THE EMPRESS OF INDIA
Like Sonia Gandhi, I am a Westerner and a brought-up catholic. My father, a very good man, was a staunch Christian; my uncle, whom I doted upon, was the vicar of the Montmartre Church, one of the most picturesque landmarks of Paris. Like Sonia Gandhi, I have lived in India for more than 40 years, and I have had the good fortune to be married to an Indian.
But the comparison stops there. I did land in India with a certain amount of prejudices, clichés and false ideas, that most Westerners pick-up here and there (Tintin, Kipling, the City of Joy, Slumdog Millionaire, today) and I did think in the enthusiasm of my youth to become a missionary to bring back Indian ‘pagans’ to the ‘true God’. But the moment I stepped in India I felt that not only I had nothing much that I could give to India, but rather, that it was India which was bestowing me. In fact, in 40 years, India has given me so much, professionally, spiritually, sentimentally. Most Westerners, who come here, still think they are here to ‘give’ something to a country, which, unconsciously of course, they think is lesser than theirs. It was true of the British, it was true of Mother Teresa, it is true of Mrs Sonia Gandhi.
It is a fact that Sonia brought discipline, order and cohesion into the Congress party. But the amount of power, that she, a non-Indian, a simple elected MP, like hundreds of others, possesses, should frighten her. All the television channels report without a blink that Maharashtra CM rushes to Delhi to Sonia Gandhi to plead for his life. But should not Chavan have gone to the Prime Minister first? Her power is indeed terrifying: a word, nay a glance of her is sufficient to trigger action by her entourage, using any means. Thus, the instruments of power have never been so perverted in India. The CBI blatantly and shamelessly quashed all injunctions against Quattrochi and even allowed him to get away with billions of rupees which he had stolen from India. Yet, without batting an eyelid, and with the Indian Media turning a blind eye, it goes ruthlessly after the Chief Minister of the most efficiently run state, the most corruption free. Today the Congress, with Sonia’s overt or silent consent, pays crores of rupees to buy MP’s to topple non-Congress governments. Her governors shamelessly hijack democracy by twisting the laws.
Are Indians aware that their country has entered a state of semi-autocracy, where every important decision comes to a single individual, residing in her fortress of Janpath, surrounded by dozens of security men, an empress of India. Are they aware that she controls tens of billions of rupees of the taxpayer’s money, which she uses to keep her party in power? Do they know that the huge amounts of the scams, whether the 2G, the CWG, or the Adarsh one, do not go into politicians pockets (only a fraction), but to the coffers of the Congress for the next general elections, and more than anything to please Sonia? Thank God, the Judiciary here still holds some independence!
Nobody seems to notice what is happening under the reign of Sonia Gandhi. That an Arundhati Roy is allowed to preach secession in India, whereas on the other hand the Congress Government has been going after the army, the last body in India to uphold the time honoured values of the Kshatriya –courage, honour, devotion to the Motherland, they who alone today practice true secularism, never differentiating between a Muslim or Hindu soldier, and who, for a pittance, give daily their lives to their country. First it was the attempt of a caste census, a divide and rule ploy if there is one; then there are the first signs that the Government is thinking about thinning down the presence of the Indian army in the Kashmir Valley, which will suit Pakistan perfectly. And now there is the Adarsh scam, in which the army officers, at the worst, were innocently dragged into it. We know now that it was the politicians of the Congress who benefited the most of it.
One hears from persons who know her well, of Sonia’s’ qualities of honesty, courtesy, or personal care. But would be impossible, in France for example, to have a non-Christian, say an Hindu for instance, who is a non-elected president or PM, to be the absolute ruler of the country behind the scenes, superseding even the PM. There are many capable people in the Congress. Why can’t a billion Indians find one of their own, who will understand the complexity and subtlety of India, to govern themselves? Not only that, but her very presence at the top has unleashed forces, visible and invisible that are detrimental to the country. There is nothing wrong in espousing the best of the values of the West - democracy, technological perfection, higher standards of living - but many of the institutions are crumbling in the West: two out of three marriages end in divorce, kids shoot each other, parents are not cared for in their old age, depression is rampant and westerners are actually looking for answers elsewhere, in India notably.
One does not understand this craze at the moment to westernize India at all costs, while discarding its ancient values. Mrs Gandhi should do well to remember that there still are 850 million Hindus in India, a billion worldwide and that whatever good inputs were brought by different invasions, it is the ancient values of the spirituality behind Hinduism, which have made India so special and which gives her today her unique qualities, making an Indian Christian different from an American Christian, or an Indian Muslim different from a Saudi one. It is an insult to these tolerant Hindus to show President Obama as his first input of the Indian capital the tomb of Humayun, a man who slaughtered Hindus in thousands, taking Hindu women and children as captives. He even subjected his elder brother Kamran to brutal torture, gauging his eyes out and pouring lemon into them.
The tragedy of India is that it was colonized for too long. And unlike China, it always looks to the West for a solution to its problems. Sonia Gandhi, whatever her qualities, is just an incarnation of that hangover, an Empress of India in new clothes.