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Frontlist | Mission in the Third Millennium: Emerging Trends in India

Frontlist | Mission in the Third Millennium: Emerging Trends in India
on Jan 19, 2021
Frontlist | Mission in the Third Millennium: Emerging Trends in India
India is witnessing to an intense conflict between 'civic nationalism' and 'majoritarian nationalism'. The 'Mosque-Temple' saga is a symptom of what happens deep within: a tectonic shift from an 'idea of India' that is rooted in pluralistic conception of the nation as a nation of diverse peoples and another 'idea of India' that chases ever elusive homogeneous India. There are two key words here: 'nationalism' and 'idea of India'. Mukul Kesavan, a historian with Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi in order to highlight the specificity of Indian nationalism, contrasts it with European nationalism that considers nation as a home for a homogenous people. In contrast to European nationalism, Indian nationalism considers nation as a home of diverse peoples: culturally, religiously, and linguistically. This original pluralistic conception of nation is rooted in the legacy of national independence movement. This idea of nation is 'territorial nationalism' and is represented by diverse people. Indian nationalism considers all who live within the territory of this great nation as equal citizens. Diverse people represented a diverse nation seeking to build the nation democratically in which 'protection of minority rights and secularism' are underpinning values. This idea of India is founded on two solid pillars: patriotism and commitment to liberty, equality and justice to all people. According to Shashi Tharoor, this civic notion of nationalism which respects multiple identities without negating any sections of people within its overarching nationalism must be defended in order to defend the unity of Nation. See his recent book: The Battle of Belonging: On Nationalism, Patriotism, And What It Means To Be Indian? According to Romila Thapar, one of the eminent Indian historians, this idea of India is challenged by two other ideas of India. In her conversation with Gayatri Chakravorthy Spivak, she pointed out that in the 1920's the 'idea of India' of the Independent movement was challenged by two other notions of 'idea of India'. The Muslim League challenged this idea with a separate nation for Muslims, Pakistan. Hindu Mahasabha on its part articulated its own 'idea of India'. 'Hindutva' represents this idea of India today. On the philosophical front, Hindutva defeats the idea proposed and practiced by the nationalists of freedom movement with its intellectual ploy of homogenizing the diverse Indianness through a dominant tradition. Neera Chandhoke points out that though Hinduism which is composed of many and often incompatible strands is reorganized under the dominant tradition Vedanta, which is highly metaphysical, Brahmanical, and Sankritised. This highly textualized and abstracted tradition marginalized critical philosophies. As a result, we are blind to rampant inequities and fascinated by the metaphysical spirit (see the review of Shashi Tharoor's Why I am a Hindu? By Neera Chandhoke). On the political front, the RSS that was formed on 25 September 1925 framed India in terms of Hindu Rashtra. Hindu Rashtra will be a majoritarian Hindu State where the plight of 200 million Muslims, 30 million Christians would be relegated into second-class citizenry. RSS's 'idea of India' denies the values of 'liberty, equality, and Justice' to a large section of peoples. While 'civic nationalism' respected multiple identities within the overarching nationalism, the 'majoritarian nationalism' subjugates other identities and merges Hindu identarianism with citizenship. The idea of India of the national freedom movement was an inclusive one, whereas, the idea of India of both the RSS and the Muslim League were exclusive. The 'composite nationalism' of the freedom movement that got strengthened through the Constitution of India was put into practice by the successive government at least in the first three decades of Independent India. However, over the years Constitutional democracy was weakened by successive governments. With shri. Narendra Modi at the helm of affairs for the last six years, the ideology of the ruling dispensation is firmly founded on the RSS ideology and the nation is increasingly pushed into 'majoritarian nationalism'. We are standing at a crisis point. The moot question is how to deactivate the Hindutva ideology that powers the governance (misgovernance) that subjugates minorities, Dalits and Tribals and derails, weakens and destroys our Constitutional democracy? How are we going to defend the unity of our great nation? It must be affirmed that return to the word and spirit of the Indian Constitution is the only way to save our nation from further decadence. Shared oneness has to be restored As mentioned, earlier, secularism and minority rights are fundamental to the idea of India: an India for all. The context shapes our theological thinking. We learn to articulate our faith response to revelation through the medium of the many poor, religions and cultures of our peoples. We ask: how to restore the shared oneness with the 'breath of compassion and communion radiated through the life and mission of Jesus Christ'? In order to restore the 'shared oneness in the Jesus' way' - Lawrence's book Antony Lawrence, Mission in the Third Millennium: Emerging Trends in India convincingly demonstrate that we must enter into dialogue with impoverished people as their brothers and sisters accompanying them as servants of reconciliation. In the first two chapters Lawrence makes an in-depth study of the challenges of the India Church in solidarity with the poor faces in the sociocultural and economic realms. In the following two chapters he argues that the future of Christian faith will depend upon the extent we Christians reinvent ourselves as promoters of understanding between people of different religious faith convictions and build up our capacity in weaving communities rooted in justice and peace in an increasingly fragmented world. Indian democracy is fortified by liberty, equality and justice to all people. Lawrence ably argues that our vocation as Indian Christians demands us that we join all people of good will striving for liberty, equality and justice to all, especially to whom it is denied millennially. Our shared oneness will be restored only when we defend 'secularism' and 'minority rights' as defined by our Constitution. The effectiveness of our life in mission will be assessed by history how well we defended our Constitution as Indian citizens and disciples of Christ. Lawrence deserves our appreciation for his work.   Source: Independent Catholic News

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