When ‘Daddy’, as my husband Arun Gawli is known to everyone, was 17, he had already started working. He was very active in sports and used to play kabaddi a lot. He was also a fitness buff and would exercise in the small gym in Dagdi chawl. In his youth, he had a very well-built body. However, in the past few years, he has lost a lot of weight. He had to start working early because he was the eldest among his five siblings and the family was not doing well. He saw his mother work very hard for the sake of her children and so he started working at a private company to augment the family income. Those times were very different. People were happy and content with whatever little was available. There was poverty everywhere, but somehow people were more religious, spiritual and less greedy. Daddy’s family used to have some cows (hence the name Gawli) and we still keep three cows. Even in those days, he had witnessed a lot of the rough life. He always believed in God and continues to do so. I had no idea about what gangs and gangwars were when I got married to hm. I used to visit the chawl as a schoolgirl during my summer vacations. He saw me and later we met and fell in love. I got married very early, at the age of 14 or 15, but he was nearing 30. The mill strike, which happened much later, and subsequent closure worsened the lives of people in this area. He has spent a good part of his life in jail. It is only bhakti that can keep a person sane after he goes through the kind of life that Daddy has been through.
As told to Prachi Pinglay-Plumber
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
17 in 1952 makes Arun Gawli 77 years old! Is he?
Were there plastic chairs 60 years ago?
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