Indian Christians, a small minority, that make large scale social contributions
Chennai (AsiaNews) – On July 11 every year we celebrate the World Population. According to the latest estimates [made by the United Nations], in June 2017, the world’s population was 7.5 billion people. With its 1.34 billion inhabitants, India is the second most populous country in the world after China, which holds the primacy of more than 1.41 billion people. The biggest challenge for us is to contribute to the nation’s growth. In India, Christianity was introduced in 52 AD. By St. Thomas the Apostle. However, there is general consensus that Christianity was definitively established in the 6th century Studies reported that the Roman Catholic Church was brought to India in the 16th century by Portuguese, Irish and Italian Jesuits . Later, Protestantism spread through the country thanks to the efforts of British, American, German and Scottish missionaries. This means that Christianity was established in India even before some European nations became Christian”. Fr. O.J. Christhu Raj tells AsiaNews.
According to the Census on Religions in India in 2011, Christianity is the third religion in the country, with almost 27.8 million faithful, representing 2.3% of the total population; Hinduism is the first religion with more than 966.3 million followers, or 79.8% of the population; Islam is ranked second with more than 172.2 million members, 14.2% of the population.
Although in India Christians are a minority, according to the 2011 poll, they form the majority religious group in three states: Meghalaya (87.93%), Mizoram (87.16%) and Nagaland (74.59%). However, the census does not take into account those who do not explicitly identify themselves as Christians. Here are some categories of people who practice the principles of Christ without embracing Christianity. “Believers of Christ”: Yesu Bhaktas – mostly in Varanasi Yesu Satsongri – largely from the Punjab, do not like to be called Christians but follow the teachings of Christ Yesu Darbaris – or the idea of this group is that every person is welcome to the court of Christ, so there is no need to be a Christian; this idea was developed by Narayanaverma Thilak in Maharashtra. Believers who are in churches – they do not feel the need to become Christians And they do come to church but fully follow the principles of Christ. The crypto-Christians, with a double identity (crypts are those who do not reveal the real identity for some reason). The secret followers of Christ – are not in church.
Although the Christian community is small from a numerical point of view, in relation to the total population of India, its contribution to the socio-economic progress of the nation is much more significant. Christians run thousands of educational institutions, hospitals, basic health care centers, criminological rehabilitation centers, homes for older people, homes for dying and needy, leprosy, technical and agricultural institutes, social welfare centers, self- Women’s help, spiritual centers. The list could continue for a long time. Addressing Christians, Mr. Vidyasaga, Governor of Maharashtra, said: “We are proud of you for the work of enriching India’s social, cultural, economic and political life. It’s hard to imagine an idea of India without you. ” S.K. Barpujari, a professor at the University of Guwahati, writes that the tribal population of northeastern India and the Chotanagpur region is prosperous and advancing through the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Fr. Raj reiterates the call for the political participation of Christians: “It is certainly true that the presence of Christians in India, from the first missionaries to our day, has paved the way for the most accomplishments of India in various fields. But there is a great question when we talk about the participation of Christians in politics. Sikh and Jainists (respectively 1.72% and 0.37% of the population), who are fewer than Christians, have a good attendance and representation, creating a great deal of impact on Indian administration. Why are Christians far from politics? ” Raj explains that while “we boast about our service in the field of education and medical care, we must admit that, as Christians, we have failed miserably to represent ourselves within the Indian administration. We are under-represented both in Parliament and in state legislatures. If we remain silent and avoid participation, we may [tacitly approve] decisions that negatively affect our rights and privileges. ” Fr. Raj argues that “we must keep in mind the political situation in India. We are obliged to participate actively in political administration in order to protect the interests of our community and to safeguard our rights and religious identities. We must provide knowledge and motivate young Christian generations to reflect on the presence in political administration. (Purushottam Nayak)