How Evangelism made Andhra an economic, cultural and spiritual ruin

The first thing I wanted to do when I got a decent job was to connect to my native roots, basically a small village in the heart of Andhra Pradesh. These were the times when a Christian Y.S Rajashekhar Reddy (YSR) was anointed as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. The first couple of visits were quite enjoyable with family bonding, revisiting nostalgia and so forth. I take this pilgrimage a few times a year, but now I come back to Bangalore with a disturbed state of mind.

Andhra is blessed with great and talented Avadhanis, Hari-Katha Exponents, Pravachanakaras but it remains to be seem if people will utilize them for their own benefit and all-round progress.

Before YSR became the Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh represented development—Hyderabad had grown into a world-class IT capital, agriculture seemed profitable and the Congress party was nowhere near power. I was still optimistic about Andhra’s growth as a state and a sub-civilization of Bharatavarsha. The ten years of UPA rule in the Centre and Congress rule in the state has caused irreparable damage to my home state. I watched Andhra stumble to new lows, its society devolve and its people succumb to dangerous vices.The decline of the Andhra people has been as swift as it has been all-encompassing—in both the spiritual and material planes as we shall see.

Unbridled Evangelism

YSR was the desi version of Constantine, the ruler of the Roman Empire under whom Christianity established itself as a dominant force in Rome. Much like Constantine, YSR too promoted Christianity offering it state patronage. YSR’s son-in-law, Brother Anil Kumar is a well-known and established evangelist in Andhra Pradesh. Missionaries were given a free hand and bolstered by state support, they did what they do best: disconnect people from their roots and make the converts hate their own traditions, handed down to them since time immemorial.

It was a common sight to watch troves of neo-converts move from village to village distributing evangelist literature in the form of books and pamphlets. The seed of Christianity was first sown by the British who had implanted several missions and Church institutions. In my village there are several families who had converted at the time of Independence. Under YSR, the missionaries received a shot in the arm and began to build upon the foundations laid by the British.

baptised

The Congress government actually gave financial assistance to Christian institutions. Christians were also showered with sops like scholarships, loans, subsidies and so forth. This policy of appeasement did not stop during Kiran Kumar Reddy’s tenure as CM. Under Chandrababu Naidu’s Chief Ministership since 2014, one expected succour but the status quo remains. I shall give a small fact: according to a government order (GO-63) in February 2014, a total of 14-plus crores was sanctioned towards the construction, repair and/or renovation of Churches and Church-run institutions. For details, visit the Government-run Website for Christian minorities (http://christianminorities.ap.nic.in). It seems that Christians are the ‘chosen people’ of Andhra Pradesh and Christianity, the state religion.

All this is happening at the expense of the taxpayer. Indeed, with governments like these we do not need foreign missionaries. We are quite adept at shooting ourselves in the foot. The Congress with its chief being a Roman Catholic promoted Christianity one the lines of the popular Sanskrit saying ‘Yatha Raja, Thatha Praja’. It made electoral sense for them: pastors and padres acted as vote bank managers and had delivered to them the much-needed electoral results in the state before Jagan Mohan Reddy—son of YSR—chose to split from the parent party. Now the loyalties of Christians remain divided between Congress, YSR Congress and TDP. The current CMs of Andhra and Telangana, Chandrababu Naidu and K Chandrasekhar Rao know the demographics very well and therefore the state favouritism towards the Christian community continues unhindered. KCR also promised the construction of a Christian Bhavan in Hyderabad at the cost of 10 crores.

Christianity brings along with it, its thick memes. And so oil-anointing, exorcism (freeing souls from the Devil), faith healing, and religious exclusivism have entered mainstream consciousness in Andhra Pradesh. Posters of missionaries commonly claim to cure diseases including cancer and AIDS.

demon

It is infinitely saddening to see how vast numbers of these people—our very own people—who have readily succumbed to the dogmas bought in by a foreign religion. The direction the Indian society  is headed after internalizing such belief systems is pretty clear. And tragic.

Alcoholism, Andhra Pradesh’s second Official Religion

 

During YSR’s rule, tens of thousands of ‘Belt-Shops’, legal and illegal (small stores selling alcohol) mushroomed all over the state. To be sure, this was a mammoth scam, and the beneficiaries of this scam seemed to be people belonging to the establishment itself. It’s an open secret that several Ministers, MLAs, and MPs were part of this racket.

