Silence is the Acceptance of Surrender

February 19, 2024

The events at Gerosa High School last week, wherein the sitting MLA from Mangalore city South constituency Vedavyas Kamath displayed deplorable behaviour by publicly humiliating the School Principal and instigating hate. The MLA acted in a juvenile manner flouting basic decency and influencing roguery among the school children by encouraging and forcing them to screech intimidating chants against their own school. Ever since the shameful episode, the matter is taken to the State Assembly and several rights groups and opposition leaders have called for the axing of Mr. Kamath from the Legislative assembly.

Mr. Kamath openly claimed that he wasn’t present at the site as an MLA, but as a representative of his faith: fair enough. In that case, it is perfectly rational to pressurise the state government to strip the man’s credentials as member of the sacrosanct legislative assembly, as that is not his priority. Moreover, Mr. Kamath addressed the school authorities not in a civilized manner, but as a drunken uncle during a Roce or Mehendi ceremony, bitter about being sidelined. He viciously harassed the female school principal, rallied the crowd and used cuss words in public to humiliate a woman without a legal proceeding.

On the other end, the amount of apathy and complete disregard to this incident depicted by the Karavali catholic community at large, be it on social media or on the ground is baffling. In 2008, when several churches were looted and plundered by Hindutva groups, the shock and the audacity of the attackers pummeled the catholic community to react with guts and fury. That was the era pre-social media and a full majority BJP government under BS Yeddiruppa at the helm of the state, and yet the response was carried out without fear, but with conviction. The large-scale protests by catholic groups and common people that followed the church attacks were good enough in signalling a deterrent to the self-styled militant groups and their leaders and also strengthened the belief in the democratic system. Although, total justice was never achieved, it gave a moral boost to the catholic community in remaining brave and resilient. Unfortunately, 16 years later and with advent of social media and a brand-new generation, things have drastically changed. Fear, uncertainty, infighting and lack of genuine catholic leadership that has the courage to dare the mighty and call spade a spade has firmly strangulated the community in speaking out against such assaults.

“When a good moral progressive work is undertaken 1000 of miles away, nothing gets echoed. But a sniff of bad news 1000 of miles an away, travels in lighting speed and also gets repeated” RK Narayan points out an important aspect of Societal mind in countries like India. The catalyst for the ruckus in the school had erupted after a Seventh grade Teacher (Sister Prabha) was accused by the parents of the schoolchildren of spreading insulting comments on Hindu Deities, their culture and the policies of Prime Minister Modi. Although, there hasn’t been any raw or physical evidence regarding such verbal comments made by the school teacher; few miscreants were successful in viralising a fake audio clip on WhatsApp groups thereby intensifying the issue. A situation which could have been sorted out through a parent teacher meet, took an ugly turn. The very next day, a mob of several Hindutva groups flanked by their leaders and aided by the two BJP MLA’s Vedavyas Kamath and Bharath Shetty barged to the gates of the premises, furiously sloganeering against the catholic institution. Both the MLAs were requested by the school authorities to commence a dialogue in the principal’s chamber and thereby pave a way for peaceful settlement of the issue. But despite the attempts of the school management, the MLAs were in no mood to settle the matter by laying down their arms. The two were carried over by the rage of the mob that was chanting behind and with an eye on gaining considerable weightage towards the upcoming Lok Sabha elections (Possibly a ticket), that they compelled the Nuns of the School and the School Principal to walk towards the gate and be at the receiving end of their abusive gibes.

The Gerosa Convent School has a history of over sixty years and has delivered stupendously quality education for thousands of students. The USP of Gerosa School, unlike other institutions is its history of catering education to children of economically backward class and the children from rural areas. Much like Gerosa School, there are dozens of other Catholic run institutions in the vicinity of the Mangalore city, that have educated and developed young minds towards a greater future in the past hundred years or more. Men and women from various backgrounds, caste and creed have had their lives shaped in these schools and have prepped them in handling herculean responsibilities and positions in corporate and public world, both nationally and internationally.

When Hindutva groups and their desperate leaders both online and on the streets accuse minority institutions of conversion and hurting majority religious sentiments, one should take it with a pinch of salt. The whole idea of an organised gheraoing of a school over a trivial matter, which could have been investigated and resolved (even with the suspension of the said teacher) with a blink of an eye, pegs a bigger question on the candor of this made-up show.

Dakshina Kannada and Udupi have had their share of despairing sectarian and communal moments in the past thirty years. These events have downgraded the status of these two districts enormously and have hindered their progress economically, socially and politically. The elected Members of the Parliament (Lok Sabha) and the elected members of the legislative assembly from these regions have been awfully inept in making a case for the welfare or development of the region both at the centre and at the state for obvious reasons. Post ’91, aftermath of the Ram Janm Bhoomi movement, Gujarat and Karavali belt of Karnataka were injected a heavy dose of saffronisation and divisiveness to such an extent that there has not been a non-BJP MP elected in Dakshina Kannada district for the last 30 years. A joke that covertly ran a few years ago quoted “Even a cat (animals name changed) could run as a BJP candidate and still win and maintain the seat”.

There is no end to hate and communal harmony and social pluralism is the only answer for a peaceful and prosperous future for us and our children. People follow different faiths and with that comes culture, customs, beliefs, practices and ethos. The differences have to be accepted as a way to celebrate diversity and integration, which makes our societies stronger. Just take the case of Kerala State, with a resounding cultural and religious diversity, the Keralites have blended and bonded together in preserving their customs and traditions for a greater good. Sometimes, there is an innate thought that whispers ‘Whether DK and Udupi could have been better off had they been annexed to the state of Kerala during the State Reorganisation Act of 1956?’.





By Chris Emmanuel D'Souza
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Comment on this article

  • Zeena, Belman

    Sat, Feb 24 2024

    Very well expressed and sadly the twin districts are full of educated people but extremely comfortable to be represented by uneducated, non-secular minds!!!

  • Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai -Mangalore

    Wed, Feb 21 2024

    Kudos!! Very bold and forthright article and the right perspective that should be followed as per the times! Unless one evolves as per the times, it's impossible to survive monstrous people and their blind followers!!

  • Jossey Saldanha, Raheja Waterfront

    Tue, Feb 20 2024

    The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak ...

  • Tom, Mangalore.

    Tue, Feb 20 2024

    When people get swayed by communal euphoria, what other than these kinds of incidents, we can expect 😊😊Karavali region is known for its Communal Goondaism not only in Karnataka but throughout the world.! The poison injected can't be easily neutralized.

  • Rita, Germany

    Mon, Feb 19 2024

    His facial expression tells everything what he thinks.Need not explain more.

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