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Thursday, June 1, 2023

“Christians are 25% of population in Telugu-speaking states”: YSRCP MP Raju

“Although officially Christians in the Telugu speaking states are reported as around 2.5%, in reality Christians are 25% of the total population” – this is the latest truth bomb dropped by YSCRP ( Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party) MP Raghu Ramakrishna Raju during a news show with TimesNow last night.

While the MP’s statement may shock some, it rings true for many with their ear to the ground who have been observing Andhra polity for long.

On Monday night, the MP had admitted on the same TimesNow show that Christian missionaries were indulging in large-scale conversions all over Andhra Pradesh and the rest of the country using foreign money power. Denying the Andhra government’s role in facilitating such conversions, the MP had shrugged off the phenomenon by saying, “It is happening all over the country. What are we supposed to do? India is a secular country, as per our Constitutions we are a secular country.”

Last night, the MP was questioned by the anchor to elaborate on his stunning revelation the day before. He replied –

“Let me give you another statistic that will surprise you. The percentage of Christians as per records in our states, Telugu states (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), is hardly 2.5%. But in reality, as per any statistic, it would be not less than 25%. Is it not astonishing? As per the certificates (official documents), it is less than 2.5%. In reality, the people who go to Churches and worship Jesus Christ are 25%. I am not saying it is good or bad, just giving you the statistic.

There has been a demand since last 20-25 years – if a SC person converts to Christianity, as per the rule he becomes BCC (Backward Caste Christian) and he/she is not eligible for the reservation opportunity they would otherwise be eligible for. But Scheduled Tribes (ST) still retain the reservation benefit if they convert to Christianity. So there has been a demand from SCs converted to Christianity – as we are in public life, we receive many such representations – to allow the same reservation benefit as they would otherwise be having, so that they can openly declare themselves as Christians. Because these people go to the Church every Sunday, give donation to pastors. I am telling this as a phenomenon in the country – everywhere there is a request from those people (SCs) who convert.”

A careful study of data from Andhra Pradesh indicates that over the years those practising Christianity have obtained Hindu-SC caste certificates to garner each and every opportunity and facility given for benefit of SCs – like reservations in political constituencies, nominated posts, jobs, educational opportunities, scholarships, hostels, housing etc. The state is believed to have undergone large scale conversions to Christianity during Jagan Reddy’s father YSR’s (considered close to Congress President Sonia Gandhi) Congress rule from 2004-09. And the process has hasn’t stopped since then under successive Congress, TDP and now YSCRP regimes.

Census 2011 data analysis shows the YSRCP MP is likely right

An analysis of the Census 2011 data for the state of Andhra Pradesh by expert demographer Dr. JK Bajaj tells us –

“There have been often doubts about the number of Christians counted in the Indian Censuses. It is speculated that a large number of Christian converts—especially from the Scheduled Castes—choose to hide the fact so as to continue enjoying the special privileges available to members of certain Castes among Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. The total number of Christians in India estimated by international demographic scholars associated with the Church are often much higher than those counted in the Censuses.

Andhra Pradesh is a special example of this fuzziness associated with the number of Christians. Their number here was rising consistently up to 1971, when it reached its peak value of 18.23 lakhs in the then undivided State. After 1971, their number began falling sharply, dropping to 14.33 lakhs in 1981 and to 11.30 lakhs in 2011. The share of Christians in the total population had risen from 1.68 percent in 1911 to 4.39 percent in 1971; it dropped to 2.68 percent in 1981 and has come down to 1.34 percent now.

This sharp decline in the number of Christians in the Census counts in the State is directly related to a corresponding rise in the number of Scheduled Castes. This can mean two things: Either, the converts to Christianity are choosing to deny it before the Census and other secular authorities; or, they have chosen to revert to their original faith. The former seems more likely from the great divergence between the number of Christians counted by the Census and those estimated by the international Church.”

A noted ‘Breaking India’ intellectual and Christian activist like John Dayal, who rose to prominence under Sonia Gandhi’s UPA regime, explains the concept of ‘Crypto Christians’ in Bharat who he says “live a unique double life, Hindus in the public domain, and on official records, while privately professing faithfulness to Jesus Christ.” Dayal adds in this 2014 article on a German Federal Government site –

“The official Census is not the best guide to the number of Christians in India. No one believed the official figures (of Census 2001) that Christians constituted just 2.3 percent of the population. The Catholic Church, Protestant groups and particularly the Pentecostal churches collectively claim a total figure that may be two or three times the official Census numbers…. others estimate it as high as 9 percent.

Social scientists and researchers say there are a number of reasons why this may in fact be true. The enumerators’ questions in the Census operations discouraged members of the former untouchable castes, who call themselves Dalits and are called Scheduled Castes by the government, from registering themselves as Christians. These are communities, specially in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, who avoid registering themselves officially as such in order to continue taking advantage of government’s affirmative action programmes that include reservations in academic institutions, the civil service, and legislatures. Official conversion to Christianity would make them ineligible under Article 341 (iii) of the Constitution, which holds such affirmative action only for Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. This law has been challenged twice in the Supreme Court, which upheld it the first time, but five years ago reopened hearings on a public interest litigation by Dalit Christians.”

But the same Dayal executes a neat U-turn a year later, when he uses the Census 2011 figures (which claims the share of Christians has actually reduced from 2.35% in 2001 to 2.3% in 2011!) to dismiss Hindu opposition to conversion by Christian missionaries as ‘Hindu fanatic’ ranting! Of course, this statement came while addressing a Bharatiya audience in a Christian propaganda site.

Many Hindus continue to live in a fool’s paradise about the state of affairs in Bharat. While liberal-minded Hindus, who are mostly Hindus in name only, like to believe that conversions are innocuous and a reflection of Hindu ‘rigidity and stinginess’, even some staunch Hindutvawadis like to claim that all concerns about mass conversions in Southern Bharat and other states are ‘overblown’. Then there are those practising Hindus who do not contribute to any organised Hindu effort but believe that missionaries are doing ‘good work’ as some of them operate behind a facade of schools, hospitals etc. A fourth category has buried their heads in the sand, believing that as Hindu Dharma has survived for 1000s of years, the danger posed by the secular state too will pass.

Whether Raghu Ramakrishna Raju said what he did with some ulterior motive like forwarding the cause of reservations for SC converts to Christianity, only time will tell. But he has sounded a warning bell about the clear and present danger to the nation’s integrity from the Christian missionary mafia. Article 25 must be amended to outlaw proselytisation by globally aggressive faiths like Christianity and Islam.

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