Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

ICC Note:

Christians across India are cautiously optimistic following the appointment of the first Christian cabinet member to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration. Many Christians hope the appointment of Alphons Kannanthanam will mean issues effecting Christians, especially the dramatic rise in attacks, will be heard by the Prime Minister. Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have steadily increased under the Modi government. In 2016, Christians were attacked 441 times according to Open Doors USA. In just the first six months of 2017, Christians were already attacked 410 times. The this new appointment lead to a change in the trend? 

09/07/2017 India (Sight) – Church officials in India’s Christian heartland of Kerala are cautiously optimistic following the appointment of a first Christian MP to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, amid heated political debate.

Prime Minister Modi’s past three years at the head of a Hindu nationalist government (the BJP) have seen a rise in radical extremism and violence against those of minority religions; this has increased steadily. Last month, for instance, the state of Jharkhand became the sixth to adopt an “anti-conversion” law, though minority religious leaders have appealed that the Indian President does not sign it into law.

In June, prominent social scientist Shiv Visvanathan told The Washington Post: “Modi’s development-focused government has often turned a blind eye to rising sectarian violence, and left the shaping of society and culture to the BJP’s far right.

“Under Modi, the frequency and cultural framework within which violence is taking place has increased.”

The 3rd September appointment of Alphons Kannanthanam, a former bureaucrat who joined the BJP in 2014, might be as much for his track record in ‘delivery’ as for his representation of a minority community, albeit Kerala is the state with the highest proportion of Christians.

“This is a very positive and happy development for us,” Catholic bishop Mathew Arackal of Kanjirapally diocese in Kerala told World Watch Monitor. “Whatever the political message [behind the appointment], he is sure to do something good for the community. I have known him from the day he joined the government service.”

A native of Bishop Arackal’s diocese, Mr Kannanthanam – who joined the elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1979 – had made headlines as a bureaucrat in 1985, when, as the District Collector, he made Kottayam district in Kerala the first fully literate district in the country.

Later, as Commissioner of the Delhi Development Authority, he came to be known as “demolition man” and was even profiled by TIME magazine as a “young global leader” in 1994 after he took on the property mafia and demolished illegal constructions and recovered government land worth millions.

In 2006, Mr Kannanthanam quit the government service and was elected to the Kerala Assembly as an “independent”, with the backing of the country’s Communist Party.

“Nobody would question his commitment to the job he is given. He can certainly be a good link between the [Modi] government and the Christian community,” said Bishop Arackal.

Father Varghese Vallikkat, deputy secretary general and spokesperson for the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, is also optimistic.

“We welcome the appointment of Kannanthanam, a Catholic, into the government,” he said. “So far, we had no representation in the Modi government.”

[Full Story]