Minorities and the Problem of National Integration: Part 2
Read the first part.
How has it come to pass that the two Non-Indic origin Religious Minorities have not only refused to subordinate their sectarian identities to the national identity but are well on the way of becoming threats to the Integrity of India? The reasons are not far to seek. Apart from the pull that the place of origin of these two religions exercises on the followers the most obvious reasons are;
(1) the attitude adopted by the leaders of the two communities
(2) the fact of belonging to a brotherhood spanning large parts of the globe and
(3) support from the media and the government.
We will examine the influence of each of these factors in the following paragraphs.
Let us take the Christians first.
Ever since Christianity came to India, the leadership of the Indian Christian community has remained largely with the Missionaries. The direct and supreme purpose of the missionaries who came to India was not the integration of the community as a constituent of the supreme Indian identity but the winning over of as many Indians belonging to other faiths to embrace Christianity. Another fact worthy of notice is that Christianity had always maintained a close relationship with the ruling power if it happened to belong to the same faith. During their early years in India the Missionaries learnt from experience that it was impossible to establish the superiority of the Christian faith by engaging in a spiritual debate with the Hindu Pundits. They accordingly devised other means to help spread their faith. Tamil Nadu region which hosted the earliest missionaries saw several experiments being tried by the missionaries. A major device was the art of inculturation which still continues to be used with some success against Hinduism.Stated briefly, inculturation means the incorporation of Jesus Christ in the Hindu spiritual tradition. This trick had the potential to deceive quite a few simple Hindus who have been brought up in the tradition of being respectful towards the ochre robed sanyasis and believing that all religions are merely different paths leading to the same God.
Having realized the difficulty in converting people who were firmly wedded to Hinduism, the south India based evangelists proceeded to sow dissension in the Hindu society by dividing the population into two mutually antagonistic groups. Masquerading as scholars interested in the history of the southern languages, literature and traditions, the Missionaries came up with the theory that the Dravidian languages were not derived from Sanskrit, being of an older vintage and having possessed high quality literature. Both the weapons—Inculturation and playing up the notions of a more ancient and rich culture were used with significant success.
Robert de Nobili—“The Roman Brahman”
The man who laid the foundation of inculturation was the Italian priest Robert de Nobili (1577-1656). He learnt Sanskrit and Tamil, wore saffron robes, sacred thread (attached with a small Cross!), sandal mark on forehead and called himself a ‘Roman Brahmin’. He set up an “ashram” in Madurai, became a vegetarian and used “Padukas” (wooden footwear). He claimed that the Bible was the “Lost Veda”, the “Jesuit Veda” revealed by God, and was considerably successful in harvesting souls. Others who followed in Nobili’s footsteps were G U Pope(1820-1907) aka ”Pope Iyer”, Constantine Joseph Beschi (1680-1746), who called himself” Veeramaamunivar” (Veer-Maha-Munivar) and B Ziegenbalg (1683-1719) who called himself Ziegenbalg Iyer and had printed the first Tamil Bible. Ziengenbalg was also the first to stoke anti-Brahmanism by creating a hatred for Brahmins among other communities.
Christianity during the British rule
Having acquired control over India the British set about the task of making the Indians willing participants in the task of administering the Empire. Macaulay’s education programme was launched through the instrumentality of the missionaries. In addition to the devices developed by the earlier missionaries the British rule gave prominence to the multi- purpose Aryan Invasion Theory promoted by Max Mueller and others which postulated that the fair skinned nomadic Aryans originating around Central Asia had invaded India and driven the much more civilized dark skinned Dravidians to the South of India. After establishing Crown rule in 1858, the British government sought to empower the churches in India by gifting to them vast stretches of lands and supported them with other infrastructures.
