Wednesday, April 22, 2009

“Christians & the BJP” -- a fitting reply by Dr Hilda Raja






A Scrutiny Of and a Response to the Press Statement — "Christians & The BJP" – Released by Dr John Dayal, General Secretary, All India Christian Council


Dr Mrs Hilda Raja.


From Hilda Raja
Date :-
Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 4:52 PM
Subject :-Response to John Dayal's statement


"Christians and the BJP" – the Press Statement released by Dr John Dayal, General Secretary, All India Christian Council, calls for a scrutiny and a response. Its premise is based on suspicion, untruths and accusations and a negative attitude for dialogue.


Mr Advani is accused of mixing religion and politics which John Dayal cautions as dangerous to secular India. I wonder if today we have a secular India. Religion and politics was not only mixed but churned as a brew and this decoction has been regularly supplied to the people by the Congress. Mr Dayal finds this 'dangerous mix' in the manifesto of the BJP and then in the letters to the heads of Mutts — the 'arch communal advisors' of the VHP, which according to Dayal are fraught with dangerous consequences for peace and harmony in secular India. But it is the warped perception and communal mindset of John Dayal and his ilk that is really a threat to secular India.




First, both the manifesto and the letter to the Mutt heads are of recent origin and do not pose any dangerous consequences for peace and harmony, when what Dayal has scripted later in the statement goes to show that there has been communal upheavals and disruption of peace much earlier. So, from Dayal's own statement, it is clear that the manifesto and the letter addressed to the heads of mutts are not going to initiate something which this nation has not already witnessed.


A few examples of this communal decoction served to the people by the brewers, the Congress party, for they have 52 years of experience in injecting divisiveness in the nation. The very concept and understanding of secular and secularism has undergone a sea change. Anything which comes from the BJP side, the VHP and its sister organizations become communal and anything communal which comes from the Congress side and its allies like the RJD, the SP et al become secular.


I would like to cite a few cases for John Dayal to clarify if these are secular or communal. Does subsidizing Haj become secular? Is this not mixing religion with politics? How can the tax payers' money be utilized to guarantee the salvation of the souls of the Muslims? Not a single Islamic country has done this. Pakistan is closing down Madrasas but India under the Congress is not only encouraging the opening of Madrasas, it is fully financing these and also is giving them CBSE status.Does this not become communal and a mix of religion with politics?


There is no second opinion that those below poverty line should have the first claim to the resources of this country. But can the identification of the Below Poverty line be made on the basis of a religion? Is Manmohan Singh not communal when he stated that the Muslims have the first claim to the resources of this country? Can a survey be undertaken on the basis of a religion to justify that Muslims are the poorest? Use scientific yardsticks, net in the poorest, and extend to them all remedial measures to alleviate their poverty. But this was like putting the cart before the horse. One already decides who are the poorest and then makes a survey to validate this. Is this secular or communal?


Even a head count on the basis of religion was proposed but for the three Services chiefs objections it was scuttled. Is this a mindset of secularism or communalism?


Just recently Manmohan Singh suggested that a committee must be formed in every State of respectable Muslims to look into the allegations of police harassment of Muslim youth. First why only look into the allegations of Muslim youth being harassed—why not any case of harassment looked into and why a committee of respectable Muslims and not a committee formed of respectable citizens? Is this an expression of communalism or secularism?


When it come to temples, they are under the Government control (Hindu Religious endowment Boards). The monies from these go to the government. But the Minorities are allowed to manage their own church, mosque finances. Is this secularism or communalism?


In Andhra Pradesh due to lack of funds many temples have closed down, but the Andhra Pradesh government under its Congress-Christian Chief Minister has allocated Rs. 80,000 for the repairs and renovation of churches and 15 million for the construction of a church. This is an example of the secularism of the Congress ruled state and we are told by John Dayal that the BJP ruled States are communal and discriminate against the minorities.


