for Asia,ex.. can provide an extensive list on request.
    In Pt.3-c: Here you seem to say we as Bharath Varshi’s have not done any charity. Our Charity work never got published b’cause of Secular Media, but as a Nation our community based charitable work has no match with anything worldwide, but we do not advertise & keep track of it. We will not have a National Calamity if the funds are stopped or is Parish Activity Stops.
    In Pt4-Here i disagree, Could you care to prove that they are not part of Christian Economic Aggression, the problem lies in being slave to doctrinal principles of the Church. Read the speech of Pope in UN Assembly.
    In Pt-5 : This is Pt-4 of my discussion, Economy is not Pepsi/Coke, Indian Economy is Lemon Water, Juices of choice, hence your equation of Pepsi/Coke will not hold good.
    your pt-6 : In Bharath Varsh Hindus do not go around asking citizens to choose religion, why should i have conservation for conversion, but introspection in Abrahamic religions should take for simple reason of preserving Bharath Varsh.

    P.S: Admire you for the comments, but you should understand that you are probably a 3rd / 4th generation Christian of Bhrath Varsh & was a citizen of this proud nation first. Read the History of Bharth Varsh, the most inclusive community in the world before the invasions & after. Jai Hind

  • 29. Sid said:

    @Armchair,
    Keeping the history of Hindu kings/monarchs/warlords in mind, would you clarify how the freedom of minorities were affected under their rule? If I take Sivaji’s state as an example or Ranjit Singh after his time or Bappa Rawal before his time, please explain how the rights of the minorities were affected. If the secular state could protect Hindu rights and noticed about Hindu grievances, the term political hindutva would cease to exist. But that did not happen, did it? I do not believe Hindu interests and the interests of a non-proletysing minority are mutually exclusive. We are not an exclusivist Abrahamic sect that would not like any other form of worshipping possible. We actually encourage multiple ways of worshipping the same God. How is “all paths to God are equal” i.e. fundamental tenets of secularism any different from this?

  • 30. SKS Mumbai said:

    Shantanu

    What would be the difference between the Hindu State vs Sanjeev Sabhlok’s idea of a ‘non secular’ state with religious freedom guaranteed? (Keeping aside the right to convert)

    I haven’t seen any comprehensive document
    explaining the Hindu State. Am I correct in assuming that in legal terms it cannot mean any difference between the rights of Hindus, Christians or Muslims?

    Will a Hindu State mean our laws being based on what we normally call Hindu Religious Texts?
    Finally what do we gain with a Hindu State that is not offered by Sahlok’s non-secular state?

  • 31. Anand said:

    @Ranga, my saying i was a Christian was an explanation, relevant to this conversation, i am also a keralite, a citizen of the world and other things. the only defense of my nationalism i need give is in what i say and do, not what i declare.

    3- a, b I agree India was a picture of tolerance, it still is, and to maintain it so,and remove the taint of pretend secularism, we need to remove religion altogether from governance. the democratic form of govt today is not the same as the one in the glorious past you speak of.

    a Christian humanitarian organization working to create lasting change in the lives of children, families and communities living in poverty and injustice”

    how does one LEGALLY prove that this organization is actually a front for purchasing souls? I am not a supporter of this organization, merely asking to prove a point, that no govt agency can and should regulate religious activities unless they are turning anti national in the legal sense. this will just lead to the situation that exists already in India. govt. meddling in Hindu affairs are commonly blamed for the state of Hinduism in India, and the state of the temples etc, why would you, a believer in religious equality, have the same fate come to Christian organizations?

    -c i hve not said anything of that sort. i have raised specific points, how clearer can i get?

    pt-4 what is this “Christian economic aggression” you speak of? it so happens, in a debate, the person who brings up a new term or makes an allegation is the one who has to prove it. not me. so, explain and prove please.

    the points i have not answered, i do not understand.

    also, please do not imply, as in your very patronizing closing paragraph, that just because i am a Christian, i am less of a bharata varshi than you. how long i have been a Christian has nothing to do with how much i love this country. please do not address me like a child, i am not one, and i am quiet well read about everything i care about, thank you.

    Anand–> Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

  • 32. Anand said:

    the bit about christian humanitarion organization is a quote from world vision website.

    how do i insert a quote?

  • 33. Anand said:

    @sid, you have a real significant point there

    I do not believe Hindu interests and the interests of a non-proletysing minority are mutually exclusive. We are not an exclusivist Abrahamic sect that would not like any other form of worshipping possible.

    in my interaction with the hindutva vadis of today, few seem to understand this, and in fact i would go on to say that the political hindutva movt of today is starting to resemble the conservative evangelical movt of the west, turning the exclusion way.

    i don’t think it is fair to say that there was no other option, the hindutva politics could have taken the path of dharma, and inclusive politics and shown by example that they are in the right, but they didnt, it became a matter of power and exclusive-ism and appeasement.

    it is also high time Christians and Muslims also wake up and realize that an India in which Hinduism is destroyed is a bastard civilization, and return to peaceful co existence.

    the legislative bit that can be done is, asking christian humanitarian organizations to allow peer review, let what they be transparent, let hindu organizations audit what they do and let christian orgs audit hindu ones.

    Here is a non govt way of bringing an end to purchased conversions.
    let hindu national bodies, (not the vhp) but the religious ones, call to main christian representatives, (not the minority commission) for a consensus on “money for your shoul” and then, via religious means, increase awareness about co-operation, let this coalition then take it upon themselves to create transparency and openness. it must be granted of course that non coerced conversions are acceptable.

    what say?

    anand

  • 34. SKS Mumbai said:

    @Ranga
    ” your first line could have been corrected, you could have been an Indian First, then a Christian’

    I think that was unnecessary, especially in this context.

    @Anand
    Comparing religion with goods and services is tricky. If open borders is the ideal, there shouldn’t be any immigration control or visa requirement. Nevertheless, if we insist that it is the same, then we need to remember a few things:

    1. some strategic sectors are out of bounds for foreign companies.

    2. 100% FDI sectors would most likely be those, where domestic companies are strong or b’coz we have no alternative.

    3. You must’ve heard of domestic protection like anti dumping duty or higher import duties when local units are stressed. More advanced ones use non-trade barrier or reduce H1 B visas and when threatened good old Protection Look at Obama.

    4. Then there are hazars of regulations which companies have to comply with,

    Just think, if coke were to compete with Pepsi by claiming that only coke can lead to salvation, coke would have guilty of almost every rule on the book. Imagine Rebook claiming Nike is not a Shoe or it is a False Shoe?

    What are these unsubstantiated advertising claims? Denigrating other brands on the basis of untested and un-testable claims? Unfair Trade Practices?

    If Siemens offered to get your child into a good school if you bought their equipment, it would be bribery. Even when such gifts are not linked to any specific transaction, ethical companies do have detailed guidelines to avoid any charge of bribery. For e.g. diwali gifts

    When Microsoft sold Windows with Iexplorer what happened? Evangelists also try to push other products along with religion. For e.g. The converted guys are asked to stop using Diya and switch over to Candles!

    Truth of the matter is this, if
    Evangelists were to be treated on par with business, most of the guys involved would be booked under one law or another! Fair Trade Practices? Predatory Pricing, Anti Trust? Consumer courts, corruption at the very least.

    I can’t be very sure about Hinduism, but Evangelists are undoubtedly one of the largest, wealthiest and most powerful corporation of the world, and probably the least regulated.

    Answers aren’t so easy.

  • 35. Sid said:

    @Anand,

    1. purchasing converts -> point a => Large scale money transfer always leaves trails, in a world paranoid of terrorism, nearly every country has a mechanism to monitor them. It is indeed possible to regulate large scale money transfer if there is right intention.

    2. purchasing converts -> point b => “in which case all temples and mosques and hndu charitable organizations will have to be, too.” Please make some informed comments. Temples are already under a ministry control. This is secular state for you!!! Besides, how are missionary organizations and Hindu charitable organizations same? We do not have any concept like “Conversion” in our religion, neither does exist concept like “Baptism” without which even a man who follows Christ’s treaching can not call himself Christian. Hindu charitable organizations are not out there to buy converts

    3. “most hindu schools make children …. what sort of charity is that? “ – I would like to know which schools teach slokas to children? What sort of children understand slokas from Vedas (last time I checked several intellectuals spent their lives explaining them). Have you attended such and such schools? Do they also teach Vedas/Gita/Upanishad in the sciences curricula? As I said before, please come up with some informed comments. If you do not have them, stay away from things that are not truth. As far as I know, that was Jesus’s message too.

    4. “think again what will happen if some of the best hospitals in india are shut down overnight?” – Let us hear about those “best hospitals”. This is truly the grandest information, that our ancestors did not have any healthcare before Christian missionaries landed in India.

    5. “and what evidence do we have that hospitals lead to purchased conversions?” – I have one. Missionaries of charity. Christopher Hitchens took deep pain to document that while cancer patients writhes in pain in their hospital, our “saint of calcutta” denied them access to medicines believing suffering leads them to God, her God that is. The same saint would go to America to treat her own ill health, her God apparently did not need her own suffering.

    6. CMC Vellor was not found as an extension to the church, it was found as a medical college. Today it is a good college not because missionaries run it, but the institute care for excellence and it employs doctors without any care for their religion. They can have as many churches or chapel wings they want as long as they do not follow the predatory techniques of missionaries of charity.

