Saturday, March 14, 2015

India's Christians

There are several prominent Christian public figures in India like former defence ministers of India, George Fernandes and AK Anthony, journalists Manu Joseph and Dilip D’Souza, singer Remo Fernandes, lawn tennis player Leander Paes, actress Genelia D’Souza, female long-jumper Anju Bobby George and female boxer Mary Kom. Indian Christians have played a stellar role in India’s armed forces, like Major General Ian Cardozo, who is hailed as a hero in India for the valour he exhibited in the war between India and Pakistan in 1971 (you can read about that here-

While most Christians in India are Protestants, there is a sizable number of Catholics in India too, some of whom have been conferred sainthood by the Vatican, as you can see here - and here -

Many Hindus also pray in churches and decorate Christmas trees in their homes, and there are very many highly reputed convent schools functioning in India with many non-Christian students studying in the same. In 2004, the Indian people voted to power a political party known as the Indian National Congress, the president of which was a Catholic lady who gave the prime ministerial berth to a Sikh gentleman (Sikhism is an Indian religion) who swore his oath of allegiance before a Muslim president in a Hindu-majority country! That’s Indian pluralism for you!

It would, however, be noteworthy that there have been some instances of violence against innocent Christian civilians by extreme Hindu rightists in India over the issue of alleged financially incentivized conversions to Christianity (some whistle-blowers and foreign writers have also found some merit in these allegations of financially incentivized conversions to Christianity, as you can see in these articles - and, but of course, that is no justification for killing innocent Christian men, women and children), most notably in the Kandhamal district of the province of Odisha in 2008, and of course, such violence must be condemned in the strongest terms and even has been by Hindus in the Indian civil society. Even when the riots were taking place in Kandhamal, there were tolerant Hindus there protecting Christians, giving them asylum in their own homes (you can read about that here -, and indeed, the perpetrators of the violence, including some politicians, were convicted by the Indian judiciary.

Also, in some parts of India’s northeast, where there are secessionist insurgents operating in the name of Christianity (though the real reasons for their discontent lie in several socioeconomic factors like cultural alienation of the northeasterners, the northeasterners not getting their due in history textbooks and national news coverage and less economic development in that region owing to few seats from there for the Indian parliament, thus there being less incentive for central governments to work for those regions, but religious intolerance by the state not being one of them, since there is no real issue of anti-Christian intolerance by the Indian state, and Indian Christians outside India’s northeast have no problem with assimilating in the Indian national mainstream, and indeed, many of them, like many Indian Hindus and many Indian Muslims, are deeply patriotic Indians), many of the Christian insurgents in the northeast (not the average Christian in those regions) have shown much religious intolerance to Hindus, as you can see here- However, in the northeast, on a positive note, Christians are being outspoken against the terrorists misinterpreting their faith, and here’s an example of Christians forming a human shield around a Hindu prayer (see the second last question in the interview and the answer given to it) -

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