Reality Check India

On Praveen Swami’s repugnant piece on Maha Kumbh

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on January 23, 2012

Say you are just chilling in a park on a Sunday afternoon with your dog, reading a book. Suddenly a fight breaks out between two people and a raucous crowd gathers.  It gets noisy and you decide to take a look.  Two youth are rolling on the ground and fighting like crazy. Suddenly someone from the crowd emerges and says he understands the reason they are fighting and says he will try to intervene. The crowd calms down at the assuring words of the mediator.  But to your utter shock, instead of moving towards the guys wrangling on the ground he advances menacingly towards you. Grabs you by your neck and starts thrashing you.  Next he tears up your book and vomits all over your beloved pet dog.

Bizarre WTF story, isnt it ?  But this is what has been happening to Hindus in recent times. Praveen Swami in a particularly despicable  article in The Hindu takes wild swipes at the holiest of holy Hindu pilgrimages, the Maha Kumbh in the context of a dogfight between the Congress party and the angry Muslim clerics over the Rushdie affair.

Here is a template many of us have been observing in the media of late.

Want something from fake secular state ? > abuse Hindu cultural symbols > Go to ATM > Spend > Repeat

This cycle has got to stop. Now. Find something else.

We wont issue Fatwas, but demonstrate to the world that these people are just clever but insecure imbeciles. Hamsters working ever harder trying to meet the insatiable demands of their masters.

Ignorant of basics

Praveen Swami after a flying recap of the Salman Rushdie affair, lands upon this.

Few Indians understand the extent to which the state underwrites the practice of their faith. The case of the Maha Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years at Haridwar, Allahabad, Ujjain and Nashik, is a case in point. The 2001 Mela in Allahabad, activist John Dayal has noted in a stinging essay, involved state spending of over Rs.1.2 billion — 12,000 taps that supplied 50.4 million litres of drinking water; 450 kilometres of electric lines and 15,000 streetlights; 70,000 toilets; 7,100 sanitation workers, 11 post offices and 3,000 phone lines; 4,000 buses and trains.

Source: The Hindu

He has plucked these figures from John Dayal’s blog here.  He also forgets to mention the evangelical religious affiliation of John Dayal instead referring to him as just “an activist”.  The funny part is John Dayal’s essay builds up to a case against FCRA (the act that enables you to find out Christian Aid money flows)

The FCRA has been used largely to scrutinise Christians priests and nuns, a few Muslim groups and secular NGOs who receive funding through official channels. Meanwhile, hawala dealers are able to evade FCRA checks with the same felicity that they avoid Home Ministry surveillance.

Digging further.

Is the Indian State “underwriting” the Maha Kumbh

Let rewind to these numbers , Rs.1.2 billion for 12,000, 50.4 million litres, 450 kilometres of lines and 15,000 streetlights; 70,000. Let me throw in toilets, fire services, ambulances.

What he forgets to mention, very cleverly, is this :

The Maha Kumbh is one of the largest human congregations on earth. Over 60 Million people participated in the event he is talking about in 2001. The crows of the event could be seen from space.

The state is merely providing  PUBLIC AMENITIES as its normal call of duty. The alternative would be to let millions including thousands of foreign tourists die in an outbreak of Cholera, riots, or leave behind a mountain of human waste.

The most jarring part of his essay was this line, which prompted me to write this blog.

That isn’t counting the rent that ought to have been paid on the 15,000 hectares of land used for the festival ..  ..but it is instructive to note that an encephalitis epidemic that has claimed over 500 children’s lives this winter drew a Central aid of just Rs.0.28 billion.

Lets see this from a property rights angle. What he is saying is the Hindus who participate in the Kumbh Mela event, which predates all known formats of the Indian state, have no title over the venues. Which are sand banks, ghats, streets, and nearby spaces.  In such a school of thought, the participants have to pay a fee (a tax) to the state from the proceeds of which the state will “rent these ghats” and provide the aforementioned amenities.   From time immemorial, Hindus have treated these lands as their own, not in the sense of ownership rights but being able to continue ancient traditions such as the Maha Kumbh, Chitirai Festival, and countless others.  If you demand to see title papers (most Christian and Muslim properties DO have proper title papers) then Hindus will have no choice but to create them. Territory, and traditions CONSTITUTE the Indian State. They came with the box.

