September 12th, 2011
Kerala is a state where various communities, be it majority community or minority communities, live in harmony. Granting incentives with the sole purpose to increase the population of a particular religious community is an intriguing idea, especially when family welfare and population control is part of federal policy. St Vincent De Paul Forane Church in Kalpetta has promised 10000/- to Catholic couples on the birth of their fifth child. This novel initiative by the Catholic Church with intentions to augment the Christian population in Kerala has become a widely discussed issue. USA based Catholic News Agency were the first to expose the news to the public. We at dool news contacted Salu Mecheril, the regional coordinator of the programme and confirmed the news.
Justifying their stand the Church reassures that the programme is merely an impetus to boost the declining Christian population of the region. However, KCBC has made it clear that this is not their official stand. If we juxtapose the dwindling tribal population and the Christian population the logic behind reviving the Christian population seems to be greatly flawed.
In a discussion held at dool news some prominent people express their views with us.
“The incentives are not going to help increase the population”:T M Thomas Issac ( Former Finance Minister of Kerala & CPIM central committee member)
The attitude of the church has no connection with that of the Christian believers. This kind of news need not be taken seriously. Church as an institution has always opposed family planning. This kind of gimmicks is not going to be of much help in a state like Kerala where the yardsticks of Human Development Index such as public health, literacy and the like is much higher compared to any other state in India.
Rate of increase in population is much lesser in places like Kottayam and Pathanamthitta where the Christian is in majority. Though the government had declared incentives for family planning the decrease in population is not merely due to attractive incentives. It was the result of an increase in the standard of living of the people. Changes in man-women relationship is yet another reason. So these kinds of incentives are not going to help much.
“Christian extremism is more intense than Muslim extremism”: Sister Jessmy (Former Principal of St Mary’s College)
I am quite orthodox in thinking when it comes to the number of children in a family. I was born in a family of seven children. The more the number of children the more the training you get. Not just from your parents but also from your sisters and brothers. The argument for reducing the number of children is that they can be given better care and education. However, if you consider the money spent on counseling the children of families having single or two children, we may conclude it’s much better to have more children.
If there are more children, when they grow up and start working, it would be economically beneficial for the entire family. But there is no holy intention behind the church’s five children programme. Their only aim is to increase the vote banks. They want to increase their representation in the administrative system. This is an attempt to reduce the Muslim influence too.
In Kerala Christian extremism is more intense than Muslim extremism. Muslim extremism is visible from outside. The extremism and fanaticism hidden inside Christians are more dangerous. Who were the worst? Those who chopped off the hands of T T Joseph or those who kicked him out of his job.
Such initiatives from the church will only help in developing contempt among the real believers. In order to love each and to create selfless society larger families can be encouraged. But what the church is doing is nothing but cheap. The Catholic Church should never stoop this low.
“Increasing the population by paying money is anti religious”: Stephen Aalathara (KCBC spokesperson)
The project being implemented under the Kalpetta,St Vincent De Paul Forane Church is not the official policy of KCBC. KCBC has started an inquiry into the reasons behind such anti religious activities.
“This is anti- democratic unified civil code needs to be implemented”: U Kalanadhan (State president, Yukthivaadi Sankhadana) ( Atheist Association),
No religion is supposed to indulge in such anti- democratic activities. Increasing the population in order to get more representation in administrative system is against the basic principles of democracy. There are loopholes in the parliamentary system that encourages such activities. It can be understood after a thorough reading of the Indian constitution.
Article XXX of the Indian Constitution confers certain rights to minorities. This is against the XIVth article of the Indian Constitution that states that all individuals are equally before law. The article gives right to the minorities to the act against the constitution. For example take the case of marriage among the Muslim population. According to Muslims there is nothing wrong in having four wives. If you have five wives the child born out of the fifth wife will have no right on their ancestral property. This has lead to an increase in the Muslim population to a great extend.
The Christians are trying to compete with them by giving incentives to have more children. The funding comes from abroad. Christians recognize only monogamy and hence they have come up with this solution.
The only solution to this increasing competition among religious groups is implementation of the universal civil code mentioned in the 44th schedule. But the politicians are not willing to implement this law as they are afraid of losing their vote banks.
Hence the only solution to arrest this dangerous trend is to separate religion from politics and rule according to secular principles.
“While farmers were committing suicide they were busy spending crores for constructing churches”: Lean Thobias (Creative Director, Panorama)
While I was working in Malayala Manorama, I had been to Wayanad to study farmer’s suicide over there.
While talking to one family we realized that there were a few factors besides agricultural problems that had caused these suicides. He like many other farmers had to pay huge amounts to the church. His son was studying in a private management school. All these problems coupled together led to the suicide of that person in that particular family. While the suicides were being committed huge churches were being constructed in that area.
I am a catholic believer and am quite active member of the church. I informed the church about the distress faced by the farmers over there no one was bothered. It was at this time that an abusive word was used against the Bishop.
The present offer put forth by the church is 10,000 for that the 5th child. Can you imagine the problems the family will face once the child grows up? I think this offer is made for increasing the fee in Jubilee Medical College and the Christian vote banks. Poor men are getting nothing out of any Christian institutions.
“No need to be afraid of an increase in population”: T Ariff Ali (Jammat- e- Islami Al Hind, Kerala President)
This is a very basic issue. Manpower can be seen in two ways; Intellectual and physical. The people from Assam, Bihar, Bengal and the like are pouring into Kerala. But here we don’t have anyone. We are exporting manpower to foreign countries.
All groups are afraid of the decrease in population. In the beginning Christian society was afraid of increase in the population. Now they are trying to correct it. There is no need to see any sort of communalism in it. These reactions should never be considered communal. According to Jamaat -e -Islami there is no need to be afraid of increasing population.
“The aim is not to increase population but to encourage life”: Salu Mecherill ( St Vincent De Paul Forane Church Project Director)
The aim of the project is not to increase population but to encourage life. There has been a drastic decline in youth population. We intend to rectify this problem. The aim of the project is to preserve life until death.
The project couldn’t include other communities as the church can conduct this project at present only in a small scale. We are part of KCBC’s providence committee. We didn’t consult KCBC about this project.
These days women are reluctant to give birth to children. Many couples are reluctant to have kids at all. In Kalpetta the rate of farmers committing suicide are much less. The rate of increase of population is much less than even the developed nations.
According to the central government, by 2030 Kerala would be a large old age home. Hence it is necessary to have able youth that can work. So let other states do whatever they want.
There is nothing to be scared of. This is not meant for conducting war or anything. Many countries in the world are carrying on with such a project. It is not true that job opportunities are not increasing according to the population.