Mother Teresa Saint or sinner, Caregiver or Exploiter of the poor?
a report as well an insight on the canonisation of Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa is widely known for her charitable works on which she devoted all her life in the streets of Kolkata. From taking care of the poor, to the sick, to the ones that had strayed away from God, she did it all. She dedicated her life to bring the message of salvation to those who failed to recognize it. Widely known as the Saint Teresa of Kolkata, she was beatified on 19th October, 2003, then being known as the ‘Blessed’ in the Roman Catholic congregation. On 4th September, 2016, Mother Teresa was finally canonised at St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, as the Roman Catholic Church recognized a second miracle attributed to her. This canonisation took place almost after 19 years after her death.
Many people from all over the world paid their reverence in her name. Our very own PM Narendra Modi paid tribute to Mother Teresa in a radio broadcast, and said that when a person like her who devoted her whole life to the poor in our country, is conferred with sainthood, it is natural for Indians to feel proud. Also Sonia Gandhi in a letter to Vatican said that not just the Catholics but every Indian took immense joy and pride in the canonisation of a woman who was an embodiment of boundless compassion, mercy and grace.
As much has this canonisation brought the beloved nun into news, who was already a global icon for her work with the poor, but has also reignited the deep criticism of the order she founded, the Missionaries of Charity, which according to the detractors focused on the elevation than the relief, of suffering. But the woman who had to face criticism about her good work when she was alive, is still criticised after death by some and they seem very dissenting about the canonisation amid the controversies over her missionaries and miracles. Critics also protested against the decision of our PM Modi to send a 100-strong delegation led by the Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to the canonisation mass. We found an online petition that said that it boggled their mind that the Foreign minister of a country whose constitution exhorts its citizens to have a scientific temper would approve of a canonisation based on ‘miracles’. Hindu nationalists have claimed that the new proclaimed Saint was a ‘soul harvester’ who proselytized among the poor, and she and her followers baptized the dying secretly. Another critic, goes by the name Aroup Chatterjee, a doctor who grew up in Kolkata and presently works in UK is one of the most vocal critics. According to him, many rogues have become Catholic saints and it bothers him to such an extent that he stated that the world makes such a song and dance about a superstitious, black magic ceremony. He has described Saint Teresa as a “ medieval creature of darkness” and a “bogus and fantastic figure” which went without challenge by world’s media. In his book Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict on her work, shows her to be negligible about the medical care given to the sick and says that she spent a lot of time flying around in a private plane meeting political leaders. A similar accusation was made by another late writer Christopher Hitchens in his book, The Missionary Position, and also stated that the focus of St. Teresa’s work was not the honest relief of suffering but the dissemination of a cult based on death and suffering and subjection. Hitchens also went on to say in his book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice that-
“…But it is difficult to spend any time at all in Calcutta and conclude that what it most needs is a campaign against population control. Nor, of course, does Mother Teresa make this judgment based on local conditions. She was opposed on principle to abortion and birth controllong before she got there. For her, Calcutta is simply a front in a much larger war.”
Some even alleged that she went on to use her influence to further the Vatican stance on abortion. Hitchens also stated that Mother Teresa herself would check into expensive and sophisticated hospitals and clinics in the West but would neglect the fact that her patients suffered from the lack of pain-relieving and illness-combating medical support in her charitable organizations. Also some three years ago a study at the University of Montreal by academics concluded that Vatican had ignored Mother Teresa’s rather dubious way of caring for the sick, suspicious managements of enormous sums of money she received and her dogmatic views on divorce, abortion and contraception.
Albeit criticisms from different people that fact that she did what no one else cared to even think about, cannot be left discredited. In 1950, she established the Missionaries of Charity with 12 followers, and today the order has 5600 members, and hundreds of thousands of lay volunteers, which runs orphanages, schools, homes for the sick and dying, shelters for homeless, health clinics and other services in 139 countries. She was also awarded Nobel peace prize in 1979, which she said she didn’t deserve but accepted the award “in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, of the lepers, of all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout the society.” Even in her acceptance speech she focused on abortion, and raised a stunning question that if a mother was capable of killing the unborn child growing in her womb then what was going to prevent us all from killing each other, nothing would. She died after several years of illness on September 5, 1997.
The question that whether Mother Teresa was a ‘Saint or Sinner’ or ‘Caregiver or Exploiter’ is completely subject to one’s own individual belief. If one believes that the work carried out by her was in good faith, he/she will never question that she could be an exploiter or sinner for that matter. As for what message I want hereby to be received is that one shouldn’t question on the works of someone so great and pure until there is a compelling allegation on fitting evidences. Given if anyone finds anything as such then it should be brought out on the larger platform, but if one doesn’t, then they shouldn’t fail from honoring the righteous soul as it deserves.
