Christians ignored by British Rulers of India. By Riaz Anjum Advocate


It is fact that ideology whether it is religious or political is always accepted by lower class in its beginning. This situation completely changes when a religion is adopted by rulers of that area. When rulers of a country adopt a religion, upper class, influential people and feudal class of that country follows them and adopt the same religion. Although the interest of these people is just to save their status, hon our and splendorous rather inspiration from teaching of that religion. You can take the example of Buddhism. Although there were many followers of Buddhism throughout India before adoption of Buddhism by Ashoka the Great but Buddhism spread rapidly in and out of India when Ashoka adopted the Buddhism. As long as Buddhism had been being patronized by rulers, it kept on flourishing rapidly in India but when reign changed the things became difficult for Buddhist people. Many Buddhist were compelled to leave the Buddhism in India and others who did not leave the Buddhism they had to leave India.
Same was the situation with Hinduism in India. As long as there were Hindu rulers Hinduism had been being patronized and Hindus made much progress than others and got all kind of benefits like lands and ranks in state machinery.
Same was the situation with Muslims of sub-continent. Although Islam was introduced by Muslim Arab traders but Indian people started to embrace Islam due to the preaching of Muslim saints. Although the number of Muslims who embraced Islam due to the preaching does not make a big figure. Although The Arab traders had their social contacts in South India which consists of present Sindh and its adjoin areas but the Islam started to spread rapidly when Muhammad BIn Qasim entered in Sindh as conqueror. Although there were people of all walks of life with Muhammad Bin Qasim however soldiers were in bigger number. When Arab Muslims established their rule in Sindh, a large number of feudal s came to Muhammad Bin Qasim and embraced Islam to protect their properties, social status and privileges. This was a ruling class when they embraced Islam the common people followed them. When common people entered in Islam they were given lands, employment and ranks by rulers.
During the reign of Muhammad Bin Qasim, Ghauri, Qutb ud din Aibak, Tughlaq,Lodhies Mughals many feudal lords and Elite of subcontinent embraced Islam to protect their lands ,ranks and social status .When these people embraced Islam common people followed them because it was necessary to please their lords for their physical survival and existence.
Now we can say That Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam had been being patronized by rulers in past in subcontinent.
As contrary to above said religions Christianity never patronized by any ruler or Government in India. Although the reign in which Christian missionaries came here in India was of British rulers who were Christians by faith but they never patronized Christianity and Missionaries in India. In fact British rulers prioritized their administrative, political and economic benefits than Christians and Christianity in India. Therefore all steps which British rulers took were to strengthen and lengthen their rule in subcontinent.
The Churches of fourth and fifth centuries in subcontinent depict that people of sub-continent were known to Christianity long before the European missionaries came here for preaching but the number of Christians were just nominal before these missionaries .First of all Portuguese missionaries came in 1498 in India and started preaching in Madras, Kerala and Guava. Although missionaries had come with British but they were just restricted to pay their duties regarding religious rites of Britishers. First English missionary William Carey for preaching local people entered in 1793 and then gradually missionary from other European countries started to come in and to spread Christianity in India. After the European American missionaries came in eighteen century and established Churches like PC USA and ARP which played very important role in preaching Christianity in throughout India and especially in those areas which are now part of Pakistan.
In begging poor, exploited and low caste people accepted Christianity in India. Although some people belonging to upper class and land owners converted to Christianity but number of such people were just nominal. This exploited class accepted Christianity due to kindness, passion of welfare and sympathetic attitude of missionaries besides teaching of Christianity. In begging Christianity was used to called "Religion of Poor people "because in its beginning a big number of poor people accepted Christianity in sub-continent. Christians were not only hated but also called with loathsome words. Christians were considered secondary citizens because of being serving class in sub-continent. On one hand Christians faced hatred and negative social attitude with great courage, tolerance and bravery, on other hand they kept on making progress with hard working, honesty and resoluteness.
Christians have been struggling alone on their way to progress. They have never been patronized or supported by any ruler even in British rule which was rule of Christians. British rulers gave big estate to local people in subcontinent. Such kind of favors was given to Hindus and Muslim only. Christians were completely ignored while distribution of such estate in subcontinent. Although some of Christians were given small pieces of lands but they were never given big estates of lands as Hindus and Muslims were given by British rulers in subcontinent.
Christianity changed the spiritual life of oppressed, deprived, exploited and poor people after conversion to Christianity but their social and economic life did not see any change in subcontinent.
In Second World War when economy of Great Britain was sinking and freedom movements were getting strength then Britain decided to liberate all its colonies including India. In that era many communities were living in India and Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians were big communities among them. Britain divided India into two separate countries India and Pakistan when they liberated India. Hindus got India and Muslims took Pakistan. Punjab province was also divided and east Punjab was given to Sikh community for their satisfaction because they refused to live under domination of Muslims in Pakistan. Christians were completely ignored by British rulers during partition of India. Not to speak of separate homeland or province Christians of Pakistan were not even given some districts to live together within Pakistan. If the boundary commission of Partition had given some districts to Christians to live together in Pakistan, the social, economic and political situation of Pakistani Christians would have been changed. If this commission had given some districts to Christians and land of said districts had been divided among Christians would have become the part of producing class instead of serving class. If it had happened Christians of Pakistan on one hand would have attained economic freedom and on other hand they would have become the part of ruling elite. I would regret to say that it did not happen and British rulers completely ignored Christians of India and Pakistan. This is one of the reasons due to which Pakistani Christians are socially, economically and politically weak and are being persecuted in Pakistan. Now it can be rightly said that British rulers of India are also responsible to some extent for so weak social, economic and political situation of Pakistani Christians.

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