On the ‘Gloriavale Commune’ in India

Introduction

A background to this Post can be read on Indiafacts site here. For the sake of brevity, we shall use the same acronyms: GCC for Gloriavale Christian Community-New Zealand, CCC for Christian Church Community, Thiruviruttanpulli, Ambasamudram Taluka, Thirunelveli District (TN/076030358), SHCT for Smile Help Charitable Trust-Vijayawada (AP/10260339) and DF for Dohnavur Fellowship, Thirunelveli District (TN/076030011).

Recent Developments

We came across a recent investigative report which appeared in a New Zealand MSM here. MSM in NZ has been focussing on alleged abuses and other individual rights violations in Gloriavale. Naturally, they are not interested in the expansion of Gloriavale commune to India, as they (like most in the West) believe in Universal Religious Freedom, a synthetic concept which is alien and dangerous to Indian traditions. The NZ report, an excellent one (Kudos to the investigative journalist, Ms. Morgan Tait), obtained through their Right to Information Act provides details of investigations carried out by NZ’s Charities Services in 2015.

For relevance to us in that report are these: (a) The Gloriavale Trust in NZ is actually registered as “Christian Church Community Trust (CC25088) and (b) Money donated to Indian FCRA-NGOs is sent from a Bank account called GCC which contains private, post-tax money of individuals belonging to the Commune, but operated by the Trustees of CC25088.

Let us now take a look at the money transactions between all the above entities, as examined via FCRA returns.

NGO\Year

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

SHCT

15

DF

6.5

9.4

11.7

14.6

5.5

12.6

17.5

CCC

145

140

226

173

Table 1: Remittances from GCC, New Zealand to FCRA-NGOs. Amount in Rs. lakh. Data from fcraonline.nic.in

Interestingly, FCRA returns also show that CCC remitted, amounts of Rs. 14.5 and 21 lakhs in 2014 and 2015 respectively to DF. Such give-and-take between RoL FCRA-NGOs is quite common in India.

Who runs Christian Church Community, Thiruviruttanpulli, Ambasamudram Taluka?

A sentence in the Indiafacts article said “Who owns CCC is not known in the public domain.” Although the Indian Government (ideally the State Governments must be putting out such information, but they are all invariably inert to these matters anyway) should eventually put this information on the Darpan portal of Niti Aayog, it is possible for us to figure this out in another manner.

The newly formatted FC4 return for FCRA-NGOs requires the signature of the Chief Functionary of the FCRA-NGO to be uploaded. The same for CCC (TN/76030358) can be seen at the FCRA website of the Ministry of Home Affairs, say, for the year 2015-16. The signature is screenshotted from the FC4 return of CCC and is reproduced here:

ccc_sign.png

 

The signature of the Chief Functionary of CCC in Thiruviruthanpulli says “Faithful Stronghold (FS)”. That name is quintessentially Gloriavalish (Google up for their naming schemes) and not a common name in Tamil Nadu.

Who is Faithful Stronghold?

Faithful Stronghold used to be called as Kottapalli Mahesh Babu (KMB). How do we know this?

Let us check out Page No. 40, Right Column of Part-IV, Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Government’s Gazette published on November 9, 2011. It is available here. The same is reproduced below.

 kmb_gazette.png

So, Kottapalli Mahesh Babu affirms that he got converted to Christianity in September 2003 and received the name Faithful Stronghold. He declares the same in November 2011. The address provided in the Gazette is the same as that of CCC. Given that CCC came into existence only in 2011/2012, it is likely that Faithful Stronghold was living elsewhere. In Gloriavale commune, New Zealand? May be. We do not know for sure. But it appears that he exercised his Religious Freedom to get converted from Hinduism to Christianity in Gloriavale, NZ, given the nature of his name. Note also that he was born in 1991 and was converted in 2003, i.e., at the age of 12.

Indian students travelling to Gloriavale, New Zealand: Circa early-mid 2000s

There is an additional peripheral story which suggests that Mahesh Babu could have become Faithful Stronghold in New Zealand.

Read these news stories:

  1. Hindustan Times, October 16, 2006

  2. The Press, Christchurch, October 14, 2006

Venkata Siva Rayavarapu, aged 22 was met by a Gloriavale guy in Hanuman Junction, Vijayawada.

He was sponsored by Gloriavale to travel to New Zealand to study English, agriculture & community life. Gloriavale also helped his family in India. However, in 2006, he escaped from Gloriavale, breaking the contract that his father and he had signed with Gloriavale. The reason? He was being asked to marry a Mexican inmate of Gloriavale Commune. One of the leaders of  Gloriavale, Fervent Stedfast mentions that Rayavarapu wanted to marry only a New Zealander inmate as that would fetch him NZ residency.

Is there an equivalence between the initial trajectories of Kottapalli Mahesh Babu and Venkata Siva Rayavarapu? Although KMB’s new address is in rural Thirunelveli, his name and his village name (Kottapalli) are dead giveaways of his Andhra/Telangana lineage. Also his father’s name (Kottapalli Pullaiah). Same is true for Rayavarapu. The mention of Hanuman Junction in the MSM stories also point to a Andhra link.

It is well known that many students leave India to study abroad. Even to New Zealand. Even to Gloriavale! This is due to several entry barriers imposed by all Governments in India in the Education sector. Let us not digress ….

It is known that Gloriavale had only 55 families (each with about 8 children). Thus, were poor, willing but gullible Hindu students from India attracted by Gloriavale leaders to settle down there to increase its population? For long term sustainability and/or evolutionary reasons? We do not know. We would probably never know.

Summary

We are quite dissatisfied with what has been going on. And, what is going on. With FCRA. With all sorts of cults mushrooming in our Bhoomi. As usual, we wring our hands in despair.

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On the ‘Gloriavale Commune’ in India

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