May 17, 2006

The Da Vinci Tsunami in India

V SUNDARAM

The Supreme Court while granting bail to Kanchi Sankaracharya indicted the then Tamilnadu Government for having foisted a case on Kanchi Sankaracharya in gross violation of the established tenets and spirit of criminal law. When Kanchi Sankaracharya was arrested in November 2004 on Deepavali Day, the UPA Government in New Delhi maintained an attitude of 'strategic', 'suave' and 'secular' silence. When anything relates to Hindu Religion or Hindus, the UPA Government either overtly or covertly makes it very clear that it is no part of the allotted duty or constitutional responsibility of the Government of India to interfere in such religious matters. But the same UPA Government is always in a state of combat readiness to rush to the rescue, relief and succour of terrorists of Jihadic Islam or Angels of Service of Compassionate Christianity as and when required. I am not therefore surprised that the Chief Minister of Goa has convened an immediate cabinet meeting to consider the objections raised against the premiere of the controversial film called 'The Da Vinci Code' in Goa and all other parts of India on May 19, 2006. The Goa Government has passed a resolution to ban the movie and has also asked the Centre to impose a nationwide ban on the film. Goa Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane said on Tuesday that he would write to the Censor Board 'either to censor or stop the release' of the controversial film in the State.

The plot of the fictional novel The Da Vinci Code concerns the discovery of historical evidence, concealed by the church, that Christ and Mary Magdalene were married and began a bloodline that continued through the centuries. It depicts Christianity as the biggest cover-up in history.

The Da Vinci Code has run into its fair share of controversies with the Vatican calling for a ban on the film. With barely two days left before the movie hits cinema halls across the globe, the Indian chapter has run into some turbulence.

The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry in our country has said that clearance will not be given to the movie till it is screened before the Catholic Churches' Association of India (CCAI). Trouble had started brewing when over 200 Catholic organizations had submitted a petition against the screening of the film to I&B Minister, Priyaranjan Dasmunsi. A Ministry official has said that Dasmunsi will see the movie on Wednesday but will seek the opinion of CCAI before taking a decision on whether the movie can be released in India.

Speaking against the controversial film, Father Donald D' Souza of the Catholics Bishops Council said, 'In a country where people are still learning about Christianity, such films can be quite harmful. We don't want people to imbibe a wrong view of this religion in India.' When American President Bush is fighting against the terrorists of Islam in the Middle East, the Christians in India should not make the political mistake of responding warmly to the offer of so called help from Muslim clerics in organizing demonstrations against the release of the controversial film on May 19, 2006 in Mumbai. It is a known fact that a large number of Christians have been killed in Pakistan as part of an exercise of ethnic cleansing of Christians after 1947. Against this background, Christians should think twice and act with great circumspection before accepting any help from compassionate Mullahs and Moulvis of terrorist Islam.

While Priyaranjan Dasmunsi is greatly concerned about the release or non-release of the controversial film 'The Da Vinci Code', the interesting point to be noted is that no other major country, including those where Catholics are in a majority, have so far moved to stop the release of the film. One of my friends was in France last week and he saw that Paris was full of large and colourful posters relating to the release of the film 'The Da Vinci Code' on May 19, 2006. During his tour of Europe, he noticed that the position was no different in Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Holland and many other European Countries. The French Government have not imposed any ban on the premiere of the film at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2006. The ever-muddling Ministers of UPA Government should not brashly dismiss the response of Government of France in regard to 'The Da Vinci Code' controversy as an offshoot of paganism or heathenism! France is a known Catholic country and is a secular state where all religious faiths and denominations are represented. The religious composition of the population in France is as follows:

* Catholics: 47,000,000, 81.4% of the population

* Moslems: 4,000,000, 6.89% of the population

* Protestants: 950,000, 1.64% of the population

* Jews: 600,000, 1% of the population

* Buddhists: 400,000, 0.68% of the population

* Orthodox: 200,000, 0.34% of the population

* Others: 4,700,000, 8.12% of the population

Against this background, I would like to ask the Government of India as to what is the earthshaking 'SECULAR' motive that moves them into the field of combative action in regard to the question of a ban or otherwise on the release of the controversial film 'The Da Vinci Code' on May 19, 2006?

While many countries of Africa are in the grip of AIDS, India is in the vicious grip of the AIDS of what I call 'secularism'. What is the true meaning of 'secularism' in governance and Government? Secularism means the neutrality of the State, local Government and all public services in matters relating to one or more religions or to one or more creeds. In France, the secularity of the State was established in 1905 by the law of separation of Church and State. Secularists in countries like France and U.S.A., regardless of their religious preferences, believe that religious considerations should be excluded from civic affairs and public education. This meaning of the term 'secularism' is very much different from the meaning of the same word in the field of philosophy. Secularism in the field of philosophy means the belief that life can be best lived by applying ethics, and the universe best understood, by processes of reasoning, without reference to a god or gods or other supernatural concepts. The UPA Government and the Congress party are 'secular' in neither of these senses.

When Rome was burning Nero was fiddling. When Jammu and Kashmir is being cleansed ethnically by forcefully throwing out and brutally murdering all the peace-loving Hindus in a systematic manner by the compassionate Mujahedins of Islam, the UPA Government with its known contempt for and hatred of all things Hindu, is only fiddling with non-issues like release or non-release of commercial controversial films like 'The Da Vinci Code'. They are giving a clear message to the effect that all the Hindus of India in majority are non-citizens in respect of matters concerning their life and death.

The Roman Catholics of France can in no way be dismissed as superstitious pagans by the Christians of India. In its romantic passion for Christian vote bank politics, the UPA Government should not try to outwit or outsmart the 'secular' French Government in the matter of release or otherwise of the controversial film. The Government of France seems to be confident that the Roman Catholic citizens in their country will not vote against them just on the basis of this one decision relating to the release of a controversial film. Roman Catholic Christians in France are known for their maturity and political understanding.

A Commentator called @#%$ Rolfe of the Dove Foundation, which encourages production of family-friendly films, has cautioned that if Christians protest too loudly, they can end up making the mistake of calling attention to a movie that otherwise may not do very well at the box office.

Another Commentator has observed: 'All in all, the Christian response to The Da Vinci Code has ranged from ignorance and apathy to a passionate defense of the faith carried out in debunking books, blogs, TV specials, Bible studies, and water cooler discussions... and on the sides of minivans. Instead of boycotting the book and the movie, let's be ready with answers.'

A senior Vatican official has called for only a boycott of The Da Vinci Code, while the Council of Churches in Jordan and Roman Catholic activists in India want their governments to ban the film altogether. But something very different is taking place in USA. What's notable in the U.S.A. is that boycotts are taking a back seat to anti- 'Da Vinci' books and teaching sessions about the true meaning and glory of the Gospels. Union I&B Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi cannot try to outdo the Pope in Vatican who has only said 'boycott the Movie and stop short of demanding a ban on the film'.

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