By Matters India Reporter
Bhubaneswar, March 4, 2019: Catholic bishops in Odisha have decided to begin a center to train young people from religious minorities, Dalit and Adivasi groups to appear for civil service examinations.
Divine Word Archbishop John Barwa, chairman of the Odisha Catholic Bishops’ Council (OCBC), has appointed Father Ajaya Kumar Singh, to head the pioneering venture as the director of the Excellent Academy with effect from April 1 The priest is a graduate master of business administration from Jesuit-managed Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar, the state capital
Father Singh, who belongs to the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, is a development worker, human rights activist, journalist and law graduate. He teaches as visiting faculty at Morning Star College, Kolkata, and Khristo Jyoti Mohavidyaloyo (Light of Christ College), Sambalpur, Odisha, eastern India.
He is the outgoing director of Odisha Regional Forum for Social Action, Bhubaneswar, the coordinating body of Justice Peace and Development work of the six Catholic dioceses of the eastern Indian state.
Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur is the bishop-in-charge of the center.
Father Singh explained bishops, priests and religious of Odisha have often asked what could be a sustainable empowerment program for minority communities instead of an isolated, scattered project approach.
“We have some sort entries in Odisha Administrative Services; a few from Sundergarh district; a very few from Kandhamal district and Gajapati district. In all India Administrative Services, not a single a person out of 149 cabinet secretaries are Dalit while two are tribals—one is from Odisha and another from Rajasthan Meena community that promotes all tribal affirmative actions,” he told Matters India.
The priest said the center would admit aspirants from other parts of India too if required.
The Excellent Academy will try to train young people to appear for the entrance exam for civil service. “There is a huge vacuum in religious minority communities who lag behind in many ways,” Father Singh explained.
In the past the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) had initiated the similar training centers at South India, Vijayapuram; Ranchi and New Delhi and other initiatives such as Karnataka Bishops’ Conference, North Eastern Bishops Conference, Kerala Latin Bishops’ Conference, Pala Institute (three Dioceses), individual dioceses and a few Religious Orders.
The new proposed institute is to give fillip and access to the marginalized aspirants to have competent edge for administrative services, Father Singh added.