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I Love My INDIA!

I Love My INDIA!

‘Jai Hind!’ is a salutation we have all been accustomed to hearing every Independence Day and Republic Day apart from certain other occasions. Used by all and sundry irrespective of Faith persuasion, including the Christian community, the salutation has always had a ring to it, making it sound like a cry of victory so to say. However, given the kind of situation prevailing in the country ever since the Modi-led BJP came to power at the Centre and in various states of the Indian Union, that salutation has been steadily losing its sheen for reasons that stand bare before the vision of the world. Under the circumstances, one cannot help but reiterate that It is imperative that we as Christians consider henceforth hailing our motherland—in whatever capacity—with ‘JAI INDIA’ instead of the usual JAI HIND. And here’s why.

The word ‘Hind’ is said to be of Persian origin and relates to the fact that the River Indus ran through undivided India, thus giving the country its very name. Incidentally, the 1940  Lahore Resolution of the  All-India Muslim League in undivided British-ruled India demanded sovereignty for the Muslim-majority areas in northwest and northeast India under the name 'Pakistan'. No less a public figure than Mohammed Ali Jinnah , the founding father of  Pakistan , insisted on referring to the modern day  Republic of India  as 'Hindustan' specifically to signify its Hindu majority population.

The British gamely picked up the two terms, ‘PAKISTAN’ for the Muslim-majority state, and ‘HINDUSTAN’ for the supposedly Hindu-majority state and started using them officially, suiting as it did their divide-and-rule policy. This however did not go down well with the then Indian leadership whose focus for the country was nothing less than a secular, socialist, democratic republic rather than as the land of  Hindus and thus insisted that the new  dominion be called 'India', rather than 'Hindustan', a term that did not receive official sanction of the  Constituent Assembly of India. The name, 'Bharat' was recognized as an official name even as it was accepted that 'Hindustan' would continue to be used unofficially.

Willy-nilly, given the circumstances prevailing in the country today, it is not difficult to see why 'Hind' is increasingly being seen as the short-form of 'HINDUSTAN' which the upholders of Hindu raj are known to vehemently interpret as a rightful nomenclature for furthering their ideal of Hindu rashtra. Indeed! The writing on the wall—and it’s written all over!—is clear: Hindus are Indian, Christians are angrezi. There is, therefore, a need to conscientiously refrain from referring to our country as Hindustan, or even ‘Bharat’ for that matter, in all our communication, whether official, unofficial or personal, written or spoken, consciously sticking to the moniker, ‘India’.

Our bishops particularly would need to see through such matters more clearly and thus lead the way we Catholics in India demonstrate our thinking concerning India as a multicultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, secular, socialist, democratic republic on the one hand, and our patriotism on the other, rather than persist in unwittingly promoting a false ideology that obviously stems from the use of ‘Jai Hind’.

This but calls for a bold step on our part. At a time when the patriotism of the Christian community is openly being questioned and pooh-poohed, is the Catholic Church in India ready to risk taking such a step albeit quietly, without much ado? Independence Day 2018 would be an ideal day to try this out in all Flag Hoisting ceremonies in our dioceses, parishes, educational institutions and Christian housing societies across the length and breadth of the country, thus emphasizing that India is OUR country – the Heaven of freedom that is my country! The country I love: INDIA!

(Published on 06th August 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 32)