By Tuisem A. Shishak.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1).
The rest is history. Now decide for yourself whether what the RSS-controlled BJP Government is doing in Nagaland and the North-East isn’t how Satan in the guise of a serpent deceived Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden so long ago. The whole creation has been in a mess ever since.
The announcement of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly election (2018) has already opened Pandora’s box. Already ten political parties are in the fray, with only one regional party totally committed to regional development. Unless God’s people wake up and exercise their Christian responsibility prayerfully and wisely, this year’s election may turn out to be the most divisive and destructive ever. Even now it has the appearance of an uncontrollable “monster.” For the first time , the RSS with their Hindutva ideology has decided to challenge the Church of Jesus Christ in Nagaland, in Meghalaya, and surely in Mizoram in the near future. Victory for the RSS-controlled BJP in the Nagaland State election and the two other Christian-dominated North-Eastern states means enslavement of the North-Easterners and persecution of the Church.
Hence, Christians everywhere, listen to the Bible: “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).
In 1963 the Central Government in New Delhi created “Nagaland State”, and in 1964 a Delhi-imposed full legislative assembly began functioning. In all the subsequent elections the Church (overwhelming Baptist and Roman Catholic voters in Nagaland) selected Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to govern Nagaland State. What happened to “Clean Election” all these years? I am persuaded that the Church– Christians in Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram– is really the culprit for all the corruption because we the Church, we corrupt church members, knowingly continue to elect corrupt church members as MLAs in every election. Almost all Nagaland MLAs and Government bureaucrats are likely to be members of a local church. Today nobody denies that Nagaland is one of the most corrupt states in India. Don’t we realize that the Church (the vast majority who are Baptist Christians) again will decide who will form the next government in Nagaland? What an awesome task of the Church before men and God! It is the same in Meghalaya where the Church (Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics) will decide who forms the next government, and the same in Mizoram where the Church (Presbyterians and Baptists) will decide their next government.
In the fourth century B.C., Aristotle wrote: “The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousand-fold.” Thomas Aquinas, centuries later, said that little errors in the beginning lead to serious consequences in the end.
How could these overwhelming majority Christian states — sink to the bottom of the moral totem pole? Let us add the five Christian-dominated hill districts of Manipur (Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong, Churachandpur, and Chandel) where similar corruption abounds. Please read Patricia Mukhim’s article, “Where is Christ in the Government?” (Morung Express, 3/1/18, p.5). The Church is reaping what she has sown.
Whether “solution before election” or “solution after election” or “never solution”, the struggle for clean elections will continue. Free and fair elections are essential for the formation of any democratic government.
What does ”clean election” mean, and how a clean election can be achieved, have been discussed threadbare in the church, in the public square, on school/college campuses, thanks to the Nagaland Baptist Church Council’s (NBCC) leadership with the backing of the Nagaland Joint Christian Forum (NJCF), and several NGOs and civil societies.
This time the Church has invested more time and energy in efforts to ensure a clean election. Many excellent rules and regulations, which are mostly ignored, have been laid down which the political candidates and the electorate are to abide by. But still the essential “one thing” found wanting in the Naga Church today is spiritual and moral power…“having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim.3:5). Today’s Church has failed to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). The love of money has just about destroyed the testimony of the Church. We compete only in who can build the largest church building (mostly with money stolen by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who then donate it to the church). But we forget the main mission of the church: building up believers in the faith and making disciples of Christ at home and around the world.
If we want a clean election, the Church must first confess her sin and be clean, spiritually and morally. “If my people… will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron.7:14). The Church must never be unequally yoked with any secular government. The Church sins when morally corrupt politicians and government officials are permitted to occupy the pulpit. The Church sins when corrupt money and corrupt people help build worship centers and gospel ministries and missions.
