Let Us Shape, Not Ape! 

Dear Editor,

Mona Menon and I share more than a name. As moderate, progressive Hindus we share disgust and sorrow, as she has so eloquently expressed (I-W, Jan. 24), over the anti-IDRF campaign, which we patiently endured over the past few months. One can only laugh at this tragic mindset of a community that has, not for the first time, axed its own feet with its foggy sense of justice. The Panchatantra story rings true in a pattern that repeats itself. Every time some Hindus try to do good, other Hindu crabs will inevitably pull them down! Once again, by opposing the IDRF, we all stand to lose from the blind self-abusive actions of a few misguided people, who fan the flames of ignorance.

Take the issue which drew unnecessary debate over the correction of Indian history in school text books. As a product of some of the "best" schools in India, I look in retrospect at the lopsided education that we received. There is no doubt that a euro-centric education has done enormous harm to our nation and its morale. India's history has been hijacked by western historians who successfully undermined the self-esteem of generations of Indians by suppressing information about India's true contribution to modern civilization. Western historians, with their obvious agenda of unabashed Christian indoctrination and domination, successfully managed to suppress Hindu pride by stuffing our heads with lies of European greatness.

Whether it is through language, literature, medicine, history, architecture, art or even music, the West aggressively hyped its glory while the truth about a superior Hindu civilization remains unknown to the world. If young Americans draw inspiration from their heroes and America's previous achievements, Indians have been denied the opportunity to know their past and gain similar confidence. This in turn has nurtured a culture of hopelessness. It is critical that India embarks on a mission of educating and breaking off the shackles of its colonial past and aspires towards taking its rightful place as one of the top 10 developed countries of the world by 2050,at least a century after its independence. The IDRF aims to do just that.

Take the "noble" Christian missionaries, churned out of America and Europe, who penetrate Indian society and abuse our democratic hospitality by using every possible method to achieve their audacious goal of world conversion. Who says the Crusade is history? Similarly, the Muslims with their dogmatic vision of global Islamization spread fear and hatred towards Hindus.

That these religions originate from a shared patriarch is irony enough, but their deliberate misinterpretation of Hindu ideas aims to destabilize a peaceful Hindu society through their illiterate victims. This threat can only be rebuffed by increasing awareness through education. The IDRF aims to do just that.

Take the case of a parent in Saratoga who spearheaded a campaign to disallow a presentation on Hinduism at her children's school. Driven by a misplaced sense of righteousness she denied the children exposure to basic general knowledge about the Hindu religion while the students received healthy exposure to other major religions at the school. Today, the school is finally poised to introduce the subject after recognizing her misguided objectives.

The tragedy is that, over the years, the Mughals and the British along with weakened Hindus, such as those who criticize the IDRF, managed to snuff out structured Hindu education. Therefore, an understanding of Hindu philosophy has become painfully blurred to generations of Hindus.

Stripped of their pride, closet Hindus, like this parent, lack the self-assurance of their western peers and are easily swayed by distorted facts. It is imperative that we trust and understand the value of supporting the Hindu cause, not with the intention of promoting, but educating and awakening the world to reality. The reality is that in 50 short years, the demoralized Hindu spirit has revived as we now find the strength to reciprocate against those who provoke us. With renewed confidence and wherewithal, Hindus can now assert their significance in the world by infusing our children with pride and use that pride to propel us from success to greater success. Only then will Indians finally discover their potential to shape rather than ape.

Mona Vijaykar
Fremont, Calif.

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