Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Minority status will help us serve nation better, say Jains TIMES NEWS NETWORK After decades of relentless persuasion, the Jain community in Karnataka believes the recently-granted minority community status will boost its philanthropic activities and help serve the nation better. While community members have settled down all over the country, Karnataka, where the religion has enjoyed patronage from major kingdoms including the Kadamba and Chalukya dynasties, is particularly close to their heart. While community members do different things for a living, hard work and philanthropy are dear to all. Chenraj Jain, chairman, Jain College says: “Every Jain household, regardless of class, indulges in charity.” Dr Narpat Solanki, a 2003 Rajyotsava awardee, for example, conducts free eye surgeries from a rented place in Bangalore. As part of his Project Drishti, he has conducted 1.7 lakh successful surgeries in 13 years. “I’m only doing 50% of what can be done,” he said, adding that the new status will help get support from the government and thereby reach more people. The work of Veerendra Heggade of Dharmasthala is truly inspiring. Belgaum, home to the largest Jain population in South India with nearly 50,000 Jain families, has people like Gopal Jinagouda, a successful industrialist and philanthropist. Not only does his firm employ hundreds of people, his foundation also helps poor families and their children. It has disbursed Rs 2.5 lakh every year to five to seven students from the district for seven years. In Hubli, there are many prominent people from about 700 families. Vimal Talikoti, secretary, Jain Samaj, said: “We give scholarships to poor students every year which cover their fees.” The work is similar to that of the Mahaveer Education Society. They also take care of animals, with thePinjarapole in Mysore being a sterling example.Thehomefor destitute animals has over 3,500 animals, mostly cattle. “We collect over Rs 3 crore annually from philanthropists for this,” society treasurer Shantilal Khabiya said. Bijapur also benefits from the largesse. The Nahar brothers provide meals for a rupee. “In 1972, when severe drought affected Bijapur, my father Nathi Lal distributed meals to people at 10 paise,” Hemanth Nahar said. To this day, there’s a long queue every day at Kabraji Bazar for these meals. Has the Centre’s decision come too late? Arguing that Jains constitute only between 0.5%-0.6% of the population, some were surprised at the delay. Sajjan Raj Mehta, a prominent industrialist in Bangalore, said: “One shouldn’t confuse minority status with reservation in jobs and educational institutes. We just want to protect our culture.” he said. “More than 90% of Jains are literate but education is different from literacy. This status will help us take more children to higher education besides providing better healthcare,” Kishore Jain said. Sajjan Raj Mehta

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