    7. “but the hindutva movement in India doesn’t exactly have a stellar human rights records.” – It does not. It does not because those gentlemen who, over time, acquired the patent over human rights movement did not exactly treat Hindus as human. So you are saying that one can not expect honesty from the holiest orgnaization of Christian Sect and that is ok because some Hindus killed some Christians some time back? Also, just because some Hindus killed some Christians (and got killed too) all Christian activities in India are perfectly alright?

    8. “how will india ever 50% turn Christian?” – I have a better question to ponder: how did Nagaland turn 90% Christian? Or Meghalaya? How, after learning message of love and peace, they learned to unleash those lovely and peaceful messages over unsuspecting people of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh? After all, the “peaceful” excercise of spreading those messages today are called north-eastern insurgency. You may also like to note that, Nagas and other tribals stayed with other Hindu tribes in the past centuries with relative peace and the insurgency grew only when message of peace and love was spread very widely.

    9. “and by implying that 50% turn Christian you are saying that there is a chance that 50% of the people of india, hinuds, can be “purchased”?” – No, even Americans do not have that kind of money. But, as History told us in relation to the Portugese inquisition in Goa during 1560 – 1842, once a good majority is achieved, those marvelous believers of peace and love can “inspire” the heathens to take a leap of faith specially when believers are equipped with overt/covert support from foreign land.

    10. “people dont convert. would you convert for a billion dollars?” – I may not. Would you? WOuld any Ram or Anand or Shantanu? If they do not have money? If they require an expensive operation? If they need money to invest in desi liquors every month?

    11. “why assume that the majority of Indian Hindus are less hindu in their convictions than you?” – Did I claim that? One difference exists however. I am not easily bullied, most are. When fire-breathing TV journos spend hours in criticising how “Karva-chauth” is superstitious but “burkha” has so many advantages or the ritual of “cleansing” is such an advanced thought, one believing in the “karva-chauth” is easily bullied because nobody is there to present his answers or justification. The state of sacred secularism is indeed great.

    12. religion should be eradicated altogether from schools, not just Christian or Muslim ones. – We are not the ones with Sunday Bible schools or Madrasas. Let me know how banning the Madrasas are coming.

    13. “but be turning truly secular.” – In case you did not notice, the Indian constitution has a “secular” word in it. How does this state uphold secularism? Why, by taxing Kumbh Mela pilgrims and subsidising Haj and Jerusalem pilgrimage. If a nation has to turn truly secular, every leader actually have to be a committed athiest. In our case, our leaders are true anti-Hindus, becoming athiest would make them loose the pious minority votes.
    The secular American government keeps funding those overseas groups that work against birth control. Pretty secular actions, I am sure.

    The truth is that the tolerance is what is needed, not an intolerant secularism. Tolerant secularism is just impossible to implement, the concept of tolerance must be built inside the religious framework because it is the religion that man grows up with, not secularism. My own religion is very tolerant, this is why minorities survived in states governed by pious Hindu kings (do you have a counter examples?). How did Christian Europe or Muslim mid-east treat minority Jews until very recently?

    14. “what sort of legislation would we be abel to enact that would stop foreign money from purchasing people.?” – Please look at point 1.

  • 36. Sid said:

    @Anand,
    “i would go on to say that the political hindutva movt of today is starting to resemble the conservative evangelical movt of the west, turning the exclusion way.” – That is it’s achiles hill. Those strong-arming tactics never worked well with Hindus. Traditionally Hindus never saw their dharma as a tool to political consolidation which is why we are mostly clueless in the face of religious extremism propagated by those who view it that way. To cover our cluelessness, we try to throw “secular” BS. The trouble is, secularism evolved as a social negotiation between two warring European Christian factions: catholics and protestants. It is very difficult to interpret this in Indian context unless you obfuscate certain important differences and hope that they were not important considerations.

    There were always ideological differences between multiple communities in the sub-continent but that never created the kind of emotional responses that are increasingly visible. What is more, the media-manipulation by Christian right and bombing by Wahabbists are creating an extreme form of polarization in Indian society, a pre-dominantly Hindu society. This polarization is fueled by huge stress and panic. Both are strong human emotions that triggers survival instincts of Human brain. These instincts would give birth to violent reactions if there is no political framework that can direct it towards constructive path. Political Hindutva had a promise, a promise that the professional politicians exploited well till the point it yielded rich dividends and then dumped it like a stillborn.

    Political Hintuva or no Hindutva, the frustration and anger would continue to grow and this would solidify the cleavage between Hindu and non-Hindu communities. It is essentially a Hindu struggle to resolve the differences among ourselves and find a way to respond to any attack that is made on us. Because any effort made by Hindus to consolidate their base has been made an easy target by leftists and non-Hindu rightists, any dependency on the establishment, academia, government or media has diminished. On one hand, our effort is very spontaneous and dependable but on the other hand, it is impossible to control and it lacks continued focus towards any goal. I have a hope that we would emerge with more constructive response, more efficient communication and possibly more effective response to the attacks.

    What you proposed is not going to work because damages are too deep to heal with a goodwill hunting. Very few Hindus today believe that any kind of hand holding or candle light marching is going to evolve into any benificial relationship. Sad, but true.

  • 37. Armchair Guy said:

    @Sid

    Re your question about life for minorities under Hindu rulers. I think you and I are using different definitions of “Hindu state”.

    To me, if there’s a Hindu ruler, that alone doesn’t make it a Hindu state. If the ruler doesn’t interfere with religious life, that’s a secular state. I don’t know whether Shivaji interfered in peoples’ religious lives, but if he didn’t his rule was secular. If you define based on the ruler, India is currently either a Sikh state or a Christian state (depending on whether you believe Manmohan or Sonia is ruling) and there are no states that don’t have a state religion (unless the ruler is agnostic/secular in personal life).

    To me a state is a Hindu state if and only if Hindus are somehow privileged over other religions. If they are not, I think any arguments about this are moot. If they are, then it’s true by definition that non-Hindus are less free.

    [To me, "less free" includes mild forms of non-freedom. For example, if the govt declared it would only celebrate Hindu festivals, some might argue this doesn't hurt non-Hindus. I disagree with that.]

  • 38. Niki said:

    We all appear to have fallen into the equal equal trap and everyone is speaking of what is now called Hinduism in the same breath as Christianity. That equal equal does not hold. One is a worldview and the other is a religion.
    Is Hinduism even a religion.
    Please watch Balagangadhara debates on why secularism may not be the best framework for India – and by doing equal equal with Christianity and Islam we have just become another Christian structure. Also secularism is Christian theology

    http://www.youtube.com/user/cultuurwetenschap

  • 39. gajanan said:

    No 14 SKS Mumbai here is an article by Pradip Thomas in Ishwar Sahran archive . IS is Swami Devananda Saraswathi , a Canadain settled in TN . His web site is huge. Read this
    http://hamsa.org/pradip.thomas.htm

  • 40. Sanjeev Sabhlok said:

    Sorry folks, I’ve no time to pursue this discussion in detail, nor respond to a number of interesting points, but a quick 2 minute scan led me to Anand’s point which I thought I’d address, and revert to book writing (please do read my draft manuscript, ‘Discovery of Freedom’ at http://discovery.sabhlokcity.com/ – comments appreciated).

    The comment was interesting, seeming as it does to question my liberal beliefs: “Dr. Sanjeev’s argument that “the free society must protect its fundamental character.” seems contrary to the basic tenets of classical liberalism. A free society should be free to do whatever it damn well pleases to do.”

    OK. So here goes!

    - a) Please don’t call me “Dr.” Sanjeev. My PhD is totally irrelevant to the issue under discussion. Sanjeev will do fine. Thanks!

    - b) My argument rests on recognising that RELIGION IS SOMETIMES A POLITICAL FORCE. Both the Muslims and British invaders of India fostered a significant amount of religious promotion. They were driven primarily by political (and economic) motives, of that there can be no doubt; but religion was not a purely personal matter to them: their motivation to convert India was a deep factor in their coming to India. They genuinely believed their religion was superior to Indian religion, and to that extent they mixed the state and religion intensively.

    There is no denying that non-Indian religions (particularly Christianity and Islam) do mix politics and religion intensively, and continue to do so even today. If this fact of life is not recognised we are likely to make a significant error in our policy thinking.

    If this fact is recognised then is becomes necessary to restrict the FLOOD of money flowing into India from such religions. It amounts to the invasion of India – in disguise. Like the Horse which was dragged into Troy by the hapless Trojans, which led to the destruction of Troy from within. It would be STUPID to not recognise the risks arising from huge foreign inflows of religious funds.

    Liberal concepts of freedom of religion cannot be allowed do endanger the existence of the nation. We do not allow political contributions (to political parties, for instance) by foreigners. There is no reason why religious contributions should be permitted. Foreigners must not be allowed to misue the freedom they have in India to change India COMPLETELY. Let India change by itself. Let the society evolve in freedom and peace. Let foreigners not influence its direction of change.