Discrimination against minority or majority is illegal and sinful. This is the false pictures which are projected about this nation. The appeasement policy followed vigorously by the UPA has furthered and deepened the communalism the Congress had sowed right from the 50s when the Muslim League was recognized as a political party and allied with it. So this accusation that with the manifesto of the BJP and the letter of Mr. Advani to the Mutt heads cannot be the cause of communalism and surely cannot make the minorities apprehensive.


But an unjust allegation made by John Dayal when he brands the VHP and the sister organizations as communal. One should define what communalism and secularism mean. To be a 'good' Christian and a 'good' Muslim is being secular but to be a devote Hindu is being communal?


To teach Christian doctrine and even force all those in Christians schools to study the bible becomes secular but when one teaches the Hindu scriptures and urge the people to adhere to the Hindu teachings it becomes communal.


What kind of perception is this—Totally jaundiced and biased . Building a mandir becomes communal but building any number of churches and mosques on poorumboke lands become secular.


Ram and all the Hindu gods and goddesses are mythological but Christian god and the Prophet are historical and real.


Processions allowed in public places and roads for the minority people—with no restrictions whatsoever, is upholding Indian secularism in public. Only when the Hindus take the Vinayaka to be immersed in the sea, then road blocks are put—new routes chalked out and bans are places.


'Harmony India' and the so called secularists' intelligentsia will issue directives and caution. Is it a sin to belong to the majority religion?


In numbers alone the Christians and the Muslims may be minorities but in power and pressure tactics—they wield more power with their vote bank leverage. If on the basis of a religion the majority community is denied their rightful share, then will it not create communal upheavals?


Mr John Dayal has cited instances of violence against minorities in Punjab, Gujarat, Maharastra, Karnataka and Orissa. Are these the only instances of violence, and where the victims only the Minorities?


The media abets communalism in its reporting. A few years ago ' The Hindu ' reported on its front page ' Church in Bangalore damaged '. Later it was found that the glass pane of a window was cracked because of the bursting of crackers. This was not put in the front page but in small print in some corner of the newspaper. When one reports of church damaged and destroyed in some places–the church may be just a bamboo shed which with a jostling group within will collapse. But it is made to look as though huge structures of brick and mortar were demolished.


Take this reporting by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) in reference to Kandhamal—that at least 60 Christians were killed, 18,000 wounded, 252 churches razed or destroyed, 5031 Christian homes burned and more than 50,000 Christians displaced. It is for John Dayal to verify the actual figures and then he will realize the exaggeration of the Christian organizations and the English media ready to lap it all.


The Congress continues to exploit the Gujarat riots and John Dayal also has mentioned it but the SIT 's investigation has proved to the contrary—the macabre stories of brutality, the horror tales and the numbers of victims etc all today stand demolished as a pack of falsehood cooked by Teesta Setlavad and her organization for Justice. It is not that there were no rioting—no killings, no human agony and suffering. But the way it was projected and exploited only to stir up more communalism.


Year after year the CDs of the Gujarat riots are played; films are taken to keep alive these communal riots. But, when it came to the Sikh massacre—the supervised genocide, in which 3000 were killed in Delhi—and the hundreds of Sikh girls and women raped—was toned down-figures drastically lowered and no annual reminders were made—even the BJP when it was in power and now when it was in the Opposition did not rake up the issue. It was the boot of a Sikh journalist which brought to centre stage the injustice after 25 years and made the Congress quickly withdraw the candidatures of Tytler and Sajjan. The Congress which allowed this genocide when it was in power—even legitimized the killing of the minority community stands indicted. It is just not Tytler and Sajjan who are the alleged perpetrators—the sin is laid at the door of the CONGRESS and it has to live with it.


It loses the moral right to talk of riots in Gujarat and else where. Why had the Christian community not till date issued even a condemnation against the Congress for this unprecedented Minority carnage? Does the uniqueness of human life depend on the religion of the victim? What is the rationale of exploiting every year the Gujarat riots for Modi-bashing and painting the BJP as communal? Is this an indication of a secular mind or a community bend on arousing communal hatred?


