The venomous case of “environmentalist” Janaki Lenin
Janaki Lenin, a supposed “green warrior” has come out with an article titled “When Hindutva replaces rational thought in our green movements” on FirstPost. This piece exposes Lenin’s real intent of maligning Hinduism, and has brazenly done away with all the subtlety that she used in her earlier articles.
Let me start with the title of the article itself “When Hindutva replaces rational thought…”. It is meant to imply that
‘Hindutva’ and rationality are in opposition to each other. The contents of the article are quite the contrary – it only shows how cultural traditions have been used to reach environmental goals – starting from the Chipko movement to ISKCON’s intervention in Vrindavan to the Save Ganga movement. Typically environmentalists would celebrate this coming together to meet common goals. Not for Lenin; for her one has to first be “anti-saffron” to be green.
Upon examining the antecedents of Lenin, the picture becomes a lot clearer as to what her real intentions are. Her past writings include an article grandiosely titled “Religion Vs. Conservation” The article spews venom against Hindu pilgrims, accusing them of many environmentally damaging acts. She does not stop at this. She charges Sabarimala pilgrims of spreading jaundice amongst local tribals. Curiously, the article contains no inferences whatsoever to Christian or Muslim pilgrimages. Even a back of the envelope calculation of carbon emissions due to the Hajj pilgrimage would am sure throw up a huge number. Coming closer home to Lenin, in Tamil Nadu, the Velankanni Christian shrine sees a rush of Christians thronging the town during peak season. Thanks to the heat plastic bottles and covers are strewn all over the place, which Christian pilgrims discard after quenching their thirst. None of these ever find a mention in Lenin’s article.
Her writing is littered with this sort of vicious propaganda. She writes about Anna Hazare’s environmentalism and conveniently concludes that despite his success he needs to be denounced and his model discarded as it goes against what she calls “social justice”. She celebrates the POSCO verdict and uses TR Baalu (former Union Shipping Minister from the DMK) to support her stand. TR Baalu is the same minister who was eagerly pushing for the Sethusamudram project – for he and his family were getting lucrative contracts. Faced with opposition on both environmental and cultural counts, Baalu’s boss Karunanidhi retorted in support of Baalu “From which engineering college has Rama got a degree?” The Sethusamudram project had to be supported as it was being opposed by “Hindus (read: Hindutva forces)”. Hence Baalu is a friend! Such are Lenin’s secular credentials. This indeed calls for a ‘Laal Salaam’.
She again goes on to criticise ‘Indians (again read: Hindus)’ in a piece ultra-euphemistically titled “Racism of Indians towards Tribals“, or something to that effect. Again the contents betray the title. Lenin links the introduction of British laws in the 1800’s to our “racism” towards tribals. The usual drill – first start with lack of rehabilitation, under-development et. al culminating in words like ‘gang-rape’, ‘murder’ etc. You get the picture. But wait, wasn’t this supposed to be about racism. The fact is that in India tribals do not have a unified ethnicity – those in Dangs would be completely different from those in Dimapur. “Racism against tribals” can at best be rhetoric bereft of any rational. The connect perhaps can be made by more intellectually gifted mortals like Lenin.
She has repeatedly campaigned for Tribals being left alone in their homes / forests; against government creating
‘eco-reserves’ free from human habitation. Interestingly there is no mention of “Christian Missionary intervention” in tribal areas. It is a well known fact that missionaries are pouring money into “developing” tribal areas – with building construction and introduction of western methods. Wonder why Lenin, a “crusader” for the tribal way of life does not dwell on this point in any of her writings.
Lenin unwittingly gives the game away in her blog celebrating her “atheism“. Typical story of “self-discovery” – how she was ‘different’ from others since school. How she ‘wrestled within herself’ to find God etc. Anyway coming to the facts – Lenin has a traditionally anti-Hindu lineage and was educated in a Christian missionary. She apparently tried to ‘find God’ by practising both Christianity and Hinduism. Her discovery of Christianity included attending moral science classes at her missionary school, reading the Bible and interacting with Nuns and Fathers. In contrast, her insightful journey into Hinduism encompassed the enlightening acts of sitting in a temple and drenching herself and others in Holi colours – after all that is all there is to Hinduism. As per script, she did not find peace in either religion and turned to Zen Buddhism.
Lenin lives in Chennai with her herpetologist partner Romulus Whitaker, who is also the founder of Madras Snake park. Comes as no surprise considering Rom Whitaker’s expertise in handling and housing poisonous creatures.