In the prologue to his book, India After Gandhi, which was published in 2007, renowned historian Ramachandra Guha wrote, “that India is still a single nation after sixty testing years of independence, and that it is still largely democratic – these are facts that should compel our deeper attention.”
15 years later, as India marks its 75th anniversary of Independence, this call to attention is even more significant.
An unnatural nation
India as a country is very unlike many others. Most other countries have unity of culture or unity of language. Some countries might have a few such cultures or languages. However, there are not many countries like India with such a vast diversity of languages, cultures or religions. And certainly, there aren’t many such countries the size of India.
How is India still a single country? This question has confused experts and thinkers over the past 75 years. Dr Guha writes, “India’s existence has been a puzzle not just to casual observers or commonsensical journalists; it has also been an anomaly for academic political science, according to whose axioms cultural heterogeneity and poverty do not make a nation, still less a democratic one.” In the early years of independence, many writers had already predicted the death of Independent India, believing that it would break up into smaller pieces or descend into an authoritarian dictatorship of some kind. In 1967 for instance, a correspondent at The Times said that he had witnessed “the last general elections in India”.
An unnatural nation created by God
There could be many answers to this question. There is a combination of individuals and institutions that have contributed to holding the country together. From historic institutions such as the British Raj to individuals such as Gandhi and Nehru, many factors have played a role.
Thoughtful Christians know, however, that in addition to these factors, there is a deeper reason why India is still a country. And it is a very simple reason.
India is a country because God has instituted it to be one.
As Paul says in his address to the Athenians, “[God] made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the boundaries of their dwellings.” (Acts 17:26)
Make no mistake! India’s freedom was won through the blood and tears of its freedom fighters. As truthful Christians, we dare not deny this truth. But we must understand that God works through means, often through human means. And at the end of the day, it is God who is sovereign!
An unnatural nation created by God out of love
If God has appointed India to be a country, and a democratic one at that, it is worth asking the question of why. What could be God’s purpose in having India as an independent, democratic nation? Here is a possible reason.
God loves India!
God desires that all nations come under the blessings of His Kingdom. This desire of God is seen in His promise to Abram that all nations of the world would be blessed through Him (Gen 12: 3). It is also seen in Jesus’ command to his disciples to go and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom to the entire world (Mark 16:15).
India is the country where the largest percentage of the human population has a constitutional right and freedom to worship God! This is evidence of God’s love!
Moreover, India is a country with a number of languages and a number of cultures. And for peoples of all these cultures and languages, there is hope to hear the good news of the Kingdom, because the Constitution of the country guarantees the propagation of one’s faith as a fundamental right to every citizen of the country. Our faith in the Kingdom of God can freely be shared with hundreds and thousands of people groups! This is evidence of God’s love for all these people that make up the country of India!
Celebrating the love of God for this unnatural nation
The truth of God’s love for India must, first of all, move us to worship. In addition, we can celebrate God’s love for India by loving India ourselves.
But what does it mean to love India?
To answer that question, we must first answer the question, ‘What is India’?
One of the best answers I have received to this question is from an old Prasar Bharati production called Bharat Ek Khoj. At the beginning of episode 1, Nehru tells a group of farmers that India is its people!
So, what does it mean to love India?
It is to love the people that live in India. To put it differently, for an Indian Christian, to love India is to fulfil the command of our Lord, for to love India is to love one’s neighbour.
We cannot love people we do not know. Loving India involves knowing about India. Taking the effort to find out what goes on in the lives of our neighbours in Andhra Pradesh, our neighbours in Kashmir, and so on. Taking the effort to know about the language and customs of our neighbours in Bastar and our neighbours in the Garo hills.
Loving India means sharing the love of Jesus with our neighbours
On the occasion of our 75th Independence Day, I would like to ask myself this question:
Do I, as a follower of Jesus, love India?
Being Indian and Christian
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