Obviously, this isnt the only weakness in this piece. The state has Hindu temples under its control, so his sudden puppy love for property rights is dead on arrival.  Next, even from an economic viewpoint, the Maha Kumbh is a grand tourist spectacle with millions of people from all over the world arriving and staying for weeks.  The govt will stand to gain by spending on amenities and reaping benefits of orderly tourist activity compared to being burdened with the costs of chaos and disease if it were to listen to Praveen Swami.

Is Theism the danger to secularism ?

A complete misunderstanding of secularism follows :

Eight years ago, scholar Meera Nanda argued that “India is a country that most needs a decline in the scope of religion in civil society for it to turn its constitutional promise of secular democracy into a reality.” “But,” she pointed out, “India is a country least hospitable to such a decline”. Dr. Nanda ably demonstrated the real costs of India’s failure to secularise: among them, the perpetuation of caste and gender inequities, the stunting of reason and critical facilities needed for economic and social progress; the corrosive growth of religious nationalism.

Eight years ago, scholar Meera Nanda was wrong, as she is today.  Secularism does not depend on decline of scope of religion in everyday life.  If that were the case, then abolition of religion would be its central task.  Hindu, Muslim, or Christian individuals derive strength, confidence, pride, tide over depression, anxiety, using their respective faiths.  There is nothing in it that puts it at odds with secularism. Religious nationalism is nothing but nationalism that calls upon traditional strengths native to the land. You call it Hindu nationalism, but it has never asked for privileged treatment of Hindus.

What does not work is the state offering concrete benefits to groups based solely on adhoc communal considerations.  This and only this will kill our secular state.

30 Responses

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  1. Prashanth K.P. (@prashanthkpp) said, on January 23, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Brilliant retort to the hogwash Praveen Swami wrote. Needs no further detailing at all. This reply should find its way to Praveen Swami somehow….can it?


  2. BharataBhagyaVidhata (@sudarshan_v1) said, on January 23, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Awesome piece. Clarity, articulation, analysis, facts. Loved it.

  3. Amit said, on January 23, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    Well written. BTW, Sandeep has the measure of that loony leftist anti-Hindu Meera Nanda, and has written a few posts eviscerating her logic.

  4. Barbarian Indian said, on January 24, 2012 at 3:55 am

    Outstanding post. Of course Swami steers clear of the obvious rent seeking by other religions – the Waqf board and the Catholic land holdings to name just two.

  5. Chandru (@ChandrusWeb) said, on January 24, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Truly brilliant. States the essence, in succinct simple language. More power to your elbow.

  6. Sajith Sasidharan said, on January 24, 2012 at 4:27 am

    I Must really recommend this article for a detailed reading for all those whom hammer secularism down the throats of the Common Indian folk.I myself after reading the Article in the Hindu was extremely annoyed by the way the Hindu and praveen swam took potshots at the Maha Kumbh Mela which is not a festival of importance for India but also for the world(the BBC covered this with due diligence along withCNN).The most shocking part is that Praveen swami takes in the opinion of a know christian pro-conversionist namely John Dayal,by calling him just an activist,Praveen swami and the Hindu have shown its true colors,namely they belong to the Left liberal class,who by accident of birth get to run along with Siddarth Vardarajan(who took over as editor of the paper from N.Ram(another card holder of the CPI(M) and whose wife Mariam is a pentacost christian,which clearly did infuence him while reporting the Kandhamal riots of Orissa),again to come to the point all thes chaps be it Praveen Swami,Siddarth Vardarajan,Nirml Lakshman(now editor of sportstar),Malini parthsaharthy,Vidya subramanium,all belong to the Extended family of Kasthuri&Sons limited,look at all them their educational background,all have finished their college education in the U.S.A or the UK in the 90’s when most common folk Indians could only dream about getting there except for a few through securing scholarships,endowments especially from the Ford foundation,or through securing admissions at the IIT’s.Now they have got to study in the Best of colleges or foreign unversities,through the Generous funding from their media empire,and they talk about leftist ideals,concern for the poor etc.Siddarth Vardarajan at every opportune time on his article criticizes the USA for everything wrong in the world be it libya ,syria etc every sectarian crisis,of the developing world is a conspiracy by the Americans,Great going,by that account for the Hindu West Bengal’s health crisis may be beacause of the conspiracy of the Americans.West Bengal economic-Health fiasco matches that of lalu’ Bihar,but No-not a single article by the Custodians of moral consiousness,P.Sainath in particular,He goes hammer and tongs on the IPL,dole out statistic after on tax cuts for the corporate world etc etc but not a word on the Socio-economic condition of W.Bengal,this is their hypocrisy.Your response on this rubbish of an article by Praveen Swami is timely,and precise with Counter point after counter point,they have been going after anything to do with Hinduism,Congrats! Next response should be to that Great Secular equaliser Harsh Mander,He needs some serious dose of counter responses for his mind benuming articles that poses the Entire communal problem on the attitude of the Hindus.If u do want me to write i am at ur service.Any way Congrats on wonderful counter analysis and response,You will surely go a long way!