Shashtanga Pranam—used by Advani to address the heads of Mutts has been faulted and even he is accused as being subservient to the communal organizations etc. This is the most respectable form of address to any religious leader. Why do the Christians address Bishop as 'Your Lordship' and the Archbishop as Your Grace"? Even to a parent this Shashtnaga Pranam is used. It is the Indian form of profound obeisance. This is the problem with the Christians who cannot understand and appreciate anything Indian and hence they become alien to the Indian culture. This is why they see red when Hindutva is mentioned because they do not understand the Indian nationalism is deeply rooted in Indian culture.


It is no way 'symptomatic of his party's capitulating absolutely to the RSS and its daughter organizations'. There seem to be a phobia which the Christians suffer from. After all the RSS and its daughter organizations are not foreign and have no foreign n allegiance and connections. They are of Indian origin, with Indian moorings—no foreign vested interest and are not imported. Their religion is not an imported one but which sprang from this soil. Hence they lives are intricately linked with this culture—this heritage and this nation. There is no vested interest and no foreign hand involved.


John Dayal has mischievously brought in the demolition of the Babri structure (imposed on the Hindu Temple by the invader, Babar). First, it is not a demolition of the whole structure but the damage to two domes— symbols of aggression. Second, this happened during the Congress regime as Lalu stated, and the Congress is equally accountable. But typical of Lalu, he quickly retracted and blamed only Narashima Rao. In fact, it was a shrewd delay tactics used by the Congress party which was then in power, in Delhi. The Central government would have had its intelligence inputs and could have easily prevented it. And the whole episode happened in the backyard of New Delhi. But the Congress cabinet waited for the first dome to fall, and only when the second was about to fall, it sprung up to act. Now, the same Congress uses it throughout for garnering Muslim votes and reminding them that it is the BJP which demolished the disused Babri structure. Well, the Congress misused the opportunity to dismiss the BJP government in the state. But who brought Babri structure to the centre stage of politics? Rajiv Gandhi—when he prodded the people to break open its lock. Till then, the Babri structure built by the invader Babar on the destroyed Hindu temple, was decrepit, weather ravaged and disused.


The faith and belief of a people has to be respected. The Hindus surely cannot have their faith and belief centers in Vatican, England, Geneva or Mecca. This faith and belief needs to be concretized only in India. Apart from that, to now point out at Advani that since he hopes to be a future PM of a secular India he should keep a distance from the heads of Mutts and the Hindu organizations is uncalled for. It is here that John Dayal is putting restrictions and pre-conditions. Advani as a prime ministerial candidate can approach anyone and have any close knit relationships. But when he is the PM then what he does and does not will come under scrutiny. It is the duty and obligation of Advani to carry all along with him—not only the minorities but he has to be just to the majority community also.


The last one is the rejection of the call given by Advani for a dialogue on Minority Rights. Constitution cannot be static—as changes come and people move, the constitution has also to undergo changes. How many times has the Constitution for India been amended? The Constitution is for the people and not the other way around. It was the Congress party which declared Emergency thereby kept in abeyance the whole Constitution; I don't remember any Christian organization protesting against this highhanded anti-people act. Now when Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, through her moves and counter moves, subverted constitutional norms and institutions, there has been no protests—not even a whimper.


The call to dialogue on the Minority Rights has brought only one reaction from John Dayal—he has shut the doors—they are not negotiable, he asserts. It takes a whole thesis to trace the Minority Rights—its motive to safeguard the ethos of the minorities. But in all educational institutions the majority of the students are from the majority community—so whose ethos is being safeguarded? The right to administer and manage does not give the Minorities the right to mal-administer and mismanage. It does not give them the right to deny justice to those who work in these institutions simply because there is a Cross/Crescent.


