Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect

Some time back, to apply for the schengen visa to enter Europe, I was told that the German Embassy wanted a copy of my income tax returns for the last three years, bank statements for the last 6 months, evidence of a credit card apart of course from an invitation letter from my sponsors and the other usual documentation. The experience made me feel naked. It embarrassing to show all that you have or don’t have in your bank ,when all you want to do is attend a few meetings for a couple of days or weeks may be and be back.


I am no noble human reformer but when the papers reported that Dr. Prakash Amte, the fairly well known son of the legendary Baba Amte who works with his wife in the tribal communities of rural Gadricholi continuing the work of Baba Amte had been denied a visa to go to the USA, I felt deeply saddened for in that gesture, I felt that the entire charity sector of which I am a part was shamed. (After media outrage and coverage he has since been granted one). The message conveyed in that decision was that living and working for money is the only valid reason and way to live and yet barring the recently emerged blue chip international NGO(largely American or possibly European), typically the charity sector marches to a different drum


The reason for denying a visa to Dr. Amte was that he belonged to the “socially weak” segment of society meaning that he was poor and the United States government suspected that both Dr Amte and his wife were going to the USA to butter their bread and stay on in the USA if they were allowed to land. Dr Amte draws a stipend of Rs.3,000 a month, although his living expenses must also be taken care of by the Maharogi Kalyan Samiti, the leprosy charity which his father started and where the Amtes work.


When Dr Amte informed the consulate in Mumbai that he had applied for and received a visa in 2003 when his financial situation was no different, he was informed that the rules had changed since then. In unpacking that bureaucratese lies the clue that the journey that the United States government has made in the last three years which is basically the admission that the opportunity to chasing money is the only thing that the USA has to offer and hence decisions need to be made solely on the basis of money in the bank and the salary slip.


Now to be fair, there is a lot of human trafficking going on and every who reads the papers knows about it. But if you track that story further, you will realize very quickly that the people who are part of that circuit are usually not poor. It costs a tidy sum of money to buy off the several people involved in that chain and a man earning Rs.3, 000 will never have that capacity. A large mass of people who are part of this game are simply rich people wanting to be richer.


But to me the bigger sorrow is the lack of discernment on the part of the consulate staff and their total inability to understand the concept of calling, of why people do what they do and that it is not money all the time. Dr Amte and his wife , all these decades did not even move to Nagpur , the closest city to Gadricholi , let alone Mumbai or some other financially lucrative place and make the most of the opportunities that even a country like India offered. They stayed put in what is arguably one of the most backward parts of Maharashtra and served. And yet the Americans in what can only be called an attitude of arrogance decided that that a week long conference in the USA was just the chance that Dr. Amte was looking for to jump the coop!


If a government with supposedly Christian leanings and led by a professing Christian president has lost the ability to understand charity and service , the marks of the Christian since Christ walked the earth and interprets it only in terms of money , wealth and prosperity , then surely it too has sold its soul some where in the market…..

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