By Chandra Mallampalli

This booklet tells the tale of the way Catholic and Protestant Indians have tried to find themselves in the evolving Indian kingdom. mockingly, British rule in India didn't privilege Christians, yet driven them to the margins of a predominantly Hindu society. Drawing upon wide-ranging assets, the publication first explains how the Indian judiciary's 'official wisdom' remoted Christians from Indian notions of relations, caste and kingdom. It then describes how diversified kinds and sessions of Christians followed, resisted and reshaped either imperial and nationalist perceptions in their identification. inside a weather of emerging communal pressure in India, this research reveals speedy relevance.

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Extra info for Christians and Public Life in Colonial South India, 1863-1937: Contending with Marginality

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57 Yet, at a time such as now, when Christians are falling victim to the forces of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism), to ignore this 17 INTRODUCTION larger history of exclusion would be costly. ” Law reports, assembly debates and news media offer a distorted picture of the views of Indians. ”60 From this perspective, records of legal and political activity offer at best a dim reflection of the real selves of Indians, which were veiled by the oppressive aura of colonial agency. The problem with such perspectives is that they make it next to impossible to find an Indian subject within the public sphere.

The civil disabilities of converts, in Thumbu Chetty’s view, stood in a long line of arcane social practices. 52 Within a social climate calling for radical reforms to Hindu institutions, the law ought not to be used to solidify orthodoxy by inhibiting the desire of some to change their religious views. If the law could sanction disabilities imposed upon Christian converts, it could also be used to punish others who strayed from Hindu orthodoxy, including numerous varieties of Hindu reformers. 53 29 LEGAL CONSTRUCTIONS OF RELIGIOUS IDENTITY Notwithstanding their deep conviction and logical force, Thumbu Chetty’s arguments were unable to overcome the logic that differentiated the reform of Hinduism from conversion from it.

In a manner typical of many Hindu reformers, Sadasiva Iyer highlighted the material motives for Christian conversion and downplayed any “disabilities” faced by converts. According to his report, the Act was not only a dead letter in Malabar, but also in districts where he had worked as a judge. 79 34 RIGHTS OF CONVERTS The report also emphasized the corporate nature of conversions to Christianity and of subsequent “reconversion” to Hinduism. Because religious change so often involved groups and not individuals, converts rarely found themselves in disputes with family or caste members.

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