Cross posted at Mutiny
If I were to ask any ordinary malayalee, if Kerala is a secular state or not, the answer will be an outright yes. The state hasn’t witnessed religious tension for a very long time as Hindus, Muslims and Christians co-exist here celebrating each others festivals with much joy (in front of the television of course!). But after speaking to a friend of mine I am having second thoughts on the secular nature of the Govt in Kerala.
Why oh why, should the govt have rights over all the money that comes into the temples in Kerala? In other words, why does the govt have control over the devaswams (a body that makes revenue, administrative decisions, for temples)?
In other words why is Kerala govt concerned solely about the money that comes into Hindu temples alone? Why don’t they form devaswams like body for churches and mosques in Kerala? Why?
Is this secularism? Can this be even considered to be a secular act? Why does the govt have to keep a tab on what temples are doing with their money, when no such attempt is made with churches and mosques?
So should govt have a say over monetary transactions of religious institutions at all? I would say yes to that. Because having an eye on the administrative functions of religious bodies, govt can control religious extremism which might originate within the closed doors of religious institutions.
So where has the Kerala govt gone wrong? In not making the law applicable for all religions? In other states, this wouldn’t be such a big issue because of the fact that followers of Christianity and Islam form a minority. But in Kerala Muslims and Christians together form almost 40% of the population, while in many areas they form a majority. Also, many of these institutions receive flurry of money in form of donations from malayalees settled abroad. Their income may not be as big as that of the devaswams; but they are still pretty high.
Is it right to let huge sums of money go unaccounted? No, they create problems for these religious institutions. We have already heard enough allegations (even on mutiny) on how church is misusing funding so availed for conversion and how mosques might be encouraging extremism!
Can’t govt put an end to all this by making it a LAW*, than a biased restriction?
* By LAW I mean a rule that is applicable to everyone and not to a particular class of society alone.
PS: The ‘friend’ I mentioned in the first paragraph is son of a Devaswam employee