The result of the
assembly elections to the three North Eastern states
Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya, although on the expected lines, is indeed
worrying. The saffron surge in the North East has emboldened the BJP to conquer
the remaining states like Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal.
BJP President Amit Shah had said that its golden era
would be when it wrests West Bengal, Odisha and Karnataka from rival parties.
By ‘golden era’ Amit Shah means ‘realization of Hindu Rashtra in its fullness.’
As per the news
published in News 18 on March 6, buoyed by BJP’s astounding victory in Tripura,
the RSS held an emergency meeting at its headquarters in Bengaluru to chalk out
the Sangh’s Plan for poll-bound Karnataka. The RSS leadership has reportedly
told the BJP that it would take charge of booth-level management to defeat the
Siddaramaiah government. Another strategy of BJP RSS is to break the
Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Dalit votes that may go with Siddaramaiah in
Intoxicated by the
victory in the three North-eastern states, the saffron forces razed a statue of
Lenin in Belonia, using a bulldozer. According to Tripura CPM district
secretary Tapas Datta, BJP supporters chanted
Bharat mata ki jai while
pulling down the five-feet-tall fibre glass statue. As reported in the NDTV
news the governor of Tripura, Tathagata Roy, tweeted supporting the bulldozing
of Lenin's statue; Ram Madhav, National Secretary of BJP, tweeted hailing the
act, then deleted it. It was reported in the media that after pulling down the
statue, the head was cut and the ‘saffron Talibans’ played football with it. This,
indeed, is a symbolic action by the saffron forces to convey a message that
anyone who does not accept the ideology of Hindutva will have the same fate as
the statue of Lenin.
national secretary H. Raja wrote on his Facebook page "Who is Lenin and
what is the connection between Lenin and India? What connection has India with
Communists? Lenin's statue has been removed in Tripura. Today it is Lenin's
statue in Tripura, tomorrow it will be the statue of caste fanatic EVR
Ramasamy." He also uploaded a video of Lenin's statue being brought down
by a bulldozer in Belonia. The Sangh Parivar is determined to exterminate any
ideology or group that stands for equality, liberty, justice and fraternity.
Hindutva which has its roots in
is diametrically opposed to the liberal values enshrined in the constitution of
surge in the North Eastern states should make the Church in India introspect
about its strategy, approach and way of life. How could a party with an ideology
that promotes hatred, revenge and violence against the Muslims and Christians
make inroads into the states where the Christian presence is very significant?
74.59% Christian population and
majority of them are Catholics. 88% of the population of Nagaland are
Christians. BJP has practically conquered the whole of North East except Mizoram.
Out of the seven states, BJP is ruling directly in four states and it controls
two states (Meghalaya and Nagaland) as a coalition partner. The saffron control
is firmly established in 22 states of India.
The Church in India has heavily deployed its resources, both human and
financial, in the tribal areas of India and the Tribals constitute the largest
group in the Catholic Church in India after the Dalits. Many tribals got
educated and a good number of them are in government jobs mainly due to the
reservation. The Catholic Church has established good number of institutions in
the tribal areas of India. The English Medium Schools and higher education
institutions in these areas are used by both Tribals and non-tribals. Today the
RSS-BJP combine has expanded not only its footprints, but also its control
practically all over the tribal areas in India. Priests, sisters and the
Catholic population live in fear in many tribal pockets of India. Why did the
Church fail to influence of the tribal communities in spite of heavy deployment
The RSS has been focusing on the tribal areas where the Church has
significant presence. The methodology the Catholic Church has been following in
the tribal areas is more or less the same as that which failed in Europe. Its
focus was mainly on increasing the number by providing certain services to the
tribal communities. The church failed to inculcate and strengthen the values of
Jesus, which are very similar to the tribal values, especially among the youth.
By offering the incentives of power and money to the leaders the RSS-BJP easily
won over the tribals, including the Catholics. The failure of the political
parties that have been ruling these states for decades, to offer solutions to
the problems of Tribals, especially the mounting unemployment, is an important
reason for the success of RSS-BJP combine in these states.