One would think that every Indian has the right to equal justice. The Minority Rights issue calls for an open debate and discussion. The majority of the minorities are denied access to the elite Minority institutions. Minority institutions become channels to reach the echelons power. I cite here two examples examples. In the early 80s I had been to Patna to attend the National Advisory Council of the CBCI. The inaugural mass was by then bishop of Patna who gave us a description of his 'flock'—poor and illiterate etc. He then went on to say that one of his first tasks was to open a college. I wondered why he had not started schools instead of a college. So I went up to him for this clarification. Why a college and not a school I asked him. To this he replied—'You see, when we start a college all the powerful people will come to us with their children thus we can get things done".


Similarly, in an elite college in Chennai we found that a number of catholic boys with very good marks were rejected—but non-minority rich boys of top officials with lower marks got admission. When the Principal was countered with the list of Catholic boys with higher marks rejected and boys with lower marks from the majority community admitted, he coolly told us 'Yes I want my papers to move, I need to get electricity, water etc.


So the rights of the minorities are being used as barters. Dismissal without even giving a notice has been quite common. The lay persons working within these institutions cannot go to court because it is a torturous process and funds are needed .This makes the institutions use highhanded methods. There are any number of cases which I can cite.


The other dimension is the lack of accountability. When injustices happen with unaccountability and there are no forums to rectify these, then it is a misuse of Minority Rights against the Minorities, becomes a horrifying experience of violation of human rights.


There is a common impression that minority managed institutions are better managed! Some are good no doubt—then why not extend the same rights to all? It must be finally stated that the Minority Rights are not superior to other rights and cannot negate other rights—nor violate other rights guaranteed by the Constitution.


IT IS relevant to note Minority Rights are also extended to Linguistic minorities. A misuse of this can be illustrated in the following cases in Tamilnadu: The court saw a claim by Naidus claiming minority status for the G.T.N. Arts College in Dindigul,TN, on the ground that they are a linguistic minority. This in spite of the college not doing anything to advance the cause of Telugu and the persons in management being unable to speak a few words in that language—similarly the case of Devanga Chettiars who put forth their claim as Kannada speaking linguistic minority and therefore the institutions run by them (Sowdeswari College, in Salem, TN.) should be declared as linguistic minority.


The cause for claiming such a right by hook or crook was only because under the Minority Rights the teachers and the employees have no voice—the mismanagement and mal-administration will not attract any government punitive measures. The basic rights of the teachers in these institutions are violated with immunity.


The call thus given by Advani for a dialogue must be welcomed by the Minorities if they stand for justice for all. John Dayal must note that Minority rights are community rights. Imagine the number of schools run in parishes—where no one follows rules. With the mushrooming of self-financing institutions, this has become a money spinning venture: the larger the area of functioning, the greater the quantum of injustice, exploitation and violation of basic human rights within the Minority institutions.


The individual right to equal access to education was also emphasized by the framers of the Constitution when they redrafted original Articles 23—present Articles 29 and 30. The Court verdicts on a number of cases clearly indicate that absolutism is not part of the rights of the minorities. It must go along with other rights with the comprehension of the Constitution.


So to shut the door on the call for dialogue saying that Minority rights are not negotiable sounds that one is not prepared to see the other point of view and its merits. Were other fundamental rights not restricted? If the minority right lends itself to violate basic rights of individuals then some safeguards must be built in to prevent it. For, all rights must go hand in hand without violating any basic fundament right of the individual. If Minority rights are used for maladministration and mismanagement then, again, it is the duty of the government to prevent this.

Dr Mrs Hilda Raja, Vadodara.

(Development Consultant, Former Professor, and Member of the National Advisory committee of the CBCI; a Roman Catholic by religion, she is an outspoken critic of religious conversion as it is practiced by Christian missionaries in India. Retired as Professor of Social Science from 'Stella Maris College' (a Minority managed Catholic college) in Chennai, she regularly writes letters to the editors and occasionally writes columns too. Her writings are forthright but balanced, precise, incisive, thought provoking and informative. Apart from being a practicing Catholic Christian, she is a true nationalist, who values the cultural heritage of this great country and respects the Hindu tradition too).






