INDIA OF OLD-NEW DREAMS
The first days of the New Year are a time for reflection. During the last few days, I have been "musing" over the past 28 years that I spent in this country. Though I am still a French man, I adopted this country as my own long ago.
today, I am sad.
When I left France for India, I came with a dream: I was going to the land of the Vedas, of the Buddha, a continent with an eternal religion. I thought everyone in this country was turned "inwards", seeking a higher light; I believed India would soon be able to guide the world towards a more meaningful tomorrow.
I am sad now? I can't help feeling a terrible divide between this dream
and today's reality (at least the one depicted in the English media).
Opening a "national" newspaper is a most depressing act. This
morning for example, I read: after three days of deliberations, an Indian
History Congress has decided to set up a committee to examine the new
history text-books brought out by NCERT. Their reason is that the Congress
"takes note of the reports in the press that elementary requirements
of impartiality when dealing with religious, linguistic and cultural
traditions had been given a go-by."
it not disheartening that historians base their judgement on press reports
and not on their own scholarship? Then why do they spend three days
discussing text-books when there are so many more important subjects
related to history to be discussed? What about the neglected discoveries
of Poompuhar or the new sites in the Gulf of Cambay? What about the
non-release of the Henderson Brooks Report of 1962 war or Indira Gandhi-Bhutto
negotiations of 1972 which are still classified? Are they not history
can see the tremendous repercussions of this mentality in all fields
of life and most particularly in education. For example, India should
be proud to have an Education Minister who is not only a physicist,
but also a knower of the country's deeper traditions. But the reaction
is reverse. He is constantly maligned for no rhyme or reason. His only
crime is to have tried to introduce some Indianness in a colonial system
of education. On several occasion, talking to Indian friends, I have
had the surprise of being told that "Indianisation" of education
is part of a "fascist programme".
the dawn of this New Year, this makes me sad. I still believe in "India
of the ages", but I cannot grasp why Indians themselves still refuse
to acknowledge the greatness of their culture. Even if you look at what
is happening abroad today, you can see the truth of Andre Malraux's
words: "The 21st century will be spiritual or will not be."
It is estimated that 12 million Americans are today practicing yoga
and that 450 yoga centers are blossoming in the US. The same tidal wave
is submerging Europe. In France alone, more than one million people
are practicing Buddhist meditation.
some disciples of yogacharya BKS Iyengar decided to teach yoga asanas
to villagers. As a first experiment, Jalore, a small town located in
Rajasthan, was chosen and a few selected teachers went there for a week.
One teacher recounts: "The greatest challenge came on the day of
our arrival, when we were briefed about the tradition and lifestyle
of the people of this region. Society here is very traditional and conservative."
Women wear saris with pallu in front of elders; a daughter-in-law could
not sit in front of elders; men had never worn shorts.