The Jagan Reddy led AP Government plans to have caste & gender based reservations in temple management boards. This marks a new level of intrusion by the secular state in the functioning of Hindu religious institutions, and is a cause of grave concern in a state like AP where the number of crypto-Christians (SC/OBCs who convert to Christianity but retain their official Hindu status to avail quota benefits) is believed to be extremely high, and they could easily infiltrate temple boards under this new reservation scheme.
Reservations in Hindu temples
For a long time now a debate has been raging about management and control of Hindu Temples by the Government. Every now and then the matter has reached the courts, as in the case of the Chidambaram Temple or the Jagannath Puri Temple, with regards to who should manage the temples – Hindu devotees or Government officials?
The management and control of temples by the Government is more prominent in the southern states in general and Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Tamil Nadu (TN) in particular. Isn’t it ironical that the Government of a country, whose constitution calls it ‘secular’, feels the peculiar need to manage religious institutions of ‘only the majority Hindus’?
Christianity in AP
A study of Christianity in AP shows how the missionaries spread their wings slowly and grew in numbers. In the beginning, Christianity was restricted only to South West coast of Bharat but later it spread to various parts of AP. Various missionaries arrived one after the other and targeted Hindus of all castes. They adopted Hindu practices so as to trick Hindus into converting to Christianity.
‘Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it’; our history is replete with examples of evangelical Christian betrayal. From helping foreign Christian missionaries (right from the time of Vasco Da Gama) against local Hindu rulers to supporting Muslim league and rooting for Pakistan, to using local Christian populations and NGOs to create roadblocks in Bharat’s path of development (Kudankulam, Sterlite, Aarey etc), proselytising Christians and the Church have time and again betrayed the interests of the nation.
Often times an argument regarding the declining numbers of Christians has been put forward and Census data (1,80,000 in 1971 to 1,20,000 in 2001) seems to agree with this. The irony, however, is that AP is the only other state outside north-east to have a Christian CM. How can a state with declining Christian population have a Christian CM?
The answer comes from Christian missionaries themselves and a 2001 study published in International Bulletin of Missionary Research states that 124 million of the 1.88 billion (6.2%) Christians worldwide are those who feel the need to keep their religion concealed i.e. they are crypto-Christians. Even if we discount this as an inflated figure we can be sure that a significant number of Christians prefer to keep their religious identity a secret. This is all the more true among converts in Bharat because there is a fear of ‘losing special caste privileges’ accorded to Hindus by the constitution.
Although it is too early to come to a conclusion regarding the impact of such a reservation; it is certainly a cause of concern. We need not be alarmists and/or conspiracy theorists but the least we can ask is for Hindu temples to be controlled and managed by Hindus themselves as stated by the Supreme Court itself (); just like the minorities are given the freedom to manage their religious institutions freely and without any government interference.
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