Sep 27, 2023
Sep 27, 2023
by Dr. P Koshy
Reports suggest that the Christian community in Kerala is shifting its allegiance to the BJP. The root causes of this political shift need to be understood and assessed.
The current call for a shift in political allegiance, as heard from different corners of the Church, both from laity, clergy and the bishops are a final war cry for a change and reform. While the 1991 reforms and its impact are felt across India, this is still not a reality in Kerala. This movement is a call to reform the political structure and replace the current ideology with a new one.
If farmers, entrepreneurs and young people in other states can explore the opportunities in a free & liberalized global market, why is it denied to the people of Kerala? Farmers and entrepreneurs of Kerala need opportunities to enhance their income by several times, with smart agro-tech farming and diversifying into processing and producing innovative food products that have demand in urban markets.
If farmers of Israel, Japan, Punjab, Haryana or Maharashtra can prosper why not those in Kerala? The dream of a rubber farmer today is limited to Rupees Three hundred per kilo, which will help him survive and sustain in the rubber farming. Unlike in other states, investors do not come and invest fearlessly in a manufacturing unit that uses rubber as a primary input. Why is it that this scenario scares investors and manufacturers away from Kerala?
From the concept of raising farmers’ incomes that bishop Pamplany spoke about to a second liberation struggle similar to the famous 1959 Vimochana Samaram or liberation struggle, the major churches, along with the BJP, can take on the ideology that stifles businesses, investors, and manufacturing industries? Together they need to address the root causes of trade union extremism, negative industrial climate and an atmosphere that works against development, creation of jobs and opportunities for the youth, farmers and others. When other states are performing well and creating job opportunities, why is it that Kerala is not?
Bishop Pamplany’s call is a challenge to make amends. It’s a call to reform the political structure and replace it with a new thinking for the new era. When farmers are thinking of agro-tech startups and smart farming and exploring the opportunities by setting up Farmer Producer companies, making innovative agro-products and leading a decent life and providing for their families, why should this be prevented only in Kerala?
There is no dearth of farmland and resources, yet Christian youth are leaving the State for better pastures. This has its implications on the economic foundation and future of the Church in Kerala. So, a new atmosphere, political leadership and a new market friendly ideology is critical for the state and for the church.
A militantly aggressive trade union culture and social climate, which evolved over the years on the foundation of a wide network of Communist-Marxist ideological schooling, provided through such networks propagate that those who do farming on their land, the landowners – and those who run business are all classes that need to be considered as the enemies of working class. Unfortunately, upper caste Hindus, Christians and Muslims fit comfortably into that category.
Today the general perception among the community is that “the Congress and Communists are now close allies at the national level. They have many things in common and the Congress have all devils on their side that are opposed to Christianity and the Church”.
Both the LDF and UDF could not contribute in any way to building a business climate favorable for free market, trade and commercial activities. Living and engaging in a private business, either agro-focused or some other traditional community focused commercial activities is beyond the framework of possibilities in Kerala.
Many were hopeful that militant trade unionism would be toned down and Pinarai Vijayan would reform Kerala Communism just as late Mikhail Gorbachev did for the Soviet Union. They hoped he would restore law, order and peace in the industrial and commercial climate in the state. But the communist ecosystem is not really reformable and beyond the reach of reformist and progressive minded leaders like Pinarai Vijayan, says Mr. Joseph Varghese, a retired quasi-government official, who now lives in Bangalore.
When Kitex group of industries in Eranakulam faced harassment, the community felt threatened, since the entrepreneur concerned was a member of their community. It was evident then that even the Pinarai government, which promised a positive industrial climate was helpless while the Kitex group face the mighty power of the communist eco-system consisting of its unions, cells from local to state to national level, youth wings, the politburo, the central committee and cadres with the power to override any authority.
The massive exodus of Christian families that is happening from the state today, must be seen in this context. People no longer wish to remain in Kerala. Those who stay back are busy sorting their paper work for migration or searching for an opportunity to move out of Kerala. Interestingly, most of the new parishes of these churches are in UK, Australia, Canada or the US. Churches like the Marthoma Church, for instance, have close to 11 parishes and 6 congregations in the UK alone.
The ideological indoctrination process has made the Kerala masses believe that doing business, raising capital, being an entrepreneur or farming commercially are all demeaning activities. Working in a government office or being a doctor or engineer are the careers that average pre-GenEx prefer. So today Kerala is faced with a peculiar situation where farmlands are kept barren, no labor is available and businesses and investors are running out of the state.
If you think this ideological schooling has impacted only a few select sectors, think again! It has impacted every segment of society. The ideological penetration can be seen even in the Churches. A few generations of clergy and bishops were brought up in Kerala with the influence and ideological schooling of Marxism. Many such people could find a place in the Church hierarchy as priests, bishops and key theological education roles, creating literature and making speeches that support Marxist thoughts from within the Church. A retired professor of a seminary laments that many who used to join for theological education were often found to be ideologically compromised but since they come with an agenda, it becomes difficult to weed them out of the system. So, today there are many bishops who hide and operate with political agenda clothed in church robes. He says, however, that the new generation priests are much less ideologically compromised.
While Mar Joseph Pamplany, Archbishop of the Thallacherry diocese of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church may only have been trying to help enhance the income levels of farmers with intervention from the Central government. But now it seems like his statement may trigger the creation of a new political front where the BJP has a contribution to make towards a new climate for businesses, enterprises and investment in various sectors, leading to new opportunities and a possible reverse migration of Keralites.
More by : Dr. P Koshy