'Without conversions, the Church will
The Rediff Interview/ N S Rajaram
"There is now a scramble for India by various
organisations, rather on the lines of the phase in our
centuries ago when the French, the Dutch, the British and
to take us over," says N S Rajaram, former principal
Lockheed, USA, and grandson of the famous statesman
Rama Rao. "Conversion is not possible in China or
other than India, and without this conversion, the Church
The man who worked for many years in the areas of artificial
intelligence and robotics in the US switched interests
nearly six years
ago, and is now a well-known science historian with many
In his book The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Crisis of
published first in the United Kingdom and later in India,
forward his argument that Christianity worldwide faces
the threat of
extinction, and is trying hard to spread its tentacles in
India to ensure its survival.
He discussed with M D Riti at his home in Basavanagudi in
the ongoing Christian controversy raging in our country
Do you think the Hindu-Christian equation in India is
Not at all, because the conflict and clashes in India
today are not between
Hindus and Christians. It is the activities of the
missionaries that the Hindus
are objecting to, especially their drive for conversions.
What is objectionable about the activities of
Graham Stewart Staines?
Has anyone investigated his past or found out what
exactly he was up to?
Of what relevance is his past, good or bad, to his work
here or to the
circumstances under which he was killed?
Why had nobody heard about Staines and his work before
his death? If he
was doing such wonderful social service, why did nobody
talk or write about
it until now? Then again, why was a foreign national
carrying around a small
Complaints had been lodged against Staines right from
1981 at the deputy
commissioner's office. But the law enforcement agencies,
because of the
enormous political pressure, do not have the courage to
take action against
Staines was carrying a handgun. He fired several shots
into the crowd and
he was shot with an arrow. After that, the place might
have been burnt. This
is the report we have from three different sources. The
reported that his wife said he never owned a gun. That is
not the way to
practise journalism. Why did nobody go and check police
ascertain the truth?
Media disinformation has reached an all-time high now.
They speak about
the number of schools that Christian missionaries have
set up now. Why
doesn't anyone write about the 15,000 schools set up by
Vidya Bharathi in
north India? If they ever mention this, they add an
insinuation that this was
done to spread the ideology of Hindutva. This is a clear
You have heard more about Staines now than about people
Rao, who were internationally known for their work in
leprosy. The media
praises Mother Teresa to the skies, but the work done by
Satya Sai Baba is
There is a bias in the English language media in favour
of the Christian
missionaries, especially when they are foreigners... I
can tell you, having
lived in the US for many years, that if I had tried to go
into churches and
disrupt their services or desecrate their chapels, they
would not have looked
upon me kindly.
But there are so many foreign missionary couples who have
dedicated their lives to providing medical and
educational aid to
Indians in remote rural and forest areas. The least one
can do is
support their endeavour at least in spirit?
A few might certainly be dedicated and good. But this
mass production is
highly questionable. And the very idea that you need
these foreigners to
uplift your people is a sad commentary on the people
But don't you agree that this reconversion of tribals
enacted now is a real farce?
No, because they are just being helped to return to their
original way of life.
How does reconverting them do that?
Because all that they have acquired is a thin veneer of
Christianity is finished in India, because it takes such
enormous resources to
just hold on to the people they have. There is hardly any
Christianity left in
urban India. The strongest criticism of Christianity in
India comes from the
Christians themselves. Everyone should be guaranteed the
practise their own religion. However, people should not
be allowed to barge
into your home, as happens in the west coast, and
demolish your puja room,
saying that Jesus will save you: this should definitely
not be tolerated.
I don't think anyone does that kind of thing now!
It happens all the time -- today, right now. The
newspapers are just not
How do Christians worldwide benefit from Indian
They don't give a damn about it.
Then why is there a scramble for India?
A small elite benefits from this entire process. So many
Having a large Christian base in India would not require the
employment of a large network overseas. Even
are so small: we would not need a huge Vatican empire to
There is no huge empire in Europe: its collapsing. The
conflict in India that
we see today is a result of the problems faced by
worldwide, especially in the West. The Catholic Church is
survival in the world. They have a huge number of
institutions that require
staff. There are also a huge number of theological
institutions that require
students for support. There is also the question of
employment. And they are
not getting people in sufficient numbers.
For example, there are almost no nuns coming out of
Western countries. So
Kerala has become a fertile ground for this.
The pressure on India is to recruit as many as possible,
which in turn means
conversion. It is largely due to problems in the
operations of churches in the
West. Most of the theological seminaries in the West
would be closed were
it not for students from countries like India and
Philippines. Even chaplains in
the US are mostly Indian. A very important church in
Geneva, the Cantor is
from Bangalore. Even in Scotland, I found a priest from
I still cannot understand how a large Christian base in
help the Church financially outside the country.
