The parliamentary election held last March in India, the world’s largest democracy, was significant. It broke the monopoly the Congress party had held for the thirty years of the nation’s independence. The people asserted their sovereignty and freed themselves from Indira Gandhi’s semi-dictatorial rule. Their vote destroyed the extra-constitutional power centers and suddenly arrested the processes through which fundamental rights of citizens were being subtly set aside, the rule of law endangered, and the judiciary made a servant of the ruling powers. They showed that the minor benefits of the Emergency declared in June 1975 were not worth the sacrifice of freedom. They displayed faith in basic democratic values and in the Constitution.

The Janata Party ushered in not merely political change, but an era. Some of the old guard like J. P. Narayan and Moraiji Desai took a new lease on life. The dramatic freedom struggle almost equaled a second “independence.”

The hope of people has been revived in these first few months under the new government. But they have learned not to be uncritically enthusiastic about any government. The problems the country faces are serious, complex, and numerous. There is no wonder drug to cure the ills of India. But there is a fresh breeze of optimism that “both bread and liberty” may still be a possibility.

Where was the church when these decisively significant changes took place? Silent and uncritical, going along with the status quo. Except for some isolated cases, the church in India supported the ruling Congress and Indira’s Emergency. Overnight they welcomed the new Janata Government with the same passive loyalty. To make broad statements regarding ...

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