R.L. Francis resides in India and is the President of the Poor Christian Liberation Movement. You can reach him at
Initiatives will go a long way to improve India - The focus on rural economy and farmer’s welfare in 2016-17 Union budget presented by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley indicate a major shift in Modi government’s policy approach towards the poor. Twenty five years after India’s economic reforms programme got going in 1991 Arun Jaitley, the finance minister has effected tectonic shift in the budget by shifting he discourse, and thereby, the reforms momentum, to rural Bharat that is now called India
With a specific focus on improving the livelihood of the rural population, the Union Budget announced three focused social initiatives which would go a long way in creating an educated, healthier and, thereby, a stronger India. The government aims to double income of farmers in five years; launch initiatives to increase irrigation access and skill one crore youth in the next three years. In addition, healthcare finally takes the centre stage in the budget.
The announcement of the health protection scheme of Rs. 1 lakh to cover unforeseen illness in poor families with an additional Rs 30,000 for senior citizens is a long-awaited and welcome step. In addition, the government’s plan to add 3,000 pharmacies under the jan aushadhi yojana to provide generic drugs at affordable rates is a commendable move.
Let me highlight and analyse some of the key points in the budget.
The memorandum submitted to the Secretary General of UN, requested that Indian church stop harassing Dalits and other deprived sections of society based on caste with immediate effect, and if it fails to do so, the observer status of the Vatican should be suspended.
Few days back, Dalit Christian’s delegation had met with the representative of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and submitted a memorandum regarding alleged exploitation and torture by the Catholic Church and Vatican. The memorandum highlighted continuous discrimination of CBCI (Catholic Bishop Conference of India) on the Dalit Christians. The memorandum also pointed out that the Church is not ready to give Dalit Christians their due share in the church structure.
Indian Church has not even imagined that it will be exposed before the International organization so blatantly and that too by the people it claims to be a saviour. The Church has always portrayed itself as a protector of the rights of Dalits and the other deprived sections of the society in India.
It is worth to mention here that Dalit Christians constitute 70% of the total Christian population in India but they have no share in the Church-run institutions. The memorandum submitted to the Secretary General of UN, requested that Indian church stop harassing Dalits and other deprived sections of society based on caste with immediate effect, and if it fails to do so, the observer status of the Vatican should be suspended.
The controversy about Mother Teresa had not subsided, and there is yet another book by P B Lomeo “Unteshwari Mata ka Mahant” has raised a serious question on the functioning of the church within the Christian society.
The book titled ‘Unteshwari Mata ka Mahant’ is about Father Anthony Fernandes from the Society of Jesus, (SJ) who had spent 38 percent of his life to increase the number of sheep. The book exposes the layer by layer about the bad consequence meted out to priests and nuns who dare to disobey the dictates of the church.
The book makes some startling revelations about the Catholic Church system and tells the story about the modus operandi of conversion in the North Gujarat. One can really admire the sharp brain of the foreign missionaries who were quick to point out that the camels were the most important animal in the region. It is the lifeline of the desert area. Therefore, they created a new Goddess, Unteshwari Devi, who protects the camels in the region. She is ‘kuldevi’ of the camel protectors Jesus followers.
Camel has become an integral tool to meet their larger objectives. So, with the help of foreign funds, they purchased a 107 acre tract of land in the Budasan village in Mehsana region and constructed a Chaburara. They proclaimed that this is Unteshwari Matachabutara.
When Father Anthony Fernandes came to know that his main task was to convert people of Northern Gujarat into Christianity, he was devastated. He had never expected such a black face of truth.
On expected lines, there was once again a hue and cry when unidentified persons allegedly vandalised a church and damaged the statues of baby Jesus and Mother Mary in the Agra Cantonment area earlier this week. The uproar comes close on the heels of the hullabaloo raised by sections of the intelligentsia and media over a letter written by Justice Kurien Joseph, a Supreme Court judge, protesting against the holding of a conference of High Court judges on Good Friday, citing it as yet another instance of “persecution” of the Christian community in the country.
The Chief Justice of India responded to Justice Joseph’s protest saying the question is whether it is institutional interest or individual interest that one should give preference to. “In my view, it is the institutional interest”, he added. But what the aforementioned intelligentsia and media completely and conveniently overlooked was responses of equally eminent Christian intellectuals including former Supreme Court judges who totally disagreed with Justice Kurien’s uncalled for reaction.
For instances, the widely respected Justice K T Thomas, who had presided over the Rajiv Gandhi assassination trial in the apex court, in a recent newspaper interview recalled that a similar conference of Chief Justices was held in 2007 as well on Good Friday but “nobody even bothered”.
Guest Author Joseph Gathia
By securing release of Catholic Christian priest from Taliban in Afghanistan within a week of giving assurances that his government will protect minorities and is committed to the freedom of religion, the Modi government has given signal of a new approach to protect minorities in India. Indian Jesuit priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar was kidnapped from the main area in Afghanistan on June 2, 2014 while on visit to a schools run for refugees. Father Alexis has thanked the Modi government for ensuring his freedom. “PM Modi saved me,” Father Alexis said.
Father Alexis, who hails from Tamil Nadu's Sivaganga district had served as country director of international NGO Jesuit Refugee Service in Afghanistan for four years before he was abducted on June 2, 2014 during visits to schools run for refugees in Herat area of Afghanistan. In the past Indian kidnapped by the Taliban or Islamic militant groups have been killed. After Father Alexis was released and taken to Kandahar and later to Kabul, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoken to him, inquiring about his condition, and wishing him well. Modi later spoke to his family members in Chennai.
Modi tweeted, "Delighted at securing the release of Indian Jesuit priest Father Alexis Prem Kumar from captivity in Afghanistan. Have spoken to Father Alexis Prem Kumar. Informed happy family of Father Alexis Prem Kumar of his safe return after 8 months in captivity."The “special operation,” which saw agencies going the whole hog to secure the Jesuit priest came at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
A prominent Christian organization has accused the Church leaders of ‘misleading’ the Christian community vis-a-vis Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
R L Francis, President of Poor Christian Liberation Movement (PCLM) has alleged that the Church leaders were misleading the Christian members in Sunday Mass in Churches under Delhi Catholic Archdiocese by instigating them against the BJP, RSS and Narendra Modi Government.
In a press release Francis, who is also a columnist and writer, said that without waiting for the inquiry results of some incidents related to Churches in Delhi, these leaders are inciting the members against Hindu organizations. They wanted to accuse the Hindu organizations and Modi government for these incidents, he said.