The ghastly sound of a strangely muffled drumbeat emanating from a sort of vacuum chamber just moments before the land shook coupled with the distant human cries of hopelessness arising from within the earth seemed real at times but more often felt like terrifying hallucinations. That was the nightmarish memory of the Killari Earthquake of 1993, when I was part of the small volunteer team from our town which had travelled under the aegis of the local Shakha of the RSS to be among the first few to reach the site of devastation.
Those ghost villages and towns in and around Latur-Parbhani-Umarga belt have remained etched in my memory following the earthquake and its aftershocks. The other enduring memory being the mass madness of thousands of families in dozens of districts refusing to sleep in the comfort of their homes and instead making nearby open ‘maidans’ their temporary nocturnal homes for weeks, if not months, following that deadly earthquake which took 10000 lives as per official estimates.
Some 12 years later, when Mother Earth shook again and brought with it giant tidal waves of tsunami to this time devour close to 3 lakh people, the whole world wept with us and shared our tragedy. If the Killari earthquake had occurred just days after Ganesh Chaturthi and still in the midst of festivities before the Visarjan, the Tsunami of 2005 had followed Christmas even before the candle had burned out fully.
The contrast is stark and necessary despite protestations from the usual quarters, for 1993 was a year when the Sangh and other Hindu organizations had performed an exemplary task of rescue and rehabilitation in Maharashtra in their hour of extreme tragedy (so much so that even the then CM of the state, Sharad Pawar had to acknowledge their stellar work), but the same Sangh did not have much to show in the tsunami of Tamil Nadu villages, possibly because of lack of organizational strength in the southern state or more so because of the sheer magnitude of the disaster that gave ample opportunities for vultures to harvest poor souls.
For instance, consider these widely reported scenes just a month after the tsunami in many villages of Nagapattinam. Nuns of Christian missionaries would enter into Hindu homes when women would be alone and start praying, relief material would be distributed by missionaries around Hindu temples with one precondition that those getting relief would join them in prayer, explosive pamphlets deriding Hindu gods for the tsunami and Jesus as the path to nirvana would be distributed freely among distressed masses. Interestingly, many local NGOs would act as corollaries to Christian missionaries in their proselytization mission.
As a result of these contrasting approaches to two natural disasters separated by just a decade, we can clearly see the stark difference in how Christian missionaries failed to convert Hindus in the Latur belt despite the 1993 earthquake, while they have been more successful in TN. The other problem with TN and AP is that of wrongful reporting as many newly converted Christians report themselves as Hindus during government surveys, thus although a state like Tamil Nadu is supposed to have roughly some 6% Christians as per the 2001 Census, demographic experts put that number close to 9% even by conservative estimates.
Nepal was a closed nation till 1950 and therefore overwhelmingly a Hindu country despite being a vassal state of British occupied India. Within years of Nepal opening its doors to outsiders, the first Christian Missionary, United Mission to Nepal (UMN) began its operations in the Himalayan kingdom in 1954 and the systematic conversion of Hindus started in great earnest. Within decades, the Christian population in the country had managed to triple.
Then in 2006, after the Maoist uprising (which also targeted the Pashupatinath temple among many other Hindu identity structures), Hindu monarchy was abolished and Nepal was declared officially as a “secular” state. The western concept of a secular-Christian statehood was imposed on this small peaceful Hindu nation which had never had any history of violence against outsiders or minorities. The ‘secular’ state has now opened her doors far wider to powerful western missionaries with unlimited supply of money and has rendered Nepal vulnerable for unbridled demographic experiments.
The earthquake last Saturday which has taken close to 4000 lives seems to have presented a great opportunity to these soul harvesters who want to proselytize in this hour of tragedy as is evident from hundreds of tweets and social media messages (sic). In the coming weeks and months a real battle would be fought in the Himalayas when these Christian vultures will attack relentlessly. This is that opportunity in history when the new India on its path to superpowerdom can assert itself and make its mark as a nation that will extend an unconditional hand to others in their time of need. Can India rise to this historic opportunity and ease the pain of Nepalese people without the sword of conversion hanging on their heads? The answer to that question will give us a peek into the legacy of Narendra Bhai Damodardas Modi as future generations of Hindus will judge him in retrospect.