Call for State-Funded Christian Universities; Some Fear Politics Attached

Published 24 January 2018  |  
(Photo by IANS)
Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi, chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, which wants the government to set up universities to help Christians' education.

The National Commission for Minorities in India on Jan. 13 has called for establishing state-funded universities primarily for Christians. However, some Christians see the move as bait for further division based on faith.

Keeping with the already existing state-funded universities for Muslims, such as Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia University, the commission sought a seven-year financial aid program to set up new universities for Christian communities.

The new development could prioritize the education of Christian communities while also permitting students from other faiths, said Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi, commission chairman.

Christian bodies in India own hundreds of colleges and tens of thousands of schools. Also they run their own health care facilities. However, the commission urged the churches in the country to cooperate with the collaboration.

"It is a welcome step and universities dedicated to Christians could help the educational advancement of financially poor Christians," said Bishop Vincent Barwa, chairman of office for tribal affairs, Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.

Among 27 million Christians in India, 60 percent of them are Dalits and tribal people.

Some see threat in the call for Christian universities and openly oppose the idea.

"It will not come through," said Br Thomas Thanickal, chairman of Catholic school association in India.

"It is just an attempt to appease Christians ahead of elections in some key states this year and general elections next year," he added, according to UCA News.com.

Establishing separate universities for Christian communities is equivalent to isolating Christians from the social mainstream, said P.T. John, general secretary of a tea planters' union, Kerala.

The move will only enhance the discrimination Christians are currently facing under the leadership of pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, a party that shelters Hindu fundamentalist groups.

"In modern times, it is absurd to have educational institutions in the name of religion," he said, adding that Muslim universities were set up in the context of past needs.

"I am an Indian and therefore I have every right to study in any mainstream university and seek a job anywhere," he added.

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