Home > News > Columnists > Rajeev Srinivasan
Jindal, Judeo, Jogi, and Antonia
December 27, 2003
The average voter in Louisiana is a racist, Christian fundamentalist bigot, whereas the Indian voter is extraordinarily tolerant and enlightened. This is the startling conclusion I am forced to arrive at from comparing the short, unhappy political lives of Bobby (ne Piyush) Jindal and Antonia Sonia Maino Gandhi, respectively.
Why do I surmise that the average Louisiana voter (caricatured as redneck Bubba) is a racist religious bigot? Because it is quite clear that if Jindal had been white, he would have won by a landslide: boy wonder resume and all that. All parties were clear that his skin color was a big deal. All parties were also clear that his neo-convert 'I've found Jesus' spiel sold well in the sticks: a 'pagan' Hindu would not have had a ghost of a chance in solidly Catholic Louisiana. If he had been foreign-born, he would also have had absolutely no chance, but fortunately, he was native-born.
Why on earth did nobody say it was appalling that the man's skin color and religion meant the difference between a landslide victory and a loss? What about all that motherhood and apple pie stuff spewed regularly by the cognoscenti about liberal Western democracies? Horsefeathers, clearly. Few American voters are above the siren-song of race and religious prejudice, but you wouldn't know that from Tinseltown make-believe.
Now consider the situation in India. There's a white Italian woman, Antonia Sonia Maino, who is considered, mystifyingly, a serious candidate for the prime minister's post. Mystifyingly, because the ruling BJP certainly are delighted, as she is, in effect, 'impeachment insurance' for them just as Dan Quayle was for George Bush the First.
Antonia is white (therefore racially different), a Christian (therefore of a different religion than 95% of the population), and foreign-born (she chose to get Indian citizenship only after some 15 years of living like a queen in India, when her husband started running for political office). And the Old Left pundits expect the Indian voter to overlook all this? Ergo, the Indian voter must be extraordinarily tolerant and enlightened. And dumb, too.
Sonia exhibited her fundamentalist streak as soon as she was anointed Congress supremo: she had a cabal around her that consisted solely of Christians. Vincent George, Ajit Jogi, Purno Sangma, Margaret Alva, et al. And state Congress bigwigs seem ripe for conversion: Y Rajasekhar Reddy (Andhra Pradesh), someone whose name escapes me in Tamil Nadu, both neo-converts. Incidentally, as in the above, the number of 'stealth' converts is increasing: church godmen must be advising neo-converts to retain their Hindu names, as a way of avoiding unwelcome judicial attention, as well as blending in.
And the Indian voter must be remarkably forgiving of incompetence as well. Bobby Jindal -- whatever his other faults, and I am no fan of his -- at least has a track record. Rhodes Scholar, McKinsey consultant, health services czar in Louisiana, member of the Bush administration, general child prodigy. Antonia Maino's resume boasts of a single, and singular, accomplishment: she managed to marry into the Nehru dynasty.
What about Sonia's children, aged about the same as Jindal? Once again, a tabula rasa. No educational, occupational or social achievements whatsoever. Their resumes consist again of a sole accomplishment: they managed to be born into the Nehru dynasty, therefore they are natural royalty. There is only one small problem: the Nehru dynasty founder was no aristocrat, he was the shadowy Ganga Dhar (not Gangadhar Nehru), a policeman or kotwal in Delhi. Nehru in his autobiography claims (unsubstantiated) descent from one Raj Kaul who allegedly moved from Delhi to Kashmir.
This reinvention tale reminds me of Bobby Jindal. At the age of four, it appears, he decided to call himself 'Bobby', because 'Piyush' was, presumably, not convenient enough. And at the age of 17, he found himself 'called to Christ' or whatever, and converted to Roman Catholicism. A very clever move politically, obviously. The idea of the 'pagan neo-convert who praises the Lord left, right and center' has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi about it, and the Bubbas lap it up.
Now Antonia Maino's [one time] good friend Ajit Jogi, the [former] chief minister of Chhattisgarh, clearly had the same idea. He too found Jesus' call irresistible, and converted (or maybe his parents did). But Jogi was careful to retain (or is it create?) tribal credentials, because that gives him a terrific leg up in the entitlements-heavy, redressal-oriented scheme of things in India. Have the cake (get neo-convert inducements) and eat it too (claim tribal status).
