RLPB 418. India: Serious Threat of Hindutva
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 418 | Wed 09 Aug 2017
INDIA: SERIOUS THREAT OF HINDUTVA
— Church is persecuted; tribals free only to be Hindu
by Elizabeth Kendal
CFF Director of Advocacy
The ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) was formulated in the early 1900s as a means to counter British colonialism. VD Savarkar, the man recognised as the Father of Hindutva, was an Indian pro-independence activist and revolutionary. Savarkar sought to unify India’s numerous and diverse peoples under the banner of Hindutva to strengthen the Indian resistance. An avowed atheist, Savarkar objected to Hindu beliefs and sought to redefine Hinduness as race. He wrote his defining work ‘Hindutva’ while in prison in the early 1900s. Whilst he might have despised the Muslims of the ‘Khilafat’ (Caliphate) Movement with whom he shared a prison cell, his ideology appears to borrow much from their fundamentalist Islam.
The essence of Savarkar’s Hindutva is this: a Hindu is a person for whom ‘Hindustan’ (the entire Indian subcontinent) is their homeland and holy-land. As the homeland and holy-land of the Hindu race/nation, ‘Hindustan’ should be declared a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu state). The only reason non-Hindus exist in Hindustan is because they or their ancestors were led astray and converted by foreign missionaries, usually through fraud, force or allurement. All non-Hindus are thus called to ‘return home’ to Hinduism for the sake of Mother India. Refusal to do so is seen as an act of betrayal against the Hindu nation, akin to subversion or separatism. In theory, Hindutva rejects caste, mandating there should be equality within the Hindu race. Non-Hindus however, are to be marginalised as second-class citizens and essentially be punished for their betrayal. The result is religious apartheid with violent persecution.
It has been a Long (100-year) March, but Savarkar’s Hindutva disciples now control the levers of power throughout all India. Formulated to stir up revolution against the British, Hindutva is now used as a political tool to fan majority Hindu pride and dragnet the majority Hindu vote to consolidate the power and privilege of the Hindu elites. The situation facing India’s ancient and growing missionary-focused Christian Church is exceedingly serious. Slandered as anti-social elements who instigate strife, threaten social cohesion and risk national security, Christians are increasingly finding themselves without rights or security against a rising tide of politically-orchestrated religious hatred.
As animists who traditionally vote Congress, the tribals have long been the prime targets of Hindutva activists seeking religious conversions for political gain. To their fury, they find themselves competing with Christian missionaries who are almost exclusively Indian nationals working locally or cross-culturally. Along with literacy, education, vocational training and healthcare, these Indian missionaries also introduce peace, love, dignity, grace and abundant life in Jesus Christ to peoples historically disregarded by the Hindu caste system as little more than rubbish. Like the high caste (who recoil at the notion of equity) the Hindutva activists regard Christian missionaries as their number one enemy on earth.
ANTI-CONVERSION LAW FOR JHARKHAND
Five northern tribal-belt states have enacted anti-conversion laws (ironically known as ‘Freedom of Religion’ bills): Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odhisa. A similar law also exists in Arunachal Pradesh, which as yet has not been implemented. On Tuesday 1 August the Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill 2017 was approved by the cabinet of Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das. The law will be enacted later this year when it is approved by the Hinduvta-dominated State Legislative Assembly. As in the other states, Jharkhand’s Freedom of Religion Bill will criminalise religious conversion, mandating prison terms and a fine for anyone found guilty of attempting to convert another person by fraud, force or allurement — all undefined. The penalty is increased if the convert is a minor or a member of a scheduled caste or tribe. As human rights advocate Tehmina Arora notes, ‘This law, like the ones in the other States, will only further incite violence against religious minorities.’ Similarly, Church leaders warn that such laws merely foster hatred against minority communities and lead to persecution of Christians.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO:
* intervene in power and grace to thoroughly subvert the Hindutva project [which is essentially just another Tower of Babel — a vain and rebellious project aimed at forging social cohesion without reference to God (Genesis 11)]. ‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.’ (Jesus, Luke 18:27 ESV)
* rise up in defence of his persecuted and threatened Church and in defence of India’s harassed and helpless masses.
‘O Thou my soul, forget no more
The friend who all thy misery bore
Let every idol be forgot
But O my soul, forget him not.
Jesus for thee a body takes,
Thy guilt assumes, thy fetters breaks,
Discharging all thy dreadful debt;
And canst thou e’er such love forget?’
(Attributed to Krishna Pal, Bengali convert to Christianity, baptised December 1800.)
DAY OF PRAYER FOR INDIA: the Evangelical Fellowship of India is inviting intercessors worldwide to join with the Indian Church on Sunday 13 August as they observe a ‘Day of Prayer for the Nation’. Further resources can be found at https://www.nationaldayofprayer.in/ and https://www.facebook.com/EFoIndia
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
SERIOUS THREAT OF HINDUTVA IN INDIA
The ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) was formulated in the early 1900s as a way to counter British colonialism. Today, Hindutva is a political tool used to fan Hindu pride and dragnet the Hindu vote to consolidate the power and privilege of Hindu elites. Whilst Hindutva supposedly promotes equality of Hindus, non-Hindus are marginalised as second-class citizens. Refusal to ‘return’ to Hinduism is viewed as a betrayal against the Hindu nation. The result is religious apartheid with violent persecution. As animists who traditionally vote Congress, the tribals have long been the prime targets of Hindutva activism. These activists view Christian missionaries — almost exclusively Indian nationals — as their principal enemies. Five northern tribal states already have anti-conversion laws; another will soon follow. Please pray for India and its Christians.
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).