Dr Babu K. Varghese
Having travelled all over the world, what do you think is happening to India?
When we think of India, we have to look at it in its various aspects: political, economical, social and moral. In that way, economically India is growing. There is no doubt about it, the nation is growing. But, unfortunately growth, is mostly for the upper strata. One percent of Indians own 73% of the wealth of this nation. 20 to 30 families own 80% of the wealth. So, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening day by day. Thereby, the lowest strata are struggling not just to survive but to exist, and that’s why India is socially, economically and morally weak.
Economically, you have given the right picture. But, politically, look at India, it is decelerating by the day. Do you think India is taking on fascist dimensions?
I would say one hundred percent it is. As a journalist, I have been covering Middle East and the development especially in Islamic world for several years. I have been very deeply interested in several communists and German rulers. With that experience, I am analyzing and watching what’s happening to our country. Politically we are taking a very fast turn. I can be arrested any time, branding me as a terrorist, for no reason. That is fascism. Where is liberty? where is freedom? This was until recently a socialist democracy.
The government of the day claims it wedded to the Indian culture that it calls Hindutva. Is Hindutva truly Indian?
Hindutva, as we see today, is absolutely un-Indian. India is a great nation of four thousand or five thousand years of vibrant and fragrant history. India welcomed all ideologies: economics, social, moral and religious. Approximately in 2500 BC, Dravidians came to India and in 1500 BC Aryans came. Aryans and Dravidians got married and became Indo-Aryans. After them, twenty other ethnic groups came here. India is a great nation that started a civilisation at the Sindhu river area. We had then a big culture. We are pluri-lingual, and our pluralism comes from that. But there was also oneness, there was unity in diversity. That is the greatness of this nation. In spite of occasional rivalry, as a nation we always stood for this unity in diversity. That is the greatness of this nation. In democracy, the government of the people, for the people, by the people, of the people, it is the people who take decisions. But that is how our country today? They want to remove democracy, they want to remove secularism, and they want to have right wing Hindutva – not Hinduism – in their place. Hindutva and Hinduism are absolutely different. Hindutva is a fanatic religious system that vested interests us to get into power. Power is money, nothing else. It’s business.
Do we have a monolithic Indi-Aryan culture?
We all originally belonged to 20 to 45 different ethnic groups. Our religious ideology is a mixture of elements that came especially from Babylon, Assyria and Mesopotamia.
Marxism is an alien culture. Like a plague of foreign origin it could infect the Indian society. Do you think a similar plague is turning the whole nation into some sort of a fanatical movement?
Absolutely! Fascism came as the brain child of Hitler and his co-workers. This is exactly what Hindutva is all about. Unfortunately, Modiji’s most precious book seems to be that of Hitler. You will understand that if you analyze the character of Hitler and what is happening now. Basically, fascism is about survival of the fittest. Hitler interpreted it as Aryan hegemony and exterminated Jews. Sixteen million Jews were annihilated. Every ideology other than one’s own is wrong, and so I destroy everyone who is opposed to it, that is Fascism, and that is Hindutva.
Look at the world now, it is caught in the grip of globalization of the market and an endless pursuit of wealth. Do you think this market orientation is affecting the world and turning it to the right?
Yes, globally, there is a clash between nationalism and globalism. We see it in USA, India and Iran. One group of people wanted to be globalists. They are making the whole globe as a village market with high-tech technology and digital marketing. They will be able to control the whole world through the use of digital currency. Another group of people wanted to excel in cultural nationalism. They are moving parallelly. They can’t meet, because they are inherently very different. So, on the one hand there is a thrust to international or global economics, and on the other hand there is a fight for nationalistic, culturalistic, religious and ethnic ideologies.
The war of civilizations?
Yes, war of cultures and civilizations exactly is happening. What was India’s civilization? There is no Hindu civilization here. It is difficult to define what is Hinduism. Our idealism was let every stream come to India: there is a notion of ideology, lifestyle, ritualism and relationship. Everybody come from everywhere and we opened our doors to everybody, that is India. This was Hinduism but Hindutva is not Hinduism.
Christianity has influenced the world. One human family is basically a Jewish-Christian notion. In that perspective, the relation to God is seen in relation to man. Therefore, Christianity can be defined as winged humanism. How to look at a humanistic perspective of Christianity in the present time?
Yes, Christianity is an ideology based on love of humans. It begins with God who created us. We were formed in the image of God. But we were deformed by Satan. Christ has transformed us into His glorious image. When we greet Namaste we mean ‘I honor you because I see you created in the image of God. So, after greeting Namaste, I cannot fight with you. You are my brother or sister. We have to live together in companionship, in compassion, in communication and in communion.
What do you think is the future of Christianity in India?
