//Christians decreasing despite allegation of conversions: Prof. Ram Puniyani

Christians decreasing despite allegation of conversions: Prof. Ram Puniyani

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

By Pervez Bari, IndiaEnews.COM

The atrocities on Christians gained momentum when the saffron forces attained ascendancy in India and took over the reigns of power at the Center and some states. They are being targetted on the wrong notion that Christian missionaries are engaged in conversion by force, fraud and allurement and thereby their population is increasing.

The above absurd conclusion of Christian population multiplying is negated by the census figures of last four decades. The Christian population as per 1971 is 2.60 per cent, in 1981 it became 2.44 per cent, in 1991 it was 2.32 per cent and in 2001 it stands at 2.18 per cent. The share of Christians in total population is continuously declining and we tend to believe that forcible conversions into Christianity are on. Christianity arrived in India in the year 52 A.D. and is 1950 years old here.

The above analytical observations were made by Prof. Ram Puniyani of Bombay while delivering a lecture on “Rise in Communalism and Indian Politics” here on Tuesday night at the Acharya Naredradeo library building. Prof. Hanuman Singh Yadav, Head of the Department RPEG & Dean Social Sciences, Barkatullah University, was the chief guest at the seminar. While senior journalist LS Herdenia, another senior journalist & secretary MECAPS Sagheer Baidaar and local MLA Arif Aqueel were special guests on the occasion. The Association of Indian Muslims, (AIM), president Owais Arab organized the lecture.

After Gujarat and Orissa, Prof. Puniyani said: “I am seeing communalism is raising its head in Madhya Pradesh where Christians are presently being persecuted. This is quite evident from the newspapers headlines these days”.

Prof. Puniyani said communalism is a phenomenon of which 1/10th is communal politics and 9/10th is communal violence. He compared this with a cube of ice in a glass of water where 1/10th of the ice-cube is outside water and is visible. This is communal politics. While the rest 9/10th of the ice-cube is inside water which is not visible and this represents communal violence, he opined.

He said the communal forces are trying to change direction of Indian politics to give it a new color and meaning. There are two types of politics. One is based on equality of all citizens irrespective of religion, caste or gender. This is based on the concept of citizenship. This is secularism, the foundation of democracy. The second politics takes its legitimacy from religion. Here it is understood that people belonging to one religion have similar interests and these interests are opposed to the interests of those belonging to other religion, he maintained.

The communal violence violates human rights of the poor like dalits, women, labor class, tribals and minorities and curbs their social, economic and gender rights, Prof. Puniyani said. “During communal violence first humanity is butchered before innocent and poor people are killed”, he remarked. While Hindu and Muslim communalists appear to be thirsty of each other’s blood but in the backdrop they aid each other to realize their goals, he stressed.

Prof. Puniyani said that in ancient times rajas, maharajas, kings etc. fought each other not on communal lines but for power and pelf only. While the rulers fought battles the common man on each side had best of relations with each other, he added.

He said to make a good society it is the responsibility of one and all to oppose tooth and nail the communalism of handful of both Hindus and Muslims.

Prof. Puniyani appealed to curb the increasing danger of communalism nowadays by adopting three things. Firstly dispelling the misunderstandings towards minorities, secondly to stop a section of the minorities in their tracks who inflame passions and thirdly bring Hindus, Muslims and Christians together by visiting each other communities during religious and national festivals.

Arif Aqueel proposed a vote of thanks after the lecture. The lecture which was largely attended was conducted by Syed Naqui Ahmad.

It may be mentioned here that Prof. Ram Puniyani, a retired professor of IIT Bombay, for the last 20 years or so is actively engaged in promoting communal harmony in the country. He has written a number of books in English and Hindi on the subject which have been much acclaimed. He is closely associated with well-known organizations as Ekta Samiti, Mumbai and Center for Study of Society & Secularism, Mumbai.