- Class prejudice: Christians in the area come from the lower castes, while the Hindus are upper caste.
- Nationalism: Christians are often falsely seen as “Western”.
- Economics: Many Hindus in the area are traders with an interest in maintaining a supply of cheap and exploitable labor, and resist Christian activists inspiring the lower classes to assert their rights.
- Politics: Hindu-backed parties want to control the region and find that spreading propaganda against the Christian minority delivers votes.
- Media coverage: Christians have little capacity to project their own voice.
- Christian churches: They have largely “kept quiet,” according to Singh, and failed to take legal recourse in defense of Christian rights.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
The court's decision assumes much significance in the backdrop of 'Ghar Wapsi' reconversion campaign introduced by the Hindu right-wing group Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) last year. Earlier this month, VHP had claimed that it had reconverted over 33,000 persons and had 'prevented' over 48,000 conversions.
It was a petition filed by a father and daughter whose forefathers belonged to Hindu Cheramar community that was considered by the court. Those who approached the court were 46-year-old MA Chandraboss of Ramapuram in Kottayam and his 18-year-old daughter Alida. They were born as Christians as Chandraboss' father had converted to Christianity. In 2009, Chandraboss and his family reconverted to Hinduism by undergoing 'Shudhi Karma' under the auspices of Arya Samaj.
Chandraboss' daughter Alida appeared for the common entrance examination this year and sought admission in the SC/ST quota. However, her claim to SC/ST quota was rejected on the basis of an anthropological report by a state government agency named Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development Studies (KIRTADS). An appeal filed before the government against this also came to be dismissed.
At the high court, their counsel G Krishnakumar argued that though they had converted to Christianity, they retained the essential character of the caste to which they belonged and suffered the disabilities and disadvantages of other members of their caste.
Opposing the claim, state government submitted that the petitioners, having born into Christianity and having lived as Christians till their reconversion, are to be treated as Christians and not as a scheduled caste member. It is a conversion of convenience, the government counsel argued.
Ruling in favour of the petitioners, justice K Vinod Chandran held, "The 2nd petitioners (Chandraboss' daughter) definitely was brought up in her father's house, may be as a Christian, but a Christian-Cheramar. There being generally no accepted caste discrimination in Christianity, the identity in the Cheramar community was essentially retained."
The court further said in the judgment, "It is to be noticed that Christianity, as it is generally understood, does not have any caste discrimination and the very fact that the 1st and 2nd petitioners (Chandraboss and his daughter) were all along issued with community certificates as belonging to Christian-Cheramar would indicate that they had their origin in the Hindu-Cheramar community. Considering the question of a Christian convert reconverted to Hinduism, this court in Ponnamma's case (Ponnamma vs Regional Director, 1983) held that the child of parents who (had) converted to Christianity at the time of the birth of the child, could always convert back to Hinduism and claim the rights of the caste of her forefathers once she converts back to Hinduism. The rights of a child born as a Christian, to Schedule Caste parents who converted to Christianity, to reconvert to Hinduism and claim the rights available to a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, was affirmed by the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court."
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
The education wing of the RSS, the Bhartiya Shiksha Mandal (BSM), is planning to file a review petition in the Supreme Court asking it to reconsider the definition of minority institutions. According to the BSM, the management of minority institutions is “misusing” its “privileges” and also shying away from the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act and other education-related welfare schemes of the government.
The main contention of the BSM does not rest with this. It has also alleged that these institutions have more general students than those belonging to the minority the institution is being run for; while it is only the management that is comprised of minority members, demanding a redefinition of minority institutions that will emphasize the composition of students and not that of the management as the main criterion of this constitutional status.
“The purpose of giving privileges to minority institutions was to help the students belonging to minority communities,” this purpong secretary Mukul Kantikar.
Kantikar also went on to add, “the beneficiary should be minority. Just because the management is minority, you cannot have minority status”.
The procedure in use for admitting students to government-aided minority educational institutions is dependent on a calculation of the percentage of students belonging to the given minority community in the given area, by state governments. The 2002 Supreme court order makes way for the provision to admit students belonging to other communities in these institutions for want of enough minority students.
It is Article 30(1) of the Indian Constitution that gives minority communities the right to establish and administer their own educational institutions.
The BSM, after having prepared a draft of the National Education Policy, is now contemplating on either intervening as a stakeholder or filing a petition in the aforementioned matter. “The definition of minority status should be reviewed, for which there should either be a Supreme Court intervention or a constitutional amendment. We want to explore both the possibilities”, Kantikar added.