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.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Religious Conversion threatening India's ecological heritage

12/7/2005 7:45:56 AM HK Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The ecological traditions of India, especially Kerala face serious threat in the form of religious conversion, according to noted environmental scientists, technologists and ecologists. This was revealed here on Wednesday by none other than Dr Nanditha Krishna, Chairperson, C P Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation.

Delivering the introductory speech of the seminar on “ Conservation of Ecological Traditions and Sacred Sites of India”, with special emphasis on Kerala, Dr Nanditha pointed out that religious conversion happening all over the country at an alarming rate has destroyed forests and holy groves (popularly known as Kaavus in Kerala). “The proselityzers and the newly converts do not have any emotional attachments with the holy groves. In most of the cases, the newly converted people see to it that the holy groves are destroyed at the earliest,” Dr Nanditha said. She pointed out with statistics that many dense forests and groves in north east India became the main target of the Christian missionaries engaged in the harvesting of souls in the areas.

Dr Nanditha said that the Kaavus, especially the sarppakaavus ( fanily temples where the snakes were worshipped) were destroyed indiscriminately as a result of urbanization and religious conversion. “This is causing havoc all over the country. The team of scientists from the CRP Foundation found to their dismay that Kerala, popularly known as God’s Own Country, is fast emerging as a drought stricken state. The new generation among the Hindus show scant regard to the traditional Kaavus and groves,” Dr Nanditha said.

Substantiating the findings of the CRP Foundation team were the revelations by Shri M Amrithalingam, a well known botanist and ecologist. Shri Amrithalingam, with more than two decades of research experience in the ecological system of south India told the seminar that unless and other wise something is done to arrest the destruction of the holy groves, the country is in for serious crises, like drought and shortage of water.

“While we had small sized forests attached to the Hindu tharavadus in Kerala, urbanization and religious conversion have denuded them. There were many scientific reasons for worshipping forests, animals and groves,” Amrithalingam explained.

Shri T Madhava Menon, formerly of the Indian Administrative Service spoke on the Tribal Communities and Heritages of Kerala. Dr C R Rajagopalan, Dr S Rajasekharan, Shri E Unnikrishnan, Dr K P Thrivikramji and Dr Ashalatha Thampuran presented papers on the various aspects of ecology and environment.

Earlier, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, noted film maker who inaugurated the seminar expressed apprehension over the findings of the CPR Foundation. More than hundred college students from various parts of the state attended the seminar.

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