Dear Editor,
Let me add my piece to the raging controversy between ACF and IFCSAP on Department for Indigenous Faith and Cultural Affairs (DIFCA).
ACF had submitted a memorandum to the Hon’ble CM on 31st August objecting to the creation of a department for Indigenous Faith and Cultural Affairs citing article 27 of the constitution. The Government, taking note of this objection reviewed its previous decision in a cabinet meeting and decided to rename it as the “Department of Indigenous Cultural Affairs” (Vide item no. 3 memo no CAB/M 13/2017/964-967 dated 23 September). Can IFCSAP explain why the Government dropped the word “Faith” from the much-touted name of the department? Is it not an admission from the side of the Government that there was something wrong in having a department for a particular religion?
Changing the name of the department by dropping the word “Faith” is making it look as innocent as a Trojan Horse. The agenda of the department is, however, loaded with goodies for a particular “Faith”.
IFCSAP claims that Indigenous Faith is not a religion but only a “Faith”. That is a very tenuous distinction. Even Christianity, Islam and Buddhism are “faiths’. Christianity, in fact, is called a “Way’ in the Bible (Acts 9:2, 24:14). Hinduism is also called by scholars a ‘way of life’. Does that entitle Hindus to special treatment by the constitution? IFCSAP wants the new department to take up the matter of institutionalization of the priesthood of the Indigenous Faith. Everyone knows that priests are part of the rituals of a religious set up.
Whom are we trying to hoodwink by a jugglery of words by distinguishing between ‘Religion’ and ‘Faith’?
The Indian Constitution does not make any distinction between indigenous religion and foreign religion. The Constitution speaks about religion in general and every religion practiced in India is covered by the Constitution. There is no “scheduled” list of religions that should be given special consideration. ACF is only pleading for equal treatment of all religions as guaranteed in the constitution. Becoming emotional about everything indigenous is not answering a legitimate constitutional question. Constitution cannot be circumvented by appealing to “traditional cultural practice”. Threatening that Christians will be stripped of ST status reveals crass ignorance of law because scheduling of a tribe has nothing to do with the religious affiliation of that tribe. Crying hoarse that loss of religion is loss of Culture and loss of tribal identity runs into the fallacy of equating religion with culture. Both are not congruent as two congruent geometrical figures. A Religion grows and develops itself driven by its own theological perceptions. It expresses itself externally by drawing elements from its cultural milieu. Every religion can adapt to every culture while maintaining its nonnegotiable theological perceptions and convictions. The slogan “loss of religion is loss of culture” is a ploy by IFCSAP to stem the tide of exodus from its ranks. I feel a PIL should be filed challenging the creation of this new department. IFCSAP claims in its reaction published in the media that another department for cultural affairs is necessary because the present department of Art and Culture is not doing all that should be done for indigenous art and culture. This means that if any department is not functioning, the government is not expected to take the employees to task for inefficiency but should continue to reward their incompetence by paying their salary and ease their work by creating one more department for the same purpose. In this way, more and more departments can be created and more and more people can be on the pay role of the government for doing nothing. That will be an ingenious indigenous road map for development that can be patented.
Nabam Pekhi,