Dialogue October-December, 2011, Volume 13 No. 2





Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and

Dalit Faultlines*

Review by Prof. D.R. Sardesai**



This is a very important book both for students of Indian politics and society in the post-Independence era. It is also important for Westerners, particularly Americans, who are interested in the preservation and strengthening of the Indian polity; more so as a thriving democracy, the largest on the planet. If the policy-makers in the Western capitals, including Washington D.C. are working for India to emerge strong and united as a bulwark against arising China, they should closely read this tome, as providing substantial and irrefutable evidence of a section of its citizenry working to contrary purposes of breaking India to facilitate the proselytizing of its Hindu population, which constitutes 85 percent of its 1.2 billion people. The British ruled this sub-continent with its nefarious Divide and Rule policy. According to Malhotra’s meticulously researched work, the American evangelists have, for some time, been engaged in no less nefarious designs to Divide and Proselytize India using falsehood and immense financial clout to augment its flock. 
      There are weak spots in every human society, be it Christian, Islamic, Hindu or Buddhist. During the century (in some areas longer) of their rule, British colonials and missionaries used their clout to convert the Hindu population but failed to enlist more than 2 percent of it to Christianity, principally in the north-east amongst Tribals. The American evangelicals have, for the last two decades, focused on two specific areas – the Dravidians and the Dalits – for the most part, fabricating “facts” to show how the Northern Aryans in the case of Dravidians and the high-caste Brahmans throughout India in the case of the down-trodden Dalits, the former Untouchables whom Gandhi called the Harijans (Children of God) and for whose uplift, the country’s founding fathers provided for affirmative action in the Constitution to provide opportunities for education, civil service and legislatures at state and national levels. The provision for such ameliorative measures, initially for ten years, has continually been extended to become an essential feature of Indian politics, which no party or politicians dare challenge. The British had invented the theory of the invading Aryans, using the North-western passes, horse, iron and the Sanskrit language to dominate the sub-continent to secure its military, political, social and cultural conquest, pushing the largely dark-skinned Dravidians to South, principally in the present-day Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. 
    The evangelicals have embraced the now defunct theory to “lay bare” the three or four millennia – long myth about the Aryan domination of the Dravidians. It appears that the evangelicals have no scruples such as truth in the service of Christ to secure “harvests of souls” from Hinduism to Christianity. Malhotra reveals this unholy alliance between the evangelicals and Maoists for the short-term gains of converting poor millions, amongst the Dravidians, Dalits and Tribals, into Christianity.                                                                                                        
     In the last few months since its publication, Rajiv Malhotra’s new book, with its alarming evidence of evangelical efforts to break India has made large numbers of academia, social activists and politicians in India as well as substantial numbers of thinking individuals in the highly educated community of Indian Americans, to sit up and take serious note of external religious organizations ganging up to break India. They are beginning to notice, also, the American evangelical organizations have done since the late 1990s through the newly created U.S. International Commission for Religious Freedom to bring pressure on the Indian Government to take action against those who impede proselytizing activities of the Christian missionaries and their acolytes.            
    Annual report(s) of this Commission – which incidentally does not have jurisdiction within the United States – are highly critical of Indian governments (both, central as well as state) for their “inadequate action against oppressors” of “Dravidians” and Dalits. Materials in India of such alleged violations are garnered by the evangelists and their helpers and brought to the attention of the U.S. Congress and the White House. The harm to India as well as to the U.S. foreign policy towards India is immense. In that sense, the book is very timely and should be read widely by scholars, social activists and policy-makers in India as well as in the U.S.  
    The Hindus are generally known as a tolerant people, who believe all religions are valid approaches to God or the “Absolute Reality”. As Christian evangelicals step up their efforts to proselytize, the instances of Hindus taking offense also multiply. Malhotra is a scholar not an activist; never an evangelist. Yet the book he has authored may serve as an eye-opener for religious and socio-political activists in India, who are alarmed by anything designed to exploit the fault lines, real or fabricated, to break India. In many (or every?) ways this book is damaging to those who play with grossly with American as well as Indian interests. It’s a must read – to say the least.

Introduction to the book

      This book has emerged as a result of several experiences that have deeply influenced my research and scholarship over the past decade. In the 1990s, an African-American scholar at Princeton University casually told me that he had returned from a trip to India, where he was working with the ‘Afro-Dalit Project’. I learnt that this US-operated and -financed project frames inter-jati/varna interactions and the Dalit movement using American cultural and historical lenses. The Afro-Dalit project purports to paint Dalits as the ‘Blacks’ of India and non-Dalits as India’s ‘Whites’. The history of American racism, slavery and Black/White relations is thus superimposed onto Indian society. While modern caste structures and inter-relationships have included long periods of prejudice toward Dalits, the Dalit experience bears little resemblance to the African slave experience of America. But taking its cue from the American experience, the Afro-Dalit project attempts to empower Dalits by casting them as victims at the hands of a different race.

