Christian missionaries have a sense of superiority of European Civilization and this coloured their approach towards people of other cultures and faiths. In this light, explain the positive outcomes and negative impacts of missionary activities in India.
Since the 1500s, European Catholic and Protestant missionaries have been active in India. In 1900–1914, churches in other countries, especially the United States, sponsored missions. It is widely believed that St. Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, first introduced the Christian faith to India nearly two thousand years ago. The subcontinent would not experience the influence of Christianity, however, until the much later arrival of the Europeans.
Positive outcome of missionary activities in India
- Gandhiji held the view that the work of Missionaries quickened the task of Hindu reformers to set down our own house in order. The missionaries’ zeal to convert Hindus and the realization that they were specially targeting the sections which had been trodden down, lent an urgency to the determination of reformers to work for the uplift and integration of these sections into the rest of the Hindu society. One example to this effect was that Missionaries took up the cause of leprosy elimination. The work they undertook set the example, which was later followed on by others in India.
- Generations of young man and women received modern education, many of whom were endowed with the ideals of service and uprightness and rectitude because of the educational institutions maintained by these missionary societies. Lakhs of people were saved and restored to normal health by hospitals set up by the Church-affiliated organizations, namely the Missionaries, The Christian Medial College at Vellore stands as a distinct example of which.
- The standards of living of the tribal was raised and they were able to carve out a living with the aid of the Missionaries.
- Educational Reforms imbibed in the Missionaries a unifying spirit in the Indians and they came together to fight for the cause as a united nation.
Negative impact of missionary activities in India
- Where the Missionaries educated the Indians their shortcomings, they completely destroyed the self-confidence and the self-respect of the natives. On such instance of which is reflected when Swami Vivekananda mote, “The child is taken to school and the first thing he learns is that his father is a fool, the second thing that his grandfather is a lunatic, the third thing that all his teachers are hypocrites, the fourth that all his sacred books are a mass of lies. By the time he reaches sixteen, he is a mass of negation, lifeless and boneless.”
- The mass conversion led to degradation of Indian Culture and a conflict between the classes themselves originated.
- The educational inequalities made the so-educated Indians contempt the fellow Indian and the following quote by Charles Trevelyan is an illustration to prove that. “A generation is growing up which repudiates idols. A young Hindu, who had received a liberal English education, was forced by his family to attend the shrine of kali upon which he took off his cap to Madam Kali: made hera low bow and hoped her lady ship was welt
It was Buddha in the fifth century B.C. who made the first major contribution to individualism in the Indian society by advocating religion-based on individual experience which Dumont has called as the emergence of outwardly individual. For the second time in Indian history, another major contribution to individualism, both religious and social, was made by the Protestant Christian missionaries through their educational institutions which exposed the minds of the emerging new elites to the influence of powerful theories of liberty and equality.