‘Italian by birth and Catholic by baptism‘ is the title of a very brief item by John Maclithon in DNA. It can be best characterized as a confession. He was the only foreign journalist to be awarded the Padma Shri, and that too by the Congress party, which he says was surprising since he has “always been a vocal critic of the Nehru dynasty.” Indira Gandhi, he claims, wanted to throw him in jail during the Emergency. He goes on to confess that he was wrong about India — and how.
It is in Kashmir, though, that I fought most viciously against Rajiv and subsequent Congress governments for their human right abuses on the Kashmiri Muslims of the Valley. I was the first one to point out then that the Indian government had at that time no proof of Pakistani involvement in the freedom movement in Kashmir. Thus, I always made it a point to start my broadcasts by proclaiming that “the Indian government accuses Pakistan of fostering terrorism”, or that “elections are being held in Indian-controlled Kashmir…”
Other foreign journalists used the same parlance to cover Kashmir and they always spoke of the plight of the Muslims, never of the 4,00,000 Hindus, who after all were chased out of their ancestral land by sheer terror (I also kept mum about it).
Not just foreign journalists, most Indian journalists don’t have the marbles to call attention to the plight of the Kashmiri pundits. They call it a “free press” but this matter reveals its ethical and moral bankruptcy. At least Maclithon has the cojones to admit his errors of judgement and write what no mainstream Indian journalist (except for people like Arvind Lavakare and Arun Shourie) would ever do.
As for Sonia Gandhi, I did not mind her, when she was Rajiv Gandhi’s wife, but after his death, I watched with dismay as she started stamping her authority on the Congress, which made me say in a series of broadcasts on the Nehru dynasty: “It’s sad that the Indian National Congress should be completely dependent on one family; the total surrender of a national party to one person is deplorable. You have to ask the question: what claims does Sonia Gandhi have to justify her candidature for prime ministership? Running a country is far more complicated than running a company. Apprenticeship is required in any profession – more so in politics”. I heard that Sonia Gandhi was unhappy about this broadcast.
After then president Abdul Kalam told her that she had kept both her Italian and Indian passports for a long time, and which disqualified her from becoming the prime minister of India, she nevertheless became the supreme leader of India behind the scenes. It is then that I exclaimed: “The moribund and leaderless Congress party has latched on to Sonia Gandhi, who is Italian by birth and Roman Catholic by baptism.” She never forgave me for that.
Calling attention to Antonia Maino aka Sonia Gandhi’s nationality and religion is a pretty risky thing to do. This landed in my inbox yesterday:
. . . last month when the official representative of the UPA Government in Washington, Ambassador Meera Shankar, delivered a speech at a US Emory university referring to Sonia Gandhi being a Christian as a testament to India’s pluralism and diversity. However, that reference was later quickly deleted.
In her keynote speech on the subject “Why India Matters” at Emory University on February 24, Shankar said: “India is a land of incredible diversity. Like the United States it celebrates pluralism. It not only tolerates diversity but has embraced it and has allowed people from all walks of life to flourish and realize their full potential. This is a tradition that is rooted in our civilization. Throughout our history peoples from other parts of the world have come to India and made it a home, resulting in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, one where individual faith and belief is not only respected but adds to the overall sense of nationhood. Today the fact that we have a woman Head of State, a Sikh Head of Government and a Muslim Vice President and a Christian as the leader of the largest national political party is perhaps the best statement of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of our state.”
This was probably the first time anyone in the government had referred to the religion of the Congress president and UPA Chairperson.
The speech was posted on the Embassy’s website but was quickly pulled out and replaced with a version where the phrase, “…and a Christian as the leader of the largest national political party…” was deleted.
Interesting, wouldn’t you say? Here’s a video of her talk. (I have not yet watched it.)
Anyway, back to Maclithon:
Today, I can say without the shadow of a doubt, that when history will be written, the period over which she presided, both over the Congress and India, will be seen as an era of darkness, of immense corruption, and of a democracy verging towards autocracy, if not disguised dictatorship, in the hands of a single person, a non-Indian and a Christian like me. Truth will also come out about her being the main recipient for kickbacks from Bofors to 2G, which she uses to buy votes, as the WikiLeaks have just shown.
Finally, I am sometimes flabbergasted at the fact that Indians -Hindus, sorry, as most of this country’s intelligentsia is Hindu – seem to love me so much, considering that in my heydays, I considerably ran down the 850 million Hindus of this country, one billion worldwide.
I have repented today: I do profoundly believe that India needs to be able to say with pride, “Yes, our civilisation has a Hindu base to it.” The genius of Hinduism, the very reason it has survived so long, is that it does not stand up and fight. It changes and adapts and modernises and absorbs – that is the scientific and proper way of going about it. I believe that Hinduism may actually prove to be the religion of this millennium, because it can adapt itself to change.
I predict that history will recall this era under Antonia Maino as one in which she used an Indian puppet — Dr Manmohan Singh — and it (the puppet) presided over the most corrupt government that India has ever had or likely to have in the future. History will properly label Dr MM Singh as India’s most corrupt prime minister. In time to come, people would spit upon hearing his name.
Update April 7th:
I did not know that John Maclithon was a pseudonym, the author of “Hinduvta, Sex and Adventure.” Deccan Herald reports that people are guessing who the real author is. I have no doubt that we will know soon enough whether it is Mark Tully, although he does categorically deny it. These days secrets don’t survive too long. In any event, there is more than a grain of truth in what Maclithon writes.