Conversations: Vishal Mangalwadi

Christian intellectual Vishal Mangalwadi explains why India's experiment in democracy has failed.

He is not yet a household name among evangelical Christians worldwide, but he could well become one. At 48, Vishal Mangalwadi is India's foremost Christian intellectual. The author of seven books, including Truth and Social Reform and Missionary Conspiracy: Letters to a Post-Modern Hindu, Mangalwadi is also an inveterate evangelist and political activist in his home province of Uttar Pradesh in India's north. He has been held briefly in prison several times for his evangelism and social activism among India's rural poor. Educated at Allahabad University and Indore University, Mangalwadi served in the national headquarters of India's ruling Janata Dal party, overseeing agricultural reform.

It was through reading Francis Schaeffer's book Escape from Reason that he became a convinced Christian. He studied for a short time under Schaeffer in 1973, then continued investigating Hindu gurus and dissecting everything from ufos to tantric sex for his masterly book When the New Age Gets Old (InterVarsity).

Mangalwadi's most recent work, India: The Grand Experiment (U.S. distributor, The MacLaurin Institute), coincides with India's ongoing celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of its independence from Britain. In it, he provocatively maintains that India would never have been able to develop institutions and a self-understanding capable of sustaining independence without the social, political, educational, and judicial reforms forced upon the subcontinent by the British, particularly in the second half of the nineteenth century when the British evangelical revival had profoundly influenced attitudes in the British Parliament. (In a recent ironic salute to history, Mangalwadi lectured on E. M. Forster's A Passage to India in the author's ...

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