lobbing grenades and firing machine guns into the air. The headmistress of the schoolwas gunned down as she attempted to shield the life of her mentor, the 82 year oldmonk and founder of the school, Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati. A visiting parentalong with two junior monks were also viciously slaughtered as the young students fledfor their lives.Orissa was stunned by the violence and the entire State went into mourning.Hindus throughout the world were outraged. Yet worst was to come. As a stunnedpeople began to confront the fact that the authorities had failed to protect its citizens,the media began a campaign of calumny. Ignoring the brutal assassination of a belovedspiritual leader as the root of the crisis the media began to depict the response to themassacre as the story. Report after report flooded the world media depicting theoutraged tribal response as the actions of blood-thirsty criminals and marketers of hate.Ignoring the hundreds of years of anguish and the long simmering disputes betweenthe local Kandha tribespeople and the Christian converted Pana, the media and politicalleft created an artificial template lambasting the Hindus as the sole perpetrators of theviolence.It was in the midst of this crisis that I arrived in Orissa to investigate thecircumstances surrounding the violence. I arrived in Bhuvaneshwar, the capital ofOrissa, on September 15, 2008. The monsoon season was in full swing. The worst floodsin nearly 70 years washed over the land. The state highway was washed out severaltimes and thousands of people were left homeless. Amazingly life went on as usualwith very little interruption. I had a couple miraculous escapes as we drove aroundOrissa crossing bridges only hours before they were swamped by the swollen rivers ofthe region.During my 5 weeks in Orissa I met with many people on all sides of the issue.Most people were forthright and clear about the issues plaguing the people. Many ofthe people, in fact, most of the people I met with had excellent solutions to the problemsat hand. However the violence and disparity experienced by the people of Orissa andIndia at large has created a kind of chaos and instability. Thus India moves from onecrisis to the other. The greatest obstacle in the way of India’s progress is the state ofdenial that is endemic to country. Without understanding the true foundation of theproblem it is almost impossible to provide any solution. The truth is most often buriedand manipulated by vested interests. Any effort to reveal the truth is highlighted as a
effort. Victims are ignored and culprits are emboldened as thevarious political players entrench themselves in the suffering of the people. India’speople are categorized and cataloged and thus divided againt themselves by language,religion, ethnicity, caste and clan. Government benefits are given out and fought over.