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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2018

Sarbeswar Sahoo
Affiliation:
Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
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Summary

Unknowingly, the roots of this book go back to 2006–07 when I first arrived in Udaipur for my PhD fieldwork on an altogether different topic. I was then interested in understanding the changing relationships between state and civil society in an era of political and economic liberalisation, and little did I know then of my interest in religion, and that too Christianity. For my PhD research, I studied three ideologically and politically different non-government organisations (NGOs) in the tribal-dominated Udaipur district and discussed their interface with the donor agencies, market forces, state, political society and populations. One of these NGOs was the Rajasthan Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad (RVKP – Rajasthan Tribal Welfare Association), an affiliate of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

During my ethnographic research (a total of eight months stay in tribal villages of Jhadol and Kotra tehsils), I became more interested in RVKP's ideology and its strategy of development. While the claimed objective of the RVKP was welfare and development of the tribal communities, its latent objective was to act as a counterforce to Christian missionaries and Muslims of the region. In fact, I came to understand that the existence of these two communities, categorised as ‘the other’, is what justified the presence of the RVKP in the region. Therefore, I became specifically interested in understanding the RVKP's relationship with a diverse group of indigenous missionary organisations and ‘tribal Christians’ (those who had converted to Christianity). From my interaction with missionaries and a brief scanning of local newspapers, it appeared that there had been increasing incidents of violence against Christian missionaries and tribal converts. Such violence included ‘any form of physical assault or coercion (e.g., murder, kidnapping, rape, beatings), and/or any act that could intentionally or inadvertently harm an individual or group (e.g., throwing rocks through windows, arson, etc.)’ (Bauman, 2015: 17).

In addition, what made me realise the gravity of this issue and inspired me to study it was the 2006 anti-Christian violence in the tribal-dominated Kandhmal district of Odisha. Until 2006, anti-Christian violence had been small-scale and dispersed; the Kandhmal violence, for the first time, placed it at the centre of national political attention. The perpetrators of the violence cited religious conversion by missionaries as a major reason behind the rise of such violence.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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  • Preface
  • Sarbeswar Sahoo, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
  • Book: Pentecostalism and Politics of Conversion in India
  • Online publication: 05 April 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108235877.002
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  • Preface
  • Sarbeswar Sahoo, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
  • Book: Pentecostalism and Politics of Conversion in India
  • Online publication: 05 April 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108235877.002
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Preface
  • Sarbeswar Sahoo, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
  • Book: Pentecostalism and Politics of Conversion in India
  • Online publication: 05 April 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108235877.002
Available formats
×