Corruption and its impact on Dalits: An Indian panorama

January 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Christians, Dalit, National, newsletter-india

Corruption and its Impact on dalitKerala, January 24, 2012: “A Society without Justice generates Corruption” says Bishop Thomas K. Oommen: “The Ocean of corruption that has engulfed human beings and especially the Indian society is the result of the absence of the value of justice in the society. Dalits are the ones who are affected severely by this phenomenon of blatant corruption in India. Only prophetic voices and effective programmers can change this scenario”, so said Rt. Rev. Thomas K. Oommen, the Bishop in CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese. He raised these important points while he was inaugurating the two- day long seminar on “Corruption and its Impact on Dalits: An Indian Panorama” held at the CSI Retreat Centre, Kottayam on 20th and 21st of January 2012. This Seminar was organised by the Commission on Dalits in NCCI in partnership with the Dalit Desk of the CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese. Kerala Council of Churches also extended its association with this seminar.

Rev. Dr. P. B. M. Basaiawmoit, the Vice President of the NCCI, who chaired the inaugural function, pointed out the fact that the discussion about corruption has been narrowed down to monetary corruption and thus fails to address the multifaceted issues related with it. He said that this seminar will aim at making the voices of the marginalised heard within the national discussion about corruption in India.

Advocate Suresh Koshy, the Treasurer of the NCCI, suggested that it is high time that certain strong steps are taken to combat corruption which ultimately adversely affects the Dalits in India. Prof. George Jacob, the Lay Secretary of CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese, looked forward to a stronger partnership of the diocese with the NCCI in this matter. Prof. Philip N. Thomas, the Secretary of the Kerala Council of Churches, highlighted the KCC’s engagement in the Chengara land struggle. He pointed out that unequal distribution of land is also a serious form of corruption. Earlier Rev. Sunil Raj Philip, the Executive Secretary of the Commission on Dalits, welcomed the gathering and drew attention to the concerns of the Seminar.

Mr. Madhu Chandra, an activist based in Delhi, presented a paper on “Corruption: An Inclusive Perspective”. In this presentation he raised questions like “Is monetary corruption the only challenge in India which Team Anna is concerned about? What about socio-religious corruption in relation to  caste? What about ensuring affirmative action for marginalised people in corporate establishments? What about the failure of the state to fight communalism against minorities, marginalised people, and the rise of fascism?”

Dr. Meera Velayudhan, a Policy Analyst with Centre for Environment & Social Concerns (CESC), Ahmedabad, presented her paper on “Ending Corruption: Thoughts on Way Forward”. She suggested that any discussion on evolving effective responses to addressing corruption needs to consider the complex set of issues: Dalits as the ones who are at the receiving end of the adverse effects of corruption; gender discrimination as corruption; and caste itself as corruption. It may involve wider and varied levels of debate but can only strengthen the initiative that this seminar has already set in motion.

Rev. Dr. P. B. M. Basaiawmoit suggested, in his presentation titled “The Church and Corruption: its Impact on Dalits and other Marginalised People”, that corruption poses a serious developmental challenge. The biblical prophets encourage us to be suspicious of concentration of wealth and power. Churches should have serious introspection whether they are becoming this kind of arena of concentration of wealth, which ultimately makes the marginalised people more marginalised and vulnerable.

Dr. Simon John, the Vice-President of the KCC, presented a paper on “Corruption and Dehumanisation of Dalits as a Cultural Malady”. He highlighted the fact that the struggle against corruption should go on. The ways in which corruption adversely affects the Dalits should be opposed to prevent the dehumanising cultural hegemony of the corrupt upper caste people.

After each presentation, there was ample time allotted for discussion. On the second day, after the presentations were over, delegates were divided into three groups for further discussions. In the plenary session, group leaders presented their findings, which were added to the communiqué. Very relevant findings, such as the anti-Dalit Christian reservation moves are ‘constitutional corruption’, and the translations of the Bible into various vernacular languages in India knowingly or unknowingly support the caste system in India, came up from the group discussions.

In the afternoon of the final day, the Kerala Council of Churches honoured the delegates of the seminar, who came down to Kottayam from various states of India, by giving mementoes. The draft committee presented the communiqué. In the vote of thanks Rev. Sunil Raj Philip assured the participants that the Commission on Dalits in the National Council of Churches in India will publish the papers and the communiqué for wider awareness of, and commitment to the cause of the Dalits.

– rev. sunil raj philip

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