The Church is truly a fellowship of Christ’s followers. She is the body of which Christ is the Head. To Him alone the Church owes her allegiance, not to any human agent or organization, including the so-called “high command” in Delhi or any underground group. Only then can the Church confront the secular, corrupt world (politicians, bureaucrats, national workers, etc.) with the Word: “Thus says the LORD GOD.” Such a Church remains prophetic. Any local church that ceases to be prophetic becomes pathetic, serving the world rather than their Lord.
Linked to Nagaland’s soon-coming Legislative Assembly election is the RSS influence which has been secretly, and subtly, permeating, like a deadly chemical or virus, into the various parts of the North-East for decades. The RSS was founded in 1925 by K. Baliram Hedgewar from Nagpur, who, among others, agitated for strict segregation of Hindus and Muslims. Some of the most prominent RSS members deeply admired Facism and Nazism, the two totalitarian movements which swept through Europe in the early 20th century. We are told the RSS was outlawed by the British and was even occasionally banned by the Indian government after independence. Naturam Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, was a member of the RSS. Senior RSS members had direct links to both Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany. Madhavarao S. Goldwalker, known as the brain of RSS, was the second RSS chief, who enthusiastically advocated for an India dominated by Hindus. From its genesis, the RSS openly espoused militant Hindu activism and the suppression of minorities. This brief RSS background can help us understand something about the current BJP-RSS nexus.
Yes, RSS’s ultimate objective is to establish a Hindu Rashtra (nation or kingdom) and the Hindu religion: a Hindu theocratic government. The current BJP, officially formed in 1980, is the successor of the BJS party, which itself was the political arm of the RSS. Indeed, BJP is the political arm of the RSS. We are told most BJP workers were hardcore RSS people. We believe Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajna Singh, President Amit Shah, and several more Ministers, are hardcore RSS members. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwati is now the voice of the RSS founding members; he is also a major voice in BJP’s policy-making and policy implementation. In other words, when we talk about BJP government, we are talking about a RSS-controlled government. How can any true follower of Jesus Christ be a primary member of the BJP-RSS? The world knows Hinduism is a religion, and RSS is a radical-violent-intolerant-racist-Hindu-politico-religious group.
Since the current BJP government assumed power at the center in 2014, there have been appointments of more and more hardcore RSS members as state governors, government bureaucrats, heads of educational institutions, organizations, including India’s President (a Dalit) and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, both of whom are active RSS members. Congress Party President Rajiv Gandhi said, “In every single ministry in India at the national level, there is an OSD (officer on special duty) from RSS working with the minister. . . . The minister is not operating on his own” (PTI). The list goes on. What about the drastic increase in harassment, torture, burning and murder of Christians and their churches, Muslims and their mosques, Dalits and all the other innocent minorities in India? In recent times RSS cow vigilantes have become active in all BJP-ruled states, with the loss of many lives, especially Muslims and Dalits.
Saving cows by murdering human beings created in the image of God is an abomination to Christians and Jews. By the way, Christians in India and around the world must never forget that horrific murder committed by the Bajrang Dal, an ally of the RSS, by burning alive the Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in Odisha in 1999 while sleeping in their vehicle. Just as the 12-digit Aadhaar number being issued to every Indian, the BJP-RSS government is set to assign each of India’s milk-producing cow a cheap, unique identity card or UID, first proposed in 2015. A Hindustan Time report says that this year’s Central Government budget shows an allotment of Rs. 50 crore for 40 million cattle. Incredible! What is being done about the poor and marginalized millions of citizens, who are treated as lower than milking cows and sacred bulls? The caste system will always keep India divided… “Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all” (Prov.22:2).
With regard to Christianity, the RSS, along with other radical Hindu groups such as the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad), Bajrang Dal, and Shiv Sena, are anti-Church, anti-Christian. Hinduism and Christianity are diametrically opposed in their beliefs and practices. Time and again Indian Christians have been accused of converting Hindus to Christianity by force or through allurement by material benefits. The same accusation against the Hindus is neither permissible nor acceptable as true. In Christianity, forced conversion is no conversion at all; every individual person must by faith accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Today the church is weak because many church members are not spiritually born-again believers and today’s church loves mammon (money) more than her Lord and Master, Jesus Christ: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (I Tim. 6:10). “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father (God) is not in him” (I John 2:15). “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24).
