The announcement of the Digital India Day to be observed on April 14 that falls on Good Friday has created quite a flutter among the Christians in India and especially in the Northeast region. The chief of the National People’s Party, an ally of the BJP, Conrad Sangma had also written to the Prime Minister to defer the Digital India Day so that the secular fabric of India remain honoured both in writing and in spirit. The application to the PMO for deferment from various political and religious bodies continues to pour in. In Nagaland, the Chief Secretary clarified on Wednesday April 12, though quite late, that the Digital India Day will be observed in only 100 cities across the country and no town of Nagaland is in the list. It is one in a series of announcements, after the Modi government took over in 2014, coinciding with a Christian holiday. Earlier the Good Governance Day was declared to be observed on December 25 which is also the birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Christians constitute just 2.3 percent of the population of India and it somehow loses its relevance statistically especially in the drawing boards of the country’s top planners in the government as well as in the private sector. However the low percentage should not deceive anyone especially the team of planners and advisers working with Prime Minister Modi since he is someone who understood to be quite knowledgeable in numbers and IT savvy. On the flipside, due to the massiveness of India’s population the 2.3 percent converts to nearly 30 million Christians in the country. If it was a country, then in terms of population it would be just below Venezuela and above Nepal and would replace the latter to be the 45th populous country among the 195 nations of the world at present. Even countries like Australia, North Korea, Netherlands, Ghana have lesser population than the total population of Christians in India. Talk about hurting the sentiments of a country on religion and communal lines and it is unacceptable that sometimes even leads to warlike tensions.
On the other hand, what if this issue was almost politicised as a case of minority bashing in the BJP’s agenda of’ Hindutva’ although it is actually against the accepted norm of the country’s practice of positive secularism. The Christian holidays especially the National Holidays are actually unproductive days if looked purely from the prism of the huge population of Hindus and Muslims in the country where Sunday is still a public holiday. A Prime Minister who preaches about increasing the productivity of the country as evident from the various programmes launched since taking over office will surely look for ways to make use of those unproductive days in the country. It is not only on Christmas and the Good Friday but also on other Christian holidays the government may announce more National Days hereafter. In the present case, politics was at least removed from the region in the nick of time since the PMO clarified that the observation of Digital India Day was exempted from Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
As for a Christian, leaving aside the politics many would have failed the very teachings of Jesus Christ on this particular issue of notifying Digital India Day coinciding Good Friday. The Christian teachings say that Christ was crucified on Good Friday to rise from the death on the third day signifying the victory of good over evil and the redemption of sins of humans. It also says that the Jews during the time of Jesus expected a conqueror who will be victorious over the Romans and free the Jews. However the teachings of Jesus was more about sacrifice, offering the other cheek when hit upon one, taking up one’s cross and following Him, compassion etc. which all were part of the highest of virtues; Christian love. This love for humans was proved by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Christians observe this as a holy day signifying the sacrifice that Jesus had to make and reflect on the teachings to love one another the way he loved humans and to be more like Jesus Christ. What would Jesus say? will be a good question for the 30 million Christians in the country to reflect upon this Good Friday.