The light of Easter for India's democracy

(Photo: Unsplash/Graphic Gears)

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5)

As Indian Christians celebrate the sacred occasion of Easter, we are reminded that even the darkest hours cannot extinguish the brilliance of truth and righteousness. This truth must inspire and fortify us as we approach a pivotal general election where the secular, democratic fabric of our republic faces its greatest test.

The ideals of pluralism, equality and freedom of faith that defined our republic are facing an unprecedented assault from divisive forces intent on promoting a narrow, exclusionary vision of nationhood.  

The trends observed i.e., the normalisation of divisive rhetoric, marginalisation of minorities, weakening of democratic institutions, and the relentless push towards majoritarianism - should give all citizens committed to constitutional values reason to pause. India's vibrant diversity and secular fabric, which our freedom fighters sacrificed so much to uphold, is under grave threat.

Compounding these issues is the vexing problem of opaque political funding which was highlighted once again by the Supreme Court's recent historic decision to strike down the controversial Electoral Bonds Scheme that allowed anonymous corporate donations to political parties. The scheme was unanimously ruled unconstitutional by the apex court. While hailed as a win for transparency, the fact remains that for the foreseeable future, opacity in political funding is here to stay, benefiting the dominant ruling party.

For the Christian community, which has enriched India as a nation and its spiritual traditions over centuries, these are particularly unsettling times. We have become regrettable targets of hostility, with our fundamental rights to freely practise our faith and access public spaces like educational institutions increasingly circumscribed. 

Interference in religious affairs and curbing of personal liberties in the name of cultural supremacy have no place in a pluralistic society. We need political and social forces that respect the inviolable Constitutional guarantee to all citizens of the right to freely profess, practice and propagate their faith.

Yet the principles we celebrate at Easter - of hope conquering despair, love triumphing over hatred, and truth prevailing against injustice - must infuse our response. Christ's teachings emphasise the importance of human dignity, brotherhood, and compassion as guiding principles to follow. These universal values were woven into the Indian Constitution to unite our wondrous diversity into one nation.  

As we prepare to vote in this marathon general election over 7 phases, we must firmly reject the politics of polarisation and demand a return to an inclusive vision of India. One where no citizen is rendered a second-class participant based on faith or identity. Where social fractures are healed, not deepened through insecurity-mongering. And where accountable governance prioritises the pressing needs of all Indians - generation of quality jobs, access to education and healthcare, and above all, eradication of poverty and inequality.

This is not a matter of ideological partisan battles, but of upholding the democratic ideals of equality, liberty, justice and fraternity that our nation was founded upon. To do anything less would be an utter betrayal of our spiritual and constitutional values.

So let us approach the ballot box with confidence and moral clarity, for truth remains far mightier than falsehoods promoted through brute propaganda. Let us vote resolutely to reinstate human dignity, fraternity, and democratic freedoms as the pillars of the New India we wish to create.

And let the eternal message of Easter - of light banishing darkness, and love conquering all - bolster our conviction. As the resurrection story inspires, even seemingly insurmountable challenges can be overcome through faith, courage, and the unwavering pursuit of truth.

For when we sow the seeds of pluralism, compassion and Constitutional values today through our vote, we will reap a richer, more united India for all our tomorrows. An India that celebrates its "unity in diversity", uplifting every citizen's fundamental freedoms as sacred, inviolable rights. An India that fulfils its destiny as a shining beacon of democracy and inclusive nation-building for the world to emulate.

This Easter, we Christians must lead the way in reclaiming India's soul as a shining, equitable democracy respecting all faiths and communities as equal partners. Our vote, our voice and our actions must resoundingly reject the corrosive forces of division, authoritarianism, and naked pursuit of power through any means. For in doing so, we honour the sacrifices of our freedom fighters and remain faithful to our nation's enlightened, progressive Constitutional ideals. Ours is a vote for truth, justice, dignity, and fraternity to triumph across our diverse land and a reminder that light cannot be overcome by darkness. 

Rev. Vijayesh Lal is the General Secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India.