While Dalit Christians are clamouring for re-inclusion into SC status for reservation, a disgruntled Chandrababu Naidu has vowed not to rest until Dalit Christians are accorded the SC status. Naidu’s only caveat is: “If you vote ME to power, that is.” Political opportunism at its best?
The question of including Dalit Christians back into SC category has been raging for quite sometime in the country. The debate has been deliberately reopened by the Vatican-funded Churches and their religious conversion missionaries in India to perpetrate their crooked agenda of more mass conversion of Dalits into Christian faith, while at the same time, keeping the Dalit Christians in their ghetto of backwardness. Accordingly, Muslims too are busy moving their ‘pawns’ – mostly dalits – on the religious conversion chess board. in favour of Church demand but in this game of Church chess is the main stakeholder; hence the author uses the jargon Church). Church’s experience in the ST communities is the main initiative for this demand. STs, even after their conversion, can enjoy all the Constitutional benefits. (To the STs, faith is not a matter to identify their social status but is their territory). Hence, the Church in the period of half a century had benefitted in their endeavour of extending the frontiers of Christendom in Bharat, that is, outside Kerala, particularly in the ST belts of Hindustan. All political parties, irrespective of their ideology, with the single exception of BJP, and the organizations of SC categories, follow an evasive game in order to fish in the troubled waters of the contemporary Church’s covert and overt designs and have won the game of political power.
RSS is the only cultural organization that smelled the potential danger of this move by the Church from the very beginning. Hence, all non-BJP political parties, cultural organization and jati organizations are reluctant to challenge the Church’s nefarious move. Afflicted with pseudo secularism they are scared that they will lose their ‘secular’ pretension by adopting a pro-SC stand in this controversial question of reservation. Bible and the Churches’ worldview together are negating the demand of the Indian Church. Indian Church, irrespective of different names, still maintains caste discrimination inside the Altar. Bishopship and key posts in the Church to the SC converts are still the proverbial ‘sour grapes’.
Notwithstanding Saint Paul’s dictum, Indian Churches, irrespective of its ideological differences, are one and the same in fighting for securing SC privileges to their converts. They claim that SCs even after their conversion to Church remain in the Christian community as backward. Paul writes: “When anyone is joined to Christ, he is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come”. (Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians II, New Testament, Ch. V, Verse 17). But the Church is not ready to accept the dictum of Paul in “letter and spirit”. 1998 Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) meeting held at Varanasi forced to approve it. Hence the Church’s demand is an absurd.
Kerala is the main bastion of the Church and the Church is a major employment provider in the state and their share is equal to that of the state government. They are running medical colleges, hospitals, engineering colleges, plantations, aided colleges and schools of all types as successful industry. By running all these they are generating immense job opportunities inside the state. But they are not ready to provide employment to the SC converts in their institutions. “Apparently the Church looks powerful with their cathedrals, marble-floored churches, commercial complexes, huge pastoral centres, elegant monasteries and nunneries, educational institutions, etc
The lifestyle of the bishops and priests has become the envy of mere mortals. The hierarchy has strayed away from the ordinary faithfuls. The Church has become a ‘ship without radar’ (Joseph Pulikunnel, Identity of Nazrani Church of Kerala, pp 151, 152). Joseph Pulikunnel, a veteran Syrian Catholic philanthropist-cum-social-reformer, comments on the double deal of the Church: “There are about one hundred and fifty Christian (Catholic) colleges in Kerala (now its number is double), but you will not find any dalit working there” (Organiser Weekly, 29 April, 2001). It is paradoxical to see that the same Church is leading agitation to extend Schedule Caste benefits to SC Christian converts.
The history of the idea of marginalized communities’ reservation in educational institutions starts with Maharaja Shahu of Bhosley dynasty of the erstwhile state of Kolhapur. He introduced reservations in 1902 for backward castes in education. The idea of reservation to depressed classes in India in modern times was the outcome of the so-called Poona Pact of 1932 between B.R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi. Hence the Bharat’s Constitution imbibed the spirit of reservation. After wide discussions in the Constituent Assembly the present reservation policy was finalized. Fr. Jerome De Souza, the Principal of Loyola College, Madras, a native of Mangalore was one of the Christian representatives in the constitution drafting committee of Bharat. Nehru offered reservations to Christians. Fr. Jerome De Souza in the Constitution Drafting Committee declined the proposal after due consultation with various high priests of the Church. The high priests of Bharat denied any sort of reservations to Christian communities of the country on the ground that the idea of unequal treatment inside the Christianity is against Jesus and Bible. Then they thought it is unnecessary and a humiliation to the community.
The idea of extension of the benefits to SC converts gathered momentum only in the eighties of the past century. It started as safety valve technique by the Church. It is in order to withstand the ever mounting discontent of the SC Christians inside the Church by changing the focus of the problem. Of the 28 million Christian populations, SC converts are 18 million and ninety percent of employment opportunities generated by the Church is in the hands of caste Christians. Ninety eight percent of the Bishop populations hail from the high castes of the respective regions. In the CBCI Session of 1998, held at Varanasi, Bishop George Punnakottil apologized that “It seems that the Church has not offered opportunities to the Dalit members to come up educationally and socially. As a result, even after hundreds of years of their existence in the Church, they remain on the periphery of the community” (Arun Shourie, “Condition of Converts”, p409).
Consequently the contemporary Church as a whole in Bharat faces an identity crisis. According to Bible, there is only one identity, i.e., being Christian. The indiscriminate conversion through brainwashing, coercion, allurement, incentives in order to widen the frontiers of Christendom in all spheres of political, economic and social life of Hindustan had sabotaged the very basic principle of the Bible. Hence the SC converts problem in the Church.
At present SC converts in the Church are organized and their cry for equal justice/treatment is on the verge of explosion. A beleaguered Church now needs to bite the hook. That is why the Church demands the paripasu treatment for Christian Dalits on par with their Hindu counterparts. It is a clever but devious strategy of ‘killing two birds with one stone’. First by fooling the Dalit Christians and then diverting their wrath towards the Church hierarchy on the government.