By ANANYA S GUHA
Mother Teresa is not being spared. There are machinations about many things in life, but years after her death please do not tarnish an embodiment of selfless humanitarian service, which the entire world acknowledged with gratitude. Not this is something new, just sometime after her death a veteran journalist writing in a Calcutta daily made a similar allegation of ‘conversion’ but at that time the electronic media was not half as potent, as it is today. The conversion the. Conversions took place since the eighties theory has become dated. Conversions took place since the eighties after social and caste oppression in pockets of South India when Hindus were also converted to the Islamic faith. G.B. Verghese wrote about it citing caste oppression as a major factor.
Was there, or is there any introspection on this? Now the target is churches and this does not seem to abate. The two religion there is attacked with venom: all Christians convert and all Muslims are fundamentalists or terrorists, in the Indian context. President Obama’s stringent warning is not heeded to. Indians are assailed in the US and there is no introspection or soul searching on this. If we have to clean India, then this should also become symbolic or metaphorical; clean the country in all respects, clean poverty, clean the slums, rehabilitate the slum dwellers, clean sectariansm on all fronts. Will anyone listen?
Now the vilification of Mother Teresa is not only uncalled for, it militates against tight thinking and true democracy. Is it a coincidence that around the same time churches are vandalized and desecrated? Conversion in its right spirit is a personal choice. If a person ‘converts’ it can be a matter of personal choice and faith. No one can deny the right of an individual will to convert or re-convert into a religious faith. But if there is mass conversion, as has been recently then one can get skeptical – a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.
The intermingling of religion with politics is ominous. If this happens then politics also may take a back seat and sectarian religion may dominate the body politic of a nation. Is it happening today? Only time will tell and history is an arbiter of destiny, it charts out the past and in subtle ways foresees the future. Confronting history is dangerous, meddling with it distorts history. For too long in India distortion of history has fanned emotions and has led to polarization of societies. The common man understands this and does not want it or, pooh poohs it.
Hence an overdose of the conversion propaganda might miscue in the worst ways. The powers that be must be careful and politic, because the average Indian is not interested in such brouhaha. He or she she wants to eke out a peaceful living economically and socially. The temple, the mosque and the church should and will continue to co exist in accordance with historical truth and the shapings of the past. Hegelian forces have a bearing on the present.
You may call this fate. You may call it destiny. Playing to the gallery is temporal. What is permanent is historical audacity.