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ICC Note:

Hindu nationalists are attempting to create “hysteria” against Christians and other religious minorities in India by using recently released census data that shows Christianity growing in several states. Overall, Christianity saw a slight decline, but that has not stopped Hindu nationalists from speaking out against Christian conversions in India. Christians, in contrast, have taken issue with the statements that have been made by the Hindu nationalists saying that the statements will only spread fear and hate against Christians in India where intolerance is already a growing problem. 

12/9/2015 India (Crossmap) – Hindu nationalists have hit out at Christians and Muslims in India, after the number of adherents to “Bharatiya” (traditionally Indian) faiths fell, according to the recently released results of the 2011 decennial national census.

Although the overall proportion of Christians fell marginally in the last decade from 2.34 per cent to 2.30 percent, there was a 13 per cent increase in the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, causing Hindus to complain of a “serious religious imbalance” in the state. Meanwhile, the Muslim population has grown from 9.8 per cent to 14.23 per cent in the past 50 years, leading one critic to go so far as to suggest Muslim families should be limited to only two children.

But Christian activist John Dayal said the “hysteria” was simply an attempt at hatemongering.

“All this fuss about census data is a precursor to social violence against non-Indic religions,” he warned. “There is nothing new in this campaign. There is a clear strategy to create a demographic hysteria against Christians and Muslims as outsiders.”

The Christian population has actually declined in five states, including the southern state of Kerala –the Christian heartland, where Saint Thomas is said to have first brought the message of Christianity. The proportion of Christians in Kerala has fallen from 19.1 per cent to 18.4 per cent of the 33 million population. In the 1960s the ratio of Christians was nearly 25 percent, but it has steadily declined ever since.

Dayal said that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Hindu nationalist group “wants to push forward a violent and exclusive concept of citizenship based on religion”.

Christianity and Islam, he said, are being branded as “foreign religions”, while other religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are projected as “Bharatiya” religions.

A statement from the RSS singled out the rise of Christians in Arunachal Pradesh, the sparsely populated mountainous state home to only 1.3 million people.

“Religious imbalance of the population in the north-eastern states has assumed serious proportions,” the RSS statement said, in reference to four of the seven tiny ethnic states in the north-east (sandwiched between Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Myanmar) being majority Christian, while Christianity is growing in the other three.

But Toko Teki, general secretary of Arunachal Christian Forum, told World Watch Monitor RSS’s claims were “mere propaganda”.

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