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An Excellent letter to Karnataka Chief Minister (fwd)

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  • Varugese C J
    Dear moderators, Please find the forwarded message. If there is no problem in publishing it in our SOCM Forum, kindly do it. Regards, varughese Mem ID 1012 ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2008
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      Dear moderators,

      Please find the forwarded message. If there is no problem in publishing it
      in our SOCM Forum, kindly do it.
      Regards,
      varughese
      Mem ID 1012

      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      A brilliant letter. Very elegantly and succinctly put. Needs to be
      widely circulated.

      An Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Karnataka from St. Joseph's
      College, Bangalore

      Dear Sir,

      We write to you as members of the Staff of St. Joseph's College and as
      secular citizens of the state of Karnataka deeply distressed by the
      recent attacks on educational institutions and churches in Mangalore
      and elsewhere in Karnataka.

      We are a college of 126 years, the very first private college of the
      city with a rich legacy of educating generations of students of
      different faiths in the ideals of democracy and secularism. Thousands
      of citizens in the state owe their education into secularism to this
      college where students have lived and learned as members of one human
      family. We are also aware of your high esteem for the college. It is
      due to that high regard for the institution that you had admitted your
      son here and he had successfully passed out from the portals of the
      college.

      Our contributions to the nation goes right back in time, to those dark
      and frightful years of British imperialism. We as an institution,
      perhaps the only one in the state, have participated in the freedom
      struggle of the country.

      The college had protested against British colonialism, raising the
      National Tricolor as a banner of national revolt on our premises
      against the British Raj. Our students were hunted and jailed by
      British Police for participating in the Quit India movement.

      The names of Ratnakar Rai and Kripakaran are synonymous with the early
      struggles while Deendayalu Naidu and P.S. Sundaram Reddy were with the
      Quit India movement. Several of our students were tortured and
      repressed in these jails for their struggles for the freedom of the
      country.

      Fr. Ferroli, the Warden was, interned in the jail in Whitfield. and
      Fr. Boniface D'Souza, was the person who prevented the police from
      taking students into custody during the last phase of the freedom
      struggle. That spirit of secularism and nationalism still exists in
      this campus and we have not deviated from that. It is this love for
      the nation that prompts and urges us to write to you.

      Over the years, we have educated a variety of students, pundits,
      scientists, activists, journalists, technocrats, bureaucrats,
      politicians, businessmen, sportspersons and women primarily from the
      state of Karnataka though there have been students from outside the
      state and the country. We have never imposed a world-view of our own
      on the students.

      Instead we have encouraged critical thinking and learning. Freedom of
      thought and ex-pression has always characterized education in St.
      Joseph's. We can claim with tremendous pride that we have produced
      stimulating intellectuals, prominent change-makers at the grass root
      level and provided able administrators to the nation and particularly
      to the State of Karnataka.

      M.P. Ghorpade, Kumara Bangarappa, M.P. Prakash, Bachche Gowda,
      Narayanaswamy, Allum Veerabhadarappa and a host of bureaucrats are all
      our former students. Many of our former students work in different
      fields of life as innovators and policy-framers. Moreover we have
      enhanced our services these many years to foster the needs and desires
      of the marginalized.

      We continue to admit and provide educational opportunities to a wide
      community of educationally and socially backward classes, scheduled
      castes and scheduled tribes. We have thus produced sensitive and
      learned leaders among the Dalit and backward communities. We are
      extremely proud of students from subaltern communities who have turned
      into agents of radical social change. Our credentials as a secular and
      progressive institution concerned about the well-being of all is a
      truth well known to all.

      St. Joseph's College belongs to no party. But we remain concerned with
      what is taking place in the state. Inculcating social awareness and
      increasing social concern is one of the main thrusts of the college.
      As an educational institution with high moral and ethical credentials,
      we are concerned about the divisive politics that polarizes people on
      the basis of religion.

      Your party has come to power on the plank of development. You have
      also celebrated with great pride your hundred days in power claiming
      that nearly 90% of your development manifesto has been fulfilled. We
      may have different view of that but we will not debate that here. What
      disturbs us is the mean claim that your party and your cadres make
      that Christian institutions are involved in forced conversion just to
      defame and malign.

      Every citizen in this country has been given the right to practice,
      profess and propagate one's religion by the Constitution. In fact, the
      college is administered on the principles of egalitarianism, concern
      for the weak and compassion to the suffering -- universal human
      doctrines which are Christian as well.

      If you consider commitment to a set of values as conversion, we are
      quite proud. That has been our heritage. But when your affiliates
      attack us on the issue of conversion, we are fully aware that you are
      being frivolous. You do not believe in it. Nobody else believes in it.
      You are simply using the community as a tool for political purposes.

      In the last 126 years, lakhs have passed out from the institution. The
      world famous scientist, Raja Ramana, former election commissioner of
      India Krishna Murthy, large number of cricketers and hockey players
      who have brought glory to the state have studied here. We also wish to
      mention here Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living fame and
      Veerendra Heggade of Dharamastala are our former students. There are
      some monks of Sri Ramakrishna Mission and Buddhist monastries educated
      here.

      Even today we teach a number of the children of your party
      functionaries. Your cadres speak of conversion. Such divisive language
      to defame institutions and the community for political purposes is
      against the spirit of secularism and we do not appreciate that coming
      from the head of the government of Karnataka.

      In writing to you, we want to make it clear that we have no personal
      interests. Our concern is the state of Karnataka and its people. This
      state does not need debates on conversion or terrorism. What the state
      needs is debate on development, inequalities, peace and harmony.

      There has been in the last few days a campaign of hate that has been
      systematically carried out by your affiliates and sometimes your own
      cadres. They have victimized innocent citizens, harmed and destroyed
      people and their lives. They have violated the dignity of women
      including the cloistered religious nuns recently who spend time in
      prayer and are out of touch with the rest of the world. They have
      devastated neighborhoods and the everyday harmony of human existence.

      Is this truly development? How can we build development without peace
      and harmony? And how can we build peace and harmony without
      development?

      Peace and harmony on the one hand and development and growth on the
      other are mutual and inter-dependent. We could debate this issue and
      other issues of marginalization of people, hunger and inequality
      instead of the trivial issue of conversion.

      Instead of encouraging your cadres and your affiliates to burn and
      destroy churches and create disharmony, can you not encourage them to
      work for literacy, employment, food, shelter and clothing? Instead of
      destroying the secular fabric of cultural and religious
      inter-relationships, can't you stop fanning hatred by not supporting
      spurious ideas such as forced conversions and terrorism?

      Your affiliates may assume, that by all this hate and anger, your
      party may gain more seats in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections
      because of the disastrous polarizations between communities. But that
      may be far from the truth. People always see through such divisive
      politics.

      Only economic development for the masses and the just practice of the
      secular constitution can promise you votes. So we appeal to you, as an
      educational institution of higher learning with a history of 126
      years, that was a part of the freedom struggle, to work for
      secularism, harmony, tolerance, and development so that together we
      may build a humane and progressive human community in Karnataka.

      We as a college community urge you most sincerely to stop hate, stop
      destruction of Churches and educational institutions and restore peace
      and harmony in the state. We assure you of our cooperation in the task
      of building a secular state in the true spirit of diversity and
      pluralism.

      Of course, we shall continue to dissent in the true democratic spirit
      of the Constitution when the Constitution of the land is under attack.

      Thanking you
      Principal
      Dr. (Fr.) Ambrose Pinto SJ
      and 75 staff members
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