Pen from Den A column in New Vision by DANIEL BABU PAUL
Forwarded as a complement to the news on KCZ's monograph.
The census figures of 2001 have become available. As expected Kerala shows
all signs of a society which has reached demographic stability. We have what
statisticians describe as cent per cent literacy, a sex ratio of 1058,infant
population(0-6) of 11.48% and a decadal population growth of +9.42 %.The
respective figures for the country as a whole are 65.38, 933, NA, and
+21.34%. If we analyse these figures further we can see that those districts
where Christians are substantial in numbers show figures which are even
These figures are satisfactory per se and a matter of pride. However we must
notice that these figures place Kerala as a whole, and the Christian
segments in particular, almost in the same niche as Japan and other
developed countries. As one proceeds from Narita to the city center in Tokyo
what strikes the most is the numerous elderly couples taking their
constitutional" supporting each other. We in this part of the world are
also into a societal pattern which has a large geriatric segment. This is
because infant mortality has declined, death and birth rates have decreased,
and, consequently life expectancy has gone up significantly.
During the twentieth century the decadal growth has varied from +11.75%
during 1901-11 to +9.42% during the last decade. These figures are more
significant than they appear prima facie. This is because it had risen to
26.29% during 1961-71 before beginning to decline. What this means is that
with improved health standards population began to grow around 1941, but
with improved awareness and education society has controlled its total
growth to less than what it was in the decades of higher infant mortality
and lower life expectancy.
Kerala as a whole and Christians, especially Syrian Christians, in
particular have to sit up and notice these figures published by Sheela
Thomas of the Indian Administrative Service who captained the enumeration
this year. Let me try to draw attention to a few points which cry for it.
The first fact I notice is that the number of women exceeds that of men
substantially. This means that in any parish there are more women than men.
We know from experience that all along we had more practicing Christian
women than practicing Christian men, but now even in terms of absolute
numbers the women are ahead. And, yet, the women have little or no say in
administration of church or its properties. A Syrian Orthodox woman judge of
the Supreme Court can decide who is the Malankara Metropolitan, but she has
no say in deciding the budget of her own parish. This is because church has
not kept pace with society in the empowerment of women. At least now let us
recognize that time has come to correct the picture.
Secondly the community seems to have stabilized demographically. This means
that we should seriously consider positively encouraging marriages with
other communities. Of course to some extent it does work out that way
because our people migrate all over the world and settle down wherever the
local laws would permit that, but we have to consider the possibility of
dangerous inbreeding during the current century, or at least over the next
couple of centuries.
Thirdly we are far ahead in education, health etc. We must reorient our
priorities in the social service sector. This is not a matter of demography
or sociology, but one of spiritual dimension: should we spend our resources
on schools and hospitals which help us make money? Should we not, rather,
decide to concentrate on special schools like those for the mentally
challenged and special hospitals like leprosy hospitals and lunatic
asylums? Fourthly we should ensure good Christian witness in the social,
economic and political areas. The whole society has moved forward and
Christians should demonstrably be the salt of the earth in Kerala society.
We should train our future politicians as much as we try to train our
engineers and doctors in Christian morals.
Finally the church should note that the attention now bestowed on the
elderly and their needs is inadequate. The time we could limit our attention
to children through Sunday Schools and the youth through our youth
associations is an endless segment in history, but an additional
responsibility we must focus on relates to the geriatric segment. We have
Vanitha Samajams and Yuvajana Sakhyams, but is it not time we also thought
of Vridha jana Sakhyams?
TOTUS TUUS MARIA
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2002 5:57 PM
Subject: [SOCM-FORUM] Digest Number 343
> Message: 2
> Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 09:17:06 +0300
> From: Thomas Daniel
> Subject: Syrian Christians facing Parsi syndrome
> Syrian Christians facing Parsi syndrome
> THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rapidly declining birth rate among Syrian Christians
> and their high migration rate can by the next decade erode the community's
> political clout in the State, warns a study by veteran demographer K C
> Zachariah of the Centre for Development Studies here.