    - c) The classical liberal demands religious freedom. Hence I continue to advocate freedom to preach and convert. But ONLY by INDIANS using INDIAN money. I have no problem in people preaching their own religions, BUT only if they use their OWN (internal) savings. Let’s become clear on this fundamental disctinction. Freedom of religion is not freedom to bring foreign funds into India and change the level playing field. I trust that clarifies.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

  • 41. Anand said:

    @SKS mumbai, thank you

    I now realize that my metaphor was deeply flawed and agree to your analysis about evangelism being the most unregulated of corporations.

  • 42. Sid said:

    @Armchair,
    “To me a state is a Hindu state if and only if Hindus are somehow privileged over other religions. If they are not, I think any arguments about this are moot. If they are, then it’s true by definition that non-Hindus are less free.”
    “Hindu state” as defined by you never existed simply because Hindus existed only under European rule. Before that we were a group of Kaphirs under Islamic rule. We have understood ourselves as Hindu only in last few centuries. Besides, in our case, we never believed that religion has anything to do with statecraft (except Buddhism which deeply impacted foreign policies of the Buddhist kings at later times).
    In the previous response to Anand, I have outlined why it is almost impossible to establish a pure “secular” state that would always stay away from any religious matters. The current definition of a secular state itself is very confusing because who would decide what matters are religious and what is not in Indian context!! For example, are Madrasas religious matters or not!!! If it is religious, then what is a state-controlled Madrasa education board doing here? If it is not religious, why is Quran-Hadis-Sira being taught there?

    The “secularist” westerners do not have this confusion because secularism as a concept evolved in the west on the basis of separation of church and state. In the wake of mass Muslim immigration to Europe the same flag-bearers of “secularism” are nervous and confused. So when immigrants are demanding Sharia Law, they really do not know whether they are supposed to say yes or no because it is simply difficult to analyse a Muslim world view from the context of separation of church and state (for Muslims it never happened).

  • 43. Anand said:

    @ sid, i dont understand why we are suddenly antagonistic, i hope i have been clear that i do not in any way support foreign money for Indian religious activities, particularly those that lead to purchased conversions.

    i am sorry i came out too strongly in my mass conversion points, i apologize and will rehash my arguments in a more civil manner. :) i desire conversation and engagement, not a fight. unless of course, i am patronized like one other commenter did.

    I am merely pointing out that instead of a blanket ban on foreign aid, which will be extremely difficult if not impossible to bring about, one should begin by working at increasing transparency in Christian orgs. and other non legislative options.

    but as you point out, large sums of money do leave trails, and so it should not be as difficult as i think.

    i am afraid, let me be clear, that involving the govt in regulation will end up in a second license raj, which leads to more opportunities for corruption. also, it will only push hype selling evangelicals into becoming more hysterical in selling their conspiracy theories.

    Violence in Hinduism was, as you rightly said,is a direct result of aggression from other religions, and therefore, responding in kind is only gonna make things worse.

    or, religions, particularly Christianity grows in leaps and bounds when under threat, as is shown by Christianity’s growth in china and korea, and even the gulf. the times when it was not a threat was the time there was peace. now, foreign money has changed equations, and so, it needs to be tackled, surely, but one must be careful as to not to get Christians into believing/deluding that they are a “persecuted” group. and so the involvement of these communities in their regulation is essential.

    Again, i have mentioned that temples being under govt control has lead to great damage, and therefore no religious inst. should be under them, first off, let us get temples out of govt control then stop haj subsidies, take away kumbh tax and stop the income tax waivers given to religious charities. that alone will.

    as for the conversion of the nagas etc, that is food for thought, thank you for pointing it out.

  • 44. Petro Dollars, Wahhabism and India’s waning liberal ethos - Offstumped Community Portal said:

    [...] …Or Part II of Should foreign funding for religious institutions be banned? [...]

  • 45. SKS Mumbai said:

    @Anand,
    You have got me thinking now.
    If selling lipsticks and fair and lovely are subject to so many regulations, why not evangelists ?

    I think that is a very good argument for subjecting these activities to comprehensive and strict regulations. When pastors claim that caste in India is beyond religion and ask the converted guys to seek reservation from Govt, a convert should be able to take him to a consumer forum for fooling him by promising freedom from caste. Willful Misrepresentation!

    To be sure, to be evangelised is certainly much more important that using Fair and Lovely and if the latter is regulated so should be the case with the former.

    I don’t think that it amounts to regulating beliefs. Because, Govts do recognize existence of religions and deal with them in many ways and in by regulating evangelists you are only regulating the sale of beliefs. For example Govt don’t dicate composition of fair and lovely, they only see that it does not contain some dangerous stuff and that the consumer is given full and correct information and is not misled by spurious claims.

  • 46. SKS Mumbai said:

    Here is another reason to take a good hard look at the whole
    Game: Tentmaking, ever heard of it? See the definition:

    “Christian professionals who work in secular jobs in order to reach another people with the gospel, by integrating work and witness’. http://www.globalopps.org/

    This is a scheme through which evangelisation is taken into your office, your school and if feasible in your homes. Tentmaker could be your teacher, lecturer, doctor, student, colleague, friend, living like everybody else, drawing normal salaries and socializing, just like everybody else, except that, all along his goal was to get you converted. If he befriends you, invites you for a family dinner, plays with your kids, it is all and always for converting you. The ugliest part is he would never let you know about his objective.

    In certain countries, this mechanism is basically used for hoodwinking the local laws (e. g. China, Islamic countries)

    Just google Tentmaking and see what you end up with.

    Ethics any one ? For our believers it is the call of God.

  • 47. Suhas said:

    http://www.abc.net.au/compass/s2820731.htm

    British journalist, former Conservative Party politician and lapsed Catholic Michael Portillo investigates the legacy of the Roman Emperor Constantine. He was the first Christian Roman emperor and he transformed Christianity. He transformed it from a clandestine handful of followers of Jesus Christ into one of the world’s great religions with a global reach of over two billion worshippers. Michal Portillo uses his politician’s mind to unravel the process by which Constantine and the church came together and questions how ruthless imperialism came to be reconciled with Christ’s pacifist, altruistic values. Portillo’s conclusion is that once enthroned in a position of power, the church never looked back.

    ruthless imperialism , these words are very important. How cruel….

    So this ruthless imperialism has turned into money for faithism. From Tamasic Kshatriyas to Tamasic Vaisyas.

  • 48. Anand said:

    @sanjeev

    i hope addressing you as doc has not caused offense, it was out of respect, nothing else.

    my disagreement was and still is, with the way and extent in which the state should interfere in religious workings, as it is, there is enough interference, and as i have outlined above, it is not a very easy thing to go about without increasing bureaucratic process.

    again, no one can really pinpoint what the fundamental nature of Indian societies is and so, an argument that societies must maintain their fundamental nature is not a very well defensible one, change is essential, fundamental change is essential too. i do not deny that political influence of religion is increasing and needs to be checked.

    I do not doubt your liberal credentials a bit, but i hope you agree that unless ones beliefs are open to debate, and available for being challenged, it leads to stagnation.

    am reading discovery of freedom.

    thank you
    anand

  • 49. Suhas said:

    See how the State of Alabama has invoked religion for the value of Pi

    http://www.nmsr.org/alabama.htm
    They say it is three not 22/7 or 3.14 recurring as it is said in the ….
    Read on. But do not laugh. Cry loudly.

  • 50. Anand said:

    SKS,

    sure, regulate evangelists:) should be fun

    religious jargon must be interpreted in religious context. tentmaking just means that instead of preaching and working full time, they work, and through “life witness” meaning being “nice Christians” introduce Christian concepts. i’d say people should be allowed to do that, there surely can be stuff to learn from other religions. just be aware, and look for fakes.

    one of the most central aspects of Christianity is that it believes in sharing beliefs, and that has always been so, before the advent of immoral evangelism, everyone was a tent-maker. and how much ever you legislate, that is not going to change. sharing ones faith, for whatever intent, is ones basic right, methods should be open for scrutiny. i am sharing my beliefs to you now, with an intent to convert, not to Christianity, bec i dont believe in it, but to and ideology similar to mine.

    anand

  • 51. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Dear All: I am overwhelmed by the number of responses to this post…This has far exceeded my expectations…

    A number of you have raised very pertinent points and thought-provoking questions..I don’t claim to have answers to all of them but I will try and do my best to respond..

    If I have missed a point that you wanted me to address, it has been inadvertent, not deliberate.

    @ PKD: Yes, we need to be realistic but I think it is do-able, provided there is political will.

    @ Tarun: Re. removing the word secular, pl have a look at this post: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2008/01/25/dump-the-anachronisms/

    @ Sanjeev: I think before we start commenting on the pros and cons of a “Hindu” India, it would be useful to say exactly what we mean by Hindu India. You and others may find this link thought-provoking: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/08/02/hinduism-as-a-secular-concept/

    I broadly agree with the rest of your comment.

    @ Anon: The serious way to go about this is (i) first to create awareness about the issue & its ramifications (ii) get your local legislators to think about this and put thsi agenda on their manifestos. I agree that PILs may not work.

    @ Dr Ambekar/Others: Any links proving/disproving VHP getting funds from abroad would be welcome.

    @ SKS: Thanks for the link to Pradip Thomas’ article..I will have a look.