Another area of failure by the Church has been the neglect of political
education and developing Christian lay leaders committed to the core values of
Jesus. The Indian constitution and its core values have not been part of the
Church catechism or formation of the clergy and the religious. During the
recently concluded meeting of the CBCI (Catholic Bishops Conference of India) in
Bengaluru the bishops made an appeal to the faithful to promote the values of
the Indian constitution.
The CBCI called upon the members of the
Constitution of India more widely known in all sectors of Church and society,
particularly highlighting some salient features such as the equality of all
citizens, the freedom of religion, the freedom of conscience and the freedom of
It took 68 years
for the Catholic Church to appreciate the beauty and richness of the Indian
Constitution because of its overdependence on the Western model of the Church.
What RSS-BJP could achieve in the North Eastern states can be described
as a Himalayan or herculean task. This was made possible because of the well
coordinated strategic approach of the RSS. The RSS workers are mostly from among
the local people and those
who had come from outside made a long term commitment to achieve their goal.
Christianity has been in India for about 2000 years and the Christians
constitute only 2.3% of the total population of India. The Church in India has
to analyse why it could not grow numerically and expand geographically in this
country. Tony Joseph’s article,
Christianity failed in India” in Outlook magazine, April 13, 2015 issue
throws some light on this question.
According to him it is due to the peculiar nature of the encounter of
Hinduism with Christianity.
, probably for the
first time, came up against a philosophy and culture that did not feel the need
to persecute other faiths, did not find the Christian messiah and his teachings
either objectionable or exceptional, and therefore, didn’t see why anyone
should convert either. This embrace-cum-rejection was such a novel experience
for it that Christianity probably didn’t know quite how to respond”.
The time has come for the Church in India to reinvent itself if it has
to be relevant, by undergoing the following paradigm shifts.
Shift from the colonial idea
of institutional expansion of the Church to becoming salt and light of the
In order to realize this, the focus shall be on ideal
Christian living based on the Sermon on the Mount. The followers of Jesus, including
priests and religious, shall enter into the main stream and transform society
from within. The craze for institutional expansion often leads to corruption,
scams and internal decay.
Shift from Devotees of
Christ to Disciples of Christ and from religiosity to Spirituality:
Jesus has called his followers to become his prophetic disciples by
following his way of love and justice and not to be satisfied with worshipping
him. Excessive devotion and religiosity often lead to fundamentalism, blind
faith, and annihilation of creativity and loss of critical thinking.
Shift from the Old Testament
World View to the New Testament World View about God, Human Person and the
God is a loving father and mother whose forgiveness
is unconditional and not a cruel judge who demands penance for the sins
committed even by the forefathers, as presented by some fanatic preachers.
Human beings are primarily God’s children, created in the image likeness of
God, sharing the creativity and freedom of God. Good and evil co-exist in the
world and the role of human beings is to transform the world using their
God-given creativity and talents. Exaggerated sin consciousness leads to guilt
and depression in individuals and commercialization of religious rituals.
Shift from Authoritarian way of
functioning to Participatory Decision Making:
Church is the ‘People of God’ and authority in the Church is given for the
service of the people. The leaders in the Church are not owners of the property
of the Church. They are only custodians and they are accountable to the people.
Hence, systems for participatory decision making and making the leaders
accountable to the people, are to be put in place urgently. This includes
ending gender discrimination within the Church. Using the Religious women
(nuns) as cheap labour force in the Church institutions under the domination of
clergy is to be stopped immediately.
Shift from Competition to
Collaboration and Networking:
The division of the
miniscule Catholics into different groups on the basis of rite, caste and
language will only lead to the weakening and the gradual destruction of the
Church in India. Similarly, competition between the religious congregations and
the diocesan priests within the dioceses is a sure recipe for destruction. The
need of the hour is collaboration within the dioceses, among the dioceses,
among the different Rites, and collaboration and
networking with other churches and like-minded civil society organizations for
the promotion of the values of the Kingdom of God and the protection of
need to reinvent the Church in India requires a radical change in the formation
of the church personnel: priests and religious. The present system of formation by and large is outmoded and
irrelevant. A formation process, focusing on self-discipline and self-education,
building character and competence and making the formees sensitive and respectful
to different religions and cultures is to be adopted.
on 19th March 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 12)