Christians in India are like the worst form of parasites. They are the meeting point of the worst in Indian and Western culture. To put it simply – Indian casteism and Western capitalism
The Christians have very adeptly adopted the caste and class system into their lives. There are clear domains of segregation. Separate mass for the English speaking snooty Christians while the not so rich “other’ Christians attend mass in the local language. There are very few spaces for interaction of these two groups. Priests and nuns, especially those in privileged positions and overwhelmingly from the savarna castes – the Lobos, D’souza’s, Pintos – converts from Konkan Brahmins and Goud Saraswat Brahmins. These priests and nuns are the ‘cream’ of the church and hold all the elitist positions – as principals of schools, heads of institutions and finally going on to become bishops and archbishops in positions of power. Marriage within caste groups is frowned upon and there are various checks and balances within this, both overt and covert, to prevent intercaste marriages among Christians.
The Christians also sincerely believe that they are superior because they have some Western ‘origins’ and connections, mostly imaginary. As some of our Christian friends would say ‘Back home in England’ inspite of never having set foot in England either in theirs or in their previous generation’s lives. This affiliation to the West has also created a capitalist mind set where external manifestations of wealth are seen as part and parcel of being a Christian.
As one Christian friend of mine told me ‘the Hindus are jealous of us because we can drink and dance’ What a ridiculous understanding of what Christianity is. Anyone who even cursorily glances at the New Testament of the Bible will not fail to miss the message that jumps up out of every page – love your neighbor as thyself, love the poor, blessed is the one who is humble, blessed is the one who loves the poor.
How easily these values are thrown aside by our Indian Christians as they bask in the glory of their caste and capitalist worlds. How easily they accept caste and capitalism in their daily lives and in their schools and institutions.
There is apathy in this community – a lack of introspection, staking claim on rights but least concerned about responsibilities. The responsibility of a Christian is not to convert non Christians to their religion by luring them with economic benefits. The responsibility is to live such lives that people who watch them say – who are these beautiful people – what makes them so kind and good and generous and forgiving and loving – I want to be with them. That would be the true nature of the Christian mission. Not numbers……..
With a radically Hindutva government, Christians would do well to identify how many of these practices they themselves contribute to. The call for the Christian mission is now more than ever – it means raising our voices against any form of oppression. It is not only when upper caste Mangalorean Christian girls get pulled up by the Hindutva hate brigade. It is when our dalit homes are evicted, when our health services are being sold to the capitalist vultures, it’s when our poor children have no government schools to go to and no private schools to afford, when our domestic workers have no minimum wages, when our construction workers are not paid compensation for injuries, accidents and deaths, when our elderly have no access to dignified living and death. Why is the Christian community so silent about these issues?
Why do we discriminate against dalits and muslims? Why don’t we raise our voices loudly and vociferously when young muslim boys get arrested on ridiculous charges, when our dalit brethren are banished to the outskirts of the city as a new form of the caste system?
It is only when upper caste Christians face the brunt of a casteist and capitalist society we jump up and down in anger and agony. Otherwise we are happy to sit with the oppressors and heartily partake of the feast.