    • seadog4227 said, on January 29, 2012 at 8:43 am

      Your expose of this family is spot on, and thank you for it.
      I note with astonishment and dismay that others of their ilk are lining up: Akhila Raman and Anita Ratnam, for example. I heard Ms. Ratnam is a supporter of the Christianizing of Bharatya Natyam.

      • MSood said, on February 3, 2012 at 10:01 am

        I hear that Tingoo Lama is a supporter of Buddhism-ising seekh kebabs.

  7. Ramesh RB (@RBRamesh) said, on January 24, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Brilliant article. Being a majority is not a crime as it is being made out to be in our country. Hindus are not asking for special treatment, just that bias and ill treatment in the name of Secularism be stopped.Lets all be equal whoever we are.

  8. Krishna said, on January 24, 2012 at 4:57 am

    This is a truly brilliant piece and should be widely disseminated in Twitter and FB. Secularism has become a Hate Hindu platform and it seems that all in media must subscribe to the Red Book of Secularism or forever be shunned by the incestuous media establishment.

  9. cricfan said, on January 24, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Terrible accounting work by Mr. Swami.

    1. As far as costs, the event is once in 12 years, so on a per-year basis, it would be (v roughly) 1/12th. One could do an even finer analysis if one wanted to.

    2. This mega event is INSIDE india and all spending for food, travel, and stay is done in India, which is a big deal. and as mentioned in the above post, add tourists who come from outside India and spend their cash, that’s again a revenue plus.

    Pravda Swami is now fully qualified for the Bollywood circuit.

  10. Sriram said, on January 24, 2012 at 5:32 am

    Excellent article! Now how do i make my countrymen who are so blinded by these leftist thugs understand 😦

  11. Manoj Agarwal said, on January 24, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Brilliant article. Absolutely to the point. This is a fine example of how a counter argument article should be written.

  12. B Shantanu said, on January 24, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Excellent RC! Excerpts are going on the blog (with due credit, link backs etc)…Trust you have no objection. Thanks

  13. Lavanya said, on January 24, 2012 at 9:04 am

    fitting reply!! do send it across to Praveen Swami, we want him to read it.

  14. K P Ganesh said, on January 24, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Your article rebutting Praveen Swami’s repugnant piece is something people need to wake up to, of Hindu’s/Indians falling to this “WESTERN UNIVERSALISM” hogwash being so blatantly enforced upon us. Our libtards have fallen for it big time (read digested into Christianity in thoughts) thanks to the influence of western form of education. And this is the very issue Sri Rajiv Malhotra is trying to highlight in his book “Being Different – An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism”. Kudos to you for writing this rebuttal.

  15. B Shantanu said, on January 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    RC/ All: Here are the excerpts + some info on the Haj subsidy itself (numbers)..
    I wonder what Sh State-underwriting-faith has to say on that..

  16. arzvi said, on January 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm


  17. Amit said, on January 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    ^ There’s also a separate Haj Terminus at New Delhi airport.

  18. Manish (@manishsinghm) said, on January 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    superb sir…please keep up the good work!!!!

    i hope Mr. Swami reads it

  19. shyodha said, on January 25, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Good job, Sir. Nit-picking, but I cannot agree with this ‘But this is what has been happening to Hindus in recent times.’ Unless we redefine ‘recent’.