A more controversial and hot news has hardly come out before related to the cabinet of the State government of Delhi under the rule of Aam Aadmi Party. An AAP minister has been caught in a sex tape video, who admits on being married. This has outraged the CM Arvind Kejrival, who has sacked this Social Welfare Minister from the Cabinet and cancelled his primary membership from the party, after a recorded CD reportedly showed Minister Sandeep Kumar in a compromising position with a woman and also carried some objectionable photographs. The suspension of primary membership came after four days of expulsion from his post of Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister.
The famous Chief Minister Kejriwal resorted to micro-blogging social media site Twitter to announce the expulsion. It is his personal life and nobody else business but the reason this very act is seen equivalent to a crime is because, last year on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2015, the AAP Minister Sandeep Kumar, had thanked his wife Ritu for the ‘sacrifices’ she had made and even revealed that “Main roz subah inke pair chhoota hoon [I touch her feet every morning], which had received a thunderous applause from the audience in the Delhi Secretariat auditorium. The controversy also revealed that the particular CD which caused the whole trouble was handed over to the CM 15 days ago by the complainant Om Prakash but no action was taken wherefore the complainant sent it to Lt Gen Najeeb Jung. Kejriwal’s office denies of any incident happening so.
AAP is facing attacks as soon the matter came out in the open. Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) president Ajay Maken too attacked saying three of six ministers who were initially inducted were caught for alleged fake degree, corruption, and moral turpitude. Former CM Sheila Dikshit also told the reporters that these stunts are just AAP’s diversionary tactics and are foolish Delhi voters. The BJP decided to hold a demonstration outside the CM’s office for failing to take any action as soon as they got the CD. They also lodged a complaint against the sacked AAP minister and also sought inclusion of CM Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia’s names in the FIR.
However, in spite of clear visibility in the video, Kumar still claims that the man in the video in the compromising position isn’t him. He alleged that he is being framed because he is a Dalit and demanded probe into the entire episode. The CD is sent by the police to forensics testing for its authenticity and trying to establish its source and how it was circulated. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia also said that the party is taking action because they realize what Kumar has done is completely wrong. Disciplinary committee has been handed over the matter and whatever its decision, the party will abide by that. Kejriwal, nonetheless has displayed his grief on the turn of events and the presence of such people in the party grieves him all the more and told the party will never ever compromise on their core values.
I had moved to Bangalore in August last year, and on the very first day ran into a neighbor of mine who had the habitual inquisitorial nature of a normal Indian woman. She asked, where I was from and about my family. Finally we arrived at the preverbal “Where is your wifeQuestion” and when I answered, that I am unmarried, the old lady was embarrassed and apologized profusely like I have been offended. Well I was not, but one can hardly blame her for asking me this question since I am on the wrong side of thirties and with more gray hair than I could wish for, so it was and I have conceded a fair question to ask on her behalf. After all she is also a mother who once went through the agony and torment of finding a suitable bride for her son or daughter and in that quest she was successful. What happened after that is a different story or maybe almost every other household story.
Ever since I crossed into my 30s people have been asking me “when do you plan to get married” like it was some kind of master plan which got stuck in red tape. Also, most of my friends had gotten married and were disparate for me to tie the knot so I that would stop blackmailing them. But more so their wives and some of my other female friends who I would occasionally torment. For them, I getting married was like getting sweet revenge by telling my future wife all the things that I had done to them and to others because I have been known for my pranks which could sometimes run for few months. E.g. a very good looking my friend got married and after year or so I decided to register her profile in an online matrimony site and soon she started getting phone calls from perspective grooms parents. This lasted for couple of months or over but as gentlemen I told her about this prank few years later, so one can imagine how eagerly or vengefully she must be waiting for me to get married so she can settle some old scores. Also before the internet, when people used to give ads in newspaper, I would call them on their phone number and just try to have some fun. Well, maybe Karma is paying me back.
But let’s be back to the present, I just turned 38, plenty of gray hair and the crown part of my head getting ever so thinner and still no bride in sight. But I must say one thing when I see online matrimonial sites it gives me some solace (in a good way) that there are plenty of men and women out there who still not married and have crossed the usual age threshold but I still believe it is not the end of the world. However, if it is hard for men to hear the same questions over and over, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for women. I know this because my sister got married when she was 28 years old and by the time she turned 26 people started coming up to my parents with wedding proposal for widowers and divorcés. It was as if my sister had no value or no hope for ever getting married. Now, I don’t intend on saying people who have lost their spouse or they are divorced should never get married but, when someone is opting for arranged marriage these types of proposals can be very disconcerting. Anyway my sister got married to a first time offender and he turned out be a pretty good man.
