A Kerala government gazette notification has taken social media by storm lately. The Gazette, that was released in August 2019, invited applications through One Time Registration Scheme for Assistant Surgeon and Casualty Medical Officers. What caught the eye of those talking about the notification was the specific mention that Scheduled Caste Converts to Christianity (SCCC) could apply. Essentially, many wondered why the Kerala government would specifically favour those who became Christians after leaving Hinduism.
Interestingly, this was the third NCA notification as the Kerala government failed to fill up the vacancies due to paucity of candidates from the SCCC category, essentially, the people who left Hinduism to become Christians. The first notification to fill this vacancy was released in December 2014 and the second such NCA notification for the same set of vacancies was released in December 2016.
The payscale mentioned for these posts that have been earmarked for Christian converts specifically ranges from Rs. 45,800 to Rs. 89,000.
While several individuals have raised alarm as to how the Kerala government can discriminate on the basis of religion and publish a notification that says only converts to Christianity can apply, this notification should not come as a surprise at all. In reality, the Kerala government has an entire department that is dedicated to the ‘welfare’ of people who have left Hinduism to convert to Christianity.
The Kerala government has a department called Kerala State Development Corporation for Christian Converts from Scheduled Castes and the Recommended Communities Ltd.
In its stated goal, the department, which is a government undertaking mention:
“Kerala State Development Corporation for Christian Converts from Scheduled Castes and the Recommended Communities Ltd., Kottayam was incorporated in 1980 under the Companies Act 1956 with the main objectives to promote the comprehensive social, educational, cultural and economic upliftment and other living conditions of the Christian Converts from Scheduled Castes and the Recommended Communities”.
While it is evident that it is a government undertaking, it is extremely intriguing that it would be incorporated under the Companies Act 1956. Normally, a department like this would need to be incorporated under the Societies Act or a Special Act. While it being incorporated under Section 8 of the Companies Act could be justified, one wonders why the Kerala government would incorporate it under Companies Act and not as a Society. What ‘business’ is this department selling for it to be incorporated under the Companies Act?
Even the official web portal of the Kerala government mentions the department.
According to the website, here are the schemes that this department offers:
As one can see, from the official Kerala govt website, the department made especially to take care of SC Hindus who convert to Christianity offers a host of schemes. From Agricultural Land Purchase Scheme to Foreign Employment Scheme, Marriage Loan to Personal Loan etc.
In 2010, Loan Waiver to the tune of Rs 159 crores was also given to the people belonging to the SCCC category.
According to a report in The Hindu, “In his address at the inauguration of the loan waiver scheme, undertaken by the Kerala State Development Corporation for Christian Converts from Scheduled Castes and the Recommended Communities Ltd. here on Thursday, Mr. Balan said the current loan waiver scheme would write off Rs.159 crore and this would benefit nearly one lakh people, mostly belonging to the poorest sections of the society, he said”.
According to this farm loan waiver in 2010 for individuals who left Hinduism to convert to Christianity, loans up to Rs.25,000 maturing on 31 March 2006 would be written off fully. In cases where the loan amount exceeds the stipulated amount, penal interest part would be written off, providing the persons with an opportunity to avail a one time benefit.
This loan waiver scheme was hailed by none other than Archbishop Vattappara of the Anglican Church of India.
According to the official website of Kerala government, the Kerala State Development Corporation for Christian Converts from Scheduled Castes and the Recommended Communities Ltd also has PIO officers constituted under the RTI Act. While the Department being constituted under the Companies Act raised some questions, it is evident that this is an official department of the Kerala government and not an independent body.
The SCCC category, which is the people belonging to SC who left Hinduism to convert to Christianity are espoused and recognised by the Kerala government officially.
According to the official website of the Backward Classes Development Department of Kerala, people who became Christians after leaving Hinduism (SC Converts to Christianity) is a separate class recognised as a Backward Class and is given reservation in State Government Services. This reservation is in addition to the reservation given to Latin Catholics and Anglo Indians. The ‘SC Converts to Christianity’ is recognised in the State OBC list as well.
Another exam was held as recently as August 2019.
Another example, the Kerala government hired Christian converts specifically for Surveyor with Water Authority post.
This is merely the tip of the iceberg and several such posts are filled by members of the SCCC community, which is to say, SC community individuals who left Hinduism to join Christianity.
It is thus evident that the Kerala government goes out of its way to ensure the ‘well-being’ of those who leave Hinduism and become Christians. The call to fill vacancies only by Christian converts is not a one-off notification and the state provides several benefits to the members of the SCCC community.
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017