Mopidevi Ventaka Ramana, the Excise Minister was accused by his own party colleague Shankar Rao of owning several such shops facilitating the sale of smuggled/illegal liquor. Another prominent Congress leader Botsa Satyanarayana was alleged to have been part of this cartel.  The market for liquor is estimated to be around Rs. 50,000 crores of which 60 per cent is illegal and controlled by the liquor mafia. The revenue earned by the Excise department in the year 2010 alone was a staggering 7000 Crore.

YSR was the desi version of Constantine, the ruler of the Roman Empire under whom Christianity established itself as a dominant force in Rome. Much like Constantine, YSR too promoted Christianity offering it state patronage. YSR’s son-in-law, Brother Anil Kumar is a well-known and established evangelist in Andhra Pradesh.

Belt-shops sprang up in many villages, which compounded the problem. The village folks, already recipients of several populist schemes like subsidized rice and pension schemes for elderly citizens took to alcoholism with gusto. Over time, this has resulted in a large number of broken families, lack of productivity and appalling levels of destitution. Needless to say, such an environment is ripe for soul-harvesting, which the evangelists utilized to the hilt.

New Year’s celebration are big events in villages in Andhra due to a massive spurt in converts to Christianity. Village folks gathering at squares and indulging in drunken, rowdy behaviour is a common sight during New Year’s Eve.  I could not help but feel pity for the women and children who bear the brunt of this dangerous vice. At other times, people seem always eager to make a quick buck—no matter the means—and then head directly to the liquor shop to purchase a quarter or two.

Politics sans ideology

In Andhra Pradesh, none of the political parties seem to have a primary ideology. The BJP and RSS are in their infancy. All the parties resemble a rash of unscrupulous business outfits which use minority appeasement and other populist measures to garner votes. There were scams galore during the Congress’s tenure in the state with many of its ministers accused of corruption. Some of the ministers were also arrested including Jagan Mohan Reddy in a case pertaining to disproportionate assets. Jagan Mohan Reddy split from the parent party, the Indian National Congress and formed his own party, the YSR Congress. YSR Congress is now the main opposition party in Andhra Pradesh. Chandra Babu Naidu had gained popularity across India for turning Hyderabad into an IT hub and made a name for himself as a development-oriented leader. However he could not stop the TDP from becoming another commercial party—only slightly better than the YSR Congress and INC.

 

Idol worship

 

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana cinema is larger than life. The richest families in the state are those of film producers and actors. Films and TV have an inordinate influence in shaping public opinion in the state. Unfortunately, the people of the two Telugu-speaking states have taken it to an extreme. These states face serious problems but all people seem to care about is catching up with TV serials at home or film releases at theatres.  Andhra has been enriched by great literary giants both in the classical and modern eras but people prefer crass entertainment to knowledge, refinement, culture, and enlightenment.

film

The current reigning Telugu superstar, Pawan Kalyan campaigned for the BJP and the TDP during the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. Indeed, Mr Pawan Kalyan’s immense contribution helped the BJP root out a tyrannical government both at the state and central levels. He overlooked personal allegiances—his own elder brother Chiranjeevi was a Minister in the UPA Government. But the real fact is not his contribution. The real misfortune is that it required a film star, not even Sri Narendra Modi, to draw out the crowds and persuade them to root out corrupt regimes.

 

Populist measures, and brain drain

 

The Andhra people are a hugely entrepreneurial set of people stuck in a corrupt socialist state. YSR bought in the populist scheme of providing rice at two rupees per Kg. He also devised a way to get the votes of elderly citizens by giving them pensions out of taxpayer money. This scheme is being continued by the current government.  Such populist schemes burnt a big hole in the pocket of the state exchequer. These schemes resulted in a sense of valuelessness of money—since the state provided and/or subsidized the essentials, people would spend even their hard earned money on liquor as accessibility was just a Belt Shop away. With lack of employment, massive corruption and lesser wealth creation opportunities, people migrated to greener pastures of the US, Bangalore and other states/countries. The cream of the Andhra society is abroad or in cities like Bangalore.

It seems that Christians are the ‘chosen people’ of Andhra Pradesh and Christianity, the state religion.

