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A view of India

March 01, 2007

Re "Film on an India pogrom boycotted," Feb. 25

Having lived in India for several years as an expatriate, I have to say I am shocked by The Times' India coverage. Believe me, I have been to several countries in the Middle East and in the neighborhood of India. Indians -- who are majority Hindu -- are the most tolerant people on this planet when it comes to religion.

The Times tries to paint the picture otherwise. Just note that the president of India is a Muslim (A.P.J. Abdul Kalam), the most popular movie star in India is a Muslim (Shahrukh Khan) and one of the richest Indians is a Muslim (Azim Premji).

The success and opportunities that Muslims enjoy in India are far greater than those available to religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.




The interesting use of the word "pogrom" caught my eye. The Gujarat riots on Feb. 28, 2002, which were indeed an organized massacre of helpless Muslims, are reminiscent of the riots that occurred in India for three consecutive days in November 1984, killing thousands of Sikhs. The interesting thing is that India's state-sponsored terrorism of only five years ago has been packaged into a film by a Hindu, and the censor board made only three minor cuts. This in itself is a red flag indicating business as usual to people who know how the Indian political and government psyche works.

A film, "Amu," depicting the carnage of 1984, was shown around the world at festivals but failed to come to mainstream cinema because the community is just plain disgusted about how Sikhs have been treated in the world.

If filmmaker Rahul Dholakia thinks that "Parzania" is going to spark a dialogue between Hindus and Muslims and bridge the hate gap, then I think he has stayed out of India too long.

There is no solution or open debate on issues that affect minorities, especially in India, with its Hindu majority. Just ask Sikhs, and they will justify their reasons to be disheartened and despairing.


La Canada

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