A small privileged class would benefit from it overseas.
The other benefits
of colonialism would follow. Suppose they offer marketing
MNCs. Would that not translate to big money? Or if they
network as a marketing base in urban and even more in
rural and tribal
That sounds rather far-fetched.
Not at all. Gandhiji reminded us long back about the real
colonialists when he said : 'One cry in this country,
America, has long been
markets, wider markets. If the farmers and the
manufacturers desire to
create a market, they will do well to get in touch with
foreign missions. They
can be assured that it will not be long before they
receive their money back
with liberal interest.' In other words, you are
soliciting donations in return for
providing marketing assistance. And believe me, the
exactly the same today.
Do you wonder why the Indian people are putting up with
all this? Because
we have an educated elite in India today which is not at
all concerned about
the nation. And they in turn come from a set of colonial
institutions which are not at all nationalistic in their
outlook. The highest
aspiration of their products is to serve someone from the
people have already sold the country.
'Christian institutions in India are not
producing national leaders'
Are you trying to say that Christian educational
brainwashing their students into serving foreign masters?
I am saying that elite Christian institutions in India
are not producing national
leaders. They are only producing people who can serve
others. Doon School
and St Stephens, for example, were definitely not set up
to produce national
leaders. Have you seen one elected national leader from
these kind of
places? Would a Doon School product be able to stand for
Kanakapura, for example? The best schools in India are
institutions, set up to produce servants for colonial
rulers, and they have not
changed in outlook at all. I am not, of course, talking
about engineering or
medical colleges, but purely about schools and colleges
that teach the
humanities. What is St Stephens other than a copy of
Cambridge as it was, maybe 100 years ago: not as
Cambridge College is
today. We just have a series of copies of mission schools.
We don't even have an Indian school of thought in the
humanities. Why do
we still teach Jung and Freud in our psychology
departments? I'm not saying
reject them outright, but why not the Patanjali Yogasutra
or the Upanishads
also? In linguistics, do they teach Panini?
In a nutshell, your basic premise is that the Catholic
Church is dying
in the West, especially in Europe, and that its future
lies in countries
The survival of the Catholic Church is at stake today
attendance in Rome is 3 per cent. They could produce only
5 to 7 priests a
year. And if you want to buy real estate in Europe today,
you buy an old,
abandoned church. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in West
Kensington, London, is
a former church.
Then, there is the problem of the evangelical churches,
which are not at all a
part of the Catholic Church. These missionaries go into
the houses of sick
people and promise to cure them. I have so many
documented case histories
There too, we must recognise the simple fact that when
you have thousands
of missionaries scrambling for conversions, they are not
here to save souls --
I mean, you may find one or two saints in a century.
There must be some
economic motive as far as the rest is concerned.
Come on, I think even the concept of a heathen is at
least 50 years
Oh no, that terminology is used even now: I can show you
evidence to that effect. I have been told to my face
repeatedly in the West
that I am a heathen. (Frankly, I no longer find that term
offensive.) But what
about the tribals, who are converts? Conversion is very
good for selling
goods for Christmas or Valentine's Day.
But Hindu festivals outnumber Christian festivals any day
definitely far more pro-consumerism. And where would poor
be able to afford Valentine's day cards or Christmas gifts?
The West does not know that. Besides, I don't believe
that anyone would
support this level of activity without some economic
benefit. Saving souls
takes money, you know. The evangelical churches simply do
enough money internally to support so much activity. They
some money coming from outside. A good deal of that is
You once said that Church institutions should be regarded as
I think the evangelical churches in particular are like
MNCs that are still
enjoying the benefits of colonialism. These institutions
institutions. Yet, they are exempt from tax, which Hindu
institutions are not.
The Indian government is subsidising their activities as
they are minority
institutions. This is exactly what happened during the
British rule. Goods
coming from Britain were exempt from tariffs and currency
manipulated so that they would be cheaper. The special
privileges they were
given during British rule still continues. I say that as
long as they are
controlled from and financed by people outside India,
they should be treated
The Catholic Church today is thriving on money plundered
from the colonies.
The places colonised by the British and French became
secular as the
French Revolution and Henry the Eighth broke the power of
the Church in
those respective countries. However, the Spanish and
were part of the Catholic empires of those countries.
You say that Christian institutions in India are
receiving a lot of
money from abroad?
A single institutional bank account of a single Christian
Bangalore received Rs 150 million from abroad. However,
tax evasion is not
unique to India.