Staff Reporter

Urged to retract from agitation on colleges Act

THRISSUR: Bishop Yuhannan Mar Milithios of the Malankara Orthodox Church has lashed out at the Church leadership in the State for launching agitations and campaigns against the self-financing college Act passed by the State Government.

Inaugurating a discussion on `Minority rights belongs to whom?' organised by the social action group `Jananeethi' here on Thursday, the bishop appealed to the Church leadership to immediately retract from the agitation which is tantamount to "re-crucifixion of Jesus Christ." Emphasising that the self-financing colleges are part of the infiltration of the culture of luxury into the educational sector, the bishop said they force the surrender of educational sector to the crass market interests.

The students who come out of such institutions after paying exorbitant amounts as capitation fees and other fees can only perpetuate the culture of suicides or looting of others in society.

Ridiculing the arguments that such educational institutions are working in other States in large-scales the bishop asked: "can we say that robbery or flesh trade should be encouraged in Kerala just because they are happening in other States?''

Those institutions make education inaccessible to the poor and downtrodden and the Act was only trying to regulate the evil trends in those institutions, so that those left out will also get some opportunities. The Church should have been actually allying with the toiling masses who will be benefited by the Act. But the current agitation will only lead to alienation of such sections from the Church, the bishop said.

Criticising the arguments that the self-financing institutions are charging such high fees to meet the expenditure of running them, the bishop said: "I find this argument to be a joke. How can the Church argue that it is going to start a service-oriented educational institution by raising the resources from within it? The Church should be starting an educational institution by mobilising resources from other sources and reach education to the poor and meritorious students.''

Social thinker Ninan Koshy also made a scathing attack on the Church leadership for its strident postures against the Act.

Vicar General flayed

Referring to the reported statement made by Vicar General of Thrissur Archdiocese Raphael Thattil that "the Act cannot be implemented till the death of the last Christian in Kerala," Prof Koshy said, "this is not the voice of a vicar, but it can come only from an emotional person. This call to lead the faithful to war is the language of an army general and not that of a vicar general.''

He contested the arguments that the new Act was against minorities. The Act was in fact seeking to protect the poor and middle level sections which constitute the vast majority of the minorities. Cautioning against the dangers of the equating minority rights with the rights to run educational institutions alone, Prof. Koshy said such tendencies have retarded the efforts to bring in basic educational reforms in the State.

Pointing out that the real threat to the minorities in India comes from the fascist Sangh Parivar forces, he said the tendency to pose the initiatives against the evil tendencies in the self-financing education sector as an attack on the minorities will push the Christianity into great dangers in the country in future.

Referring to the reported calls made by some Church leaders for another Liberation Struggle, Prof. Koshy said "there is a need for a liberation struggle within the Church to free it from outdated structures and ideologies. The real ecumenical activity now will be the efforts to bring back the Church to the path of justice.