national dailies sticking
up unabashedly for illegal aliens for the simple reason that they
happen to be 'secular missionaries', the communal outfield in the
country does seem totally queer. So, asking an inveterate overstayer,
a tout of a faith masquerading as a tourist, to get out tantamounts
to impingement of religious freedom, or so say the screaming edits.
Pity such concessions are rarely forthcoming for legitimate 'stayers'
of the land whose only crime is that they happen to be of a majority
religion and are ignorant of viles like conversions. It's a saving
grace that the marching orders have been issued by the Congress
government in Kerala, or otherwise the entire country would have
been painted black. Still there are shrill cries of majoritarianism
gaining ascendency and pluralism getting dumped by the 'saffron
with the US administration itself condemning the 'assault' on the
missionary and rising to his defence, aided ably by sympathetic
editorials here, it's actually the Hindus who are a minority in this
fast shrinking global village of a world with nary a voice being
raised even in their own land. And again the missionary was not
exactly promoting pluralism either by denigrating Hindu religion and
preaching his 'only true faith' but it is the truly tolerant Hindus
who are branded as communal. That's the fallout when devils quote
Cooper saga has undoubtedly been overplayed and taken up as a
private agenda by a section of the media. No problems with that, but
are there not such things as professional caution and journalistic
ethics? The fact of the matter is that the said missionary and his
band were one of the most indefensible characters in that part of
the world with his activities and utterances breaking all norms of
public decency and communal harmony.
are enough reports which suggest that the missionaries were not
exactly behaving like a lamb. On the contrary there were already
police cases against some of them for many 'unholy' activities that
cannot truly be called religious for them to be impinged. For
instance, I am sure even hard-nosed secularists would agree that
misbehaving with woman cannot be deemed as the work of a pious man
or be covered under religious freedom. There are several such
credits to the 'secular missionary' and it would suffice to say that
he was going overboard with his derision of the Hindu faith and
thereby begged 'communal attention'.
(or fortunately?) the victims of the man's excesses are not
editorial writers in national dailies, but sensitive sons of the
soil who not only love their land and religion but were also
concerned that patience should not degenerate into cowardice and
righteous indignation does not get deluded by phony secular
courtesies. And some had reacted as they are wont to under such dire
provocations and the law, needless to say, would have to take over.
But should not the law also be fair and pay attention to the agent
provacateur, who in the first place had no business being around,
let alone provoking?
by making this episode seem as an extension of the majoritarian
agenda and raising bogeys of fundamentalism is actually a self-goal.
If this is the kind of secularism that the so-called liberal torch
bearers are seeking to protect, then it deserves to be booted out
along with the overstaying missionary. To be seen as shielding him
would be repulsive even to jaundiced yellow journals but apparently
not so for the enlightened eminents of the high profile media who
all seen to see saffron everywhere. So blinded are they that even
the obvious skips their mind's eye and sense of reason. Now, are
foreigners entitled to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution?
This aspect was conveniently buried during the Staines issue as
well. Religious freedom, whatever it means, is a constitutional gift
for Indian Citizens, not for aliens.
have no business purveying their faith here. And to extend
sacrosanct constitutional tenet to aliens who clearly pervert the
country's hospitality by unilaterally staying put beyond the
sanctioned time limit is a flagrant violation of the Constitution
itself. The crime gets starker owing to the self-righteous manner of
the errant evangelists and their patrons as well who ironically
parade as sticklers for constitutional propriety. To continually
harp on human rights and religious freedom of such wilful offenders
is a sick charade.
what would the US, that reacted to the screaming edits here in
Godspeed, do if someone happened to overstay and then overindulge in
provocative rhetoric? One look at the post-Sept 11 America, where
national security and people's peace are now deemed paramount with
secularism getting dumped in the Atlantic, will provide the answer.
Doubting Thomases can check with the bearded Asians in the US who
often hit the streets now in protest against violation of their
self-respect and human rights by stringent, paranoic US measures.
the Gulf, such abominable adventurists get officially stoned in
public. In the progressive Orient, east of India, the name of the
game is whipping. In the jittery West it's sophisticated
ostracisation riding on the back of unabashed pursuit of
self-interest. But secular India is expendable. Here, it is fawning
editorials oozing with concern for undeserving pranksters even if it
be so at the cost of national interest and honour. But what can you
say when an enemy Musharaff is deemed more newsworthy and his
utterances print worthy compared to those of a 'saffron-tainted'
Vajpayee, despite he being the country's duly elected PM? Indeed,
cross-border terrorism would pale before this cross-border
is Editor, News Today, Chennai