Stop using poor as ATM cards – Dr James Kottoor

James Kottoor

Appeal to all religious  political, racial leaders

What is  an ATM  card? It is a bank approved and authorized card  to get money fast and in large amounts at any time of day or night of your choice. Of course there are rules, regulations and conditions known to all and so we don’t go into it now.  The most attractive part of ATM is that it drops money into your palm at a stroke fast and without  your sweating for it.  

When political and religious leaders use ATM cards to get ready how does it affect their professed goal and mission? As for politicians their professed goal is to be servants (not masters or dictators) of the people to produce the maximum common public good. In that sense it is one of the noblest of professions. In the case of religious leaders  — priests,  bishops, cardinals, pujaries, swamijees, Imams – theirs is to do  self-sacrificing service – Nishkamakrma — going to the extent of laying down one’s life on a cross if needed, as in the case of Jesus, to save and serve his disciples and followers. Any kind of profiteering should not occur in the case of these spiritual leaders.

How does this ideal square with realities on the ground? In the case of politicians, we have just gone through the testing process in the five state elections just conducted. In an article: “Lessons for both BJP and Congress” in The Statessman, 24 May, 2015, Amit Kushari,  (see report in CCV) gives some sane advise for leaders both in Politics and religion. The substance of his advise is this: to lead and mould a people, it is not enough leaders capture power through hook or crook but lean to stay in power by meeting the basic needs of the people first, and not doing one’s own pet projects for profit.

“Primum vivere, secundum philosophare” is is a Latin proverb. What it  says is this: First thing for any one is to live, to survive in existence! Only then one can philosophize, sing, dance and do all the rest. And to survive among animals, rational or irrational,  dying of hunger, thirst, heat, cold and other basic needs, one has to make sure that their hunger and thirst are quenched first, so that they don’t pounce on you to devour you to fill their stomachs.

Electoral Politics

When applied to electoral vote-bank politics, it means elected governments survive at the mercy of their voters. Those who rule at the will and pleasure of people must first make sure  that the  basic needs and demands of the voting public are met first to get their continued support. That is what two Ladies, also called endearingly, Amma, Didi, Matriarchs, have been doing in West Bengal and Tamilnadu.

Women as rulers of the Kitchen know well that the way to the heart is through the stomach – feed well both animals and humans, to capture their hearts and through hearts also their minds through well-fare measures which you may at times derogatively call “freebies”(not deserving) but very much needed for survival of the elected.

 PRAY, SHUT UP, AND OBEY GODIt is this lesson that the  Modi-BJP government has not learned enough. They are doing just the opposite of what they promised during election campaign – to fill people’s bank accounts with lakhs of rupees from the crores of black money brought back from abroad. Instead they are now emptying the little they have saved in their accounts through exorbitant taxes hiked every other day even when petrol-diesel prices are at rock bottom in the world.

In short Modi government is using people as their ATM card to  squeeze money out from the plate of Aam Admi for gala spending at dinner parties  and eye-catching world tours which bring in nothing investment-wise. To stay in power successfully they have to reduce taxes and increase subsidies imitating Didi and Amma. The voting public will not tolerate if they are squeezed like lemon only to be thrown out. An ATM card is useful only and as long as there is money in the Bank. If the Bank account is reduced to a squeezed lemon how will you  draw any money?

Religious, Church Politics

This applies also to churches, which are carbon copies of political parties both in India and many other countries. The Philippines is said to be Asia’s bastion of Catholicism. Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine President-elect blasted a few days ago, (see report in CCV: Duterte goes hammer and tongs at Philippines church.) the country’s dominant Roman Catholic church as “the most hypocritical institution” and accused some of its bishops of corruption for allegedly “thriving on public money while poor rot” and asking favours from politicians, including him. He questioned the relevance of Catholic bishops, citing his overwhelming victory in the May 9 Presidential election despite efforts by bishops to persuade Filipinos not to vote for him. Are bishops in India listening?

Many Bishops, like many  self-serving Politicians, never listen to anything except to paid flatterers  at silver jubilees, birth day, feast day parties and keep their mouths shut on burning issues of the poor, to live blissfully in their self-manufactured heavens of light and sound and a religion of rituals. One stark and sinister example staring in the  face of all today is the kidnap and torture of Cuddapah Bishop and the deadly, treacherous silence of the hierarchical Church. The kidnap took place on April 25th and by May 25th one month is past. Yet not a single bishop or cardinal in India, except Oswald Gracias of Bombay, came out to condemn it openly, though briefly. He too did not say anything against the social evil, Caste system practiced. The Bishop was kidnapped because he  belonged to a Dalit caste and his own priests, three of them, all Reddies did not want to take orders from a member of a lower caste. See  the despicable depth to which Caste cancer has disfigured the Church in India?

Of course the priestly class in the Catholic church is not elected by the faithful as in politics, but they cannot long survive as long as they use the people as their ATM card, to shell out money. They cannot squeeze them to a level where they have to do nothing  but: “Pay, pray and obey”. Against it even Pope Francis has exhorted the faithful to take up the whip like Jesus to drive them out of the temple for making it a den of thieves. To guard against any such a catastrophe falling on the  Catholic bishops,  will they wake up, speak up  and take drastic steps to eradicate the cancer of Caste system in all its forms and cleanse the Church once and for all? God save the Catholic church in India!

By the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread, is the Biblical exhortation. The clergy and the hierarchy never sweat it out to earn their bread. It is time to remember that they can no more hope to use the faithful as their ATM card to fill their stomachs or to live a  gala good life.

Contact at:  jameskottoor@gmail.com, Mob. 9446219203

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