The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Coercive Tactics of Religious Minorities of Kerala

(Material prosperity and political control)
[Published in the Organiser Weekly, dated 24th October 2004]

Dr. C. I. Issac.

The reason behind the incidents like ‘Marad genocide’ was a result of the ‘acquired’ collective bargaining power (vote bank) of the religious minorities. In the former chief minister’s own words, “My personal feeling is that such bargaining power may lead to an imbalance in the economic status of majority and minority communities. There is already a feeling among the majority communities that minority communities are securing most of what is due to them through collective bargaining. This should not be allowed”. What ever may be the wisdom behind this recognition, no doubt, it should be a tone of recognition of the burning realties.

On the very day of the above disclosure of the Chief Minister, the leadership of the organized religions as well as the pseudo secularists started to attack the above statement of chief minister with tooth and nail the statement of the Chief Minister. It ultimately ended with the recent dethroning of the chief minister by a most favored Christian, Oommen Chandy. On behalf of minorities they began to argue that the minorities gained nothing in an out-of-the-way manner and if they got anything, it was the legitimate right guaranteed by the Constitution. The pro-minority leadership including the Left parties and a faction of Congress pose a serious threat to the state government. No doubt, the objective behind their political drama was the appeasement of the organized minority vote bank that constitutes the forty five percent of the total population.

It is interesting to see that the minorities in Kerala, particularly Christians, objected to any governmental attempt of meaningful social control over the educational institutions in this state since the days of Sir C. P. Ramaswami Aiyyar (the forties of the last century), the Diwan of princely state of Travancore, to the days of Shri. Achuta Meanon, Chief Minister of Kerala in the seventies of the last century. Before the muscle power of the organized minority religions of Kerala, all such efforts turned as futile attempts on the part of governments. Now they are using the same muscle power in the case of self-financing of professional colleges. But it is paradoxical to see that the Marxist party is cynical to Chief Minister’s statement on minorities’ organized bargaining strategy. What is the logic behind Marxist foul play?

Is it the same Christian minority leadership sabotaged the first elected communist ministry of 1957 through their notorious liberation struggle of 1958? Long before it, the same Christian forces set fire to of the famous Shasta Temple of Sabari Hills and later attempted to occupy the land by attempting to plant a cross in the holy garden of the temple. The fertile Malayattoor Hills near the birthplace of Jagadh Guru Sankaracharya were occupied to construct a church initially by planting a cross. The organized Hindu forces defused foul stratagem of the Catholics to occupy a Hindu temple at Matrumala near Kottayam, about three decades back. Crosses in several streets of Kerala are still continuing to serve as stumbling blocks to its progress. The Christians, particularly the Catholics of Kerala, are zealous of occupying the PWD roadsides by planting a cross and subsequently constructing chapels. The ‘cross cultivation’ of this minority’s muscle power is not merely satisfied with the roadsides but has shifted its attention to revenue lands and forestlands.

Kanjikuzhi is a busy junction in the Kottayam, a district head quarters town, where two chapels of different Christian denomination are creating traffic congestion and accidents. In the same town, within the district collectorate compound a church is functioning smoothly at the cost of development of the concerned area. Likewise, the cross as well as chapels standing as ‘stumbling block’ to human development in various towns like Piravom, Ernakulam, Aluva, Mallappally, Calicut, Alleppey, Kanjirappally, Thriuvella, Changancherry, etc. In Kerala there are several cross-junctions, which are bearing the burden of sin of the muscle power Christians. Is this not minority obstinacy?

Including Marad seashore, where recent Hindu genocide took place, there are several unauthorized mosques which have been constructed in the last two decades. In Changanacheery, a municipal town in the Kottayam district, the Muslim religious hierarchy of Puthoor Palli (a mosque) forcibly occupied a public stadium and a road with impunity on acquiring political power through the successive coalition regime. The same mosque authorities forcibly occupied the land of a nearby government school too. The district revenue authorities including the District Collector remained as a passive spectator before the Muslim muscle power by not knowing what to do. Three years ago at Pathnamthitta, a district head quarters town, as the part of the anniversary of the demolition of the ‘shameful structure at Ayodhya’, some Muslim goons looted and set fire to non-Muslim business establishments. The culprits of this crime are still living in the same place as respectful citizens of Bharath. All the above-mentioned are a few episodes in the long skeptical existence of the minorities of Kerala protected under the special umbrella (Minority rights) of our Constitution.

