Postcolonial literature suggests that Christians did not lag behind any section of India in celebrating the freedom gained from the British Rule on 15th August, 1947. The community’s relentless protests against the arrests of Congress leaders, continuous demand for the immediate grant of swaraj, and commitment for an indivisible and strong India were publicly commended by Congress leaders.
HN Kunzru, a Congress leader and a member of the Council of the State, while addressing the 1943 session of the All India Christian Council (AICC) in Delhi, observed that Christians had played their part in the national movement for securing a self-governing and self-reliant India by “placing their country above communal considerations.”
Despite their contributions, a section of the narrative on colonial religious discourse continued to portray Christianity as a “western import” and essentially negative in character. Christians and their religious propagation were questioned by fundamentalist forces who expressed apprehensions about the role of Christian missionaries in India. Soon, the right to propagation of Christianity was contended by members of the Constituent Assembly, who set up an advisory committee in January 1947. It consisted of Dharam Das from Uttar Pradesh, A Wilson and Jerome D’Souza from Madras, J Alban de Souza from Bombay, B Kakra from Bihar, NC Mukherjee and Frank Anthony from Bengal and JM Nicholas from Assam. This served as a platform to recognize the commitment and sacrifices made by the Christian community, and their anti-communal approach throughout the freedom struggle. Their work was publicly acknowledged by KM Munshi, Legal Pilot of the advisory committee and Vallabhbhai Patel, Chairman of the advisory committee.
In the present day, one can continue to debate on the extent to which the State intervenes in religious matters. However, what’s clear is that a country as diverse as India cannot flourish and be truly independent without recognising its varied communities who practice their own religion and culture, but are bound by the democratic, secular State which neither favours nor discriminates any particular religion.
- Doss, Christhu: “Sandwiched Nehru”, Economic & Political Weekly, 53, Issue No. 39, July 2018
- Mudhur, GS: “Secularism leads growth”, The Telegraph India, August 2018
- Sabah, Shariq: “The idea of India must remain grounded in secularism”,Qurius, July 2018
- Koul, Roshni: “Inclusive India”, India Currents – Home of the Global Indian, July 2018
- Gudavarthy, Ajay: “India Needs to Rethink How It Looks at Secularism”, The Wire, February 2018
Written by: Reshmita Jose