A popular daily “New York Times” carried an irresponsible, provocative article a few weeks back. There was no basis on which they reported and it was an absurd article in which they themselves accept that conversions happen big time in India. They also state that the recent violence has been happening ever since the evangelists have arrived on scene.
We unequivocally protest such media bias, where they present one-sided, that too wrong facts.. and accept their own fault as being the cause for the whole unrest!
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This is in response to the article ”Hindu Threat to Christians: Convert or Flee” by Ms Somini Sengupta ( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/13/world/asia/13india.html?pagewanted=2 ).
It was shocking to read such a biased article in your newspaper. Being such a widely circulated newspaper, we expect a certain amount of responsibility on your part, towards all sections of people and their cultures, before publishing such articles. This article is an increasing evidence of the media’s bias while reporting communal violence and demeaning Hinduism.
The article is a one-sided report without considering the viewpoints of the other side. We would like to clarify a few well-known facts before going in-depth into the points made in your article :
1. Hinduism does NOT allow conversion, leave alone promoting it. It is one of the most tolerating religions of the world. In fact, there are no rituals to facilitate conversion in Hinduism!
Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism have always been peace-loving without making any effort to convert anybody from anything to their religions.
3. The article points out to the attacks on Christian minorities in Kandhamal, Orissa, but which article in the media reported about the murder of Swami Lakshmanand Saraswati in his own ashram in Orissa by a Christian Mob in the middle of the night, right in Kandhamal, when it happened ?
4. Your article mentions that the said Swamiji was converting people to Hindusim for the last 40 years, but does not site any evidence for that claim. In fact Swamiji was preserving the local culture, traditions and hertiage of the kandha tribes from evangelicals (we all are well aware of how native cultures were wiped off by Christian crusaders in Latin America !). And even if we assume he was converting (which in itself is a paradox because there is no conversion in Hinduism), its not a crime according to the Indian Constitution.
Hindu Organisations like RamKrishna Ashram, Chinmaya Mission, Arya Samaj, Art Of Living Foundation, have been working tirelessly since the last century towards the upliftment of the poor and needy in urban and rural areas – without being biased towards the faith/religion of the people. But in the hospitals run by Missionaries in Orissa, people are forced or blackmailed to pray to Jesus and convert to Christianity to receive any medical attention. Why didnt Ms. Somini Sengupta and the NYTimes cover this side of the story ? Isnt this a brutal crime and exploitation worth a mention ?
5. Christianity has been in India since the visit by St. Thomas in the first century AD, but the communal violence started only in recent yrs, on the arrival of christian evangelists.
6. The article mentions, “Over the past several decades, the Panas for the most part became Christian, as Roman Catholic and Baptist missionaries arrived here more than 60 years ago, followed more recently by Pentecostals, who have proselytized more aggressively.” The author herself is making a claim of how ‘aggressive’ and ‘proselytizing’ the evangelicals have been !! Aggression and proselytization has never been a part of the Hindu way of life. Also there is no evidence of violence among the tribes themselves before the evangelicals arrived.
Such media articles are repeatedly inclining to a single sided view of reporting how crimes against Christians are being perpetrated by Hindus, but never the other side of the story. Very cleverly, Christians are being portrayed as innocent victims of communal violence and service oriented but Hindu organizations are being shown are aggressors and criminals and the immense social service rendered by them, being completely ignored.
We would like to express our immense displeasure and unhappiness on your publishing this article. Its very unfortunate that the NYTimes has chosen to go down this path. We will resort to a non-violent protest of this article and will do everything in our effort in bringing public awareness to the bias you are endorsing to.