Externally we may think Christianity is going to be butchered. Persecution exist here for example in Kandhamal. Remember Graham Stains. I am also threatened because of my booklets. They think I am anti-national and threatened to kill me. Gladys Staines, who are they, who have written that book, what’s happening? Persecution has continued from Stephan onwards and will still continue, and so we say “the blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church.” I tell you very frankly, nobody can stop spreading the gospel in India. Individuals will receive gospel values, even if our institutions will be crushed, our FCR and our freedoms are taken away, and our orphanages are broken. I heard that out of 60 orphanages of Mother Theresa homes, thirteen are closed now. Our Christian services, Christian institutions, educations, orphanages and hospitals, all have their legal and political problems. I tell you, people of this nation are looking for an answer “Asathoma Sadgamaya, Thamasoma Jyothirgamaya, Mruthyorma Amruthangamaya.” India is crying for salvation from untruth to truth, from darkness to light and from death to life. In itself religion is not bad, all religions are seeking God. In Christianity, God came in search of man. In the beginning was the Word and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. It is communion and communication. God communicated, and that can never be stopped. Jesus said, go unto the whole world. St Thomas the apostle and St Francis Xavier came from thousands miles away to the villages of India and now hundreds of Catholic nuns are living in the jungles of India. The Christian contribution to the nation in the field of language, literature, education, printing, publishing, socio economics, transformation and cultural transformation is unique. Who stopped Sati and infanticide? Who contributed to the development of the deaf, the dumb and the blind? Who started orphanages and leprosy centres? We are not going for elections or any political hegemony. We are the servants of Christ, and so we will touch lepers, we will touch the marginalized, we will take care of the afflicted and the outcastes, the depressed, the suppressed, and the oppressed. The Christian ideology is based on service, and it will continue even when politically we have a problem.
You are a Christian who has worked as a journalist. Who is Christ for you?
Christ is my God, my Lord and my Saviour. I do believe in Jesus Christ. I am a Christ lover. Therefore, I divide the world into Christ lovers and Christ rejecters. A Christian may be perceived by the outside world as someone belonging to a religion. I am a Christian, but personally I am a Christ lover. I don’t want to be identified with any denomination.
Do you think believing in Christ is not a religious matter?
Religion is not isolated. Religion is God’s way and also man’s way of seeking God. In Christianity God is seeking man. So, I don’t need to seek God. God already sought me before I found Him, He died for my sins, He rose again, He is going to come again and He is going to rule the whole world.
What does Christ tell you today?
Christ is telling me to live HIM in my words and in my actions. If I Love Christ I will love my fellow human beings. For me this relationship is horizontal too. Sometimes we lose the horizontal relation between man and man, that is why even in Christian communities there are fights, corruption, wickedness and no love. If Christ comes and lives in my heart I will hug you, I will care for you, I will forgive you. I see in Gladys Staines, who forgave the murderers of Graham Staines and her children, a model of this horizontal and vertical relationship. My book ‘Burnt Alive’ is the story of the martyred missionary Graham Staines and his sons. It was on January 23, 1999, that the Australian missionary, Graham Staines and his two sons, were ambushed by a frenzied mob with flaming torches and burnt alive in Manoharpur, Orissa.
What sort of an encounter with truth are you describing in your book ‘My Encounter with Truth’?
It is not about my encounter with truth. It is the story of Pandit Dharm Prakash Sharma, former Member of Indian Parliament, who was the son of the high priest of Pushkar Sohanlal Sharma. He was the president of the Hindu Maha Sabha. The Pushker lived near Ajmer. He also became a freedom fighter and his son was searching for truth. Dharam Prakash Sharma was born there in jail. Then he was brought up by Mahatma Gandhi. While Dharam was reading for BA English Literature, the text book happened to be that sermon on the mount of Jesus. Suddenly, a voice and a light came and said, ‘Dharm, I am God whom you are searching for.’ Impossible! This God is a God of the Britishers. They enslaved me and my nation. He went to the library and took two copies of the Bible. 13 years he went through the Bible. He became a film actor, a journalist and a Politician. He became one of the secretaries and assistants to Indira Gandhi. 13 years went by. He read the book of Sadhu Sundher Singh titled ‘Who Is Around Without Christ.’ He felt a certain encounter with Jesus Christ. Dharam Prakash Sharma, the Hindu Maha Sabha man, Rajya Sabha member and assistant to Indira Gandhi, then was baptized and he gave his resignation letter to Indira Gandhi. She asked, “what happened?” and refused to accept the resignation, He replied, “See, I read the Bible and Jesus spoke to me.” Indira Gandhi said: “when I was in Switzerland, I read the Bible two times and Jesus never spoke to me. I will not accept your resignation.” He said, “Both cannot go together, I have a higher calling.” He continued as a gospel preacher. He died two years ago. ‘My Encounter with Truth’ is available in nine languages. After a long wait, I got a chance to chat with Manmohan Singh and Mamata Banerjee. They are reading the book, because they were colleagues of Dharam in the Rajya Sabha. He said, “As an Indian, a Hindu, and a practicing Brahmin, I was searching for God. But, there was an emptiness. There is that vacuum in every man’s heart. It is the absence of God. I was empty: On my search to fill the void, I read the Quran and Parsee literature, at last I had a personal encounter with Jesus. Jesus came into my life. I accepted Him as my Saviour and Lord. I am not a religious person, but I have a relationship with Jesus.”
As an elderly man, what is your ambition?
My ambition is to to talk and write about Jesus Christ until my last breath. ‘To know Christ and make Him known to others,’ that’s my mission.