All India Christian Council
President: Dr Joseph D Souza
Secretary General Dr John Dayal



NEW DELHI 12 April 2009




Mr Advani's mixing Religion and Politics is dangerous for secular India BJP wants to reopen debate on Minority Rights, negate Statuary rights given after long debate in Constituent Assembly after Independence The All India Christian Council has refrained from commenting on the Manifestos of various political parties in General Elections 2009, or on statements of their leaders. The Council however can no longer maintain its silence after reading newspaper reports of former Deputy Prime Minister and BJP leader Mr Lal Krishan Advani's mixing of religion in politics, first in the Election manifesto of the party, and then in his letter to heads of various Mutts, or abbeys of Hindu sects, and arch communal advisors of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.



These twin acts are fraught with dangerous consequences for peace and harmony in secular India.



The electoral environment has already been vitiated by hate speeches and communal propaganda. Mr Advani may have made his moves as an electoral strategy. But coming from an important party and its prime-ministerial candidate, they collectively expose the BJP's appeasing an extreme section of the community, as well as those organisations which have been directly involved in violence against religious minorities in Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and other states in the past, and Karnataka and Orissa in the present.




This is coupled with the fact that Mr Advani's BJP, which pilloried the Congress for backing politicians suspected of fomenting violence against Sikhs in 1984, has in 2009 given tickets to people such as persons in Kandhamal, Orissa, as M Pradhan who is in jail in on charges of mass murder of Christians.



The Election Commission's notice to BJP Lok Sabha candidate Ashok Sahu, and an Rs 50 Crore criminal suit against him for spouting hate against Christians which could again trigger mass mob violence against the micro minority, is proof of the party's playing the communal card in the elections. It is not surprising that neither Mr Advani nor his party manifesto even make a passing reference to Kandhamal carnage and to the trauma suffered by the Christian community. Neither does he offer any hope to Dalit Christians in their long struggle for their just rights.




Mr Advani's `Shashtang pranam" or greetings from a prostrate position of humility and reverence, may be a figure of speech, but is symptomatic of his party's capitulating absolutely to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and its daughter organisations. As a leader of national stature, a former deputy premier and with hopes of leading s secular nation at a future date, he should have maintained a distance from groups of people whose "advice" and active participation in Dharam sansads, or religious parliaments in the past were major contributory factors to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and subsequent national tragedy of long drawn communal bloodshed.




Once again, in his letter, Mr Advani wants to set up mechanisms to be guided by their advice. As a secular democratic republic and not a theocracy, India has a separation of religion and State, if not in the western sense then certainly in neither government nor religion meddling in each other's affairs. Mr Advani promises to reverse this trend.



Religion has its place not at the levers of power, in State mechanisms or as political engine, but as a conscience keeper on civilisational issues and ethics.



The Christian community certainly, even through its own Canon laws and other denominational mechanisms, gives religious heads powers to guide the flock on issues of faith, morality, dogma and doctrine, but leaves it categorically to the lay citizens, the community at large, to take part in national life, ideological issues and political affairs guided by their own reason on matters of security and the welfare of their brothers and sisters. This is why the Christian community does not believe in floating political parties of its own, but banks on democratic processes and forces to protect its rights and Constitutional guarantees.




The All India Christian Council has no comments to offer on the BJP's right to pack its manifesto's preamble with its own construct of India's past. We are also familiar with the thesis of Hindutva. But the Council reads into the BJP's so called offer of a dialogue with the Christian community nothing short of reopening issues settled in the long and learned debates of the Founding Fathers of modern India in the Constituent Assembly after which they enshrined in the Constitution the fundamental rights of Freedom of Religion, to profess, practice and propagate one's faith. That is a sacred right, and cannot be negotiated if India is to retain its plural culture and its secular and democratic integrity.




The party's pillorying of State mechanisms for minority security, including the Ministry for Minority Affairs and national commissions, howsoever impotent they may have been in the past, cannot but beget apprehensions in the community. The party's own record in subverting Human rights and minority commissions in States that it governs shows the scant respect it has for such institutions.



Released for publication by Dr John Dayal.




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