Keep bias out, rely on reason

Abusing freedom of speech to run down other religions and hurt feelings without any basis must be avoided.

By Author A Rakesh Reddy   |   Published: 27th Sep 2017   12:03 am Updated: 26th Sep 2017   9:15 pm

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd has yet again courted controversy with his book ‘Samajika Smugglerlu Komatollu’ which translates to ‘Vyshyas are social smugglers’. He defines the concept of ‘social smuggling’ as the phenomenon of earning money and not giving back to society.

One flaw in this logic is that all the traders are Vyshyas and vice versa. Does he mean only Vyshya traders are smugglers or is every Vyshya, no matter his profession, a smuggler? What about traders from other varnas?

It’s also very interesting that he praises and looks up to the British who colonised many countries and did nothing but looted the natives.

Vyshyas, the Hindu trader community, have a long history of doing business with different countries even during the times when Europe was yet to see huge wealth. Isn’t it hypocrisy to call Vyshyas as smugglers and praise the British as achievers?

Weird Stand

Ilaiah claims that Vyshyas are smugglers simply because they do not produce anything like farmers or artisans do. According to him, they earn by selling others’ produce and so are smugglers. Is this argument logical? Does it mean that Ilaiah, who doesn’t produce anything but offers services as a Professor, is also a smuggler?

Just think about the contribution of the services sector to the Indian GDP to get the answer. Spare a thought also for the critical role played by services and trade in any modern economy?
No one should abuse the freedom of speech and hurt the feelings of others, especially when there is no basis for such rantings.

Earlier, Ilaiah mocked Hindus for taking a dip in the river Godavari during Godavari Pushkaralu, stating that people of other countries don’t do the same in their rivers, be it river Nile or Thames. Is it necessary that Hindus in India should do something only if it’s done by the religions in the West? Don’t people in the West have their own customs and practices?

In a programme titled, ‘Bheem Drum’, Ilaiah is reported to have said that “singing songs in the name of revolution by ‘half-naked’ people shouldn’t be allowed. All leaders of backward castes shouldn’t be half-naked like Gandhi, but wear suits like Ambedkar. Henceforth, even women who perform on the stage should wear jeans. They shouldn’t wear saree and blouse as they only gave ‘half-nakedness’ to our women.” What does one make of such provocative statements, which do not care about Indian ethos and culture?

No Truth Whatsover

In his book, ‘Why I am not a Hindu’, Ilaiah accuses Goddess Saraswati of preventing the downtrodden Hindu women from getting educated, while Goddess Lakshmi prevented them from becoming rich. Illaiah states that Lord Vishnu’s skin colour is due to miscegenation between Kshatriya and Brahmin tribes. He also claims that Indra enslaved the downtrodden women – Urvasi, Menaka and Tilottama – for his sexual pleasure.

All these are uncorroborated writings and there is no evidence of any of these in any of the sacred texts of Hindus.

While Dr BR Ambedkar stood up against the evils of society and fought it with dignity, Mandha Krishna fights for the rights of the downtrodden Dalits but Ilaiah focuses on making a mountain out of a molehill.

Casteism is the major evil afflicting all religious communities in India. This evil must be fought continuously till it disappears from the Indian society. But spewing venom and hatred against other communities is no solution. How do Ilaiah’s controversial and inflammatory remarks on certain Hindu communities help our downtrodden communities?

Sowing Discord

Ilaiah works with the US-based Dalit Freedom Network, an evangelical Christian organisation founded by Joseph D’souza, who also heads the All India Christian Council (AICC). In his book, Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism, Ilaiah blames the then government of India for denying permission for a meeting of Dalits embracing Buddhism. This event was organised with the help of the AICC. One fails to understand the role of the AICC in an event related to Dalits and Buddhists.

Ilaiah constantly speaks about the Aryan invasion theory that has been disproved multiple times to divide Indians into Aryans and Dravidians. This is nothing but a concerted effort to sow seeds of discord among Hindus. Running down Hindus without reason cannot be right.

In an interview to Christian Today, Ilaiah said, “…I have been asking the Christian world to give our children the Bible and pound, so that some health and wealth of Jesus can come to them. Jesus should bring wealth to India also. Please come and give both….” These words speak volumes about the real strategy.

Mindless Arguments

Ours is a secular country and one can follow any religion s/he likes. But Ilaiah’s target is to humiliate Hinduism by using the dormant caste system of the past. He wants every other community to look down upon Dalits so that he gets a platform.

When Ram Nath Kovind was elected as President, Ilaiah criticised the move saying that Kovind appears a submissive Hindu who accepts all caste rules, including worshipping of cows, and his presence in Rashtrapati Bhavan doesn’t make any difference to the Dalits.

In a debate on a Telugu TV news channel, Ilaiah repeatedly questioned who the mother of Paripoornananda Swami is and if Swamiji is a Pakistani or a Bangladeshi. This is mindless vitriol.

It’s high time that this constant and meaningless attack on Hindus by so-called thinkers in the name of freedom of expression is checked. Mighty empires fall due to internal enemies as they are more effective than external enemies. We should be careful.

(The author is a Spokesperson of BJP, Telangana)