Another missionary who inflicted massive damage on Tamil Hindus was the Scot Robert Caldwell (1814-1891) who resided in Tirunelvelli and was hugely successful in making conversions. He made full use of the Aryan Invasion Theory presenting it to the Tamil Hindus as true history. Riding on the great popularity which his book , Dravida Mozhikalin Oppilakkanam (“A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South Indian Family of Languages”, Harrison: London, 1856), brought to him, Caldwell projected Tamil Hindus as a separate Dravidian Race, spewed venom on Brahmins and accused them of spreading lies. If Ziegenbalg was the founder of anti-Brahmanism, Robert Caldwell was responsible for spreading it throughout the region, giving a stimulus to the radicalization of the Non-Brahmin movement.
Christianity in Independent India.
The experience of the Missionaries also taught them that conversion of the economically weak and socially backward sections of the Indian society was much easier than in the case of the better off and higher caste Hindus. The largely uneducated and poor dalits and tribals were therefore selected by the Missionaries as primary targets for proselytisation. Among the tools employed for the purpose were education ( Schools) and healthcare ( hospitals) which served to give a good image to Christianity in general. But the evangelists also made full use of the vulnerabilities in their target communities including poverty, illness, ignorance, credulity, avarice etc whenever it suited their purpose. The continued use of such unethical means for furthering their objectives even after India achieved Independence in 1947 naturally aroused the indignation of the attacked faith. The Niyogi Committee appointed by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1956 to investigate the activities of Christian missionaries made several recommendations against the undesirable activities of foreign Missionaries and achieving of conversion through illicit means. However for various reasons the recommendations of the Committee were not implemented.
VISION A D 2000
Long before Sonia Gandhi took over control of the INC, evangelists of the world had started thinking of ways to spread Christianity all over the world. In late 1980s Evangelists had come up with the vision of AD 2000 –“A church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000.” In May 1995 nearly 4,000 Christian leaders from 186 countries, including India, gathered in Seoul to draw up secret and covert evangelical plans. This week long conference called Global Consultation On World Evangelization (GCOWE) is regarded by some as “the most strategic Christian gathering in history.”
Following the Seoul GCOWE, Indian Christian leaders too started displaying signs of increased aggressiveness. In 1998 some 2000 Christian denominations, mission agencies, institutions, federations and lay leaders came together to form the All India Christian Council. Joseph D’Souza is the President of the Council and the Secretary General is John Dayal –ex-president of All India Catholic Council. The declared purpose of the organization is “to give a united voice to protect and serve the interests of Christians primarily and the Dalit Bahujans” and “to act against the alleged growing violence and blatant violations of Religious freedom in India amongst the Christian community, minorities and other oppressed castes in India” As can be seen from the objectives of the Council, it claims to be an multi-objective organization seeking to defend the interests of not only the Christians but also of Dalit Bahujans ,Minorities and “other oppressed castes”in India.
Defending the interests of the Indian Dalits was not a mere declaration of a pious intent. In 2002 Christian Council president D’Souza founded the “Dalit Freedom Network” a worldwide organization of evangelical Christians, headquartered in Colorado USA. According to one observer “DFN uses a Dalit face to hide the fact that it is the hardcore operational wing of the American right wing designs on India”. It seeks to create a united front of Christians, Dalits and other ethnic or religious minorities. One of the major activities of DFN has been to malign India and Hinduism in American, European, and other international fora. The DFN also hosted a conference entitled “Racism and Caste Based Discrimination in India: Implications for the US-India Relationship”. Prominent Christian leaders like D’Souza and John Dayal have been appearing before international bodies alleging violation of human rights and denial of religious freedom in India.
The Tehelka Expose
American and international Evangelism received a tremendous boost when the Christian fundamentalist George Bush succeeded Bill Clinton as the President of USA in January 2001.The weak NDA government led by Atal Bihari Bajpai could do little to counter the rising tide of the internationally backed Indian Evangelism. In a fairly detailed report —“Preparing for the Harvest” published in the magazine “TEHELKA” in February 2004, V Shashi Kumar gave a chilling description of the activities and plans of the evangelists in India. Introducing his report Shashi Kumar says;-
“Religious expansionism has not witnessed this scale, scope, and state resources in a long time. Detailed investigations by Tehelka reveal that American evangelical agencies have established in India an enormous, well-coordinated and strategised religious conversion plan.
