Good-bye to Red light, lal batti in country
When to red hats & purple glare in Church?
dr. james kottoor
PM Modiji’s cabinet decision matches well with his clarion call: “Sabka vikas, sabka sat” with which he started off as India’s PM. With the ditching of the much-disliked and decried “lal batti” (Red light) flashing all the time for the political highly placed on the move on public roads, symbolically at least he has asserted there has to be no more two classes in India: ‘The High and Mighty and the Lowly placed.’ When this rule of equality is strictly applied to President and PM even in the most civilized countries like UK or US, why should it stay on in India called the Largest Democracy?
It is indeed heartwarming to hear the PM’s own statement: “Every Indian is special. Every Indian is a VIP,” to a nation plagued with centuries old disgraceful and divisive caste practice. Only we wish to hear such declarations: “Every faithful is special. Every Christian is a VIP” and that practice enforced even in the Catholic church which adores, worships but still perpetuates a much more divisive, complicated ascending and descending hierarchical structure, only not called caste system. Pope, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, Monsigors (Rt.Rev, Very Rev. Most. Rev), Rev.Fathers(all priests), Religious (Men and women), Chevaliers and finally the laity at the very bottom, at the level of Sudras in Hindusim.
In the Caste system of Hinduism there are only four ascending and descending clearly marked out classes of people. In Catholicism there are many more – nearly ten — and crossing over to a higher class is as impossible as in the Caste system although one in a higher level can be degraded to a lower level.
But as an affront to all these, there shines the gloriously reigning Pope Francis who describes himself “I am a sinner” and puts himself one step below the laity to deserve the title “Servant of servants” and lives it in practice. Nay he has categorically sent out a call to make the present unequal Church structure into an “Inverted Pyramid” and exhorted the clerical class to look up to the laity, instead of looking down on them, to draw inspiration and guidance.
Francis told his followers: “To day it is the hour of the laity”. As men and women who live in the midst of harsh humdrum realities of the secular world they are much more experienced and imbued with special insight and know-how. Therefore it is for the clergy to be silent listeners, not preachers before them. Already long long ago Pope Pius XII had said that “Laity are in the forefront of the Church.” Only it is not put into practice even today. They are still in the back seat.
CCV has been campaigning for their cause for many years and sending prayerful, earnest appeals to dump this monstrous structural inequality in the Church in the Arabian sea. But none in the Indian hierarchy has come forward even to respond or discuss it in their regional or national conferences. They pretend not to have heard of this appeal although we send such appeals directly to every bishop. How can we receive any response when they don’t respond even to the Pope on such matters pertaining to their power and position in the Church’s hierarchy?
Instead they go on repeating ad nauseam contradictory statements like: “Church is not a democracy” on the one hand and on the other “Church is the people of God” and “Voice of the people, voice of God”, whatever that means to them. For us one statement completely negates the other. They still seem to be living in the colonial era of “Conquistadores”, conquerors with military might of generals and foot soldiers, the generals made of the hierarchical clerical class and foot soldiers, made up of the bulk of the laity, good for anything and everything or nothing in particular and therefore good only like the Sudras to be pulled and pushed around at the beck and call of the clergy.
But as long as Jesus, who emptied himself of all things worldly — power, position or worldly titles and humbled himself like a slave to wash the feet of his disciples — is proclaimed, worshiped and followed as their only leader, the Catholic Church and other churches will be, per force compelled to come down from their high thrones, like Zacheus who came down from his tree top to get salvation for his whole house. Cries are rising more and more now like the roar of waves from the surrounding secular sea for equality and fraternity. Added to that secular leaders like Modi are befriending the lowly placed Dalites with statements like: “Every Indian is special. Every Indian is a VIP.”
These constant reminders cannot fail to make an impact for “metanoia”, change of heart, to bring down even these worldly churches and their leaders perched on their tree tops in the very near future. Even as the walls of Jericho came down, before crowds shouting in prayer, the present pyramidal man-made concrete hierarchical structure, mocking the lowly placed, also is bound to crumble in God’s own good time. That this may happen sooner than later is our fond hope and patient prayer.
For those who hold on to the present hierarchical structure, their strength is in their unshaken Faith alone in the unseen; for those who question it, their strength is in Reason which refuses to budge without proof; for a third group of compromisers, they find their strength partly in Faith and partly in Reason and therefore reach only half way in certainty. So we can wish all the three groups ‘all the best’ just to avoid being judgmental, since none of us can claim to be all knowing. Therefore let the search continue unabated to find the Whole Truth in All Charity!
james kottoor, editor.
Read below the Asian Age Editorial on ‘lal batti’
Congrats to PM Modi!
A good move by PM
Editorial In THE ASIAN AGE, Apr 21, 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken this step for the whole country not a day too soon, and deserves to be congratulated.
Prime minister Narendra Modi (Photo: AP)
The end of the era of the red beacon, the much-disliked “lal batti” in Hindi, atop vehicles of the high and the mighty, after a Union Cabinet decision on Wednesday, is a positive step at the level of symbolism.
The President and the Prime Minister will also not be exempt, and this is a good thing. Let’s hope that day too will dawn when a vehicle in the PM’s entourage can also be booked for a traffic infringement as happens, say, in Britain where the Prince of Wales’ cars recently attracted parking tickets.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, for all his failings, led the field in this respect. His government ended the “lal batti” for its bigwigs long ago. Then came Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, who ended the red beacon culture in his state as soon as he took office recently — and the “Captain”, as he is popularly known, is a true-blue royal, being the former maharaja of Patiala.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken this step for the whole country not a day too soon, and deserves to be congratulated. This is a cost-free decision, however, from which political brownie points can be earned. But it grates to hear the PM’s tweet, issued after the Cabinet decision, that “Every Indian is special. Every Indian is a VIP.” That is plainly not the case.
Let’s not mock the poor and helpless so casually. Class and caste barriers remain tight. Those in authority enjoy almost free housing, phones, travel and medical treatment. Others have to grovel or fight for these.
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