Monday, September 15, 2008

Conversion Conundrum

I was intrigued by two articles today on the recent violence in Orissa. One is by Soumitro Das in the Hindustan Times which takes a strongly anti-VHP line (Given her views, I am quite surprised that she has never written in The Hindu before). An excerpt is indicated below though I recommend to our readers to read the entire article:

On the Christian side, thanks to the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, the Home Ministry is in possession of the Annual Report on Foreign Contributions for 2005-06. It lays out in minute detail the funds received by churches and Christian organisations in India. We know, for example, that the top donors are church-based or Christian-inspired organisations from the US, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy. We also know that a greater part of the funds — Rs 7,785 crore — goes to mainly Christian and church-based organisations in India. According to the Home Ministry’s analysis, the major part of the fund are spent on disaster relief and establishment costs. Welfare of scheduled tribes gets only Rs 25 crore and welfare of scheduled Castes only Rs 9 crore. The rest of the money goes into social work — building of schools, colleges, hospitals, etc. Nowhere is the word proselytisation mentioned. There are also no records of mass conversions.

Hence, the Sangh parivar’s argument that Christian charitable and social work is a disguise to convert ‘innocent, illiterate’ tribals and Dalits is a lie — at least as far as the records go. The Home Ministry report also tells us that the bulk of the money is spent in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi — not in Orissa or Gujarat.

Note her claim that the Sangh Parivar's argument is a lie. She asserts that no money is being spent by missionaries and there is no record of mass conversion.

I found a second report in the Washington Post on the same topic. Here is the relevant excerpt:

Conversions to Christianity have been happening fast among impoverished tribal communities in Kandhamal, a remote district with few links to the outside world or state services. The Christian population here, largely made up of traditionally nature-worshiping ethnic groups, has swelled from 6 percent in 1971 to 27 percent today, according to government census data.

Some people who convert often get better access to schools and health clinics run by Western Christian groups.

My question: Can they both be right or is one of them lying? Perhaps there have been no mass conversions but that does not discount a much more insidious process. If so, that might explain the census data but it still leaves the question of financing unanswered. Do the missionary organizations have other sources of funding besides foreign aid or have they found a way to bring in that money bypassing the government scanner?


Shankar said...

Swami Vivekananda on Bengali mindset:

" We Indians, and especially those of Bengal, have been invaded by a vast amount of foreign ideas that are eating into the very vitals of our national religion. Why are we so backwards nowadays? Why are ninety-nine per cent of us made up of entirely foreign ideas and elements? This has to be thrown out if we want to rise in the scale of nations. "

Very little changed from his time

Anonymous said...

I know of a Chennai based Christian outfit, evidently a Broadcasting Company, who receive as much as the equivalent of 50 Lacs, each month from a foriegn Source. Their job is to record hymns from bible using local talents put it in a storable form and export the data. Each year, this outfit, which is given a target to reach out to various parts of Tamilnadu gets to alsocertify that all the participants chanting the hymn are freshers who have never recorded in the past.

This outfit is not a charitable outfit and is euphemistically exporting data for western Country. But what they do is blatantly incentivise the rural population into converting into Christianity.

I a sure there are more effective methods undertaken by other worthies, which does not necessarily have to go through the rigours of the Foriegn Contribution Regulation Act.