“Around the time that Bush Jr moved into the Oval office, a worldwide conversion movement, was peaking in India.. ..The Joshua Project, was designed to be a sledgehammer–a breathtaking, decade-long steamroller of a campaign that would set the stage for a systematic, sophisticated and self-sustaining “harvest” of the “unreached people groups” in India in the 21st century. ..”
UPA I &II
The rise of the Roman Catholic Sonia Gandhi to supreme power in the Indian Government sent the evangelization effort in India into overdrive. Sonia appointed many Christians in positions of authority including jobs in the National Advisory Council and the National Integration Council. The number of NGOs engaging in promoting Christianity proliferated and massive foreign funds supporting evangelization stated pouring into India. Foreign missionaries continued arriving on tourist visa for promoting conversions and even a new category—“Missionary Visa” was created for Missionaries openly arriving for missionary work. Christian sources took over control of much of the Indian mainstream media dishing out heavily skewed version of events and commentaries to the Indian people. In keeping with the ideals of the All India Christian Council, Sonia Gandhi successfully forged and systematically promoted an alliance of Christians, Islamists, other minorities, leftists of all hues and Nehruvian secularists.
By adopting fraudulent means such as the Sachar Committee, Rangnath Misra Commission and the Prime Minister’s 15 point programme she divided the Indian Society into two groups—the blatantly favoured group of Muslims, Christians, and Other religious Minorities who were granted huge benefits by the state and the Hindus who were completely excluded from such benefits solely on the ground of their religion. Christianity has made rapid strides particularly in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu ,Tripura and the North-Eastern states of India. If the present trends continue India may become a Christian majority country in foreseeable future.
Is evangelism a threat to India?
Some of our deeply secular friends often say “How does it matter if a majority of Indians become Christians?” We can do no better than reproduce the conclusions reached by two famous authors who have made a special study of the subject.
After a five year research Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan produced a famous book—Breaking India ( Amaryllis-2011). In introducing the book Rajiv Malhotra observes;–
“ What I found out should sound the alarm bell for every Indian concerned about our national integrity. India is the target of a huge enterprise—a network of organizations, individuals and churches—that seems intensely devoted to the task of creating a separatist identity, history and even religion for the vulnerable sections of India. This nexus of players includes not only church groups, government bodies and related organizations, but also private think tanks and academics. On the surface they appear to be separate and isolated from one another, but in fact..their activities are well coordinated and well funded from the US and Europe. I was impressed by the degree of interlocking and cooperation among these entities. Their resolutions, position papers and strategies are well articulated, and beneath the veneer of helping the downtrodden, there seem to be objectives that would be inimical to India’s unity and sovereignty.”
Another author, the British born, Malaysia based academic, Iain Buchanan in his explosive book—“Armies of God; A study in militant Christianity says (in an interview);-
“ But there is no doubt at all that US strategy makes deliberate (and somewhat cynical) use of Christian agencies in pursuit of foreign policy — and that the distinction between the religious and the secular is deliberately blurred in the process. There are over 600 US-based evangelical groups, some as big as large corporations, and between them they constitute a vast and highly organised network of global influence, purposefully targeting non-Christians, and connecting and subverting every sector of life in the process.
“Most of the major evangelical corporations (like World Vision, Campus Crusade, Youth with a Mission, and Samaritan’s Purse) operate in partnership with the US government in its pursuit of foreign policy goals. World Vision, which is effectively an arm of the State Department, is perhaps the most notable example of this. There is also the benefit of a custom-built legislation, with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 providing necessary sanction to bring errant nations into line.”
Do we need to say more?