Updated: Jun 22, 2021
Today in 1950 the Constitution of India came into force, forming a republic. An ancient, massive and deeply religious country with 80% Hindus. We look at the role of H.C. Mukherjee, a Christian leader who became the Vice-President of the Constituent Assembly of India, and explore the impact of Christianity particularly in the field of education.
Today the Constitution of India came into force, forming a republic and Rajendra Prasad was sworn in as the first President of India.. The president of India is the ceremonial head of state of India and the Commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces but doesn’t have the same power at the prime minister. In the dying embers of the Second World War, it was a time of independence from Colonial Masters. India emerged out of the shadows of the British Empire. One of the oldest civilisations in the world, India is a Hindu country with a minority of Christians, now estimated to be just above 2% of the population, although this still counts for 315 million people. Although in some areas of India, Christian Saints such as Mother Teresa are venerated by the local Hindus too, enshrined in pandals and venerated in Pujas.
Today in 1950 a prominent Christian leader, Harendra Coomar Mukherjee, also known as H.C. Mukherjee, became the Vice-President of the Constituent Assembly of India, and later the third Governor of West Bengal . Today’s pod takes a brief look at him and his legacy. Muckarjee was an educationalist, and the chairman of the Minority rights committee consisting of indirectly elected representatives to draft the Constitution of India. The original assembly considered only Muslims and Sikhs as religious minorities. Muckarjee was born into a Bengali family, and was the first Indian to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree (from the University of Calcutta). His doctorate was in English literature. At Calcutta University, he served at various positions—as lecturer, secretary, council of Post-Graduate Teaching in Arts, Inspector of Colleges, then professor of English from 1936 to 1940, and head of English department. He was later elected to "Bengal Legislative Assembly. He was also elected as the president of "All India Council of Indian Christians," representing All-Indian Christians other than Anglo-Indians
While he was vice-president of the Constituent Assembly of India, and chairman of the Minority rights sub-committee, he pushed for the promotion of minorities in all fields, including politics. However in 1947, with the partition of India, and the establishment of Pakistan and Bangladesh, he slightly changed tack and encouraged minority communities to open educational institutes and other institutions. There are currently 34,576 Christian schools in India educating over 5 million students, many from other religions. With many of the top schools in different states.
Muckargee, very sensitive that the Christians were in a tiny minority but where well represented in education, particularly with the proliferation of foreign missionaries. He anticipated that tension that might arise, particularly if Hinduism became a nationalist force, which it has, when he said We have to demonstrate by every word we utter and by every act we perform that the professing of a different religious faith has not tended in the least to make us less Indian in our outlook than our non-Christian brethren, that we are prepared to play our part and to shoulder our share of the responsibility in every kind of work undertaken for the benefit of our country as a whole.
He was the only candidate to be unanimously nominated for Vice-Presidency, Today is one of only three national holidays in India. 26th January is, Republic Day, although Independence Day is celebrated on the 15 August.