By Don Aguiar.
Mumbai, October 24, 2019: Let me first relate an anecdote to hdlp you decide if Christian Missionaries pose a conversion threat in today’s India.
I spend some five months a year in the countryside in Raigad, Maharashtra, overseeing my plantations where I also own a bungalow.
A year ago, my cook-cum-caretaker told me that he’d absent the next day because he had a severe toothache and he needed to have a tooth pulled out. To me it sounded like a guy cutting off his head to cure his headache.
So, I told him, “Hang on, before a plumber with a plier pulls out your tooth, let me take you to the Convent Hospital.”
Next morning at 8:30, we reached the hospital, and I saw its dental section spotlessly clean. A woman dentist, who was on duty, quickly attended to the cook, asked him to return every day for three days, and he got OK.
My total expense: 50 rupees for an admission card plus the cost of some medicines the doctor prescribed.
The Raigad hospital was set up by a trust managed by the Catholic Sisters, and it’s the first and only destination for anybody who falls ill there. Most of its doctors are Christians, but the Maharashtrian patients are all Hindus. Maharashtra has ten Christians for one thousand Hindus, according to India’s last population census in 2011.
But go anywhere in India and it is Christians who run the best schools, the best colleges, the best charity hospitals, the best orphanages, the best old-age homes, the best homes for destitute, the best homes for leprosy patients.
And what do the Christians get in return? Abuse from those who accuse Christians of converting innocent Hindus to Christianity.
The truth is exactly the reverse. Far from their numbers going up in India, Christian population in India has fallen. Their population growth fell from 2.44 percent to 2.30 percent between the 2011 and 2001.
But go anywhere in India and Christian detractors talk of a huge international conspiracy to seduce an innocent Hindu India into embracing Christianity.
They follow the philosophy of Goebbels (Adolf Hitler’s propaganda chief), who said if an untruth is repeated a hundred times, it begins to be accepted as a truth.
If every critic gets a phone call asking them to back off, or gets targeted by a troll army, many will tone down their criticism. You will then live in a pleasant make-believe environment until the harsh truth can no longer be denied, People in authority, have to tolerate criticism and accept the truth.
What does Hindu fundamentalism have against Christianity?
Answer: Its origin.
Christianity’s a religion alien to India because it was born outside India. So goes orthodox Hindu thought first voiced by the original Hindu ideologue Veer Savarkar.
But East Asia and South Asia contain millions of practising Buddhists. They don’t see Buddhism as an alien religion because it was born in India. Why do we?
Here lies the obtuseness of Hindu fundamentalism. And its stubbornness. It adopts a silly notion and embraces it like a new Mother embracing her new-born baby. The silly notion being that a religion originating outside India should not exist here.
By that logic Christian Europeans should not be Christian because Christianity was born in the Middle East, in Jerusalem where Jesus Christ was born. Nor should Indonesians be Muslim because Islam was born far away from Indonesia in the Arabian Peninsula.
The fear about Christians converting India’s Hindus to Christianity is a shibboleth. Which means an outdated unfounded belief shared by a particular social group. A belief not grounded in reality.
Undoubtedly, some of the criticism, including in the press, is ill-informed, motivated, and descends into ad-hominem personal attacks. However, the government is aware that suppressing criticism is a sure-fire recipe for policy mistakes but looks the other side in order to promote its ideology. Constant criticism allows period course correction. If they suppress criticism, they do themselves as well as the Constitution of India a gross disservice.
See the facts on Christianity “spreading” in India. We have two Christians for 80 Hindus. This after 200 years of Britishers ruling us. If Christian British couldn’t erode Hindu numbers in India, why would Hindu numbers erode under Hindu rulers after 1947?
Contrast this with a First World society like South Korea, a rich winner nation. South Korea is a part of a Buddhist-Confucian culture but see its startling religious transformation in the last 200 years.
Of the South Koreans who say they have a religion, 63 percent say they are Christians, says the South Korean government’s website. But South Koreans don’t imagine dark international conspiracies to seduce a Buddhist-Confucian nation into adopting Christianity.
The African continent is 45 percent Christian after just 100 years of European colonial rule. While we are 2 percent Christian after 200 years of British rule. But Africans don’t complain of Christians seducing Africans away from their pre-Christian past.
Hindus being converted to Christianity is false and so is the orthodox Hindu thought first voiced by Veer Savarkar.