Intolerance of New York Times editorial in its piece “Indian Religious Intolerance”

By: Shreepal Singh

New York Times has published an editorial on December 25, 2014 captioned “Religious intolerance in India”. Jettisoning its well-publicized neutrality on international events, it writes that hope is in danger of crumbling that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would rein in that divisive agenda of his militant Hindu-nationalist supporters. Without going into the root cause of the phenomenon of religious conversions currently going in India, the editorial takes note of the fact that during the last days of the just concluded Indian Parliament’s session the legislature was unable to deal with important legislative business. It emphasized the fact that this inability of Parliament to transact business was because of repeated adjournments and an uproar over attempt by Hindu groups to convert Christians and Muslims. The newspaper states, as if passing a final verdict in the whole affairs “The issue has come to a head following a ‘homecoming’ campaign by the Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh and the Vishwas Hindu Parishad – groups dedicated to transforming India’s secular democracy into a Hindu state – to ‘reconvert’ Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.”

The editorial very conveniently chooses not to go into the issue of Indian citizens’ constitutional right to freely ‘propagate’ their religions – the real issue impinging on the question of religious ‘conversion’ or ‘re-conversion.’ By steering clear of this issue, the newspaper in a clever maneuver has absolved itself of the responsibility to answer such unpalatable questions: Is religious conversion prohibited by law in India? If the religious conversion is not prohibited in the first place, is it prohibited in subsequent or second attempts by citizens (termed‘re-conversion’ by the editorial)?

In the place of examining such questions as a responsible newspaper of an international repute, New York Times finds fault with Narendra Modi over his silence on this Indian religious quagmire of a very long standing. Does NYT expects Narendra Modi to ‘prohibit’ Hindus to convert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism and ‘permit’ Christians and Muslims to convert Hindus to their religions? If Narendra Modi ever does such a thing, will it be justified on his part in the eye of NYT?

The paper does not go into the justification or need or legality of the moves of those individuals who have been spending their life time in converting Indian citizens from one religion into another religion in an organized manner (we intentionally omit the names of religions involved in the exercise and if you name the religions, you name the culprit). Instead, the editorial raises the boggy of “groups dedicated to transforming India’s secular democracy into a Hindu state by “reconverting” Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.”  Perhaps one can justifiably equally put a question to the editors of New York Times: “Are the groups that are ‘converting’  Hindus to Christianity or Islam not dedicated to transforming India’s secular democracy into a Christian or Muslim state?”  Yes, Hindus are in majority in India and Christians and Muslims are in minority here but all citizens in this country are living peacefully under a democratic rule of law. All citizens have equal rights and freedom to ‘propagate’ their religions. May be in the eye of NYT, the Christian democracy or the Islamic democracy is the ‘secular democracy’ and the Hindu democracy is ‘not the secular democracy’.

It is intolerance of NYT on the religious conversions in India. Indeed!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. azizi
    Feb 07, 2015 @ 09:40:53

    All Indians harp on Unity in Diversity but it’s d other way around – disunity & communal disharmony! Muslims, Christians r refused living rights in Hindu dominated areas, only cause they eat beef!
    Indian constitution guaranteed equal set of rights but never practised! It’s cosmetic & an eyelash to d world!
    So much of education but alas so much prejudice!
    Citizens of d world & even broad minded Indians condemn such stone age mentality of intolerance!
    Talking of Development & nursing hatred will not keep India on d world map!
    We have to change our jinxed mentality & accept each other’s beliefs ,to move forward or will be left behind!
    Rashid Azizi



    • Authors of posts
      Feb 07, 2015 @ 13:33:21

      Dear Rashid Azizi,
      First we welcome and thanks for your comment. Let’s come to the contents of your comment.
      Please come to the core of your heart and then judge yourself how much substance is there in what you say. The only thing that we both, you and we, share is “reason”, else everything we have the right and freedom to differ from each other.

      “Unity in Diversity” is indeed on what Indians harp on and the spirit of Indian Constitution also tries to promote. Let us leave aside for the moment “Unity” and talk about “Diversity”, which makes the relevance and utility of “Tolerance”. You have rightly said we have to “accept each other’s beliefs”. Are the “beliefs” of different religious communities in this country “different from each others”? Yes, they are. This difference should be welcome. Why should this difference be welcome? There are two reasons, out of which you may agree with one and for the other one you will have to answer in “reasonable” way. It is proverbial that there is only ONE Supreme Power, call it or Him, God, Allah, Bhagwan, Nirvana, Kaivalya or any other name. This “Unitary nature” of the Supreme Power, be it only in the religious sense only, is the source of “Unity” in diversity. But let us continue with “Diversity” for the time being. All religious faiths having “different beliefs” have a different way of each of them to “reach” or “obey” or “realize” that Supreme Power. Again, this “Diversity” should be welcome. This is one “reason” you may agree with. Then, comes the second one. If one of these “Diverse” faiths takes upon itself the “prerogative”, the “right”, the non-negotiable “duty to his God” to see and to ensure that all diverse faiths “come to his own particular fold, path, way, belief”, then the question of “tolerance” would arise. It is not a hypothetical situation. We expect you to be honest enough to admit that such a “situation” is practically happening at many places around the world. Our world is finding it difficult to cope with this situation. Our question to you is: in such a situation who should tolerate whom? Go to your heart and answer. There is one caveat here. All people belonging to any faith whatsoever are not alike. There are people belonging to any faith who are good, very good, wonderful, angles and who are bad, mischievous, fanatics, criminals and still worse!

      Let us come to Indian Constitution. It gives to all its citizens the right to practice and propagate his or her religious faith or “belief”. The meaning of this provision (Article 25) is “tolerance”. But the question posed to you earlier still remains and the Indian Constitution does not countenance the situation of which you are asked to reply. Then, let us point out at another aspect of the topic you have commented on.

      India is the “world” in miniature. It is really diverse. Diversity is beautiful. Let all the flowers bloom here in this land. Genetically modify the flower that is toxic to all the rest of the flowers. The world is tolerant today with all the force of its intention and reason. This world would never ever tolerate the intolerant. India is the crucible of human co-existence. All must have the right in India to live; and live with equality; and live with peace and prosper. This is the Constitutional mandate. It is our, your and our both, duty to promote and ensure such peaceful, equal and prosperous living of all. This is above all “other” duties, whatever they be; it is the most “reasonable” duty of all. Will you take the lead within your power in making this country more “tolerant”?



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