STATEMENT: Yet another Clear Sign of India Fast Becoming a Hindu Fundamentalist State
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 24, 2020. Washington DC. India to remain a liberal democratic state is vital for the US interests and the US-India relationship.
If India slips into a religious fundamentalist state as Pakistan or Turkey has, it will have far-reaching implications for the US interests not only across the Indian Ocean Corridor but even at home. What is taking place in India this week is a clear indication yet of where that country is headed.
Prime Minister Modi removed the Hymn “Abide With Me” from India’s annual Republic Day Parade this week. This hymn was part of the official annual parade for the last 73 years. It was first included in 1949 by the Indian Amry played by its band. It is considered to be Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite hymn. Ever since, it has been a tradition for the army band to play it every year.
It is not about whether or not a tune is removed or added in a lineup this year. It should be seen from a historical perspective. Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist party has long been arguing that, for India to be truly independent, she should shed the remnants of colonial past and all that are associated with it – including the Christian faith. Obviously, Mr. Modi sees the army band playing ‘Abide With Me’ in his presence is too close to the Christian faith to bear.
The President of FIACONA, Mr. Koshi George said, “The Modi government has sunk to a new low, just when you thought it could not possibly sink any further. The act of removing the hymn from India’s Republic Day Parade to be held this Wednesday (Jan 26), shows the silliness and deep-rooted hatred of Mr. Modi and his party against anything that resembles the Christian faith”.
Mr. John Mathew, a FIACONA Board Member said, “Out of ignorance, Hindu nationalists consider the Christian faith in India to be a remnant of British rule. Christian faith was introduced to the Indian subcontinent in 52 AD by Apostle Thomas, long before certain segments of what is collectively known as Hinduism today was formed.”
Mr. George Abraham, also a Board Member said, “Yet, Modi and his party assume the Christian faith as a remnant of British rule. They ignore the fact that not only had many Christian missionaries helped spread Gandhi’s message, they had also joined him against the unjust policies of a Colonial power.”
Moreover, he said, “Tens of thousands of Christians fought and sacrificed their lives in the Indian Army since India’s independence from British rule.” He reminds that the coinage of the word – “Hinduism” itself is of colonial origin.
Rev. Bryan Nerren, Pastor of House of Prayer and President of Asian Children’s Education Fellowship in Tennessee stated that, “The removal of Democratic customs and traditions are the clear indicators that Prime Minister Modi is leading the largest democracy into a religious fundamentalist state”.
Mr. John Prabhudoss, the Chairman of the Board said, FIACONA considers the act of removing the hymn from the Republic Day lineup this year as a new low even for this Modi government. It is a betrayal of the trust of hundreds of millions of people of the nation. A government calling itself Democratic must be impartial and respectful of all segments of its society.
Rev. Peter Cook, the Executive Director of the NY State Council of Churches, a part of the National Council of Churches (NCC-USA) said that, “The action of the Modi government is not only an insult to the sentiments of over 100 million people who follow the faith in India but also to millions of other people from all faith backgrounds. With this kind of open hostilities against people of faith in India, it’s no wonder people like Dr. Gregory Stanton of Genocide Watch warn that India would be where the next genocide takes place”.
A million-plus Indian American Christians (FIACONA) say that the US Administration and the Congress should be rightfully worried because if India follows down the same path that Pakistan and Turkey did earlier, where all indications show it has been, the consequences for the US interests not only in South Asia but also at home will be enormous.
FIACONA calls upon all congregations, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, and people of every faith in India and abroad to stand up in solidarity against this childish attempt by a bigoted government of the world’s largest democracy and join each other by singing “Abide With Me” on January 26th and on Sunday, January 30th in your congregations.