    @ Palahalli: “Can we organize more public dialogues with leaders of the professionally proselytizing faiths? We have a model in the Hindu-Christian dialogue.” Thats an excellent suggestion..Not sure how realistic it is but worth trying..

    Interesting idea about funneling all foreign funds into a common pool and then distributing pro-rata. Can it be done? I am sure it can be. Will our government ever do it? No chance.

    @ dubash: “Why are Hindu temples unable or unwilling to cater to the spiritual and practical needs of all their followers.” Very good question. Pl read this post: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2009/03/11/challenge-before-hinduism/ And as Vivek has mentioned, temple donations (esp large temples) come under government control. Pl read this: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/07/29/psuedo-secularism-at-its-best/

    @ Anand: You and PKD have both cited practical obstacles in implementing a ban on foregn funds. But that is a matter of having a good monitoring and vetting process (and people of integrity in the system!)

    Thanks by the way for shaing your perspective on this debate.

    I disagree with some of your points but will probably come back and respond later…(by the way, “religious conversions” cannot be conpared to Pepsi/Coke’s markeitng campaigns)

    You have also raised the point mentiobed by Palahalli that “…a wide spread and national conversation between religions about conversion” needs to happen.” I agree with that.

    @ Armchair Guy: Pl do have a look at the link re. Hindu state: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/08/02/hinduism-as-a-secular-concept/

    @ COl Murty: Thanks for your observations. Do you have more information on the links between Naxalism and Evangelical Christian activity? One can certainly go to the courts but we will need a lot more information.
    As for the Haj subsidy, it is sad that no national party makes it as one of their agendas.

    @ Ranga: Well said: “Fundamental Nature of this society was & is Freedom of Expression, Thought, Practise of Religion, not now, it goes back to few thousand years.

    @ SKS: Pl do havea read through my link about “Hindu state”. We can continue this discussion on that thread.

    @ Anand: I liked this statement of yours “…it is also high time Christians and Muslims also wake up and realize that an India in which Hinduism is destroyed is a bastard civilization..

    and your suggestion about “a non govt way of bringing an end to purchased conversions” is thought-provoking and worthy of further debate/discussion.

    @ Sid: Your point about “Intolerant Secularism”, reminded me of this post: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2007/06/19/secular-fundamentalism/

    and this comments if very thought-provoking: “Political Hindutva had a promise, a promise that the professional politicians exploited well till the point it yielded rich dividends and then dumped it like a stillborn.”

    @ Sanjeev (#40): I think this is a great enunciation of your position and I will probably add a link to this as an update in the main post (since this question may be raised later as well)

    In particular, I think these points need to be emphasised:

    “There is no denying that non-Indian religions (particularly Christianity and Islam) do mix politics and religion intensively, and continue to do so even today. If this fact of life is not recognised we are likely to make a significant error in our policy thinking…

    Liberal concepts of freedom of religion cannot be allowed do endanger the existence of the nation. We do not allow political contributions (to political parties, for instance) by foreigners. There is no reason why religious contributions should be permitted. Foreigners must not be allowed to misue the freedom they have in India to change India COMPLETELY. Let India change by itself. Let the society evolve in freedom and peace. Let foreigners not influence its direction of change..

    The classical liberal demands religious freedom. Hence I continue to advocate freedom to preach and convert. But ONLY by INDIANS using INDIAN money. I have no problem in people preaching their own religions, BUT only if they use their OWN (internal) savings. Let’s become clear on this fundamental disctinction. Freedom of religion is not freedom to bring foreign funds into India and change the level playing field.”

    @ Anand: “i am sharing my beliefs to you now, with an intent to convert, not to Christianity, bec i dont believe in it, but to and ideology similar to mine.” That was funny!

  • 52. SKS Mumbai said:

    @Anand
    I am not sure if tentmaking is as innocuous as just sharing your beliefs. When I start talking to someone at my new office or at some club I am just trying to make a friend. If we like each other, we are good friends or we are not. We just remain colleagues. A tentmaker is very different, he is unlikely to befriend you just because he likes who you are. Instead he does so because he sees in you an ‘opportunity’ and that is plain disgusting.

    On this website I know you are trying to convince me and so do you but with a tentmaker only he knows which is unfair and that is the most charitable way of saying it.

    BTW who are these guys? Just someone inspired by faith? I am sorry, these guys are more often than not affiliated to one or another network, are trained by professionals, have training manuals and hazar such things.

    Yes, it is an individual’s right to share his belief but to do so slyly is a breach of victim’s rights. To do this while you are my son’s teacher or a swimming coach is slimy and it wouldn’t be entirely incorrect for the background check to look at this angle as well.

  • 53. SKS Mumbai said:

    Shantanu

    The reasons I have focused on regulating evangelisation in the same way as companies are, come from an argument made some time back by Karan Thapar and someone from DU (don’t recollect her name, will try to find a link)

    Their main argument was why should purchasing of souls be objected to? Nobody objects, when a professional resigns from his current job for a better paying job. Of course, their contention isn’t entirely correct as most of the people also look at non-monetary factors, but equally incorrect is the position that people don’t change merely on the basis of salary. Now even if people change only because of salary how can we call that wrong? After all it is his individual choice.

    It is from this perspective that I argue for regulating this business of evangelisation.

  • 54. Sid said:

    @Anand,
    As I pointed out before, foreign funding should be regulated but given current reality, we can not regulate foreign funding. It is the Christian community that has to decide whether it would uphold values that is brought by rich evangelists or message of their prophet. Neither you nor me can tell greater Hindu community what they should do, but we can guess what they can do when they feel they are threatened. Nagaland is a good example of why they would feel threatened. Orissa is a small scale but closer to home example.
    “…particularly Christianity grows in leaps and bounds when under threat, as is shown by Christianity’s growth in china and korea, and even the gulf.” – Sort of a myth. Whatever “progress” missionaries made in China, by all accounts Mao pretty much destroyed with cultural revolution. Now that Chinese are interested in the things that were taboo in Mao years, they are looking back at their old heritage, not imported ideologies. South Korea is a perfect example of consequences of vigorous evangelism in a society that sought escape from multiple wars and invasion. But a more striking example would be shogunate in Japan in 1600s. When Shogunate began to suspect the loyalty of their subjects converted to Christianity, they launched an war against them and destroyed the christian movement so thoroughly that even foreign missionaries were converted to Shintoism by force. Even during the meiji restoration years, Christianity could not stand back on it’s feet simply because very hierarchical Japanese society view foreign ideologies with suspect.

    The truth is that patronage of state or powerful clans is required for any new religion or ideology to gain a foothold in a new place. But even then, replacing a group of concepts that survived for multiple millenniums and evolved with changing time is no easy or quick task. Even Islam, with it’s bloody years in the subcontinent, half-a-millennium of oppression and jizia tax, could not be as successful against Hinduism here the way it could in Malayasia or Indonesia. A new wave of money, manipulation in media and influence peddling in political circles would give evangelicals some temporary victories but it would also alienate the Hindus who are used to view Christians as just friends who mean no harm. I do not fear Christian takeover of India, entire India is not Nagaland. What I fear is that this struggle would change the very character of Hinduism and would destroy the very ability to accept and integrate the changes that come with time.
    At the end, I am going to mention something I heard from a friend from Jharkhand: Some tribals in Jharkhand were given money for conversion, they got converted, then a Hindu mission offered them money for conversion back, so they converted back and went to church to get the money for conversion again. This cycle went a few iteration until local church began to notice that familiar faces are joining the “fold of Jesus” again and again. While we are here getting highly patronized about innocent tribals getting converted for money, those tribals may not be so innocent after all. :)

  • 55. Sid said:

    @SKS,
    Our government can not even regulate the businesses they are supposed to regulate. Hell, they can not even regulate themselves. Why are we even bothering about the argument of bringing in one more thing to regulate?

    Karan Thapar and Delhi-based media clan would sell their own if that is what they are compensated for, trust me, if someone pays them enough money they would manufacture reasons on why we should allow Ajmal Kasab to walk free. At the first sign of trouble, these are the people who would immediately fly to US or Canada or Europe leaving people like you or me to figure out the solution. Apparently they do not share your or my future.

  • 56. K. Harapriya said:

    The general argument for freedom of religion is that in the marketplace of religious ideas, all should be equally able to market their theologies to the public, and the people can decide which ones to consume. If we regard religions similar to other consummables, then there need to be stringent regulations preventing them from seeking to monopolize the marketplace, and unfair trade practices which give one religion additional advantage (other than merely their ideas) need to be abolished.

    However, since Christianity and Islam pose as the Truth, and religions which promise eternal heaven etc., and their truth claims involve the destruction of native religions and belief systems, a better way to view them is not mere ideas that one can adopt or leave as one pleases, but actually weapons used in a larger war to control all the world’s resources and people. When seen as essentially as instruments of war, with the stated objective of destroying all native cultures and religions (this is what the pope meant about planting a cross in India), we can be perhaps clearer in our response. Instead of arguing whether we should be secular or Hindu nation, we need to recognize that Hindus deserve a nation, a homeland. As a people who have unwillingly been drawn into a war not of their making, because of the illogical beliefs of Christians and Muslims who seek to destroy us, we need to stand up and fight back.

  • 57. Palahalli said:

    I thought I’d never see it said until I read Hara.

