A “special agreement” signed between the Diocese of Nalgonda in Hyderabad and Joseph Chevalier Foundation of Canada has come to light, where it talks about ‘providing religion’ to the children sponsored by fund granted by the foundation. Legal activist group Legal Rights Observatory has lodged a complaint regarding the complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
Priyank Kanoogo, the Chairperson of NCPCR, informed on Twitter that they have received the complaint filed by LRO. The group said that it has sought an investigation to know how many kids have been provided religion by the Diocese.
The agreement in question was signed on 7th October 2008, between the Gatineau, Quebec, Canada based Mgr Joseph Chevalier Foundation and Hyderabad based Diocese of Nalgonda. It says that the agreement is required by the Canadian government to ensure that money spent abroad by Canadian foundations are done as per strict contractual arrangement between parties defining the specific reasons why the monies are given and the specific ways by which these money transfers are spent according to very strict procedures in India that can be verified and attested by third parties.
In a very condescending tone, the agreement states that traditional children in lower caste families are denied access to education in India. It says, “woman and specially the girl child are deprived of the education and historically evils are still perpetrated.”
It says that sponsoring education of a child means helping child of one of the lower castes. After that the agreement mentions that by way of sponsoring, accommodation, food, medicine, study, games and recreation, spiritual knowledge and religion are provided to them. The sponsoring programme is part of the pastoral plan of the diocese as a new way of being church.
While the provision for accommodation, food, study etc for a sponsored child is normal, what is controversial is the provision of religion, along with spiritual knowledge. Moreover, it says that this programme is part of the pastoral plan of the diocese as a new way of being church.
This language indicates that along with providing education for lower caste children, the diocese is also indulging in religious conversion of the children, or at least grooming towards accepting which is a violation of norms.