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January 27, 1999


'When human dignity is looked upon as a "goody," we realise how tragically the Indian nation has failed us'

How Readers reacted to Arvind Lavakare's last column

Date sent: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 23:31:46 -0500
From: Tarun Seam <>
Subject: Gandhian on Dangs conversions

An Almighty "Christian" recently cursed Lavakare thus: Hinduism must reform or pass from the earth. Its influence is malignant, cancerous. Its culture of inequality and inhumanity does huge injustice to almost everyone under its thumb, and ALL Indians would be better off by far if it would in fact vanish. It is this realisation that is behind the insecurities of the agitators for a "saffron revolution": they fear that Hinduism *will* disappear because they know in their guilty hearts that it SHOULD disappear.

OK, so Hinduism is trash. But tell me, my rational uplifting "Christian Devta", why would a "Christian" Darwin and "Jesuit" Einstein think that only the senile would perhaps believe in the Adam and Eve gobbledegook? It is obvious that you flunked history. Did it ever occur to you why, prior to your Christian European godfathers came to India, the Hindu India was a "Golden Sparrow" of self-sufficiency, riches, sages and scholars (i e, discovered the atomic element and the numbering system)?

Bask in your foolish arrogance, if you wish, but there are no suckers for your stupidity and ignorance.

Date sent: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 12:40:37 -0800
From: sneha <>
Subject: A Gandhian Speaks Out From Dangs

Lavakare should read the article 'Anti-Christian attacks started in Nov 1997'

The voice Arvind Lavakare borrowed -- the voice of Ghelubhai Nayak -- did not sound very much Gandhian. Is it because he has a mind like Ashok Singhal? Let me show just one line. You can judge the rest.

"The violence in Dangs began on the Christmas day after some Christian youths pelted stones on the rally of the Hindu Jagran Manch and burnt the jeep of a tribal participant in the rally. If the participants in the rally had raised filthy slogans against the Christians as alleged by them, then they should have lodged complaint with the police instead of triggering violence."

If Ghelubhai Nayak is in any way a Gandhian, he would have written: "The participants in the rally had raised filthy slogans against the Christians, and the Christians instead of complaining with the police pelted stones on the rally of the Hindu Jagran Manch and burnt the jeep of a tribal participant in the rally."

Chan Mahanta said it right, "And BTW, who gave Mahatma Gandhi the right to tell ME or YOU how we ought to handle our religious affiliations? I hold M Gandhi in great esteem, but IF Gandhi had attempted (I doubt it very much) to set the rules on religious alignments, he TOO would have been wrong."

Date sent: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 12:47:16 -0600
From: Ravi Yigalapati <>
Subject: A Gandhian Speaks Out From Dangs

I am unable to comprehend what could possibly be wrong with Arvind Lavakare. Now he comes up with a fax that says it's all the Christians fault that the churches have been burnt. He targets the secular press for not reporting the damage done by the Christians to Hindu idols. Did it occur to him that India got along fine with this kind of press until recently? Until the so-called Right wing groups started destroying mosques, churches and cricket pitches leaving most of the sections of society in fear?

Every problem has two sides. There may have been incidents where Christians infuriated Hindus. The problem lies with people taking law into their hands and hurting others. Like Bal Thackeray. It's akin to saying you've slapped me in the face so I am going to break your arm. But hello, you surely must have heard what Mahatma Gandhi told us what should be done in such a situation. It's the same Mahatma Gandhi that you and all these people are quoting that he is against conversions. Is it fair to take from the great man whatever is appropriate to us and argue and do exactly the opposite in the other cases?

Suddenly secular-bashing seems to be in vogue. Yes, we believe these newspapers because often they tend to be unbiased. Did you hear about any minority-bashing until L KAdvani started his rath yatra all the way to Ayodhya? If there was hatred among the groups, it was never organised like it is now. Do you think it's just a coincidence that the right wing party was in power when the Ayodhya incident took place?

Today the party, which came to power through fundamental ideals, even though it claims to be secular, cannot do anything about its sister organisations. Today you can be in a comfortable position like a manager in the BCCI and a bunch of goons can hit you for no fault of yours. You can be the owner of a fancy movie theatre in the middle of Bombay (which you are forced to call Mumbai) when just like that, a gang breaks into it and destroys the property because somebody who didn't even see the movie thought the movie would be inappropriate for the Indian society. If your name is Sita, sorry you cannot engage in a lesbian relationship with a person called Radha. Shabhana and Fatima would just do fine.

There is no justification for desecrating religious places that you don't consider your own. If a person wants to practice a religion that is his/her own right. Trying to ban conversions puts us in the league of the Taliban. We don't need to follow what Mahatma said in the 1930s. We don't need Bal Thackeray telling us the movie we should watch, the art that should be appreciated and the team we should cheer. We don't need NASA consultants with Ph Ds telling us what to do either.

