Sunday, January 29, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Corruption and its Impact on Dalits: An Indian Panorama

Corruption and its Impact on Dalits: An Indian Panorama

"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 programmes 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

Rev. Sunil Raj Philip
Executive Secretary
Commission on Dalits


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