Government funding outbound conversions – Priyadarshi Dutta

Priyadarshi Dutta“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

SHIATS UniversityIt 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 University Grants Commission, Govt of Indiastatus 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. 

University of MysoreNow, 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? 

Narendra ModiThe 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.

Christian Festival at SHIATS

4 Responses

  1. “Focus is Development, Hijacked Headlines A Concern”: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Hindutva Controversies – Barkha Dutt – NDTV.com – January 6, 2015

    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said a national law must make clear how voluntary conversion can take place.

    When asked about Hindutva controversies diffusing the development message of the government the minister admitted, “Yes I am concerned about headlines being hijacked. Our focus is development”

    When asked why the PM chose not to condemn rabble-rousers publicly Mr Jaitley said, “His disapproval was expressed at a BJP MPs meeting; that meeting is not a secret or closed meeting. The PM has made his position clear.”

    Mr Jaitley said the national law on voluntary conversions would have to be “fundamental right compatible,” and that there must be the same standards for both “reconversion” and “conversion”.

    “Is reconversion any better or any worse than conversion? Aren’t both at par?” he said, in an exclusive interview to NDTV, on an issue over which many days of Parliament work were lost in the winter session, as opposition parties attacked the ruling BJP.

    The Opposition has attacked the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to rein in hardline affiliates of the party’s ideological mentor, the RSS, who have been organising ceremonies to convert members of religious minorities to Hinduism. They call it “ghar wapasi” or homecoming.

    The Opposition alleges that the minorities are being pressured to convert to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda. The conversions were recently justified by Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, who also said that India is a “Hindu nation,” amplifying the raging debate.

    Mr Jaitley said today, “The RSS chief has said what he has before too, but the media, opposition is just looking at controversies now.”

    The BJP has said it is against forced conversion of any kind and its leaders have called for an anti-conversion law.

    • “‘Is reconversion any better or any worse than conversion? Aren’t both at par?’ he [Finance Minister Arun Jaitley] said, in an exclusive interview to NDTV, …”

      Mr Jaitley talks just like a Congressman!

      What is called ‘reconversion’ is not on par with conversion. (This has been clearly explained by Jugal Kishore.)

      If conversion takes place, reconversion is inevitable after the funds paid and excitement generated by the initial conversion are exhausted. The converted then recant and return to their original religion and culture. This sometimes happens to converts in the West and it is inevitable for converts in India given Hinduism’s social and spiritual culture.

      Reconversion cannot take place without the initial conversion. One is dependent on the other. How can they then be considered at par?

      ​A law against conversion is only a formality and will prove to be ineffective even as it has proven to be ineffective​ in a police state like China’s.

      Mr Jaitley needs to do a rethink.

  2. At the Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Science in Allahabad, Hindus are paying to have members of their own community converted to Christianity!

    At the University of Mysore, Hindus pay the Dept of Christianity to produce PhD theses on how to convert members of their own community to Christianity!

    Sort of like Mughal times—isn’t it?

    And Hindus think they have a Hindu government in place in Dilli!

    Stupid Hindus!

    • “And Hindus think they have a Hindu government in place in Dilli” says it all! It is atrocious and ludicrous that majority community is paying for converting its members to Christianity in Allahabad and Mysore!

      However I haven’t yet lost hope. I believe RSS and our beloved Prime Minister Sri NaMo will definitely do something in repairing the destruction done during the rule of the Italian Mafiosi’s bargirl waitress through her lapdogs in the Congress party.

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