Glimmer of Hope

Unlike neighbouring Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh is not blessed with the presence of professionally run Hindu religious mutts. However there is new mutt established by Swami Paripoornananda called Sreepeetham in Kakinanda, Andhra Pradesh. The Swami has been very vocal against coercive evangelism and has also taken up several Hindu issues. The young swami is also relentlessly conducting several discourses on topics of Indian spirituality.  Also on the horizon are some very good pravachanakaras like Sri Chaganti Koteshwara Rao, Sri Shankmukha Sarma, Avadhani Dr Garikapati Narsimha Rao and other such notables.

swami
These people have been very instrumental in spreading awareness about Dharma. Much progress needs to be made but these are rays of hope. Andhra is blessed with great and talented Avadhanis, Hari-Katha Exponents, Pravachanakaras but it remains to be seem if people will utilize them for their own benefit and all-round progress.

The bifurcation of the state has meant that there will be renewed focus on building infrastructure, creation of wealth, setting up of industries than can provide employment and also contribute to the state’s revenue. There may be special tax breaks to attract investors to the state—hopefully Andhra people do not have to migrate elsewhere in search of employment.

It is up to the Andhra people, to make good of all the opportunities that come along their way. They have to keep in mind not just material progress but also spiritual progress and the evolution of their society for the better, a place the future Telugus can truly call home in every sense of the word.

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  • welingkar

    The author/ press must probe the role of Congress ministers (Finance and Home at at the Centre) in giving the late YSR’s son-in-law the FCRA clearance with no fuss, so that Bro Anil Kumar as he is called could take over the evangelism “business” from the Paul brothers that the late YSR tried to sideline. One of them died and the other was made the accused. In no time “Bro Anil Kumar” emerged as one of the main, richest missionaries in S India with his doting father-ijn-law’s blessings.

    We have had many traitors in India, who in the past looked aside when their culture and religion were in danger and who thought their loyalty to their masters was more important. We know that this treachery continues to this day and no one has lifted a finger against it. In fact some of them have gone on to occupy the highest positions in the land.

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  • importingtrash

    good piece Thanks.

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  • Dr. MS

    Thank you for your article.

    Let me share with you some personal encounters that might support your points.

    Several Andhra women told me in Iowa (USA) that Andhra people are the most uncultured people in the world. I did not know where such an opinion came from. But when I did meet many Andhras they appeared excessively money minded and practiced customs that Hindus should find shameful (like dowry giving or taking, domestic violence, having affairs, bigamy or polygamy, defrauding people off money, getting degrees with money…), and making one feel ashamed of India.

    The three major Indian tribes in the US are Punjabis, Gujaratis and Telegus. And whatever members of these communities do gets labeled as “Indian” abroad. This has to change. I agree Telegu movies are very cheap, crass and uncouth…more so than even Tamil movies.

    Of course Tamil Nadu is learning the worst from Andhra Pradesh (AP) as well, and with all the goat killing and swine killing for biryani, swine flu has emerged in AP and is now being brought into Tamil Nadu.

    Good Andhra culture has almost disappeared. I grew up with wonderful Thyagaraja compositions though I am not Telegu. I learnt to translate with the help of Telegu friends Annamacharya kirthanas, My family deity, kula deva, is Srinivasa…and we try to make a trip to Tirupathi at least once a year. It is sad to see liquor stores all around Tirupathi foothills and church steeples all over the city

    I went into a vegetarian restaurant in Tirupathi during my last trip where in the menu had beef biryaani. The manager told me that they were no longer vegetarian. This was a restaurant I would go to often when I visited Tirupathi. How things have changed.

    Several relatives, who do research on energy forces, say that Thirumala is losing its energy, and Perumal has moved elsewhere. They say some Srinivasa or Vishnu temples in Tamil Nadu might be more powerful than Tirupathi in the coming years. This is all due to the changes you have mentioned. So sorry and so saddened to hear this. Thank you for your article.

    • arati

      I am a Telugu – andI think you are cent percent right. I am born and brought up in North India – away from the pollution and corruption that has crept into original Telugu culture – and so I can now notice the great difference in everything that means Andhra from those days.

    • Rohit Raj

      Actually dowry giving or taking, domestic violence, having affairs, bigamy or polygamy are all part of Hindu culture.