With money and manipulation, BJP-RSS has already formed the governments in Arunachal, Assam, and Manipur and in Goa. Their hidden/open strategy now is to capture politically the whole North-East. This they could do if they succeed in installing BJP governments in the three Christian-dominated North-Eastern states. The life-and-death question before the Church is: Do we want BJP, the political wing of the RSS, to come and control our government, telling us what to do and what not to do? What to eat and what to worship? And that with carrot and stick (gun) like what happened to the Nagas in the nineteen fifties and sixties? Can Christians and RSS be equally yoked? “For the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5 ). “I am the LORD your God… You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” (Exodus 20:1-3).
Even the overwhelming moderate Hindu majority in India condemn RSS’s Hindutva ideology of discrimination against Muslims, Christians, Dalits, and all the religious and racial minorities in India. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwati repeatedly says: “Everyone born in India is a Hindu.” Hinduism is the only religion of India. Even Muslims are Hindus by nationality, they are Muslims by faith only. Prime Minister Modi stated in Bengaluru on February 4, 2018 that all Indians are Ram’s children. Dare Mr. Modi consider Nagas and other tribals as Ram’s children? Christians are considered “foreigners.” Even tribal Animists are considered former Hindus; hence “homecoming” programs are organized by the RSS. What about the Freedom of Religion acts adopted in Odisha (1967), Madhya Pradesh (1968), Arunachal Pradesh (1978), Chhattisgarh (2000), Gujarat (2003), Himachal Pradesh (2007), Rajasthan (2008)? These acts are primarily for checking proselytization. But anti-conversion laws also have been passed, prohibiting forced or money-induced conversion. Checking conversion to any other religion has been one of BJP-RSS’s goals. In 2013, BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu, now the Vice President of India, had declared that his party would bring a nationwide anti-conversion law if elected to power. When Christians make up less than three percent of India’s population, and Hindus being more than 80%, why are the Hindus so afraid of the Christians? What is the rationale for having passed Freedom of Religion Acts in so many overwhelmingly Hindu-dominated states? Now Mr. Naidu wants a nationwide anti-conversion law. These RSS leaders must be convinced that the Christian God is the only true God; otherwise why should they be so afraid of the Christian God?
BJP-RSS want to make Arunachal Pradesh a Hindu majority state through ghar wapsi (homecoming), bringing non-Hindus (Animists and Budhists) back to the fold of Hinduism. Now Mr. Kiren Rijiju from Arunachal Pradesh (Union Minister of State for Home) and Ram Madhav, BJP general secretary in charge of the North-East are busy trying to make Nagaland another Hindu state. Who knows those forty-thousand khakhi-clad RSS soldiers who paraded in Guwahati in January, are likely to be already all over Nagaland State incognito.
The saffronization of education (for ex. changes in Indian history) began during the tenure of BJP Prime Minister Atal Vajpaya. Of course, Vajpaya was a moderate, reasonable Hindu. Now things have become worse. Proposals to introduce things Hindu abound: Bhagwat Gita reading as the national book; Hindi, Sanskrit and yoga compulsory in schools; saying or singing Vande Mataram, Bharat mata ki jai, glorifying and exalting Mother India as god or goddess. PM Modi has already declared Christmas (December 25) as Good Governance Day, and Good Friday as Digital India Day. What’s next is anybody’s guess. Even if the BJP is voted into power in the North-East, they say beef-eating will not be banned here. Now BJP is saying: election for solution, meaning BJP, if voted into power, will right away solve the Naga political impasse. One has to be gullible to believe that the BJP-RSS government can’t find solution to the Naga political crisis before election, only after the election.