Date sent: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 18:11:39 -0000
Subject: Letters to Arvind

I happened to read a letter in response to Arvind's column by some guy called Schoonmaker from some expansionist party of the United States. Wow, if ever we needed proof that these Christians have a single point agenda in undermining other faiths to spread their own, we have it from this guy. Why is he so upset about Hinduism -- nobody is forcing him to convert to it. All this talk about Jesus' love sounds silly from people who kill pro-choice doctors in the US -- didn't Jesus teach them to love even sinners?

And he talks about tolerance and generosity, well, what about the Christian Ku Klux Klan, what about anti-Semitism, what about the views of this Schoonmaker chap himself -- they reek of intolerance. Where was the Christian world when Jews were massacred in Germany?

He also says that India's depressed and oppressed masses would be better off as Christians! If believing in Jesus could provide health, food, clothing and shelter, it would really help -- but then how come there are homeless and diseased Christians in the world? Most importantly, if all these Christians are so concerned about the poor oppressed Hindus in India, how come they don't invite them to migrate to the Christian West? That wouldn't work -- would it? -- because the whites don't want bunches of brown-skinned Indians invading their countries!

Instead of raving and ranting about Hinduism, which has no indecent history of persecution like Islam and Christianity do, this Schoonmaker guy should look at his own religion. Why are Catholics so dead set against contraception, even to the extent that Mother Teresa actively discouraged it among the poor Indians barely able to feed themselves. It is because the Church can't accept that it was wrong in the past -- papal infallibility and all that.

How come Christians are so superstitious that they believe in Madonna crying tears of blood -- it is as bad as any superstition in Hinduism. They believe in the shroud of Turin, even though there is no conclusive evidence to support the claim of it being Christ's shroud. Funnily enough, they also believe in the "immaculate" conception -- if that's not a joke, then I don't know what is.

My advice to chaps like this man is to leave India to Indians, and set your own Christian house in order first. I can even understand Indian missionaries going about their work, but what right does some chap sitting in New York have to rave and rant about India?

Ruchira Raghav

Date sent: Thu, 21 Jan 1999 01:53:55 +0900
From: "Chauhan U. S." <>
Subject: Response to

I was reading a response from Mr I would like to say in plain words to this guy: please keep your mouth shut. The way this guy is writing that every Indian would be better off as Christians is not tolerable. Whoever this Schoonmaker is, he does not know even a little about Hinduism.

I pity you, Schoonmaker, for your hopes that Hinduism will disappear. Do you remember what Arvind mentioned, that the West desperately wants a Christian India, and here you said the same thing. Oh yeah, you phrased it differently. Let me tell you, Hinduism is going to stay there forever. And if there are guys like you to save Christianity, I am sure I will see the last Christian in my life time!!

A proud Indian,
Umendra Singh Chauhan

Date sent: Tue, 19 Jan 1999 19:10:08 -0800
From: Joachim Fernandes <>
Subject: Gandhi and conversion

M L Gandhi was an extraordinary human being but he shared the prejudices of his caste when it came to dalits. The closest Gandhi came to improving the lot of dalits was to suggest that they be included in the Hindu society by changing their status from outcastes to the lowest caste. Gandhi was obviously opposed to conversions because it would threaten the upper caste monopoly of the exercise of power.

Joachim Fernandes

Date sent: Tue, 19 Jan 1999 17:35:54 -0800 (PST)
From: Sudhakar Sunkari <>
Subject: Arvind Lavakare's Articles

I find Arvind's articles are to support blindly what the Hindu militant organisations do. I want to ask him this question: Who gave the right to these activists to kill, beat and rape others and burn churches, houses etc? How shameful it is to support such people. If they say they are Hindus, does Hindu religion teach them to kill, beat, rape and burn churches and do all kinds of violent activities? India is a secular country and everybody has the freedom to practice their religion and freedom to change their religion.


Date sent: Tue, 19 Jan 1999 17:09:24 -0500
From: ven Hari <>
Subject: A Gandhian speaks out on Dangs

This report throws a different light on the entire matter. I would like to suggest that Rediff should send a team of investigative reporters to the affected areas in Gujarat so that the truth may come out. However, irrespective of who started the clashes, such clashes are unwarranted.

Ven Hari

Date sent: Tue, 19 Jan 1999 16:39:30 EST
Subject: Arvind Lavakare

Lavakare chastises the English press for not following the example of the reporter and seeking out Sister Placid, who claims to offer "goodies" to naive tribals in order to fulfil her quota of souls to save.

For starters, I doubt the veracity of the quote: Placid is a male name.

But it's ironic that these "goodies" being handed out to the tribals in the Dangs consist of nothing more than education and an awareness of their rights as Indian citizens. When human dignity is looked upon as a "goody," we realise how tragically the Indian nation has failed us.

Naresh Fernandes
New York

Arvind Lavakare

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