But the point I was trying to make is, there are lots of men and women over the age of thirty who are still single and are still hopeful to finding a partner which gives me hope that there might still be someone for me. But being curious by nature I cannot help myself having some fun when I am surfing the matrimonial site and checking various profiles and the list of demands and expectations the perspective bride and her family have or as a matter of fact the list and demands from the men’ side. Will only marry if the boy has an engineering degree or please do not send proposal if your salary is less than xyz which is, I suppose fair. A while back my mother spoke to a concerned party but they had reservation that I was lot older than their daughter who in fact was only six years younger to me but they did not want the age gap to be more then 3 or 4 years. But the fact is if a man is 34 he is looking forward to marry a girl who is 28 years old and after that it just becomes a vicious circle.
According to my mother this will be her last ditch attempt to help me find a girl and I corrected her she needs to find me a woman because I can no longer aspire to be with a girl. Anyway she was not amused and then we started our quest. Soon the filter process began, too educated for you, makes more money then you, she seems to be very fussy and particular and once we had all the selected ID’s written cleanly on a dairy, we start bombarding. It’s like firing as many arrows in the dark hoping to hit a target.
kabhi toh milegi kahin toh milegi baharon ki manzil…….
Years by years, months by months we see very many new TV shows launching, which may seem to have strong women characters, or at least trying to portray the empowerment in women, but, gradually these very strong women characters turn into the same Saas-Bahu Soap characters who are playing weak and helpless roles, or in a very negative role where women themselves are sabotaging the other female characters. Amid of all these, one day while I was just browsing through the TV to find something to interest myself in, I found a show which won my heart. A group of women who bike away to the remotest towns of the country to make music that is inspired by real life women heroes was a breath of fresh air.
MTV’s Angels of Rock, is a show that reaches out to women who have made extraordinary contributions through their ordinary lives to the society, along with beautifully fusing music with travel. It is the first time in the history of Indian TV, a show is led by all female cast and crew, which has four female celebrities, road tripping their way around India and covering different cities while at it, each with a well-defined cause for women empowerment in mind. The four protagonists the show has chosen are four young singers from different backgrounds. These are women of substance who have at a young age broken the mould in their own small way. Even if they haven’t broken through the capricious Indian music industry, they have made some significant dents in the scheme of things and they are not afraid to speak their voice.
Four of Bollywood’s most loved and incredibly talented singers, the ‘Pareshan’ girl Shalmali Kholgade, ‘Gulaabo’ girl Anusha Mani, ‘Yaar na mile’ fame Jasmine Sandlas and the youngest of all Akasa Singh of ‘India’s Raw Star’ fame, come together and take on a journey of a lifetime - cooking, doing radio shows and composing music on their way. They will not only just mingle with the people they meet, but also live in the same fashion as the locals wherever they go and perform fun tasks to get a taste of the real lives of women in the villages of India. Among many, the biggest challenge these singers have to face will be bringing out the raw, real, and inspiring side of these women with the songs they will be composing on the go.
The show’s main focus is on showcasing female power, in saying ‘yes, we can’. Yet the format of the reality show remains a tricky ground as the four lead women should be able to empathize, bond, and translate onto the camera a camaraderie with the real heroines of the country who probably have never engaged with a TV camera. It is exactly this ruggedly feminine aspect of the show that should work with audiences currently spoilt for viewing choices across digital platforms. This show offers it all- original music for all music lovers, travel delights, and storytelling.
The show producers chose to make use of Bullet, for the girls to travel on, where they could have easily have had them riding on a Scooty instead. But they made sure they singers took classes for bike riding and used Bullet, as it would bring out an element of challenge, ruggedness and an assertion that these girls are of substances more than just mellifluous voices, and a willingness to stretch physical limits further. Not just the crew but even the guitarists and drummers chosen for the show are women.
Angels of Rock is definitely a tribute to the ever-growing spirit of Indian women and their legacy in a contemporary way and is absolutely worth a watch. The energy between the four is palpable and the enthusiasm infectious. Their trysts with bike riding strikes a chord with every girl who has struggled to move on beyond riding a bicycle. The way MTV and Sunsilk have come together to redefine the stereotypical dependent woman in daily soaps is truly admirable.
I’m absolutely in love with the show, and I hope you too don’t forget to catch it every Sunday at 8pm, on MTV India.