One of India’s leading Catholic clergymen, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay, has recently spoken out against the country’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act. The Christian leader called the law, “a cause of great anxiety for all citizens” according to a report as the law is being used to isolate Muslims and cause polarization in society.
On December 12, the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed by India’s parliament and established a path for undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan to gain Indian citizenship. However, the law only applies to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians, terming them persecuted religious minorities. Expressly excluded from this path to citizenship are Muslims.
Thousands in India have protested against the new law, saying that it damages the secular and pluralistic heritage of India. These protests have been met with violence and have led to the deaths of more than 20 people.
“There is a danger that there could be a polarization of our peoples along religious lines,” Cardinal Gracias told Crux. “[This] is very harmful for the country. It is the responsibility of all to promote solidarity and respect for all in our country.”
Since taking power in 2014, the BJP-led government has pursued many controversial policies based on the party’s Hindu nationalist ideological foundation. Due to this and widely used anti-minority rhetoric by BJP leaders, religious intolerance and instances of outright religious persecution have dramatically increased across the country.
According to ADF India, more than 300 incidents of mob violence against India’s Christian community were documented in 2019 alone. Of those incidents, only 40 were prosecuted by police. (source)
It is known that there are a lot of tensions in India between the different religious groups, but all of this is tied to Hindu Nationalism, which is about asserting the revival of a “pure Hindu ethnostate” and the eventual massacre of Christians and Muslims alike.
Right now, Muslims are the largest serious bloc in India that is an obstacle to the revival of Hindu nationalism. Christians are a very small minority, and can be easily destroyed, but with two Muslim nations on either side of India and about 15% of her population as Muslim at least, while they are not friends of Christians, they are also by proxy protecting the Christians because they are the largest obstacle to BJP and RSS type radicals from taking complete power.
This is why a lot of the criticism of Muslims in India, while certainly it is warranted many times, must be taken with caution, because the situation is more serious than what is appears. It is easy to attack them, but doing so will not solve the issue of Hindu nationalism, but make it a lot worse and will endanger even more people.
In politics, many times the “loudest” or the most extreme solution, while it may sound nice, is not only ineffective, but can be dangerous, and even that which seems to be a clear decision may not be the best one to make because of these things. Often times, it is better to stay out of conflicts until one knows the nuances of both sides since even a small lack of balance might result in unintentionally supporting something very bad, or in the case where there is no good option- such as the fight between the US and Russia over Ukraine -it will result in more death and suffering than there already will inevitably be for reasons beyond the control of any outside observer or person of good will.
The best thing that Christians can do right now who want to help India is to help Christian Indians to leave India or position themselves to have the option to leave India if need be. There is likely going to be terrible violence in that nation in a decade or so to come, and it is going to result in a lot of death. At the very least, Christians should prepare to help their brethren on the Subcontinent because they will be forced to fend for themselves in a major war, and the US cannot be expected to help them since she in moving into a close relationship with the Hindus for the purpose of geopolitical fighting against China. The US did not have a problem wiping out the ancient Christian culture of Iraq in the name of geopolitics of over a million people, so she will have no problem at all conveniently overlooking the deaths of millions of Christians more in the name of protecting financial and military interests.
The good news is that given the Internet and history, it is easier than ever to see the flowing waves of history in real time, and so while one may not be able to stop what is going to happen, one can better predict and deal with the future.
The new dictators of our time are coming into form right now. The difference is that they can be mitigated somewhat before it gets completely out of control.