    Hindus need a homeland they can call their own in which they can live as Hindus unmolested by irritating salesmen of spurious products.

    Hindusthan is that homeland. It is their domain.

  • 58. Indian said:

    First time I felt very happy, for this problem being analysed in right direction. If we know the problem, solution becomes easy.

  • 59. Armchair Guy said:

    @Shantanu

    I looked at Hinduism as a secular concept. I agree that Hinduism can be (somewhat) secular. But using this as a reason to call the state a Hindu state seems incredibly roundabout and unnecessary. I’m sure you agree that there are a lot of aspects to Hinduism beyond secularity. If all we are interested in is secularism, the obvious thing is to call the state secular. Secularism alone cannot be a reason for calling it a “Hindu state”, unless there are other Hindu concepts the state borrows.

    @Sid

    “Hindu state” as defined by you never existed simply because Hindus existed only under European rule. Before that we were a group of Kaphirs under Islamic rule. We have understood ourselves as Hindu only in last few centuries.

    Can we say “never existed”? Are we sure that there was never a state that privileged Hinduism? I don’t know enough history. Certainly we’ve had Buddhist states in the past.

    In any case my comment that a Hindu state is a terrible idea wasn’t directed at the past. One commenter wanted India to be declared a Hindu state, now. I’m saying this means Hinduism will be privileged over other religions; otherwise it is meaningless to call it a Hindu state. Such a privilege runs counter to the principle of equality of citizens before the state.

    About achieving secularity, I don’t think secularity should be the goal. I think the goal should be structural equality of all citizens, by which I mean that people should not be systematically advantaged or disadvantaged (based on religion, sex, caste, affluence at birth, etc.). Secularity is just a means to achieve this.

    So I think you are right in saying it may not be possible to achieve “perfect secularity” whatever that means especially in democratic India. Perhaps for the reasons you mention (the history of development of the secular concept). But we don’t need perfect secularity. We just need enough secularity to ensure structural equality of citizens. That is, the government may interfere in religious matters as long as the interference is limited to rectifying structural imbalances.

    Using this general line of thought India is currently a Chrislamic state, since there are de jure and de facto structural advantages enjoyed by Christianity and Islam today. In the early years of India there was a perception that there were de facto structural advantages for Hinduism since the majority of the population was Hindu. The laws supporting Christianity and Islam were meant to nullify the de facto structural advantage Hinduism enjoyed. Today I think Christianity/Islam enjoy both de jure and de facto structural advantages, so the de jure component should be removed, at least.

    However, this means returning India to a balance between religions. I don’t think structurally advantaging Hinduism is the right thing to do.

  • 60. B Shantanu (author) said:

    @ Sid: “What I fear is that this struggle would change the very character of Hinduism and would destroy the very ability to accept and integrate the changes that come with time.” Very interesting observation…and thought provoking. What do others think?

    Also interesting anecdote about the “innocent tribals” in Jharkhand!

    @ Harapriya: Re. “since Christianity and Islam pose as the Truth, and religions which promise eternal heaven etc., and their truth claims involve the destruction of native religions and belief systems, a better way to view them is not mere ideas that one can adopt or leave as one pleases, but actually weapons used in a larger war to control all the world’s resources and people”

    This is a thought-provoking way to look at evangelism and converion and kind of corroborates what Sanjeev wrote before regarding the undeniable link between politics and Islam/Christianity.

    @ Armchair Guy: How do you define a “Hindu” concept? What exactly is/are “Hindu concepts”?

    Also “government may interfere in religious matters as long as the interference is limited to rectifying structural imbalances” is usually the thin end of the wedge.

    ***

    All: This is very likely my last comment on the blog for the next few days.

    But I look forward to a continuing discussion. Thanks

  • 61. Armchair Guy said:

    @Shantanu

    How do you define a “Hindu” concept? What exactly is/are “Hindu concepts”?

    I don’t have an opinion on the topic. I follow some aspects of Hinduism and anyone is free to follow their own. But whatever it is, it’s more than just secularism. My point was that Secularism is not the same as Hinduism, so there’s no reason to call it a “Hindu state” just because it’s secular.

    Also “government may interfere in religious matters as long as the interference is limited to rectifying structural imbalances” is usually the thin end of the wedge.

    I mostly agree, but two points:

    1. It’s not always possible to say govt shouldn’t interfere with religion. For example if we have a law about foreign funding of religion that’s already govt interfering in religion.

    2. Given that it seems practically impossible to create a secular state in democratic India, I think it’s better to establish parameters under which the govt is allowed to interfere with religion than let the govt do whatever it wants.

  • 62. Col. Murty said:

    Namaste

    Some points in this are vague but need noticing.
    Firstly Why are we not using Sanatana Dharma instead of Hindu Religion?The word Hindu itself was hardly used before !500 A>D or so.More importantly Why do we tag ISM only to Hindu and Not to Christianism or Islamism? why are we not using MOHAMMADINISM as used to be a few decades ago?THe sufix ISM is used to Communism, confucisnism , humanism etc.

    By such narrowing down the Sanatana Dharma to an ISM, we take away the total impact of Culture encompassing Arts, Music, Literature!

    Can there be a greater treason? Why Hinduism and Not ‘RELIGION?’

    And today we find the destruction that is taking place.Remember that they said that not somewhere in a hide out, but in the capital city of the stae, whose CM called them for discussions! this is their opening salvo!

    You cannot visit ANY COUNTRY without a VISA from that country. and HERE we Have TWO CRORES BANGLADESHIS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY! Not a word of that in these discussions? why?
    It is well known that 13% p Hindu opulation of Pakistan at the time of partition is reduced to a miniscule element today. Not a word of that by the christian missionaries who want to increase their Flock.in India.
    ****************************************************************************************

    If ever there were to be a war with Pakistan or/and China do you honestly feel that Indians whio are least bothered about their culture will give their Lives to fight? And save what they will ask!
    Kindly ponder over the points sincerely.. as the issue is not just a few bodies being converted but the GREAT INTERNATIONAL CLIQUE behind it. The conversions is only a tip of the iceberg as a part and parcel a psychological warfare.
    They have alredy won the first phase as we can see that NO one but NO one is bothered at the ground level to even study the problem. WE are unfortunately arguing in the computer.

    I for one am living in a village where No one is able to do a bit to stop the blazing of allaleuas from a church so loudly that they can be beard a kilometer away, and disturb the school, students during their exams… etc. all for exactly 15 christians in a village of over 2000 people!. All are scared to say a word because the one who keeps his amoplifiers has a direct link with the CM.

  • 63. 12th Hour said:

    Religion is primarily, Islam and Christianity. Both these are direct threat to any country’s sovereign principles of governance which are based on rationality. For example Deoband is a direct challenger to ethics, traditions, culture and law of our land. Days are not far when Church will also do the same as Deobandis. The worst thing is Congress and SECULARISTS will sit like a lame duck, hatching a volcano.

  • 65. VoP said:

    Please read these two:

    Christianisation of Chennai Doordarshan’s Podhigai Channel

    Part 1
    http://vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1168
    Part 2
    http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1170

  • 67. VoP said:

    gajanan, Maoists are henchmen of the Church. With Christist Sonia firmly at the helm the future looks bleak.

    Maoist Nexus with Evangelical Christian Groups
    http://offstumped.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/evangelical-christian-maoist-nexus-must-be-investigated/

    One gentleman’s comment on that site is worth noting:

    Communist ideology has its roots in Christianity. Guys pissed off with domination of church & its rich friends in everything started this out to gain political power. Though church suffered heavily at the hands of commies, it shamelessly started using communist ideology to take away people from their native religion and culture in the name of class struggle and fight against oppression. The idea worked by first taking gullible poor out of their native culture and then slowly indoctrinating them in the ways of inquisition.

    80 year old martyr saint Laxmanananda (following church’s lexicon) was killed by these same brainwashed christian guerillas. The urban supporters of these guerillas are also equally brainwashed jesus freaks who cunningly sport huge bindi’s which are atleast twice bigger than what even most devout Hindus would wear. A clever façade to hide the ulterior motive of destruction of native cultures and way of life.

  • 68. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Thanks for the links Gajanan, VoP. I will have a look.

  • 69. Indian said:

    German delegation was in Guajrat and Orissa.

    http://deshgujarat.com/2010/04/11/germany-sends-rs9710169000-donation-to-india-annually/

    In the context of German Christian group’s Ahmedabad visit and their critical comments about Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat’s religious conversion related law, it would be interesting to know, how much money Germany based groups push to their Indian operations, mainly for religious conversion in the name of service.

    Germany pumped in Rs 9710169000 in India as ‘foreign donation’ in year 2007-2008 according to central Home ministry report. The report is available for public on Home Ministry site. However reports of year 2008-09 and 2009-10 are not put on site for public yet. According to the Home Ministry report, Germany was the third top foreign country pushing ‘donation’ to India in year 2007 and in 2006. Germany was second top donor in year 2002,2003 and 2004 with Rs 715.04, Rs 757.13 and Rs 930.92 crore Rs respectively. Germany pumped in Rs 971.02 crore in 2007, Rs 1033.04 crore in 2006 and Rs 1062.44 crore in 2005. Gujarat received Rs 2,38,59,19,000 Rs in year 2004. Ahmedabd district received Rs 1,26,42,000 and was 9th top. In this year Germany’s Miseror Mozartstrasse pumped in Rs 44,02,83,000 and was 10th top agency. Missio pumped in Rs 40,53,15,000(Missio was responsible for Christian group’s infamous and suspicious Ahmedabad visit.) Mission Prokur pumped in Rs 37,99,40,000. Kinder Not Hilfe pumped in Rs 33,13,98,000. Terre Des Hommes -TDH pumped in Rs 30,07,17,000.

