Comment No.17. "John Dayal, email@example.com, July 24/15, Delhi
James, your persistence deserves an award, perhaps a Pulitzer.
It is quite clear that the Family Survey in India is deeply flawed, does not represent the ground reality, and does not meet the rigorous criteria any one versed in operational research and statistics will approve.
It is patent that the responses will have a clerical skewness.The survey has been seen as a chore that needs to be fulfilled because the task has been set by the Vatican. It has not been seen as something which, in its data and its analysis, could be of immense use to the church in India in formulating its pastoral and evangelical policy for the next half a century.
I think blame must be shared by each one of us — from those in Rome who did not realise the complexity and socio-cultural diversity in this subcontinental country, to those incharge of dioceses and their Family commissions, down to people such as I and you. This is not running down the work done by Alan Doulton of Pune. He must be honoured for being the only lay person to have done some hard work in difficult circumstances in a difficult part of the country which may host some big institutions but is not exactly a strong Catholic region. But huge chunks of the Catholic community have been entirely left out. Judging by the total absence of voices from the North east, the Tribal areas, Telengana and Andhra, and the Punjab, it is quite clear that the Family Synod discourse has not touched them at all. Or almost not all.
All Is not lost. Some data can be trawled from the official census documentation and the National Sample Survey of the government on such issues as divorce. But nuanced data and attitudes to issues or gender violence, dowry, alcoholism and the situation of the girl child will need expert work by specialist agencies — not by parish priests even if they are designated as secretaries of family commission.
As for I, before the Extraordinary Synod last year, I made several efforts to have a scientifically representative survey done. But was shot down. And not just by the clergy. I withdrew, defeated for the moment.
God bless you.