Friday, July 15, 2011

Medical seats-for-cash scam Rocks csi south kerala diocese.-CCC letter.

CHRIST Centered Campaign (CCC) Newsletter No 30, July 16, 2011

Special Issue

Medical Seats-For-Cash Scam Rocks South Kerala Diocese

For sometime now it has been one of the worst kept secrets in CSI South Kerala Diocese. Widely rumoured was that crores of rupees were being pocketed by key diocesan officials and their agents every year through selling seats for upto Rs 50 lakh each in the CSI-run Dr Somervell Memorial Medical College in Karakonam outside Thiruvanathapuram. The college established in 2002 (and which gained Medical Council of India recognition in 2009) is attached to an over century-old Mission Hospital that traces its roots to the medical work of the London Missionary Society (LMS) in Karakonam that began in the 1890s.

Rumour turned into scandal when Asianet, which is widely watched in Kerala, broadcast a story earlier this week that it had got hold of the list of some 50 students to be admitted under the CSI medical college’s management quota. This two days before the students were to take the joint entrance exam being conducted by 11 medical colleges in the state to determine admissions under the government and management quotas. The CSI college admits 100 students to its MBBS programme every year of which 50 are government seats, 35 are under the management quota (where the entrance exam marks also count) and 15 are under the NRI quota where the exam is not a consideration.

After it managed to lay its hands on the printed list of 50 students who were to get admission in the CSI medical college even before the exams were held, Asianet dug further. It’s reporter posing as a representative of the CSI called up some of the 50 students and their parents/guardians who unwittingly confessed to having paid church officials anywhere between Rs 20 lakhs to Rs 50 lakhs each in cash and with no receipt for the money paid. The actual video broadcast by Asianet and containing the confessions can be seen here
According to Asianet “All those who spoke to us admitted the money was accepted by the CSI management without providing any receipt. The students and their guardians confessed only after we made them feel that the call came from the CSI headquarters. According to those who spoke with us the money was collected by the treasurer of CSI located at the CSI headquarters at LMS in cash. The applicants were clearly told the amount was just a token and annual fees should be paid in extra. It is still mysterious, where the big amount is flown into. Investigations by us revealed some agents also worked in between. Nearly 8-9 crores has been collected so far by the Karakonam management, and the entire amount goes unaccounted.”

What was a local story in Kerala assumed national importance when it was widely reported that two Asianet journalists who accompanied a group of protestors that had gone to meet CSI officials on the scandal were assaulted. The Asianet reporter and cameraman were allegedly beaten up in the church compound and had their equipment damaged. This provoked some other journalists to descend on the LMS compound where police action resulted in head injuries to another reporter of India Vision TV. In Kerala’s super charged political climate it did not take much time for the Left-led opposition to jump into the fray. They staged a walkout of the Kerala Assembly protesting inaction by the Oommen Chandy government on the issue. The Chief Minister in turn announced that cases had been registered against 25 people and promised strong action against the guilty.

The incident has become a sort of baptism-by-fire for Rev Dharmaraj Rasalam, who was appointed Bishop of South Kerala only three weeks ago. The new bishop, whose consecration at the 105-year-old Mateer Memorial Church in Thiruvanathapuram has been announced for July 23, succeeds Bishop J.W. Gladstone who retired last December. Rasalam’s is a freak case of the runner-up emerging winner after the race had been declared in favour of his opponent. Rev. Dr. G. Sobhanam who had won the election to the Bishopric and was later confirmed by the Synod as the successor to Gladstone died suddenly before he could take charge. The Synod late last month appointed Rasalam, who had secured the second largest number of votes in the bishop elections, to take his place.

Unlike Sobhanam who as Vice Chairman of the CSI-run medical college hospital was a man in the know, Rasalam is an outsider to the politics and the machinations of the vested interests who control what is potentially the Diocese’s biggest cash cow. By taking donations in hard cash for management seats and not issuing receipts, these CSI officials have been depriving the diocese of crores of rupees that should have come into its coffers.

Analysts say the latest incident is in a way a God-send for Rasalam as it gives him an unprecedented opportunity to clean up the massive corruption in medical admissions and boost the finances of the diocese should he choose to do so. The big question is whether he has both the motivation and the ability to take on such a challenge. His predecessor Bishop Gladstone as Chairman of the Medical College Hospital did little to contain the rot. Asianet in fact reports that “Bishop JW Gladstone expressed grief over the fact that such an incident has occurred in the college of Bishop Somervell. The Bishop added faults, if any should be corrected.” Empty words from a man who had the authority to do just that but did nothing.

Interestingly, the Director of the South Kerala Diocese’s Medical College is none other than the Honorary Treasurer of the CSI Synod, Dr Bennet Abraham. Unlike the position of General Secretary of the CSI which is a paid post, the honorary status of the Treasurer’s function enables its occupant to concurrently hold another salaried job elsewhere. Sources close to Dr Abraham say he has serious differences with key CSI officials managing the admission process and had been upset with the manner in which seats were being bought and sold. There are some who believe that Asianet would not have got the list prepared by the diocesan officals but for Dr Abraham’s good offices, though the CCC is not making an allegation to that effect. What the CCC can confirm however is that Dr Abraham was last month actively involved behind the scenes in ensuring that Rasalam -- whose inexperience in relation to the medical college hospital is also an asset for those who want to influence him -- was appointed Bishop. In fact the CCC has reason to believe that Dr Abraham himself may have crossed the line as a conduit for unofficial resources deployed to ensure the outcome in favour of Rasalam.

The cash-for-seats corruption scandal in not peculiar to the South Kerala Diocese. It exists to different degrees in almost all CSI dioceses, particularly those where there are professional colleges being run by the church. In the Coimbatore Diocese, disgraced Bishop Manickam Dorai has been indicted by several investigations of taking crores from students seeking admission to the Ketti Engineering College. In Bangalore diocesan officials make money hand over fist every year selling seats in prestigious CSI-run schools in the city. Selling seats in educational institutions is a major source of corruption within the CSI. It not only weakens the moral fibre of the church and those who administer it but also deprives the institution of crores of rupees that would have otherwise come to it every year. Another variation of this malaise is taking of crores in cash for making teacher appointments to church-run institutions. This has the effect of the least suitable candidates for the job getting in thereby eroding the quality of the institutions themselves.

The CCC hopes that the new Bishop in South Kerala will use the opportunity afforded by the latest scandal to effect sweeping changes in how admissions are done at the medical college and set an example for the rest of the CSI on how to tackle the problem. Equally, the CCC hopes the somnolent laity of the diocese (it is an irony of sorts that Kerala’s high literacy has little impact on the rank indifference of CSI members regarding church governance) will wake up from their slumber and pressure the new bishop to do just that. For the moment we thank God for the Asianet exposé and recall what the Bible tells us: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17) By the way, just in case you are wondering, we are fully aware of the applicability of this quotation to the CCC itself. We have no fear of the future for none of this is being done for anybody's personal glorification or someone's villification but only to take back the Church of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from the clutches of the many scoundrels who have debased it.

1 comment:

Ginish said...

It is not wondering that those who created this site is supporting the one work as per their will.Sometimes they tell bishop post is paid and moderator is recieving money. In the case of Resalam they change the strategy. Malannu kidannu thuppiya arkka naruka. It is only the SKD people had the courage to start a medical college. Others will preach, tal , talk and talk. No developments. Other diocese has some school made by missionaries..nothing else. I really appreacite SKD peoples courage. Any way money is requird to run an instituitions. Get money from those who have more and give oportunity for some of our CSI people.