Christian Group Decides to Launch Campaign for Self Help
Bengaluru: ‘The elephant in the room – let’s talk about Christian response to politics’ was the theme of a closed panel discussion initiated by Greg D’Sa, a lay Catholic leader in Bengaluru, on Saturday, December 9 on the sidelines of the boulevard at MG Road.
The elephant is around us among Christians in all the social circles. Greg D’Sa, social activist, public speaking coach and a Christian leader initiated the discussion with a brief introduction to the issue of the social status of the Christians in the society today and what are the steps that need to be taken on an emergent basis to stem their decline. He said that a ringside view of the current political and bureaucratic landscape makes a grim picture. In a quick brainstorming, only the names of two serving KAS officers could be recalled. None could think of a single serving Christian IAS officer in Karnataka. In the past, we had some of the leading stalwarts in the Civil Service such as J.C. Lynn, Cecil Norohna, Jaikar Jerome and J. Alexander. Invariably these were all upright men of integrity and honesty. The community took great pride in them, Greg added.
Joachim Peter felt that something concrete is required to be done now – otherwise, it is a slippery downhill slide. It is just not fighting for quota, benefits or budget allocations. But it is much more than that – Christians are systematically sidelined by all political parties. The community can only claim to be the largest supplier of grassroots daily wage political party workers and it ends there. The socio-economic status is deplorable. Many of them live in absolute ignorance of their rights and privileges. Let us accept the fact that the Christian community was known to produce well educated, well read, and intelligent office secretaries with excellent communication skills until a generation ago. However, at present, eight out of ten graduates from the community who graduate do not have the basic job skills and one of the essential skills is “typing”. There was a time when each of our churches had a “commerce Institute” where every youngster enrolled immediately after Class 10 to learn typing. There is no guidance for our youngsters these days. It is a sad scenario to see that the ones doing the mundane jobs such as office boys, and ayahs are mostly a Peter, John, or Mary. We are the largest suppliers of human power to the housekeeping agencies and this is not something to be proud off, Joachim pointed out.
Matilda D’Souza felt that the need of the hour is to create awareness among the Christian Community. They need to be shaken up by their complacency. There is absolutely no point in saying that the “other minority” community has usurped all the benefits. She felt that the main difference is that ‘the people in our community are not proactive’. It is observed that most Christians are really “unchristian” when it comes to sharing information with fellow Christians. Most of them are busy with the crab mindset of pulling each other down. When a Christian comes to know about a scheme- he applies for it, gets the benefit, and keeps quiet. He does not share the knowledge with fellow Christians to benefit. This is the main difference between the Christian community and other communities. This is because the knowledge and information regarding the schemes and method of application are shared with one and all in their community and awareness is created so that many of them apply. It is time that the Christian message of “do unto others what you like them to do to you” is practiced in spirit by all Christians.
Anand Prasad felt that it is sheer ignorance among the Christians that is responsible for this deplorable state of affairs. We need everything readily available. In pursuit of instant fixes, we are not willing to take the trouble to understand the processes and procedures. We are too quick to look for agents who will get us the birth, community and income certificates, ration card and passport among others. Thus, we religiously keep feeding the crocodiles in the corrupt system. All of these services are online. It is only a matter of some basic education, Anand observed.
Kamini Correa felt it is not possible for a single individual or a group of 5-6 people to wave the magic wand and wish away all the problems of the Christian community in one go. There is a need for a collective community effort. Catholic churches have at least half a dozen service organizations involved in social service. All the organizations in the churches across the denominations need to be networked and collaborate to share the best practices and ensure that the people in the community are benefitted. Be it a community certificate or a self-employment loan from KMDC, or an overseas education scholarship. It is in unity that we find strength.
It is a usual scenario for Christians to raise a hue and cry after the elections and say that names of the Christian voters were not there on the rolls. How will the names be there if they have not enrolled in the first place, asks Padmini Purushottam. The Election commission gives wide publicity in the media and it is the responsibility of every individual to ensure that they are registered and their names are there in the active voters list that is published and available online.
The key participants in the discussion were Matilda D’Souza, a Christian activist, social worker, and member of the Karnataka Minorities commission; Joachim, an electronics and power consultant and active church leader; Anand Prasad, president UCWA, “Water Warrior” and facilitator of various government enrolments such as Aadhar, ration cards, voter ID enrolment, and other benefits to the common people; Padmini Purushottam, a homemaker and activist; Kamini Correa, an entrepreneur, Christian and women’s rights activist.
The panel discussion reached an understanding that as the first step of collaboration across all like-minded Christian groups in Bangalore city to begin with this group to launch a campaign to involve all Christian service groups across all denominations to come together and ensure that the names of all the eligible voters are included in the electoral list. All the know-how and assistance will be extended to people who would like to set up help desks in various communities.
For more details e-mail:
Greg D’Sa on email@example.com
Matilda D’Souza on firstname.lastname@example.org