The minorities in Kerala are, nowadays, politically and religiously an organized force. So they can very easily sabotage the UN norms regarding to the identification of minorities in the state. As per the above charter, minorities should be a category that constitutes a population of below ten percent of the respective state’s population. Even in USA in certain states the blacks are not included in the category of minorities. If the UN norms are strictly implemented here, none of the present minority communities would fall under the purview of special privileges of minorities.

In the forties of the last century, forty percent of the total land of the state was thick forestlands. Now the forest area in the state has fallen to ten percent. It happened so because of the organized effort of the Christian Catholic church through the stratagem of planting the cross along the forestlands. The Catholic Church openly interfered to protect the forest encroachers’ interest. Father Vadakkan, a Catholic priest became the Messiah of the forest encroachers with the blessing of the church hierarchy. Nobody can forget the Gandhian style of agitation staged by this priest in the Churili-Keerithode forest region of Iduki district to desist government effort at eviction of unlawful occupants from the forestland. The story is not completing with it, this practice continued through years and now has reached the Mathikettan forests. The recent attempt by the state government to evict the unlawful occupants from the said forestland was countered by the forces of church along with the Marxist companion Mr.P.J.Joseph, the man who dishonored Saraswti Svandanam recital in the Education ministers’ conference held at Delhi some five years ago. On the other hand, if a landless vanavasi is making an effort to occupy a bit of land in the forest area of Kerala, what would be the politico-church reaction of Kerala? The recent incidents in Muthanga forest show that immediately after the occupation of the forestland by the Vanavasis, the ruling government indiscriminately/cruelly used its machinery to oust the poor unorganized Hindus. Earlier the media of the state portrayed it as encroachment of forestlands and as a danger to ecology.

Is the land reform drama of Kerala that staged during the days of the first communist ministry and continued by the subsequent ministries a result of the conspiracy hatched to impoverish the Hindu community? Let us examine the socio-political background of the ministers who were at the realm of land reforms. In order to save the landlords belonging to the minority community, the church intervened to allow use of excess land to continue by the minority by including the relaxation clauses for the plantation lands/estates. Now with mounting minority pressure the government is making amendments to the old land reform act to save those Christian and Muslim landlords who later converted their surplus land into cashew plantations by giving estate status to cashew cultivated lands. This attempt is termed as a passing episode in the highly communalized and politicized society. In short, the coconut plantations of the Hindus did not come under the purview of estate when drafting land reforms. Hence the entire land of the temples became surplus land and the deity of the temple became the landlord/janmi. At the same time the land owned by the churches was not included under purview of land reforms. All these events in the yester years are unforgettable chapters of Hindu history Kerala.

The foreign funding for the religious propagation and proselytism that received over the years and predominance in the political scenario made the minorities economically secure and they resulted in getting an upper hand in the field of education business than the Hindu majority. During 2000-01 alone Kerala received Rs 360 crores as foreign contribution. Nearly ninety percent of this went into Christian hands. On the other hand Muslims received such contributions through hawala transactions. Recently police unearthed a hawala transaction to the tune of 350 crores. Such unnoticed transactions may take place by more than ten to fifty times. In 2002-03 the bank deposit in Kerala crossed 59,399 crores. The Non Resident Keralite (NRK) share is 28,696 crores. But the source of the remaining bank deposit of 30,703 crores is a bit mysterious. How a state that industrially and agriculturally poor, can contribute such a big sum to the banks? No doubt, the foreign contribution either of proper channel or through hawala source is the villain of the piece. All these things are happening in the state only because of the organized strength and collective bargaining power of the minorities.


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