      Separately, I had been studying and writing about the ‘Aryans’, as to who they were, and whether the origin of Sanskrit and Vedas was an import by ‘invaders’ or indigenous to India. In this context, I sponsored numerous archeological, linguistic and historical conferences and book projects, in order to get deeper into the discourse. This led me to research the colonial-era construction of the Dravidian identity, which did not exist prior to the nineteenth century and was fabricated as an identity in opposition to the Aryans. Its survival depends upon belief in the theory of foreign Aryans and their misdeeds.

      I had also been researching the US Church’s funding of activities in India, such as the popularly advertised campaigns to ‘save’ poor children by feeding, clothing and educating them. In fact, when I was in my twenties living in the US, I sponsored one such child in South India. However, during trips to India, I often felt that the funds collected were being used not so much for the purposes indicated to sponsors, but for indoctrination and conversion activities. Additionally, I have been involved in numerous debates in the US with think-tanks, independent scholars, human rights groups and academics, specifically on their treatment of Indian society as a sort of scourge that the west had to ‘civilize’. I coined the phrase ‘caste, cows and curry’ to represent the exotic and sensational portrayals of India’s social and economic problems and their interpretation these as ‘human rights’ issues.

      I decided to track the major organizations involved in promulgating these various theories, as well as those spearheading political pressure, and eventually the prosecution of India on the grounds of human rights violations. My research included following the money trail by using the provisions of financial disclosure in the US, studying the promotional materials given out by most such organizations, and monitoring their conferences, workshops and publications. I investigated the individuals behind such activities and their institutional affiliations.

    What I found out should sound the alarm bell for every Indian concerned about our national integrity. India is the prime target of a huge enterprise—a ‘network’ of organizations, individuals and churches—that seems intensely devoted to the task of creating a separatist identity, history and even religion for the vulnerable sections of India. This nexus of players includes not only church groups, government bodies and related organizations, but also private thinktanks and academics. On the surface they appear to be separate and isolated from one another, but in fact, as I found, their activities are well coordinated and well funded from the US and Europe. I was impressed by the degree of interlocking and cooperation among these entities. Their resolutions, position papers and strategies are well articulated, and beneath the veneer of helping the downtrodden, there seem to be objectives that would be inimical to India’s unity and sovereignty.

       A few Indians from the communities being ‘empowered’ were in top positions in these Western organizations, and the whole enterprise was initially conceived, funded and strategically managed by Westerners. However, there are now a growing number of Indian individuals and NGOs who have become co-opted by them, and receive funding and mentorship from the West. The south Asian studies in the US and European universities invite many such ‘activists’ regularly and give them prominence. The same organizations had also been inviting and giving intellectual support to Khalistanis, Kashmir militants, Maoists, and other subversive elements in India. So I began to wonder whether the campaigns to mobilize Dalits, Dravidians and other minorities in India were somehow part of the foreign policy of certain Western countries, if not openly then at least as an option kept in reserve. I am unaware of any other major country in which such large-scale processes prevail without monitoring or concern by the local authorities. No wonder so much has to be spent in India after such a separatist identity gets weaponized into all out militancy or political fragmentation.

      The link between academic manipulations and subsequent violence is also evident in Sri Lanka, where manufactured divisiveness caused one of the bloodiest civil wars. The same also happened in Africa where foreign-engineered identity conflicts led to one of the worst ethnic genocides ever in the world.

    About three years ago, my research and data had become considerable. Moreover, many Indians are simply unaware of the subversive forces at work against their country, and I felt that it ought to be organized for wider dissemination and debate. I started working with Aravindan Neelakandan, based in Tamil Nadu, to complement my foreign data with his access to the ground reality in India’s backwaters.

   This book looks at the historical origins of both the Dravidian movement and Dalit identity, as well as the current players involved in shaping these separatist identities. It includes an analysis of the individuals and institutions involved and their motivations, activities, and desired endgame. While many are located in the US and the European Union, there are an increasing number in India too, the latter often functioning like the local branch offices of these foreign entities.

    The goal of this book is not to sensationalize or predict any outcomes. Rather, it is to expand the debate about India and its future. Much is being written about India’s rise in economic terms and its implications to India’s overall clout. But not enough is written on what can go wrong given the rapidly expanding programs exposed in this book and the stress they put on India’s faultlines. My hope is that this book fills this gap to some extent.


Rajiv Malhotra,  Princeton, USA, the author, is a public intellectual on current affairs, world religions and cross-cultural encounters between East and West.


Dialogue (A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati)                                                Astha Bharati