Even Arun Shourie, himself a radical Hindu, and a cabinet minister during the previous BJP government of Atal Vajpaya, has said this about Modi and his government: “Modi and Shah are everyday espousing RSS values, these are their values. . . . ‘It is a decentralised emergency… a pyramidal mafia state, where local goons belabour anyone whom they think is doing something wrong. The central people will look the other way. The central people will provide a rationale for the goondas at the local level. Like ‘gaurakshaks’, like ‘love jihad’ –this becomes the rationale for me to beat up anybody. It’s not love for the cow but just an instrument for domination… you don’t bite your neighbour, you have a dog to do that. So that’s being done'” (Morung Express, 20/1/17, p.7).
Let’s talk about development. During Vajpaya’s time it was “Look East”; now under Modi it’s “Act East.” The BJP government seems to be more action-oriented than the Congress Party, thanks to Modi’s convincing speeches. But could it also be true that in the words of Congressman Sanjay Jha, “Development is only a facade to actually pursue the Hindutva agenda in India.”
As the time for election in the three North-Eastern States nears, as late as February 8 Modi and BJP-RSS leaders loudly declared in Assam that their top priority is to develop the North-East based on three cardinal principles: “Trade, Tourism, Training for youth, which would unlock the gate of self-employment.” Is that how much the BJP-RSS love people in the North-East? Well, don’t be so sure. Very often the BJP government tends to impress upon us that the so-called new four-lane national/international highway being constructed in the North-East is primarily for the benefit of North-Easterners. Far from it. Once linked to Yangon, Myanmar, the four-lane highway will become the major commercial route for India to do the maximum business with South-East Asian countries and beyond. Even construction of railway lines to all hill state capitals may turn out to be a curse, bringing all kinds of unwanted non-local criminals to rural areas. India still has many vast undeveloped rural and hill areas, mostly due to poverty and illiteracy. Why doesn’t the BJP government make the education department corruption-free, to begin with; invest six percent of its GDP in providing quality education to the tribals, dalits, Muslims, and all the down-trodden minorities in India? Quality education need not be expensive. Hi-tech education benefits nobody in remote rural and hill areas. Let us start with low-tech. I think Gandhiji, who was always concerned about the welfare of the poor in India’s villages, would still recommend E. F. Schumacher’s book, SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL for rural-tribal economic development. High-tech education cannot be swallowed without proper digestion. Our children have to be first prepared to appropriate every high-tech development. Right now students have no foundation. They must start with intermediate technology which Schumacher calls “Appropriate Technology”, the kind of technology which can be developed, maintained/repaired and improved/modified mechanically or electrically in the village. Such technology is still not available for the majority in remote rural regions. Yes, we need better roads and electricity and drinking water. Otherwise, development doesn‘t mean a thing to the village poor and illiterate.
The most complicated issue being faced by the Nagas of Indo-Myanmar is the more than 70-year old Naga political crisis still remaining unresolved. Nagas had hoped a final solution would be forthcoming not long after the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) arranged a ceasefire in 1997, over 20 long years ago. Yet even after two and a half years since the signing of the “Framework Agreement” on August 3, 2015 between the NSCM-IM and the BJP Government in Delhi, a solution remains as illusive as ever. For months the discussion among the Nagas throughout the Naga-inhabited areas of Indo-Myanmar as well as among the peoples of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has centered around “Naga Integration.” We keep hearing conflicting reports about the Framework Agreement (FA) contents. The NSCN-I-M leadership has said again and again that physical or geographical integration of all the Naga areas is an essential part of the FA. On the other hand, Home Minister Rajna Singh and the Government interlocutor R.N. Ravi say that physical integration is not part of the FA; they have assured our three neighbors that not even an inch of their land will be given away while finalizing the Naga final accord. Who is lying or who is telling the truth? The Nagas have said many times that they only want integration of their God-given lands. The last thing the Nagas want is taking away lands which genuinely belong to their neighbors. We can understand the opposition of the three Chief Ministers of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to the consolidation of all contiguous Naga areas because the size of each neighboring state will be reduced just like Madhya Pradesh when Chhattishgarh was formed; UP when Uttarrakhan was formed, and Bihar when Jharkhand was formed, all according to the constitution of India. Why should the Nagas be treated differently? Is it because Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh are now BJP-RSS-ruled states? The latest deceitful ploy of the BJP-RSS is “Election for Solution.” Is the BJP-RSS government really going to solve the more than 70-year-old Naga political nightmare following the 13th Nagaland State Legislative Assembly election? The truth is more likely that this is another deceitful ploy to form a BJP government in Nagaland State. Why was the BJP the first to withdraw after having agreed, along with all the other contesting political parties, NGOs and Civil Societies not to contest the election before solution of Naga political crisis? Can anyone trust the BJP-RSS? I have always said that the Nagas should never trust the Indian Government until the Final Political Agreement is signed between the Government and Naga Representatives, witnessed by a third country, preferably the United Kingdom or USA or both.
