Saturday, August 30, 2008

School shut-down by Christian bodies to protest Orissa events: highly unethical and a political blakmail

Today, On 29th August all Christian schools in India remained closed to heed to the call given by Catholics Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), apparently to "peacefully" protest the violent attacks on Christians and Churches in Orissa. Some Christian groups have gone to the extent of demanding President's rule in Orissa making shrill noise abt "safety for their lives" in "this" country.

Violence by anyone for any reason is not justifiable in a civil and democratic society like ours. But, let us put the facts straight. There is a palpable Hindu anger behind the recent happenings in Orissa. The brutal murder of 84 years old Swami Laxmanananda and 4 innocent Hindus at the night of Krishna Janmashtami at the hands of more than 25 armed thugs who barged into his Ashram literally shook the state and the nation like. After all, Swamiji was a highly respected Hindu monk, Guru, a great social worker and also a VHP leader in the Christian-missionary-ravaged tribal belt of Kandhmal district of Orissa. He had been rendering yeoman service to the tribals of the area for more than 25 years that earned him such reverance and affection, and also the wrath of the missionary-mafia which was out to establish its aggression and dominance over the region.

The intial statements from the state govt. that the murder was by Maoists was not taken by anyone, including the Maoists who denied it. Because, there were more than 8 attempts in the past to kill Swamiji, *all* by militant Christians in the area and there was a perennial threat to his life. To add credibility to the well-grounded suspiscion, police arreseted 3 suspects after the murder, all associated with Christian bodies.

Background of the Christian vs Hindu-tribal conflict in Kandhamal district

It is highly deplorable that these details are totally blacked out in the media stories that contain high pitch reporting about the burning of Churches and attacks on Christians. This creates a baseless impresion in the minds of an average citizen that all this violence was started by Hindus unprovoked.

We have to view the move by Christian bodies to shut all the schools under their control in this context.

It is highly unethical on their part to exploit their hold on Educational institutions for a clearly political and communal mobilization like this one, that aims to streotype all Hindus of Orissa as militant and aggressors. Quite a few of these institutions are "Christian", purely because of their British colonial legacy, which the post-Indepedance "secular" govts. and the citizens of this country have allowed to continue without questioning. Many of them even recieve grants and patronage by the govt at present and are bound by the laws that govern such bodies. Plus, the majority of the students and teachers of these schools are all Hindus from whom the schools recieves work, support as well as money in terms of fees and donations.

On what grounds, do the Christian bodies claim legal or moral right to "force" such a shutdown on their staff and students? Even if they organize a purely political protest march such as this in the school premises and make it "optional" for students to participate, that is highly questionable. But they have gone several steps overboard, confident that gullible Hindus who work and study in the schools will never raise their voice against this and nor will the govt or media question this blatant transgression. This is using one sort of "power" to force their version of opinion on the society, eventhough it is rooted in falsehood and shady grounds, to gain another sort of "power". It is nothing short of a political blackmail of the worst kind.. and its a cruel joke for such groups to call themselves as 'service' missions.

It is a dangerous state of affairs that a religious group can *stage* such an act in this country, without having to answer anyone. It is a shame on media, that it just reports this as yet another news, without pointing out the ugly agenda.

Another thing to note. We have come a very long way from the days of the British and Chrisitian missions are not at all the whole and sole providers of education in this country. The govt. and other private institutions far outnumber the Christian ones today. In fact, the biggest Education NGO in the country today is NOT any Christian group, but Vidya Bharathi, a Hindu organisation. If you count all Hindu Educational intitutions in the country (that includes the ones by Sangh Parivar affliated ors, various Maths and Ashrams, Temple bodies, spiritual leaders, local NGOs and various other trusts), that would far outnumber the Christian ones. Currently all these Hindu schools are totally apolitical - they impart neutral, secular education, with probably a small dosage of basic Hindu cultural values.

Hindus better learn such political tactics from the precedent set by Christians in this regard and show their real "power", whenever and wherever Hindus are attacked and Hindu human rights are compromised. If the state of affairs continue this way, it will not be long before we are forced into such a situation.