Attacks on churches and the arbitrary state
(Pic credit : Khabrein)
The ghastly terror attacks in Delhi have been overshadowed by the recent vandalism of some churches in Mangalore. The centre sent notices today to the BJP government under Article 355 of the constitution. This is supposed to be a preparatory step, if the centre wishes to dismiss the elected state governments under Art 356.
355. Duty of the Union to protect States against external aggression and internal disturbance It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution
Also check out the SR Bommai case
We condemn all such attacks. However, we also want to point out the the Congress party’s asymmetry while dealing with attack on temples in Tamilnadu is being noticed by all. No media covered the event and this blog received thousands of visitors when the incident happened.
Anyway, we are used to it and life will move on.
The devil in all issues in India is the categorization of citizenship. We are told this is for social justice reasons. Stunningly, there exists no data nor evidence about this categorization. We cant even ask how a state can devise special schemes to benefit 97% of its citizens. In most countries, this absence of data would be a show stopper. Not here, even the courts have given it a go-by.
Many bloggers like Offstumped proclaimed that such arbitrary categories of citizenship must be fought politically and not judicially. Surely they know that in India, political battles mean the streets.
Guess what – this is what a street fight looks like !!
Here is the way to put on end to all communal problems and pave the way for a new India.
Note that I am not saying this would ever happen, because the current political forces depend on this not happening. I am just saying what I think ought to happen.
On conversions :
There can and must be no ban against conversions. The two often repeated types of conversions are (1) Forced conversions and (2) Inducements. Neither of them make sense to me. You cant force anyone to change their beliefs. That would be a fake because if you blindfold and drag a believing hindu to a church he is going to fake it. He is going to mutter “Mookambika!” while pretending to say “Hallelujah!” Inducements are even sillier because if someone can switch for a mutton biryani on Sundays, he can be made to switch back with Peshawari Kebabs on Mondays.
So, we are saying that conversions should not be controlled in any way. It is a feature of Christianity like street Bhajans for hindus. Curbing it would be an interference in their religion.
I know some of you are shocked, but read on.
The two root causes of tension
The issue that causes tensions is one of benefits attached to converting. It is common knowledge that in most cases of conversion – the convertee’s life improves materially. It could be better access to Christian education, a job as a watchman at a church of even handouts. They also get to keep their ST and OBC benefits. In some cases, they can even avail of SC benefits if they continue using their hindu names.
So the two issues are : Material improvement and Access to social justice
As hard as it is, both these issues need to be resolved and not the conversion issue. A nation that cannot face up to tough problems of the day is doomed to failure.
As far as the material benefits are concerned. If the resources to provide the benefits are marshaled locally by Indian Christians there is little that needs be done. It would be akin to a Seth from the north opening up a Dharmsala in Rameswaram. That leaves us with the crux of the issue, foreign money. I believe this must be controlled because external forces can really wreak havoc in the fragile Indian religious fabric. The solution is to regulate the billions of dollars from the USA, Germany, UK and elsewhere. Actually, I would suggest not regulating the money but subjecting such funds to public audit. The funds must be accounted for not just for Christians but all religious contributions like the Swaminarayan sect, Muslims, and others. The details of how these funds are used must be placed on the internet. No silly RTI please ! The much media-celebrated RTI implies a need to know, not right to know.
Next, the social justice aspect. This is much, much more serious than the first. The main actors here are the political forces representing the dominant hindu communities. A simple question like, “If the Christians dominate education at all levels from Kindergarten to Medical college – how can they be educationally backward ?”. This simple question cannot be answered. Eminent supreme court lawyers will run away from a debate on such a simple question. They know that the answer will always be another question, “How can dominant Hindus who run most private educational institution and are traditional landowners, be socially and educationally backward?”. One anomaly is met with another in the name of debate.
Most readers are tired of my constant emphasis on data. Blogger Gaurav called be a Data Nazi. I liked that title actually ! Data will set Indians free from arbitrariness and political god-like behaviour.
It turns out that creating classes of citizenship is really a very big deal in a political system where people vote. (I cant use words like democracy).It also turns out social justice is a very big deal.
If creating classes of citizens is a way to address the social justice issue, it must be backed by evidence. Otherwise, people will know that the system is fake and arbitrary. Folks are smart that way.
The best way to deal with an arbitrary system is, well “arbitrary action”. Vandalism is very much on the cards (ask the Gujjars or the Vanniars). It is the only way to get things done here.
Here’s to more “arbitrary action” from groups of citizens of different classes in the years to come.