Now I do support caste-based reservation, but I also think those who lie and cheat about caste need to be ruthlessly exposed and discredited. Obviously, as soon as Jogi became a Christian, he no longer suffered from caste discrimination, since Christianity, by definition, is the religion of brotherly love, where all men are equal, right?
I shouldn't be surprised. I am reminded of a cruel term, 'rice Christian'. This refers to people who turn to Christianity for the 'rice', ie blandishments offered by rich Christian missionaries. This sort of fraudulent conversion is precisely what J Jayalalithaa opposes in Tamil Nadu; she gets abused for her pains. Speaking of the lady, the 'unfree and oppressed' media of India came up with the Judeo videotape, felling a central minister, approximately two days after the breast-beating indulged in by N Ram and friends. Yeah, this really sounds like a terribly oppressed media indeed!
This also explains the 'crime' of Dilip Singh Judeo: the fact that he has been making life a trifle inconvenient for the soul-harvesting missionaries preying upon the tribals of Chhattisgarh. It appears that the tribals are not particularly keen on the conversion business, but being rational economic beings, they find the goodies on offer irresistible.
I have no doubt that what Judeo says is true: the missionaries are after his hide, and these days, it is possible for even a moderately skilled media type to manufacture video that 'shows' anything at all. It is hard to tell 'manufactured reality' from the real thing.
Hindus also need to understand what is in store for them where demographics are against them. There is a remarkable book that I recommend highly: Religious Demography of India, by A P Joshi, J K Bajaj and M D Srinivas, published by the Center for Policy Studies, Chennai, email: firstname.lastname@example.org This shows graphically the general demographic warfare that Hindus are facing now, from Muslims and Christians. It is, in a word, frightening: cultural devastation, ethnic cleansing. Demography is destiny.
We know of the genocide of Hindus by Muslims in Pakistan, and the ongoing genocide in Bangladesh. But do we know that in Tripura Christian terrorists have ethnically cleansed Hindu Reangs, and banned Durga Puja? Of course we don't because the Old Leftovers in the Indian English media never shed crocodile tears about them.
Do we know that the only Hindu temple in Kohima, capital of Christian Nagaland, was recently leveled to make way for extending a municipal structure, a police station if I remember right? Maybe this was the trick everyone missed in Ayodhya: if the edifice had been leveled to make way for a police station, surely the Nehruvian Stalinists would have applauded it, I suppose, as they have silently applauded the Kohima temple demolition?
Going back to Indian voters, whose benefit the whole Jogi-Judeo-Antonia circus is being staged for, I have to add caveats to what I said about their enlightenment and magnanimity. For, there are pockets in India where prejudice and religious bigotry come above all other considerations. Consider districts where Christians or Muslims are a majority or even a plurality (the 'Religious Demography' book comes in handy here). Church godmen and mullahs appear to tell the faithful whom to vote for.
In these areas, it is impossible for anyone other than a Christian or a Muslim to be elected. Examples are the Ernakulam Lok Sabha constituency (where the main parties always put up Christians), and the Guruvayoor Lok Sabha constituency (where only Muslim candidates can win). Or the Tiruvalla assembly constituency in the Bible belt of Kerala: Elizabeth Mammen Mathai and Verghese George were the Congress and Marxist candidates.
Memo to Bobby Jindal: go to Tiruvalla or Ernakulam, you'll win in a heartbeat.
I am impressed that there are Indian voters who are as narrow-minded as those in Louisiana: maybe this means one day we can be as great as America. Only the average Hindu voter in India is stupid enough to believe all that motivated cant about secularism, pluralism, democracy and fairness.
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Two anniversaries came and went recently. One was November 12, the day in 1936 when the Maharaja of Travancore announced the epoch-making Temple Entry Proclamation, throwing open all Hindu temples to all Hindus, regardless of caste. What Swami Vivekananda had rightly termed a 'madhouse of caste' but a few years prior became the most egalitarian part of India (at least overtly, although covert casteism and religious bigotry exist aplenty).
The second was November 18, the day of 13th Kumaon's Last Stand at Rezang-La in Chushul, Ladakh.