An Indian Bungling and a Pakistani Deception

Times of India recently brought out an article on India’s show at the Shanghai World Expo [1]. Excerpts below. Emphasis in bold has been added by me.

If the government wanted to showcase India as an economy jostling to be among the world’s biggest, you’d imagine it would parade its tech and IT muscle. But at the World Expo 2010 at Shanghai, where countries are exhibiting to garner business and investment, the Indian narrative is predominantly centred around street food and handicrafts, a spiel dumped a good 20 years ago.

On entry, one is confronted by stalls, mainly empty, selling samosas, naan, rotis, lassis and a bunch of boxy booths peddling brassware and other bric-a-brac, the staple of our dull state emporia. The ‘Incredible India’ tourism booth had nobody manning it while the CII one was locked.

If India wanted to showcase itself as a competitor to China and an economy that will define the 21st century, a country with immense talent, technology and youth, a nation ambitious of attaining double digit growth, it didn’t come through.

On the other hand, if the intent was to sell its 5,000-year history, culture, arts, crafts, music and dance, that didn’t find expression either. Pakistan has in fact beaten India in footfalls during the early days of the Expo by claiming the Buddhist legacy for itself.

Showcasing well neither the past nor the present to the 70 million visitors expected to visit the Expo over six months, India may have lost a golden public relations opportunity.

…the fact is for the $9 million (Rs 41 crore) spent, India has nothing substantive to show.

What is most visible instead is the heavy hand of officialdom, whether in the names of stalls or on the T-shirts of yoga instructors. For example, instead of labelling stalls as ‘Handicrafts’, one read the mouthful ‘Ministry of rural development, Government of India and CAPART, ‘Council for Advancement of Peoples Art and Rural Technology’. Good for Pragati Maidan may be, definitely not Shanghai.

In some instances intentions were pious but execution pathetic. Take the yoga demonstrations. Hugely laudable given that Yoga is India’s hippest export. But the two people doing the moves were dressed in tight black pants and dull brown tees which, hold your breath, said in bold black letters at the back, ‘Govt. of India!’

The displays on the first floor were crammed cheek by jowl. The displays — mainly pictures of people ranging from CV Raman to N R Narayana Murthy — were mounted on panels framed by beautiful saris. Visitors assaulted by so much information and clutter walked by without pausing to look. One got the sense that if the saris used for backdrops had been the exhibits they would have drawn more attention than what was mounted.

The Indian bungling is not surprising given that most of Indian bureaucracy is still stuck in “Babudom”. Moreover, given the descriptions of the Indian stalls, it is hard to justify the $9 million supposedly spent. It wouldn’t be surprising if some day we hear of any alleged financial misgiving. However, in a country where an Italian businessman [2] charged for acting as a conduit for bribes in a scandal [3] involving military hardware for the nation’s defense, with allegedly very close ties to a family tied to the political (and currently ruling) establishment is exonerated and let off under allegedly questionable circumstances, what’s a couple of million dollars here and there.

The Pakistani deception in claiming the Buddhist legacy shouldn’t also surprise anyone. It is quite ironical but not surprising!

The nation of Pakistan (among possibly others) is the ideological inheritor of totalitarian supremacist marauders from medieval and pre-medieval period like Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad Ghauri, Bakhtiyar Khilji [4], Babur [5], Aurangzeb [6] and their ilk. These zealots in their fascist frenzy of religious bigotry were responsible for sacking numerous Dharmic seats of learning, culture and worship, many of which were predominantly of Buddha Dharma. Not to mention the heinous holocaust of millions of Dharmic people for their “crime” of being “disbelievers”.

The father of the Indian constitution and a Buddhist himself, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s views in this matter are quoted below from [7].

There can be no doubt that the fall of Buddhism in India was due to the invasions of the Musalmans. Islam came out as the enemy of the ‘But’. The word ‘But,’ as everybody knows, is an Arabic word and means an idol. Not many people, however, know that the derivation of the word ‘But’ is the Arabic corruption of Buddha. Thus the origin of the word indicates that in the Moslem mind idol worship had come to be identified with the Religion of the Buddha. To the Muslims, they were one and the same thing. The mission to break the idols thus became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went. Before Islam came into being Buddhism was the religion of Bactria, Parthia, Afghanistan, Gandhar and Chinese Turkestan, as it was of the whole of Asia….

The Musalman invaders sacked the Buddhist Universities of Nalanda, Vikramshila, Jagaddala, Odantapuri to name only a few. They raised to the ground Buddhist monasteries with which the country was studded. The monks fled away in thousands to Nepal, Tibet and other places outside India. A very large number were killed outright by the Muslim commanders. How the Buddhist priesthood perished by the sword of the Muslim invaders has been recorded by the Muslim historians themselves. Summarizing the evidence relating to the slaughter of the Buddhist Monks perpetrated by the Musalman General in the course of his invasion of Bihar in 1197 AD, Mr. Vincent Smith says, “….Great quantities of plunder were obtained, and the slaughter of the ‘shaven headed Brahmans’, that is to say the Buddhist monks, was so thoroughly completed, that when the victor sought for someone capable of explaining the contents of the books in the libraries of the monasteries, not a living man could be found who was able to read them. ‘It was discovered,’ we are told, ‘that the whole of that fortress and city was a college, and in the Hindi tongue they call a college Bihar.’ “Such was the slaughter of the Buddhist priesthood perpetrated by the Islamic invaders. The axe was struck at the very root. For by killing the Buddhist priesthood, Islam killed Buddhism. This was the greatest disaster that befell the religion of the Buddha in India….”

In recent times, the supremacist ethos of Khilji, Aurangzeb, et. al. found expression in the Muslim League’s [8] Two-Nation theory [9], which led to the formation of the Islamic “Republic” (?) of Pakistan in 1947. More recently in 2001, their ideologues-in-arm, the Taliban [10] destroyed the statues of Buddha in Bamyan [11] using dynamite and rockets. A project which even the fascist totalitarian iconoclast Mahmud of Ghazni and later on Nader Shah had tried but failed to accomplish. Given these incontrovertible facts, Pakistan claiming the Buddhist legacy presents a veritable feast of delectable irony.














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