For the Day:

In love with the Praying Mantis

The creation of a Rashtriya Isai Munch as claimed by the RSS is a clever trick, with the aim of creating divisions among Christians.

There is something riveting about the love life of the Praying Mantis – dynamic narrative, an inevitable denouement, and the choreography of a Bolshoi ballet. The motives are clear, the stage, and the trap, is set. The love affair is doomed. He will be consumed. That is the nature of the relationship. One chain of thought would say it is essential for the survival of the species.

It is a morbid example of one dialogue of life.
There are other paradigms of dialogue, and of love, between equals, born out of respect, conjugal unions for community growth, and an understanding of the larger consequences of any bilateral discourse. The healthiest and most productive dialogue is multilateral. There are no winners and losers in such a dialogue, no junior or senior partners. And there are clear terms of reference.

It is for the Church in India, for its religious, social, political and cultural leadership to decide how it negotiates its place in India almost seventy years after Independence, and despite its minuscule minority of a mere 2.3% of the population, seeks equity participation in the labour of building a modern nation and tasting the fruit of such collective labour. Above all, the community has to decide if it sees itself as singular and unique, untouched by external turbulence, and unmoved by the tragedy of others.

The writing is in the sky, so to speak, in the foundational documents. “Muslims, Christians and Communists” are the three enemies of Hindu India, says the author of “Bunch of Thoughts.” Sterilise them to contain their population which threatens to overwhelm Bharat, says men and women who sit in Parliament, even in the council of ministers. Banish their pastors and their prayer halls, and deny their families employment and food, order others who have sway over governance. No one has denounced or retracted these thoughts and words.

So what does one negotiate? And with whom?
Give unto Cesar what is Cesar’s, says Jesus. But then, who is Cesar? The Government and its officers and institutions created by Parliament and Constitution, or creatures of other books, owing allegiance to no principle,
answerable to no one, marching to a beat all their own?

What can one ask of extra-constitutional authorities which exercise power through coercion, threats, blackmail and violence? A political protection racket on a grand scale with links to government that protect its thugs but offers no safety or security to the victims.

These are life and death questions that need to be asked as we sift through the reports and denials, the obfuscation and the fire that has created all this heat and smoke about a dialogue with the RSS and being midwife in the birth of its Bharatiya Isai Manch. A dark parody of the nativity.

Personally, and purely at an ideological level, I find something verging on the obscene in attempts to force a Catholic, universal Church, into a narrow, restrictive and suffocating mould of nationalism. That the agency precipitating or trying to catalyse this itself professes a theology of religious nationalism in which diversity and the freedom of the mind has no place adds to the irony.

The creation of the Rashtriya Muslim Manch did not add one whit to the security of the Muslims, or increased their representation in governance and as beneficiaries of the State’s largesse. The Rashtriya Sikh Manch provoked a violent reaction in Punjab where the Sikhs, who do not forget the past, refused to be described as a sect of the majority faith. Are we going to micro manage our Treaty of Security which leaves out Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists,

Dalits and Tribals and their Freedom of Faith?
What, then, can the Christian community expect from a Rashtriya Isai Manch other than getting a few the fruits of some office, and to others, a transient flush of being close to power.

Quoting the Scriptures will not hide the short-sightedness of such a move, if indeed it was ever made. Daniel who rose from a captive to be a judge and sang of the glory of God has his place, but remains a solitary figure. Moses, raised in the palace, is the better example.

John Dayal
Human Rights Activist, Member
of National Integration Council