The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Combat conversion menace

Dr Subramanian Swamy has very lucidly and in clear terms warned the Hindu society of the danger looming over its head from, inter alia, religious conversions in his two-part article (Organiser, 8 & 15-1-2006). He has suggested two solutions to fight the menace. I am sorry I have a bit of divergent views on the first solution. Though since time immemorial, our saints and great men have preached against the evil of untouchability, it was after the Meenakshipuram mass conversions that the Hindu society in general and Sangh Parivar in particular woke up to pay serious attention to the problem. Laws have been promulgated prohibiting untouchability, but so far these have not produced the desired result. Similarly, the suggestion that strict laws may be enacted to curb conversions will not have the results we may be expecting. All the laws have loopholes and missionaries and tablighis would find ways and means to circumvent these and would carry on with their agenda, as can be observed in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, where, despite the existence of prohibitory laws, conversions continue to take place. The worst effect of the laws, if enacted, would be that the collective and serious efforts, being put in at present to erase untouchability, would come to an end and the Hindu society would go into slumber once again. The practical solution, which will have a long-term effect, is the one suggested in the second part of the article, viz. setting our own house in order, ushering in renaissance in the Hindu society and carrying the war to the camps of the Christian missionaries and Muslim mullahs. This approach would not only protect the Hindu society from the present situation of its dwindling numbers, but would give it self-confidence, glory and pride. But the important point is how to usher in the renaissance. There already exist an All India Council of Churches and an All India Tablighi Organisation, which are planning, spearheading and coordinating the conversions to Christianity and Islam. To match equally their efforts, we too should organise an all India body of temples and religious organisations such as Ganesh/Durga mandals spread all over India. It is a gigantic task and would require a gigantic effort, but if undertaken would bring in gigantic results too.

—Vas Dev, C-11, Luis Apartments, College Lane, Dadar (West), Mumbai

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