    As per the Home Ministry report, two German Christian religious groups were among top 15 receiving foreign contribution. One EED-Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst e.v. of Germany pumped in Rs 105.17 crore in year 2007 only. Another group Neues Kerala C.V. Germany pumped in Rs 174.69 crore in 2007.

    It is now well-known that big amount donations in the name of rural development, tribal service and other reasons go to Christian organizations involved in religious conversion of poor and tribal people.

    The state of Gujarat received Rs 378.37 crore in year 2007 as foreign contribution. Gujarat was 8th top state in India in this regard in this year and also in 2006 when it received Rs 390.77 crore Rs foreign fund. In 2004 this sum was just Rs 238.59 crore. However it was 8th top even then. Gujarat’s Ahmedabad district was top 8th district in India that attracted highest foreign fun. The fund Ahmedabad district recieved in 2007 was Rs 230.31 crore.

    BJP wants Govt to seek explanation from German envoy

    Times of India reports: Their visit was described as “unofficial” and supported by Missio, a Catholic non-governmental organisation. The four-member team has been closely following the developments in the Gujarat riots cases of 2002 in the Supreme Court.

    Times of India reports:Pascal Kober, member of Free Democrat Party said that they got reports from people about how conversion was becoming difficult under the new religious freedom law where baptising ceremonies were getting reported.

    http://deshgujarat.com/2010/04/10/german-mps-mind-your-own-business/

  • 70. Col Murty said:

    I agree with SID. It is time we take action and do not depend on the Govt. Any failure to do so is failing our future generations.
    It is time for action and the least we can do is to vote and take our friends to vote judiciously.

    ***

    Sanjeev had correctly pointed out the christian and Muslim priorities vis a\vis religion and politics.
    we are unfortunately caught napping while getting the constitution, (in the making for over 3 years) and have given in to both Ambedkar and Nehru . No one had foreseen the calamity that may overtake by giving in to Caste minorities as well as religious minorities. the constitution makers, to be fair to them, could not have imagined the present situation
    But what do we do Now.. Use the same constitution to beat it.. Go and vote If only the information of the flow of funds, the intimidation being wrought in villages , and the money being poured in by theGOVERNMENT are made known

    People like sanjeev should get out leaflets, on the issues and distribute by thousands. If all of us unite fearlessly I am sure the propaganda that we are all Hindutva fans can be proved wrong.

    **************A question had been asked if I have any proof of collusion between the communists ( of any hue) and the Christians is available.
    it is becoming clearer day after day.Take SONIA and her communist origin exposed by Dr Subrahmanyam Swamy is avilable in the Bharatiya Pragna for any one to see.
    2. YSR ( Late) invited the Naxalites without preconditions for a discussion and the headlines of Deccan Herald (was it the Chronicle) declared that the PWG wab\nts HINDUISM ” to be destroyed on 24 OCT 2004.What other proof is needed>The christianisation in Hills, supply of weapons and maintaining the animosity between the tribals and the plains people is proof enough.

    Please visit te National Library KOLKatta and see that half the Magazines are all URDU ones.!! what seditious subjects are in there is anybodt’s guess.
    Lastly if in the next six months they establish a weapon manufacturing unit in Chattisgarh( or Orissa) God only can fight them
    . Let me be frank and say that probably considerably important sections in the FORCES mght have already been infiltrated.

    ***
    Niki sys we have fallen into a trap. he is right in a way but we have been entrapped since the colonial times when they startd using the word RELGION for our sanatana Dharma and called our grand idea of invocation of a God ( or strictly speaking GOD) in any thing in the universe and calling that IDOL worship. Wefell deeply into the pit ( or trap) by Justifying our worship Invocation or AVAHANA.
    We should even now fight these two concepts .. it is never too late.

    ***
    I wish that what Anand says is possible. The ground reality is so toatally different.

  • 71. CHURCHILL KUMAR said:

    I want to say only one thing Just Invest Foreign funds for Infrastructure development instead of religious activities.

  • 72. Dipak said:

    Every Hindu must take note of what’s happening in India. Present India is a creation of Nehru and Gandhi. Nehru started by reserving MP seats for Anglo-Indians.
    What a proud Hindu can do-
    (1) American Express stopped the sporsorship of a meeting in America,as soon as they came to know Narendra Modi was coming to attendthe meeting. Shall we use american Express ?
    (2) An exibition of MF Hossain’s work was sponsored by Hitachi, Opened by Indian high Commissioner in London, UK. Do we need to by products made by Hitachi.
    (3) Citybank donates money to Worldvision.

    Narayan.

  • 73. B Shantanu said:

    Tarun Vijay on ‘Why should Manipur remain in India?’:
    The entire north east is in the grip of an unprecedented wave of Christianization with the help of foreign money.

    Recently on May 5, a huge Jesus statue was unveiled in Arunachal Pradesh said to be the tallest in Asia, in a region where Christian population is less than 5%.

    But still Kohima can’t have a Gandhi statue as the NSCN opposes any Indian icons in their region.

  • 74. A said:

    To @Anand #22 and subsequent discussions on the “fundamental character of (this) free society”, may I add the following:

    The original quote was:

    However, the free society must protect its fundamental character. This method – of foreign funds being used to change the character of India – is in conflict with India’s sovereignty.

    There it is, back in context, it stands clarified all by itself.

    The fundamental character of a free society is freedom, freedom to determine its own fate — which is linked inextricably to sovereignty.

    Whether the fundamental character of India as a society is really rooted in freedom, or in mental sluggishness and mental slavery, will take a long debate to settle. But, in my view, the outcome of that debate is inconsequential.

    Because, we are not trying to be archeological here, in the sense of discovering and preserving some fundamental character just for its legacy value.

    I think freedom and liberty whether they exist or not, existed or not, is immaterial. They are worth aspiring for. If wen can agree as much, work can progress.

    P.S. Shantanu, a “preview” option would be good, before “submit comment”.

  • 75. B Shantanu (author) said:

    From an IBN report that went un-noticed:

    ..A global task force which tracks money laundering and terrorist financing across national borders, has raised doubts about the efficacy of India’s laws in combating this dual menace.

    The multi-national Financial Action Task Force (FATF)..has in its report identified fund transfers from foreign Non Profit Organisations (NPOs), counterfeiting of currency, drug trafficking and extortion as “major sources for terrorist financing” in the country.

    “India does not maintain a unified database for NPOs…statistics on the number of registered NPOs under the various statutes are not generally available in India. However, by government estimates, there are approximately two million foreign and domestic NPOs operating in India..”

    ..In a scathing indictment of the effectiveness of the Indian laws to monitor and counter terror funds and money laundering, the report said, “except under the Income Tax Act and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, the NPO sector is subject to limited or no monitoring and supervision, but the NPOs registered under these Acts only account for a small number of entities within the sector.

  • 76. Milind Kotwal said:

    Dear Shantanu,

    Just a suggestion.. !!!

    Go to the basics of nationality, regional identity, and religious identity. You would come up with some uncomfortable facts. Untill and unless you accept those facts sincerely you can not find solution to the problems you have quoted in this blog and else where..

    When we say Unity there are different layers and each layers needs to be dealt at its level, any mixing is counter productive as is seen in India..

    The levels are:

    1. Cultural level
    2. National Level Or Political level
    3. Regional level
    4. Administrative level

    There are three other levels which we can discuss at some other place

    In India we consider all these levels as one and that is why we are in serious trouble..

    My clear inferences, which you may find somewhat unpalatable are:

    1. Hindu culture is very high level and Hindu Nationalists are degrading it by defining it as a base for Nationality..

    2. Indian lingustic groups are infact the different Nationalities and should be treated as such.

    3. Administrative integration at central government is counter productive. In fact in my opinion Central Government of India should become United Nations of Bharat Khand. And it should handle only Foreign relations, defence, strategic research etc. and should leave all else including railways, communication, education, economy to states..

    4. Present situation of lack of strong sense of Nationalism is result of defective understanding of concept of Nationality.

    5. Also, I would also wish to state here that cosmopolitan culture, which people talk high about is infact ANTI-NATIONAL culture.. think over it..it is important understanding..

    6. Migration whether from India to other countries, From one state to another state, from one area within a state to another area within that state is BAD.. and there is no reason to attach high Holiness to right for migration..

    Hope to discuss these extreme thoughts of mine with others..!!

  • 77. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Milind: Very thought-provoking…I will try and respond in the nexr few days (currently travelling so may be delayed).

  • 78. Sid said:

    @Milind (#76),
    Start if a good discussion. Can this be migrated to a separate thread?

    Good effort. I do not agree to some but agree to some of these.

    1. Hindu culture is very high level and Hindu Nationalists are degrading it by defining it as a base for Nationality. – Please define what you call high level.

