Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My critique of the article "Religion, Marxism and Slumdog

My comments on this article
"Religion Marxism and Slumdog" by Francois Gautier.
  1. I disagree with the notion that "Slumdog Millionaire" conveys an utterly negative image of India and should be protested by the Indian Government (like the Chinese would have done). I dont understand why? The film shows the real life of people living under those conditions. Slums, poverty, corruption are an unfortunate part of our society today and we cannot run away from it. By not showing it we would not be getting rid of it. And in todays connected world (in the age of google and youtube), i am not sure information can be controlled anyways.
  2. Why should we be like China? Comparison between a Communist and a Democratic government is an apple and orange case. If China would have responded, its because they want to maintain a controlled global image irrespective of what happens inside their country. India cannot do it because we are a democracy and rightly so.
  3. Leaving aside the missionary part, which of the following : caste, poverty, child marriage, superstition, widows, sati, are a virtue of Hinduism? They may have served a purpose centuries back when the society was different but they have no purpose now. The mere fact that these are still used by upper caste people as exploitation tools is infact a huge shame on us. There is no doubt that missionaries have capitalized on this. But, what will the lower castes who become the victims of these vices do? For many of these people, escaping into another religion was probably the only answer.
  4. Author says, "Today, billions of dollars that innocent Westerners give to charity are used to convert the poorest of India with the help of enticements such as free medical aid, schooling and loans." But, who is responsible for this? It is we ourselves. Everyone dreams of a good life and so do the poor. If the Government cannot fulfill its promises for the poor, the poor are going to find some other means of fulfilling their needs. I think instead of blaming the missionaries (whose work can be viewed as both good and bad in different contexts), we (the people of India along with the Government) have to solve our problems of poverty and caste. If that is done, there wont be any incentive for anyone to either get converted or convert others.
  5. Author says that western authors portray detrimental images of India and especially talk of 'Hindu fundamentalism'. I personally believe that fundamentalism of any kind is wrong be it Hindu, Islamic, German etc.. What i would defend is "Hinduism" and its core principles and not fundamentalism. What RSS,Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena do in the name of Hindutva is precisely what Osama Bin Laden does in the name of Islam. This is what Hitler did half a century ago. Do you agree with them?
  6. The immediate paragraph says "Hinduism has given refuge throughout the ages to those who were persecuted at home: the Christians of Syria, the Parsees, Armenians, the Jews of Jerusalem, and today the Tibetans, allowing them all to practice their religion freely." The author is now talking of Hinduism here and not of any extremist philosophies and he is absolutely right now.
  7. The notion that India only belongs to Hindus is complete bullcrap and Hinduism does not say anything like that. "Hindu Fundamentalists" say that.The central idea should be for people to unite and live in harmony irrespective of their religion, caste and color.
  8. Finally, author asks, When will the West learn to look with less prejudice at India, a country that will supplant China in this century as the main Asian power? My question is why do we need an approval from the west. If we eradicate our own vices and solve our problems, everything will fall in line automatically. I believe that asking this question is what makes us subservient to the west more than anything else.
I found this article completely off. The line of reasoning did not appeal to me at all and the conclusions drawn do not follow from the arguments.