  20. seadog4227 said, on January 29, 2012 at 8:36 am

    The more you examine the sickulars, “vaampunks” and their ilk, the more you are convinced that there is something seriously wrong with them. Statements recorded in the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict thoroughly expose this entire brigade and before that, there are the works of Arun Shourie: : (1) Eminent Historians and (2) A Secular Agenda. Only Hindu media can thoroughly and repeatedly expose these creature, and thank God for the internet till then.

  21. Abhishek said, on January 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    What Mr Swami forgets to note is our cultural roots – Kumbh mela is not merely religious – it is a cultural pillar of our civilization. A civilization which we tom tom to be thousands years old. If we are so callous to the things that give continuity to our culture, we may as well stop paying hypocritical lip service to the same.

    With sadness I recall that Emperor Harsha gave away all his clothes and jewels to the poor in a Mela that must have been almost exactly like we have today. The problem is beyond Hinduism – we are fast becoming rootless people, ashamed of our past – be it our Tribal, Hindu Buddhist or Islamist past. Redemption is not within sight. With such attitudes, I feel offended as an Indian, not as a Hindu.

    Now for the question regarding the role of the state in all this – the state should do what the people want it to do. Too long we have been thinking of Indian state to be something that is above the people, above the Indian civilization. Unfortunately the state has been imagined something that is better than what existed here earlier. Let us remind ourselves that British adopted the system of Sher Shah Suri to suit their colonial agenda, and we continue with this system. Good or bad, our system is derived from our own experiences.

    And lastly a word about our democracy, or what goes by the name of democracy. From 1950 onwards what we have done is to take away the ability of over 3/4 of our population (rural) to think by imposing an alien representative system, and destroyed their self-rule and financial independence. We then created a small elite with ‘talent’ and power to rule over us – the families are just perpetuating their rule – and we are so elated that if there is anyone who calls for reforms, he is dubbed undemocratic and an enemy of the poor. What farce!!

  22. […] famous and revered of Hindu cultural symbols, the mahA kumbha melA. [Read Reality Check India's post for more on the mahA kumbha melA […]

  23. maha kumbh festival said, on February 17, 2012 at 9:32 am

    the main aim of any spiritual gathering is to get association of spiritual persons who are living upto the standard of religious life. So everyone of us should try to keep this in mind than all conflict will be resolved.
    and aim of religion is to Love God

  24. Vidyut said, on March 11, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Point well made. I am not as certain of Praveen Swami’s intent as the author seems to be, but I do agree that spreading poorly analyzed information holds risk of misleading people. Loved the extremely methodical manner in which the points were made.

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    homepage here Supplier in projectors et TELEVISION and accents for the purpose of dwelling and office. this is ones a avoid store for the Projector Appliances Preferences. Many of us have the hottest Home Treatment room Projectors, Company Records Projectors.

  26. Vikas Saraswat said, on January 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Very well written. Its the Hinduphobia of the likes of Praveen Swami which makes such desperate attempts at cobbling ‘articles’ to somehow denigrate Hindu beliefs and customs.

  27. Abhishek said, on January 16, 2013 at 5:07 am

    Read the following article today-

    The first two paragraph says- “Airlines, hotels, tour operators and Uttar Pradesh in general are likely to reap a windfall during the Kumbh Mela in the state with the government likely to see its coffers swelling by Rs. 12,000 crore, according to an industry body.

    Assocham’s paper – ‘Maha Kumbh Mela 2013 – Possible Revenue Generation Resources for Uttar Pradesh’ – says that the pilgrimage would generate additional employment opportunities for over six lakh workers in sectors spanning airlines and airports, hotels, tours, infrastructure and also trigger a surge in medical and eco-tourism.”

    Now, that puts to rest another argument where Mr Swami wants to show that government spends on the ‘religious’ event. In fact, Kumbh mela would be a better earner for government and people of UP than Commonwealth was for Delhi.

    But, as stated earlier, it is immaterial who spends. Kumbh Mela is a cultural heritage, like the Taj. Who in right mind would question the money spent on maintaining the Taj?

  28. t.c. shivaswamy said, on January 26, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Kumbhmela is a spiritual heritage Pl do not compare it with the so called cultural heritage of Taj which is a glorified burial place.

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