Reality Check India

A secular religio tourist plan for AP

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on February 15, 2008

Valid excuse  for lack of updates: a horrible internet connection. Regular blogging will resume. I was going to write about the antics of the MNS chief Raj Thackeray, but I guess the issue is past its sell-by-date.


How about the antics of YSR Reddy’s Congress government instead ?

The AP Governor announced yesterday :

Governor N D Tiwari in his address to the joint budget session of the Assembly and Council said, “My government has decided to extend the Haj pilgrim scheme to Christian minorities also for their religious visits to Christian Holy Lands in Israel.”

 Congressman Veerappa Moily chips in :

He said such decisions were based on “regional aspirations” and “they must have found that certain concessions had to be given to Christians”.  

Source : TOI

A weak response from the opposition (TDP?)

Unlike the Haj, which is a protected environment and which sees thousands of pilgrims from all over the world every year, holy sites in Israel including disputed Jerusalem, are located in a virtual war zone and it is unlikely that more than a few Christians from India and the state will want to visit,” said an opposition leader. Christians comprise about 1.5% of AP’s eight crore population.

Source :  TOI

The opposition  is wrong, as is the analysis in the Economic Times. Jerusalem is quite safe and millions visit holy sites there from the world over. In any case, you do not introduce a religious sop like this and count on people not taking advantage of an overseas trip.  For most folks, this is a tourist excursion to exotic middle east historical sites with a bit of religion thrown in. A small detour will also take pilgrims to the awesome wonders of the pyramids in Egypt.   In turn, all they have to do is remember which party made it all possible.

See what Shakeel Ahmed has to say :

Shakeel Ahmed, spokesman, said, “We are for inclusive growth and taking all sections of society along in the measures taken. As long as it is within the limits of Constitution, it is a welcome step, whether it is about Hindus or Muslims or Christians.”

Obviously, he thinks this scheme is within the limits of the constitution. Presumably, there are others who think quotas without data or monitoring are also within limits of the constitution. TN recently had no trouble announcing an exclusive Christian quota in education and employment.

The judiciary has not told the politicians exactly where the lines of fundamental rights, equality, secularism, and social justice are drawn. Everyone has their own view of the constitution.

Therefore, the AP Hindus should try to get something similar. Unfortunately, foreign trips are not possible because their religion is a local one. Trips to Mt Kailash are great, but the damn Chinese wont give permission for thousands to visit. Vaishnodevi, Badrinath, and Amarnath are great wonders, but once the beauty of the Himalayas sink in you will have to face the lack of infrastructure there. Trips to other glaciers are no fun because you may have to spend cold nights in army tents.  Sabarimala is a good candidate, but the communist government there want the “intellectuals” to decide on serious gender discrimination issues.  Even worse, it may actually be a buddhist shrine. As the media tells us, “too much cont-raw-varsy”.   How about a trip to the Venkateswara temple at Pittsburgh ? I heard US Telugu hindus have contributed a lot for it.  Only problem is that the temple might be too small to handle the influx.

How about Srisailam or Tirupati ? With a special one-time only duty free shopping concession at the new Hyderabad airport. Any other ideas ?

8 Responses

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  1. Dosabandit said, on February 15, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    How about Bali in Indonesia? Would be a nice vacation too..

  2. Cupid said, on February 16, 2008 at 12:28 am

    I would like to know what you think of this plan. Do you believe it is permissible or not? You argue that the TOI analysis is wrong. Why do you think so?

  3. […] For Christ’s sake! Permalink | « On the front foot | Home |  […]

  4. ravisrinivas said, on February 17, 2008 at 9:52 am

    How about a trip to Angkorwat, the larget Hindu temple in the world.
    I think somebody should challenge this in the Supreme Court.
    It is hightime Hindus also become aware of the extent of the
    minority appeasement and protest all such moves to pamper
    minorities.But even BJP is reluctant to do anything like that
    and makes only small noises here and there.

  5. realitycheck said, on February 17, 2008 at 5:07 pm


    Sorry for the late response.

    I am now convinced that behaviour theory comes before political theories. Left wing, right wing, liberal, liberace, free economy, socialism, securlarism, rand, band, communism, dravidianism – nothing matters, at least not yet in India. Not in the presence of such incentives to groups. Look at any of these hard enough and you will find them tied to this or that group preference.

    The right way to study our political scenario might well be along these lines. How do these groups react and organize to either protect, or seek, or deny, or to check these benefits ?

    The Indian Express column makes the classic mistake. You cant deny the Christians – what the Muslims have. This is the same as denying the Gujjars what the Meenas have. Dont get me wrong. The thrust of the column is correct, that such religious concessions have no place in a secular country. That argument will only work effectively when you talk against any form of religous benefit. We left that station long back, no?

  6. realitycheck said, on February 17, 2008 at 5:20 pm


    >> I think somebody should challenge this in the Supreme Court. >>

    The court has no option left but to address the fundamental rights case in front of it. That is the one that has a distorting effect on our political process – not these issues.

    What is the bar for “compelling circumstance” that require provisioning of any type of exclusive group benefit ?

    What is the bar to ascertain the continued existance of these compelling circumstances ?

    The Indian legal community is prone to drown us (and themselves) in brilliant prose which has an dampening effect on the above questions.

    To sum up : these religious gifts are small fry in the larger scheme of things. They can be left to democratic forces to solve. No biggie.

  7. Cupid said, on February 17, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    There is an ongoing case in the Supreme Court on this Haj subsidy issue. The court seems to have bought into the idea that it is fine to do so as long as other communities too get similar subsidies for their pilgrimages – the point you make about newer and competing religious subsidies does not seem to have reached the court’s ears or if it did,there is no indication of it….so far. However, the matter has not been disposed of as yet, so there remains some hope that such schemes will still be held to be unconstitutional. Someone ought to file a brief in the court on behalf of atheists – that might just do the trick.

  8. Sriram said, on February 19, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Did you not read this. There is no sell-by date for news of national importance. I think you should still write about what is wrong with Raj’s brand of politics.

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