Home India News Catholic Church protests suggestion for minority institutions

Catholic Church protests suggestion for minority institutions


New Delhi : A powerful Catholic body has approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to voice its protest against the country’s apex minority education watchdog’s observation that institutions with less than 30 percent students from the community cannot claim minority status.

Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) spokesperson Rev Babu Joseph said that the suggestion of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) “goes against the letter and spirit of the constitutional provisions guaranteeing protection of minority communities and their educational institutions”.

While hearing the cases of Christian-run educational institutions seeking minority status last week, NCMEI chairperson Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui had stated categorically: “An institution must have a minimum, reasonable percentage of students from a particular minority community for that community to claim the institution as a minority institution.”

“I have set the figure at 30 percent,” Siddiqui told the Telegraph daily last week.

Objecting to the stand, Joseph said the CBCI Commission for Education and Culture had written to the prime minister, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal and other authorities, objecting to the suggestion by Justice Siddiqui.

The Catholic Church runs thousands of educational institutions in India and it fears it may be at risk of losing the minority status as the Christians form just two percent of the population and members of the community are scattered across the country.

“The minority status is given to some communities in India with a specific and explicit purpose for preserving, protecting and promoting their socio-religious identity. And the observation of the chairman does not corroborate the underlying principles that prompted the founding fathers of the country to give special protection to minorities,” said Rev. Joseph.

He said the definition of minority educational institutions, so far, had been founded on the premise that they are owned and administered by members of the minority communities primarily for their own benefit and development, and are open to other communities as well.

“The proposed condition of 30 percent students of minority communities in institutions that are seeking minority status goes against the established norms and principles that had been employed to define minority institutions,” Joseph added.