“The UPA Government established the (a) Ministry for Minority Affairs (b) the Sachar Committee to study the ‘socio-economic backwardness’ of the Muslims (c) National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions etc. The present Government, however, has not departed an inch from the UPA’s policy in this matter. The daylight robbery of taxpayers’ money continues.” – Priyadarshi Dutta
It is strange that an institution dedicated to agriculture, science and technology, such as the one in Naini, Allahabad, should have a socio-political and even religious agenda. The more shocking part is that the university receives funding from the Government
On the afternoon of December 29, 2014, a group of Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists were mercilessly cudgelled by the Uttar Pradesh police in Allahabad. The activists were peacefully demonstrating in front of the Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Science. The demonstrators alleged that the institute had become a hub of evangelical propaganda. This Government-funded ‘science’ institute is better known for organising Yeshu Darbar or evangelical/faith healing sessions in its campus. Its videos are available for a search on You Tube.
The Chief Executive Officer-cum-Vice Chancellor, Mr Rajendra B. Lal, is also a Bishop who excels in exorcising devils at the Darbar! At a time when the media is teeming with reports of ghar wapsi (re-conversion to Hinduism), few newspapers or television channels took cognisance of the Allahabad atrocities.
The Government is under fire over the cases of ghar wapsi. These (re)conversions to Hinduism are being done by forums affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the VHP. The RSS and the VHP are private organisations that do not receive any funding from the Government. But, believe it or not, the Government is constrained to fund some institutions promoting conversions. The Sam Higginbottom Institute is one of them. Earlier called the Allahabad Agricultural Institute, it was accorded a deemed university status under the University Grants Commission Act in the year 2000, when the NDA was in power.
The UPA-I gave it a ‘minority institution’ status in 2005. In September 2009, the UPA-II allowed it to be renamed as Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture Technology and Science. Though being a deemed university, the institute tried to hedge itself against the Right to Information Act, 2005, by invoking its Christian minority institution tag. Mr O.P. Kejriwal, the then Information Commissioner, found this contention rather surprising during a hearing of an appeal. Mr Kejriwal, in a decision dated January 23, 2009, observed, “The way the whole case has gone has only strengthen the suspicion of the commission that there is something rotten there.”
In 2008-09, the institute received Rs 3.81 crore in grants from the Union Government and Rs 5.84 crore from the Uttar Pradesh Government. The financial statements on the official website of the institute have not been updated since then. This is perhaps because the Vice Chancellor is more obsessed with organising Yeshu Darbar than discharging the RTI obligations. The Gospel axiom, “Render unto Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s, and render unto God, things that are God’s”, has partly been lost upon him. Mr Lal believes in promoting Christ, with Caesar’s money.
It is strange that an institution dedicated to agriculture, science and technology, should have a socio-political agenda. Its charter mentions justice to the minorities, and other weaker sections of the society, especially to the women and the rural poor, as one of the commitments. This, read with another object , ‘International fellowship and cooperation in the educational and developmental Ministry in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ’, exposes the institution’s blueprint.
Now, let’s turn our focus to the south. A glimpse of PhDs, produced in the Department of Christianity, University of Mysore, would be illustrative. ‘Jesus as a model for political leadership in Indian Context’ (2004); ‘Moral dilemma in the ecological crisis: A Christian response to it in the Context of India’ (2002); ‘Vision of sarvodaya for the mission of kingdom of god in India’ (2005) etc. The activists are in the process of retrieving a complete list.
The University of Mysore (established in 1916) was apparently the first university in India to establish a department of Christianity in 1980. A large endowment by the Diocese of Mysore — an accredited Christian religious body — aided the foundation of the department. The rest of the money was provided by the Karnataka Government. Under the venerable title of ‘Mysore University’, PhDs are being minted for political triumph of Christianity! Is the Government not unwittingly promoting evangelism? It would be far easier to plug such holes than bring an anti-conversion law at national level.
A Hindi short story, Shruti Ki Pukar; Cycle ki hahakar (The Cry of Shruti: Lamentation for a Cycle) did the rounds on the Internet. It describes the plight of a school-going girl, Shruti. She felt being discriminated against solely for being a Hindu, when her Muslim classmate received a bicycle from the Education Department. It was part of the Government’s incentive for the minorities. While Shruti had to walk a mile to school and back in the sun, her Muslim classmate rode the bicycle. Shruti finally asks her mother why they too do not become Muslims to receive such preferential treatment. But the mother says she would rather sell her golden bangles to purchase a bicycle for Shruti.
This poignant story shows the crass minorityism indulged in by the UPA Government, and lapped up by other ‘secular’ parties. One just needs to go through the replies of Parliament questions or read the annual reports of the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs to realise the enormity of financial outlays. But, interestingly, the minority benefits are never extended to Hindu in States/UTs they are in a minority. The Constitution nowhere allows for special benefits — in cash or kind — for religious minorities. When largesse is extended to them based solely on religious identity, the deprived Hindus might be tempted to convert to Islam or Christianity. Isn’t the state guilty of abetting conversions with public money?
The UPA Government established the (a) Ministry for Minority Affairs (b) the Sachar Committee to study the ‘socio-economic backwardness’ of the Muslims (c) National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions etc. The present Government, however, has not departed an inch from the UPA’s policy in this matter. The daylight robbery of taxpayers’ money continues.
It only reminds one of a line from famous essayist G.K. Chesterton: “The whole modern world has divided itself into conservatives and progressives. The business of progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins.” – The Pioneer, 5 January 2015
» Priyadarshi Dutta is an independent researcher based in New Delhi who writes on national and international issues in the five-edition news daily The Pioneer.
Filed under: christian, christianity, india, indian government, minorityism Tagged: | christian colleges, christian studies, government of india, hindus taxed, NDA, SHIATS, university grants commission, university of mysore, vishwa hindu parishad