On 25 June, 1975 – nearly forty years years ago, Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi unilaterally had a state of emergency declared across the country. Officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352(1) of the Constitution for “internal disturbance”, the Emergency was in effect from 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977 (21 months). `
So what did the Emergency imply? Essentially, at the stroke of the President’s pen India ceased being a democracy and was converted into a virtual autocracy. Civil liberties were suspended, media was censored, state and parliamentary elections were postponed, and anyone who wrote or spoke against the Government was put behind bars. In the 21 months of the Emergency, 100,000 people were arrested and detained without trial. ~ www.thelogicalindian.com
Under the Emergency rule, it was not easy to raise voices of critical opposition, in making even a mild-toned protest, one did so at considerable risk. Many kept silent because of the fear which spread among the people. Despite these pressures, some of the Christian groups made courageous attempts to express critical voices. It is significant to recognise that those who made the critical protests were not the representatives of the large institutional churches; rather, they were members of relatively small groups or of a minority group within the institutional church.
Metropolitan Juhanon Mar Thoma was the only Church leader who wrote a letter to her disapproving it. The Metropolitan’s letter stated that he deemed the Emergency rule as a setback to democracy and demanded its speedy withdrawal as well as the release of the politicians arrested in this regard.
His earlier statement was drafted in Malayalam in the fall of 1975. Even though it was not an entirely critical protest, but raised in a modest way a critical question, it was refused publication in Kerala. Metropolitan has written a brief yet pointed letter to Prime Minister Gandhi stating clearly his concern for the political situation.
“A vast number of people, and that growing numbers, feel the price we have to pay is costly. With people like Morarji and others in jail, and a press which has lost its freedom to write news and views, we feel a kind of depression. On behalf of thousands, I request withdrawal of Emergency by gradual stages. Immediate and altogether withdrawal is likely to have very bad repercussions. If the political detenus are released and’ freedom for press is given, it will be a great relief.
“I have one more request: not to have elections and constitutional changes during the time of Emergency. Hoping to be excused for this letter written from a sincere and painful heart.” ~www.daga.org.hk
He wrote that he was writing as a Church leader and a citizen. Mrs Indira Gandhi gave orders to arrest Metropolitan Juhanon Mar Thoma. Mr. C. Achuthamenon was the Chief Minister at that time and with his interference the arrest was avoided. It was the Mar Thoma Church’s fight for independence and national integrity that echoed through Metropolitan Juhanon Mar Thoma, a fearless commitment to the concerns of the people that is hard to find among religious leaders now. On September 9, shortly after he wrote this letter, he fell ill and died on September 27, 1976.
The first edition of the Indian Express after the imposition of emergency consisted of a blank page instead of editorial. The Financial Express had Rabindranath Tagore’s poem, “Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high”.
Where The Mind Is Without Fear
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
Pages from History:- 25 December, 1905: Formation of the National Missionary Society of India (NMSI).
On Christmas Day 1905, a meeting of the church leaders held in the historic library of William Carey at Serampore decided to form a National Missionary Society.
The following principles were adopted on that day
1. The work of evangelization shall be done by Indians
2. That its expenses should be met by Indian money.
3. They must choose mission fields in areas where Western Missions were not working
4. The society should not form a church or denomination but entrust the converts they gather to the care of the churches in that area.
The First Sunday of December is observed as Bible Society Day. It was the British and Foreign Bible Society, established in London in 1804, that first made a concerted effort of translating, printing and publishing Bibles in different languages.
In India, it’s auxiliaries were formed in Calcutta (1811), Bombay (1812), Madras (1820) and in Kerala (1956). Other auxiliaries were formed later. Even before the formation of the auxiliaries in India, the work of translation of the Bible to Indian languages had been taken up by William Carey and his associates in Calcutta. In obedience to the commandment of the Lord “Go ye unto the uttermost corners of the earth and preach my gospel”, the Bible Society aims at making available, copies of the Bible, New Testaments and portions of the Bible to
1.To Every Person in his/her own language.
2.At a price within his/her reach
3.In a style which is easily understood
It is in pursuance of this objective that it brings out special editions for students,members of the armed forces, in Braille type for the blind, etc. The United Bible Society distributes an average of 32 million full Bibles each year. In addition to that, they distribute enough New Testaments and Scripture portions to potentially reach 5% of the world’s population each year. In 2012 they distributed over 405 million Scripture items.
2016 was ‘a first’ for no fewer than 30 languages, spoken by over 95 million people. 17 communities now have their very first Bible, 6 have a New Testament and 7 communities have their first, or additional, portions of Scripture.
They also manage a growing social media ministry on Facebook and other social networks. The Digital Bible Facebook page reaches millions of young adults every year. 71% report it helps them apply the Bible’s teaching to their lives. https://www.facebook.com/UnitedBibleSocieties