  • rajud21

    I also have to say that, KCR the current CM of Telengana is facilitating the dreams of Sonia G and YSR by announcing a christian bhavan for them, as though they (christians) need any more money and land than they have. He is also floating special schemes for the muslims and christians/minorites

  • rajud21

    I could not help but think that the haste in bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh has a christian agenda too. The coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions (the present Andhra Pradesh) are witnessing ramapant evangelism. YSR and later his son YS Jagan have an ever growing vote bank with this rabid proselytization in these regions. Missionaries could not yet penetrate with same pace into Telengana, for the obvious reason that the Telengana people much explicit and careless (as in secular) displaying Hindu symbols such a tilak or celelbration of festicals (Bonalu, Sammakka-Sarakka/etc). The party leaders also wear visibly big tilaks. The sense of a Hindu is strongly expressed there. The congess in realizing their inbound destiny planned a backdoor entry via TRS (which was revealed by Pappu Rahul in during assembly election rally) and ofcouse though the YSR party rediculed Congess party in the state they could get instant appointment with Sonia G (Vijayamma, wife of late YSR/mother of YS Jagan could get to meet Sonia G regarding AP bifurcation, which ex-CM Chandrababu Naidu could not get despite lamenting). YS Jagan would have won for sure if not for the freebies Chandrababu Naidu promised. Ofcouse it cannot be the entire reason for his victory but it is to a good extent. In any case YS Jagan can come next time to fullfill this evangelization which his father could not complete. Tirupati is already under attack – by YSR in his stint of declaring only 4 hills are sacred, missionary propaganda, islamic univeristy at its foothills, etc.

    • Shashi Kiran G M

      The Response from TDP so far is far from Inspiring. As I have stated they too are filled by men with Petty Minds who want to be career politicians rather than strive to be pillars to uphold dharma
      Basically we have to just vote for them as they are less damaging.

      • welingkar

        Yes, Chandrababu Naidu has shown in his second stint that he learn’t ABSOLUTELY NOTHING during his years in the wilderness when YSR and the Congress was in power. The haste with which he grabbed fertile lands of farmers only to make a capital city as per Vaastu. shows that he is just another Indian politician with the difference that he makes powerpoint presentations about Vision and Mission statements.
        Sad reality that in AP, its leaders are just deceiving people in the name of development and selling dreams, while ignoring reality.

  • RaghavendraRao Deshpande

    An inspirational article that opens the eyes of the Hindus. Every Hindu must fight back the spread of the Christianity to save Hinduism.

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  • Srik

    I guess this is the state of not just the Telugu, but other states and cultures too. Under Sri Siddaramaiah Karnataka will follow suit, soon.

    • arati

      Then what is the state of Telugus – Uttar Pradesh?

      • welingkar

        What “Srik” means is that this problem is not confined to Telegu-speaking regions, but everywhere else.

  • Sumathi Megavarnam

    Very refreshing article to OPEN UP THE EYES OF THE PEOPLE ………..At least now the Centre should take Serious steps to come up with the Banning of Conversions with the Anti conversions laws , they should be complete in all aspects without any leaving Loop holes for the heavily funded Missionaries whose Soul aim is to destroy & tear apart our country & Hinduism ,Already Having suffered at the hands of the Invaders for so many centuries………they have come up with a Fresh onslaught on our Country & Hindu religion…………….Let the new governments understand this is a Ploy if Unchecked will ultimately lead to our downfall & become Mental slaves again to the invading pests…..

  • Dr M

    Really sad to read this state of affairs – how much our sickular media has brainwashed and covered our eyes (& brains) with wrong information!

    Kudos Shashi Kiran! Keep it up!
    Its important to expose as well as counter act (the productive, constructive and effective counteractions to keep folks on the path of their valuable age old traditions & heritage!)

  • Satchitanand

    Very well written article. Evangelised nations are utilized for cheap labour and natural resources. Look at all the African and other Asian countries. India is also being pulled in that direction treacherously. Its up to us Indians to seriously take this conversion atrocities in their hands and put an end to it. The problem is not only in Andhra, but the neighboring states as well….

  • Sree Charan R

    A VERY important article; thanks a trillion for this- every word speaks volumes (but many other important points are not discussed)!! But I think people are slowly realizing the dangers of cultural terrorism.
    ‘Now it is up to Indians if they shall become tears of Bharatmata or smile on the face of Bharatmata.’