In a warm and festive gathering at his residence in the national capital on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his greetings to the Christian community on Christmas. The event, attended by around 80 eminent Christian leaders, saw the Prime Minister lauding the continuous contributions of the Christian community in the health and education sectors, emphasising the significant impact of institutions run by the community nationwide.
Reflecting on his long standing relations with Christians dating back to his days as the Gujarat Chief minister, Prime Minister Modi expressed gratitude for their unwavering commitment to serving the poor and deprived. He acknowledged the community’s prominent role in India’s freedom struggle, with many thinkers and leaders actively contributing to the nation’s quest for independence.
“The Christian community has played an important role in the freedom movement. Many thinkers and leaders of the Christian community were involved in the freedom struggle. Gandhiji had said that the Non-Cooperation Movement was conceived under the patronage of Sushil Kumar Rudra, principal of St Stephen’s College,” he noted in his speech.
During the interaction, Modi highlighted the values embodied in Jesus Christ’s life, centred on compassion and service. Drawing parallels between the teachings of the Bible and the Upanishads, he noted that these shared values serve as a “guiding light” in the government’s development journey. The Prime Minister underscored the importance of cooperation, coordination, and the ethos of “sabka prayas” (everyone’s effort) in propelling the country to new heights.
Several members of the Christian community, including religious leaders, also spoke at the event, commending various initiatives of the Modi Government. The people who brought messages were Cardinal Oswald Gracias from Mumbai, Archbishop Anil J T Couto from Delhi, Bishop Paul Swaroop from the Church of North India – Delhi diocese, Anju Bobby George – retired star athlete and BJP member, and John Varghese, the Principal of St. Stephen’s College – Delhi. The ceremony was emceed by Tom Vadakkan, National Spokesperson of the BJP.
In his remarks, the Prime Minister encouraged people to focus on shared values and heritage to foster unity. He emphasised the spirit of “sabka prayas” as a driving force for collective progress.
Modi revealed that during his meeting with Pope Francis in 2021, they discussed ways to make the world a better place, addressing issues such as social harmony, global brotherhood, climate change, and inclusive development. He highlighted the Pope’s prayer for ending poverty, aligning it with the government’s development mantra of “sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas, sabka prayas (everyone’s support, everyone’s development, everyone’s trust, everyone’s effort).”
“The Holy Pope, in one of his Christmas addresses, prayed that those who are working to end poverty may receive blessings…These words reflect the same spirit that is in our mantra for development. Our mantra is ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas, sabka prayas’ (everyone’s support, everyone’s development, everyone’s trust, everyone’s effort),” the PM said.
“In different streams of social life, we see many similar values which unite us all. For example, the Holy Bible says that whatever gift God has given us, whatever power he has given us, we should use it to serve others. This is service as the supreme religion. In the Holy Bible, truth has been given great importance and it has been said that only truth will show us the path to salvation… The sacred Upanishads also focus on knowing the ultimate truth, so that we can liberate ourselves,” he added.
The prime minister reiterated his commitment to ensuring that development reaches everyone, especially the poor and deprived within the Christian community. He urged community leaders to spread awareness about government programs aimed at youth, such as “Fit India,” the promotion of millets, and campaigns against drug abuse.
Recognising the community’s social consciousness, Modi called upon Christians to play a vital role in environmental campaigns to minimise carbon footprint and promote a sustainable lifestyle. He sought their support for the “Vocal for Local” initiative, emphasising the need for collective efforts towards sustainable development.
The Prime Minister cited the BJP’s growing acceptability among Christians, particularly in northeastern states with sizable Christian populations, but any mention of the violence in Manipur or its victims was missing from his speech.
The event concluded with Prime Minister Modi expressing his wishes for a festive season that strengthens the bonds of the nation, bringing citizens closer despite their diversity.
This outreach to the Christian community, the first of its kind in the Modi era, signifies the effort that the BJP is prepared to undertake to increase its footprint in the southern states of India, especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Originally published by Christian Today India