    2. Indian lingustic groups are infact the different Nationalities and should be treated as such. – Are they different Nationalities ? In your opinion, then, culture (or Hindu culture with it’s high level) can not form the basis of nationalism, but languages (which is an attribute of one’s culture) can form the basis of the nationalism?

    3. Administrative integration at central government is counter productive. In fact in my opinion Central Government of India should become United Nations of Bharat Khand. And it should handle only Foreign relations, defence, strategic research etc. and should leave all else including railways, communication, education, economy to states.. – Agree. When it was done, it was done to grab more power. Makes no sense today. But railways/communication should be centralized because they have strong security implications.

    4. Present situation of lack of strong sense of Nationalism is result of defective understanding of concept of Nationality. – Yes, true.

    5. Also, I would also wish to state here that cosmopolitan culture, which people talk high about is infact ANTI-NATIONAL culture.. think over it..it is important understanding.. – In other cases, cosmopolitan culture creates solid bases for nationalism. The problem is loyalty of our elites are mostly towards west, naturally the culture they are most comfortable in anti-national.

    6. Migration whether from India to other countries, From one state to another state, from one area within a state to another area within that state is BAD.. and there is no reason to attach high Holiness to right for migration.. – Migration of skilled people should be allowed anywhere, for the sake of growth of individual economies. It is the migration of unskilled coupled with the lack of opportunities is the main source of conflict. The issue is very thorny.

  • 79. B Shantanu (author) said:

    @Milind, Sid: Thanks for starting the discussion…
    Might start a new thread on this…Pl give me a some time (travelling at present with limited connectivity)

    All: Pl feel free to share your thoughts/comments as well. Thanks.

  • 80. Milind Kotwal said:

    Shantanu and Sid..

    I consider situation in India today, is the result of widespread philosophical confusion arriving out of management of diversity that exist in India. Currently I am in process of writing a book and what I shall be discussing here are part of the book..

    I will discuss point number 1 here that of Hindu culture is of very high level and Hindu Nationalists are degrading it by making it a base for Nationality.

    First let us understand what Nationality is ?

    Nationality is an identity of a social group with geo-political unity based on shared history, language, religion, and ethnicity. All these factors provide sense of belongingness and sense of ownership. In simpler words Nationality is political identity of a group of people with strong sense of belongingness and strong sense of ownership which makes individuals sacrifice their personal interests for interests of the shared group.

    Now, language is the strongest factor for creation of identity for two basic reasons.

    1. It makes communication and sharing easier within the group. Communication and sharing are the two basic requirements of human beings. All of us have seen that in any institution or work place, groups are easily formed based on shared language. In US most of the Indians have their associations formed based on their language as that is their base for sense of belongingness and sense of ownership. We are aware of this fact and in process of creation of new Nationality based on Hindu culture, our constitution also recognizes linguistic minorities.

    2. Every language has its own culture and it helps in nurturing the same culture amongst its users. The development of language takes place based on its usage. For example Sanskrit is the language most suitable to understand, express and discuss concepts about spirituality because that was the language which developed in a society where discussions on these concepts were common. Whereas you would find Urdu as a language most suitable to understand, express and discuss Ishq and love, because of the culture of the society where it was developed.

    There are many other observations that indicate language is a strong base for Nationality. One strong example all of us might be aware of is support during disasters. When you compare nature calamities of Bihar Floods, Kutchh Earthquake, and Orissa cyclone which had happened within last decade, you would find that Kutchh received highest publicity and support whereas Bihar and Orissa received negligible attention and support compared to the damage they suffered. This clearly indicates the people who provided aid had strong sense of belongingness and ownership with Kutchh which they did not share with Bihar and Orissa….

    Now let us discuss what the culture is.

    Culture can be understood as typicality of response of a group of people towards any issue, development or stimuli based on shared values and life concepts.

    When you look at Indian population Hindu culture is based on spiritual values which are shared across India. In the hierarchy of values spirituality is at the top most level. However more than discussing hierarchy I would like to point out how creating Indian Nationality is harming India.

    Objective behind creating Nationality is unifying everything, i.e. common taxation rules and laws, common entrance tests, common administrative services etc.. And let me point out this is something MOST FOOLISH that is being pursued in India.

    For a state (Indian State) to develop we need resources and people. By creating India as a Nation we are giving impression to our people that migrating to any part within India or serving in any part of India is serving motherland!!! because of this all the backward areas and states are losing their talent to developed areas and states.

    Secondly by creating common economic zone we are creating unequal market competition. Any one in business knows that it is difficult to set up a business in backward areas for variety of reasons and manufacturing organizations in backward areas find it difficult to compete even in the local market. More over if you see Indian sales tax regime, when you purchase from other states you pay less tax !!! This is an arrangement to ensure that states do not develop !!!

    If Bihar would have been autonomous region Or a separate country, they would have raised finances by taxing imports, they would have created sense of belongingness and sense of ownership amongst the people of Bihar and motivated them to work for Bihar..

    By creation of Indian Nationality Bihar cannot develop without private investment from outside the state and when it develops probably most of the businesses would be owned by people from outside the state.

    A couple of days back there was an article in TOI, that Tamil Nadu is not able to replace English with Tamil in the state because IAS officers are mostly from other states and are not comfortable in Tamil.. I think this is something disastrous..

    In Maharashtra there is a growing feeling that when most of the officers in administration and police were from within the state, Maharashtra was having a very good administration and now with majority being from outside the state it has drastically deteriorated administration..

    In short by creating Indian nationality, we have created a monster which is difficult to reign in.. I think It is necessary to accept diversity and differences and provide adequate space..

  • 81. Milind Kotwal said:

    >>>>>5. Also, I would also wish to state here that cosmopolitan culture, which people talk high about is infact ANTI-NATIONAL culture.. think over it..it is important understanding.. – In other cases, cosmopolitan culture creates solid bases for nationalism. The problem is loyalty of our elites are mostly towards west, naturally the culture they are most comfortable in anti-national.<<<<

    Cosmopolitan culture gets created when people from different cultures come and settle in one place. Normally this migration is for the purpose of business or profession. When it is not for business the migrant community slowly looses its original identity and they adopt the local language and culture. When every community maintains their original culture, they also retain their original identity, nationality, sense of belongingness and sense of ownership.. They operate only for the purpose of financial gains and worldly enjoyments. People of such culture eventhough may legally belong to country of their residence, shall always work for betterment and benefit of their original country or nationality.. which is natural..

    Cosmopolitan culture is usefull to understand different culture and people but I am of clear opinion that people with sense of belonginness to other regions should not be provided political rights.. they should be allowed to work and carry out their profession but should not be allowed in political process

    In cosmopolitan societies gets interact with each other for their material benefits.

  • 82. Sid said:

    New info from pioneer:

    “Among the States and Union Territories, the highest receipt of foreign contributions was reported by Delhi (Rs 1,716.57 crore), followed by Tamil Nadu (Rs 1,670.93 crore) and Andhra Pradesh (Rs 1,167.21 crore). Among the districts, the highest receipt of foreign contributions was reported by Chennai (Rs 731.22 crore), followed by Bangalore (Rs 669.76 crore) and Mumbai (Rs 469.90 crore),” says the report.

    http://www.dailypioneer.com/304801/Foreign-hand-Christian-bodies-top-donors-receivers.html

  • 83. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Excerpts from Dr Aseem Shukla’s The violence of conversion:

    This fundamental difference–that a pluralist accepts the injunction of the ancient Rig Veda that, “Truth is One, but sages call it by various names” while the non-pluralist demands that there is only One Truth and all others are false and dangerous–renders the pluralist vulnerable to the asymmetric force of the proselytizer. The pluralist would find seeking converts or evangelizing others anathema–the concept of conversion does not even exist–while the non-pluralist seeks converts as a God given mandate.

    Compound this asymmetry with the reality that the most prolific proselytizers today comprise a multi-billion dollar megachurch industry, and the previously colonized developing world is open ground for this latest avatar of colonization.

    Witnesses from the hot spots for global proselytism abound with testimony of access to education, medical care, employment and other necessities being traded–often subtle, and often not–on the marketplace of religious affiliation. Most sinister, of course, is the overt bargaining of disaster supplies or better hospital beds after tsunamis and earthquakes for those willing to convert.

    The pluralists protest, also, against the tactics of the proselytizers. Christian missionaries in India appropriate Hindu modes of worship, reconfigure traditional prayer rituals into Holy Sacraments and sing hymns that are Hindu bhajans (prayer songs) with words replaced sung to identical tunes.

    The violence of conversion is very real. The religious conversion is too often a conversion to intolerance. A convert is asked to repudiate his sangha (community), reject the customs and traditions of his family passed down for generations, and refuse to attend religious ceremonies that are the very basis of daily life in much of the world. A person’s conversion begins a cascade of upheaval that tears apart families, communities and societies creating a political and demographic tinderbox that too often explodes.

    Spreading hate against native religions is perhaps the most vile tactic too often employed. And even the Catholic Church, with its centuries old presence in India, has blasted the tactics of the new proselytizers plying their trade today. In our own country, consumer protection laws ensure that advertisers and retailers abide by truth-in-marketing laws. There is no parallel protection in the rabid sales in religious identity that the proselytizer markets overseas, and the consumers are the victims.