The Congress government had over 50 years to solve the Naga problem, but they blew it. The Naga integration struggle is due to the unfinished job of the Congress government when they created a Nagaland State consisting of hardly one-fifth of the Naga territory in Indo-Myanmar. Will history repeat itself or will the current BJP government under the leadership of Narendra Modi at last administer justice by letting all the Nagas of Indo-Myanmar dwell in peace under one political umbrella?
As of now, Nagas have not made any headway either under the Congress party or under the BJP. Instead, the trust deficit with both the two major political parties is very much alive today except it’s getting worse and worse due to RSS’s control over the BJP government. So far it’s all full of deceit and lies. Unfortunately, not just the Naga public and state government (politicians and bureaucrats) but even NSCN-IM leadership and all our other national movement leaders have been fooled several times all these years, and will yet be fooled in the future because they have also made themselves untrustworthy by serving Money rather than the God of the Bible. It is tragic, because Naga national workers have genuinely suffered much for the cause of the Naga Nation, but as Christians, they have sinned against God by indulging in things immoral, unjust, and have become corrupt like the over-ground politicians and bureaucrats. These facts must be acknowledged and confessed before the God of Creation so His blessings may start flowing again.
We must not wonder why it has taken so long to settle the Naga political issue. Could the number one cause be SIN? Militarily, the Nagas are like grasshoppers between two giant elephants: Myanmar and India. Our only hope is Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe and the Savior of mankind. Our only weapon is moral and spiritual and the Word of God. “. . . Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6). Right now worldliness has become our god. “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Isaiah 29:13). “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”(Ps.51:17). I would urge our Naga national workers that from now on make sure Jesus Christ is seated at every peace conference. After all, He is the Prince of Peace. Lasting Peace will come to Naga-Land when Jesus leads the Naga Peace Team.
With all the imperfections and failures of the Church, it must be made crystal clear that the Church still is our only hope for the Nagas, and will remain indispensable for the very survival of the Naga Nation now and until the day Jesus Christ returns to earth. Hence I fully endorse the resolutions adopted by the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) during its 21st triennial convention at Impur. NBCC has called on “believers to choose between the ‘trishul’ and the cross amid growing concerns of voters getting seduced by money and development offered by those whose hands seek to ‘pierce’ the heart of Jesus Christ.” (“NBCC sounds battle cry against Hindutva forces,” Nagaland Post, 10/2/18, p.1).
Dear beloved Nagas: Our problem is not with the Hindus, only with the RSS with their Hindutva ideology. Like in the days of the prophet Elijah, surely God must have reserved at least seven thousand believers in Naga-Land “whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him” (I Kings 19:18). I call upon you to rise and “build the wall and stand before me (God) in the gap on behalf of the land so I (God) would not have to destroy it (Naga-Land)”. Watch and Pray! But be sure to vote, every Christian in Nagaland State. Let us save NAGA-LAND for CHRIST. So God, help us!