India and the US visa relations in the Trump and Modi days
After the BJP came to power several Americans and Europeans living in India on various kinds of Non-Mission Visas (business, job tourist and so on) were being deported back to their countries with an explanation that they were involving in the Mission work
This morning I went to a barber shop in Hyderabad where I get my (semi-bald head) hair cut done quite regularly. The senior barber looked very sad, doing nothing, even though there were customers waiting. Since I know him for long I asked him what was the problem. He said in a lamenting tone that ‘my daughter is in America. She has completed her MS and is searching for a job. But this Trump is now snubbing her hopes. All our hopes are in her American job. I am really worried”
Today only I read a news item in the Times of India that one lady by name Chitra, a Green Card holder living in Seattle, Washington, came to Hyderabad and went back to the US on January 24 to join back her husband and two children. But she was not allowed to enter America and she was deported back to India by return flight. After Trump came several such deportations are taking place.
But there is the other side of the story from India. After the BJP came to power several Americans and Europeans living in India on various kinds of Non-Mission Visas (business, job tourist and so on) were being deported back to their countries with an explanation that they were involving in the Mission work. I know of a case of an American who has been living in India for his business work for decades was deported back to the US just a few days back. After Modi came to power such deportations have increased many fold. But the Obama administration did not take any serious action, even though he sounded in a private lecture at Delhi, when he came as the guest of the honour of our Republic Day in 2015, that there is a religious persecution in India and India must honour the Religious Freedoms of all faiths.
THE TRICKY THING
The tricky thing was/is that India was not granting to the White Euro-Americans since Independence what are known as Mission Visas. But those countries were allowing the Mission Visas to the Hindu priests and their families to establish and run temples all over Americas, Europe, Australia, Canada and so on. Through these temples' huge idol worshipping institutions were established in the Euro-American continents. Institutions like Hare Ram, Hare Krishna Mutts were also being established in huge numbers. They were/are allowing the Hindu Sadhus and Gurus by giving Mission Visas to go and preach Hinduism without any hindrance.
All the major Sadhus and Gurus of Hinduism go there freely to teach to white Euro-Americans about the greatness of Hinduism, use idols for communicative explanations. Several white Christians in those countries got converted to Hindu idol worshipping. Now there is an opinion among Euro-American theological scholars that even the Yoga and Meditation campaigns are Hindu conversion tools.
THE SPREAD OF THE VHP
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad proclaims that they are spreading their units in all the Western and Eastern countries to spread Hinduism. It, in other words, means that it is converting several Christian, Buddhists, may be Muslims in many other countries to Hinduism. They convert others and take dollars, Pounds from them.
But the same organisation is actively lobbying in the Delhi External Affairs and Home Ministries to not to allow Euro-American Christians to India because according to them, these whites give Dollars and Pounds to Dalits and Tribals and convert them to Christianity. The recent deportations of the Euro-American citizens living in India (creating a scare situation among their women travellers) are because they are lobbying and submitting names of white people, who are sympathetic to Dalit and Tribal cause as Missionaries. Their propaganda that Dalits and Tribals get converted for the dollar is too well known. But what is not known is that they convert white people to Hinduism and take money from them.
The Indian Government has been giving visas to the whites who visit and do Bhajans at Satya Saibaba Ashram in Puttaparthi, to those who visit Mata Amrutanada Mai Ashram in Kerala. Sri. Sri. Ravishakar has a huge following in Euro-American nations, who invite him to Americas and Europe and they keep coming and staying at his Art of Living Centre, Bengaluru.
Millions of dollars and Pounds get donated to these Hindu institutions and they were freely allowed to do so by all regimes of India. The Congress regime was not an exception to this one way Mission Visa process. The Hindutva forces are only using that tradition to their best advantage. But they were not allowing the Christians ( not many Muslims would like to come on Mission Visas in any case) to come as teachers, even in the schools, preachers in the churches.
TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND THE NEW THEOLOGY
During the recent election in America, the danger to the Christian values of the West and America was one of the major issues of debate. Lots of conservative American theologians came into the elections debates to express their concern about the secular-liberal rulers of America allowing the Christian American values to be taken for a ride by not just migrant Muslims but also by migrant Hindus and Buddhists. No doubt the increasing Masjids was a known concern for them, but not so seriously unknown concern was the migrant Hindus and Buddhists establishing temples of idols (Hinduism of multi-idols) and slowly converting several American Christians to these religions.
If Muslim terrorists were seen as ‘This World Peace’ disturbers the Hindu and Buddhist expansionists of idol worship in a Christian-Judo nation of anti-idolatry are seen as the ‘Other World Peace’ disturbers. For example, the organisations like American Hindu Foundation are full of VHP expansionists, who keep planting temples, importing Brahmin priests to do Sanskrit poojas in the huge idol installed temples and at public functions.
It is said that the Trump Team found some idols in the White House donated to Obama family and they instantly removed them. There were rumours that Obama used to have one small Hanuman idol with him. Even this was a buzz word against him in the election campaign. Hillary Clinton was said to have visited the Hindu gurus in Washington and elsewhere. She was accused to have mobilised money from the Hindu institutions for her foundation. For these reasons, it was believed that though Obama used to speak about Religious Freedom but failed to protect the Christian values. The free Visas to the Hindu mission preachers is strongly held against him and the Clintons.
President Donald Trump on February 2, in a prayer breakfast, meet at Washington gave a clear commitment to the American theologians that Religious Freedom is God-given. According to him, it is not just State or Government given freedom. His Government is prepared to go to any length to protect American Christian values and their Religious Freedoms worldwide. Of course, even in the Trump’s campaign, they have tried to use the Hindu spiritual places to their advantage. However, they seem to have now realised that the expansion of the Hindu idol worship may erode their basic Biblical values themselves, not just American values.
This implies that America now may insist on bilateral visa regime even in the case of Mission Visas. India took protection in this realm under the agreement of British colonial rulers and Nehru Government in early days that they should not insist on Mission Visas to India, as there was the Hindu fear of conversions.
THE CHANGED SITUATION
But now when the Hindu migrants to America and England, Australia, Canada are so huge in number and are establishing their own huge idol worshipping temples the bilateral clause may attract their attention also. Added to this the VHP and its allied organisations in those countries are also working hard to convert the Christians to Hinduism. The old theory that Hinduism is not a religion like Christianity and Islam, may not hold much water.
My barber’s daughter’s Visa issue in the regime of Trump is a tragedy of de-globalization process that began in 2016. A barber who saved each rupee from his small earning of hair-cutting and hair- dying, and who educated his first generation literate daughter to fly into that American dream gets shattered. If only she is sent back to India his and his daughter’s dreams and life fall flat as she had to remain an un-employee in this country in the present conditions.
But the other Visa drama that is going to unfold in more and more illiberal world and conservative Governments would have far deeper implications. It is not going to be one Government term policy. It is going to have serious cultural implications for the future world. The Hindutva forces in such neo-nationalist spiritually engaged world cannot continue their one-dimensional expansion and use force. In my view, all nations must respect the right to religion of every citizen, whether they are Dalits and Tribals in India or whites and Hispanics in America.
One American theologian told me ‘’if you have a conservative Hindu Government as Narendra Modi as its head, we have a conservative Christian Government with Donald Trump as its head. If the mission visas regime does not become bilaterally equal both of us will have to pay the price. If you do not allow our Christian preachers and teachers to come to India your Sri Sri Ravishankars and Jaggi Vasudevs, Mata Amrutanada Mais and VHP gurus cannot come to America.’’
( This article is written on February 3, 2017 after listening to Trump speak at the prayer breakfast meet on CNN live from India)