    And finally, there is the fact that the evangelical community can only “pick on” the pluralist societies. India, Nepal, Cambodia, Taiwan and much of Africa where indigenous traditions still hold sway, are among the targets today for the next “harvest.” The “Muslim world” rewards conversion away from Islam with death, and in China, Russia Burma and others, autocracy, the Orthodox Church or military junta proscribe missionary work.

  • 84. Sanjay said:

    Incredible Stats from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suhag-a-shukla-esq/harvesting-souls-yields-c_b_817793.html

    Exhibit C — eye-opening information from India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act which collects data on incoming foreign aid. In 2007, the top two non-governmental donors to India were U.S.-based missionary organizations, World Vision International at ~$155 million and Gospel for Asia ~$99.5 million — together that’s $255 million into India in just one year. Overall, an astonishing 18,996 organizations in India, a disproportionate number linked to Christian missionaries, received donations totaling $2.4 billion in 2007 alone. And the inflow has been growing rapidly. 2007 showed contributions more than double of 2002. With these numbers, how can we say the concerns are unfounded?

  • 85. v.c.krishnan said:

    Dear Shantanu,
    A few words which came to my mind.
    The Delhi High Court has come out strongly against the NCERT and others for calling our freedom fighters as terrorists etc. They have been advised to call them nationalists and rewrite the books accordingly.
    This was possible because of a stringent fight put up by a lawyer putting up a PIL.
    Again there was a recent article which states that in spite of 250 years of Christian Missionary effort UP and Ghadwal regions could not be converted on a massive scale.
    I am givng these two pieces of information to brng out the fact that if we stand united against the designs of the so called Jholawallahs, JNUites, the so called Human Rights orgs, who care two figs for our Kashmiri Pandits, we can win the war against this conversion.
    Unitedly, let us get ourselves together. We may not be part of the Wine tasting, Bikini Clad calender or the Hoi Polloi, but we can stand up with our heads high.
    “If we can keep our heads when all others are losing theirs” we will be a man my son ( a part of Rudyard Kpling.
    If we stand united against the “liberals” we can win this war.
    Regards,
    vck

  • 86. twistleton said:

    Why only foreign funding?

  • 87. Indian said:

    @twistleton

    Do you have knowledge of any other funding which is being used in conversion and as said in the above post changing character and fabric of India?

  • 88. twistleton said:

    Is accumulation of wealth by any religious institution good?

    Whether it is conversion, re-conversion or re-re-conversion the moment it becomes forced it undermines religion itself.

    Being constructive and creative with funds may win more followers than coercion and blackmail, and who knows there may be healthy theological competition. But how can we ensure religious funding is not used for illegal activities? Maybe an RTI for all religious institutions?

    Also, don’t really see the point of making adivasis adopt conventional religion.

  • 89. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Excerpts from Freelancers of God:
    Even as Hindutva groups raise concerns over Rs 10,000 crore in foreign contributions coming into India every year from abroad, mostly for missionary activities, independent churches are turning out to be the biggest beneficiaries of the funds.

    The Believer’s Church was set up by the Texas-based Gospel for Asia (GFA), an evangelist group founded by K.P. Yohannan, 61, one of the front-runners in the church planting movement. The GFA’s mission is “to be devout followers of Christ and fulfill the Great Commission among the unreached in Asia through training, sending and assisting qualified labourers to win the lost and plan local churches in partnership with the Body of Christ”.
    ..
    In Orissa, where maoists have made inroads, the liberation theology groups read the bible from the perspective of the poor
    The growth of independent churches is also attributed to foreign contributions that reach individuals through the church planting network. GFA has donated Rs 596 crore to various church planting movements in India. Mission India, one of the leading evangelical movements based in the US, seeks donations from US citizens for the church planting programme in India. “India’s over one billion people are hurting… they are seeking… and they are responding to Jesus in record numbers. This nation of nations offers extraordinary opportunities to bring ‘Good News’ to millions of unreached,” says one of its brochures.
    ..
    ..
    On the outskirts of Delhi at Mahavir Enclave, Mode of Deliverance, another church planting mission, is making huge inroads. “Our goal for church planting for 2009 was 2,000 new churches. The Lord enabled us to see 3,496 new churches planted, which make a total of 11,564 churches and cells throughout the sphere of the ministry. We trusted the Lord for 20,000 baptisms during the year. The Lord blessed us with 33,674 new first generation Christians baptised,” says the annual report of the ministry, run by Rodrick Gilbert and his wife.
    ..
    In south India, the new churches are led by telegenic public speakers. Tamil Nadu has attracted most of the independent churches, thanks to foreign contributions, which stood at Rs 775 crore during 2002-03 and went up to Rs 2,244 crore during 2006-07. Chennai tops the list of cities receiving foreign contributions: Rs 363 crore in 2002-03 to Rs 929 crore in 2006-07.

  • 90. B Shantanu (author) said:

    All: Latest post from Sanjeev Nayyar with more statistics: “Foreign funds to NGOs: Why better scrutiny is needed” http://bit.ly/kru7er

  • 91. Tie Dye Peace Sign said:

    I really enjoyed reading the Pradip Thomas article mentioned earlier.

  • 92. Ashish said:

    Hello Shantanu,

    Please read the below interview of PN Benjamin. He clearly says that fringe christians group are behind the attacks on the churches in karnataka and loads of money(foreign) is poured by a US church to do this.

    http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-interview-with-pn-benjamin-on-church-attacks/20120206.htm

  • 93. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Thanks for sharing the link Ashish…Will check it out…

  • 95. B Shantanu said:

    Placing this here for the record: Independent churches mushroom across India attracting foreign funds by Shafi Rahman, April 30, 2011

  • 96. sighbaboo (@sighbaboo) said:

    Dear Shantanu-ji,
    Namaste. I am writing this a long time after your post was written. I have also not read all the 95 comments before mine due to lack of time. Hence, if anyone has already mentioned what I am going to say, Sorry (for not acknowledging your comment).

    Orgs registering under FCRA can define their characteristic as Economic/Social/Religious/Educational etc.. They can participate in any activity except political ones. In my study, I have come across Orgs (chiefly RoL types), whose work spans all the above spheres. Innumerable such organizations exist; so I cannot give any specific examples here. Nearly all of them are involved in (a) microfinancing (b)rural health (c) evangelising, church-planting & soul-harvesting and (d)running schools. These constitute the portfolio of a *single* organization. Such an organization (typically) will register under FCRA as (in my experience) Economic/Social/Educational.

    Only explicitly religious (i.e., old-time RoL types such as Roman Catholic etc..) register under Religious category (Examples: Khammam Diocesan Trust, Tuticorin Diocesan Trust etc..); Others don’t.

    Thus, to “prohibit” foreign contributions towards Religious activities can be done, but it will be ineffective.

    On a slightly philosophical note: Religions are supposed to have a social side and a spiritual side to them. In RoL, to my understanding (I could be wrong here), everything is social. i.e., the practice of the religion (which includes propagation) is through social actions. Thus, one cannot “divorce” the spiritual side (if any) from the social actions (such as Educational/Medical/Economic missions).

    Thanks for providing an opportunity to share my thoughts,
    Regards,
    Sighbaboo

  • 97. B Shantanu said:

    Hmm..Interesting argument re. the social aspect of religion…
    Worth exploring further, I think…
    Hope to do that at some point..
    In the meantime, thanks for the thought-provoking comment..

  • 98. Chandra said:

    I know this is an old discussion thread but require fresh discussion after the recent IB disclosure of foreign funding of NGO’s that is sabotaging the economic security of the country. I have not seen a copy of the report. Is a copy of the report available online?

  • 99. Sighbaboo said:

    Dear Shantanu-ji,
    Thanks for providing a link to my blogsite on your other thread (on conversions).

    In August, I have posted one of my studies examining FC6 returns at:
    http://sighbaboo.blogspot.in/2014/08/fund-magnitudes-where-religious.html

    In this Post, I had examined how much foreign funds do Organizations which declare their religious denomination receive. This piece is highly relevant to your Post here.

    Short descriptions of two posts in July:
    http://sighbaboo.blogspot.in/2014/07/intra-india-fund-flows-interest-earned.html examines how much money do NGOs earn by way of Bank Interest/Fixed Deposits etc..

    http://sighbaboo.blogspot.in/2014/07/towards-purchase-of-land.html examines amount of foreign funds invested by NGOs towards purchase of land.

    I do not mean to use your site as an advt. for my blog. Just wanted to inform the existence of these new posts. You need not have to publish this comment.

    Regards,
    sighbaboo
    twitter.com/sighbaboo

  • 100. B Shantanu said:

    Dear Sighbaboo: Thank you for sharing these links…and no, I do not consider these as “advertisements”!
    They are helpful to everyone who stumbles on this post – and hopefully will lead to better understanding of this topic..
    Feel free to share such links in the future too – and keep up the good work!

  • 101. sighbaboo (@sighbaboo) said:

    Dear Shantanu-ji,
    Wanted to bring this two parts story to your kind attention:

    http://www.indiafacts.co.in/indiafacts-investigation-many-faces-mission-india-part

    and

    http://www.indiafacts.co.in/mission-india-many-faces-one-intent-part-ii

    Regards

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