Are foreign funded NGOs Breaking India’s national identity?
I have always believed that the 1991 economic liberalization headed by the great Congress leader PV Narasimha Rao, was the most significant event in the history of contemporary India since Independence.
The reasons which forced PVN to initiate reforms & liberalization in 1991:
It paved a new path for Indian youngsters & entrepreneurs to compete with Global behemoths and along with it was the transformation of India into an IT hub (from the land of “Snake Charmers” to “Computer Mouse Charmers”), the growth since then has been phenomenal.
In fact, most of the Asian countries have been witnessing tremendous growth over the last few decades and has been reported by western media. But what makes India different from other countries in the world? It is the cultural heritage & unity in diversity. The cover page of TIME magazine issue (which carried out a detailed report on India’s growth story) very well depicts how India has retained its culture and at the same time growing to catch up with the “developed world”.
“Unity in Diversity” is not something that happens overnight, but is a result of intermingling between communities. Such intermingling occurs around certain national identities & national causes where there is a feeling of oneness among people.
More about national identity & its crisis today:
Talking about national causes, such intermingling occur during national occasions like Independence & Republic Days and and in rare occasions like revolutions. Some examples being the anti-corruption movement in 2011, Bihar Movement in 1974 and several such movements which brought people of all faith together under national cause.
More about 1974 Bihar Movement:
Although such nationalistic causes brings people together, it does not involve bonding between communities at a family/personal level. This had indeed become a cause of concern for Tilak who had realized the importance of intermingling of people of all faiths around certain national identities. Hence, he popularized festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi which brought people of all faiths together & laid the foundation by early 20th century.
More about the history of Ganesh Chaturthi:
As the idea of “India” & “Unity in Diversity” grew stronger after independence, traditional festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Raksha Bandhan, Diwali & Holi (which are celebrated pan-India) began to play a greater role in strengthening the national identity of India, especially due to the fact that since such celebrations were embraced by all communities. It is widely acknowledged that people of all faiths light firecrackers during Diwali, dance to bollywood tunes during Ganesh Chaturthi & apply colors on Holi, cutting across all forms of religion, caste & creed.
In fact, such is the extent of association of festivals with the identity of India, that some of the most popular coffee table books about India by international publishers depict Indian festivals on their cover page.
India: A Timeless Celebration:
India for a Billion Reasons:
Coming back to the topic, as we were discussing, one of the major factors of the identity of India are its “Cultural heritage” & “Unity in diversity” which have been nurtured due to celebration of festivals. The World associates India with colorful festivals with each festival having its own characteristic.
(Holi = Water Colors, Diwali = Crackers & Sweets, Rakhsbandhan = Rakhi & Gifts)
In this competitive & envious world, it is but natural for nations to try to hinder the progress of other nations. For example, Pakistan uses terrorism & China uses Naxalism to disturb & hinder India.
Apart from these, there are several more subtle external forces in play at different levels. It has been reported that foreign-funded NGOs which are operating in India in the pretext of welfare are actually stalling development:
Some of the subtle external forces in play are trying to target the backbone itself. i.e The identity of India. The modus operandi is simple: To make Indians feel ashamed of their own culture (and festivals) so that they boycott their own traditions & gradually disconnect from their roots, thereby leaving them with no identity.
Surprisingly, US environmentalists who remain tight-lipped about 4th July (American Independence) & New Years fireworks feel they have the moral authority to preach Indians even to the extent of asking for a boycott.
The reason why their morality is being question here is because while they are preaching India about pollution due to firecrackers, they fail to acknowledge that on a per-capita basis, Americans have been using more fireworks than Indians. The fireworks in US is not limited to just public shows but includes “backyard celebrations” as well by the masses. Sources say more than 250 million pounds of fireworks are fired by Americans in a single day (July 4th), resulting in a per-capita of almost a pound of fireworks (population is 300 million).
Hence, before pointing fingers at others, the developed nations should probably look at their own backyard. I am not trying to defend Indians lighting crackers “because Americans also do it“. I acknowledge the effects of firecrackers and would definitely try my best to minimize the effects. But having said that, if Americans want to fire 1 pound of crackers in a day and expect me to boycott crackers of all forms because it is “polluting our environment”, then I find their arguments to be bigoted. I am all for saving the environment but we must have some negotiation so that both sides can reduce their footprint.
This is not just limited to firecrackers but to economic growth as well. Environmentalists from the developed nations have been tight-lipped about the carbon-footprint of US/UK but pretty vocal against developing nations to the extent of asking them to “slow down” the growth rate in order to “save environment”. Gurcharan Das gives a fitting reply to such environmentalists in one of his interviews:
So, be it crackers or noise or pollution or carbon foot print or “environmental impact due to economic growth”, the thumb-rule is simple. If there is a problem, then we must fix it or sort it out by negotiation. Selective outrage towards one side is not going to help in the long run.
Coming back to the topic of Indian festivals, Over the last few years, foreign funded NGOs which are vocal against Indian festivals are proliferating in the pretext of environment, human rights & welfare. Throughout the year, these foreign funded NGO volunteers/activists strategize in their AC rooms and just before Diwali, come out on the streets to protest against “pollution due to festivals” and visit schools/colleges and take pledge from students asking them to boycott crackers altogether.
It is understandable if they protest against loud fireworks. But asking for a pledge to completely boycott all forms of fireworks is uncalled for and a sheer sign of hypocrisy because the same NGO activists would be turning a blind eye towards all other forms of pollution including fireworks on Christmas & New Years.
In 2014, social media witnessed small scaled campaigns called “Dairy Free Diwali” in which activists were calling for a boycott of all forms of milk products & sweets during Diwali so that “The milk-yielding cows could get some rest for a day“. It was not satire/sarcasm but a “serious” proposition.
Although their priorities do not seem to be clear, their selective outrage sounds hypocritical and intended towards long term plan of influencing future generations into boycotting the festival itself.
Let’s consider another festival which is pan-India & cuts across religions, caste & creed: Raksha Bandhan.
Apart from the tradition of tying rakhis, it is the sweets prepared/offered by the sisters & gifts by brothers that adds color & taste to the festival. Foreign funded organizations have now begun to target this festival by asking youngsters to sacrifice gifts & sweets and instead use that saved money for “something useful” (donation in this case)
To know more about how AAP is funded by foreign bodies and controlled by external forces/agencies, please read this fact based analysis article by Professor R Vaidyanathan:
Next, how about the iconic festival: Holi.
This is one of the most intensely targeted festivals and to begin with, the external forces have managed to influence many into boycotting water during Holi. While the reason for Diwali was “air pollution” which is somewhat convincing (although the blanket boycott on all forms of fireworks does not sound convincing), the reason for waterless holi is “To save water!!”.
A typical Holi celebration involves application of colors and using water guns (pichkaris). Even if water is used generously, it would not be more than a few mugs of water. But surprisingly, NGO activists are concerned about “wastage” of these few mugs of water once an year and have been campaigning for “Waterless Holi” and taking pledge from children to avoid using even a single drop of water during Holi.
Perhaps, this is the first step and if successful (they already seem to be influencing children into boycotting water in Holi), would they up the ante and campaign for boycotting Holi altogether and eventually target more festivals? Going forward, would other festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja and all other festivals also be boycotted citing environmental reasons and hence achieve their subtle mission of Breaking India’s National Identity?
Something to ponder upon.
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