MUMBAI - The CSF (Catholic-Christian Secular Forum www.thecsf.org) takes strong exception to a non-Church and non Salesian group, Don Bosco Educational Trust registered in New Delhi, having its office in Chindwara district of Madhya Pradesh, registering the title of ‘Don Bosco’ as its intellectual property with rights under the trade marks act 1999, Number 1407313 in journal 1389 in class 41. The CSF learned of it through a public notice that appeared in the Times of India dated 9th March, 2011 and took the initiative to raise an alarm on this & related issues. Do let The CSF know of other such cases, in order to be taken up, lest there be no distinction between Church or Christian institutions and others for reasons below.
Times of India, 9 March 2011
Now, the use of the title DON BOSCO without the permission of the trust would be punishable by law. The trust runs the Don Bosco Public School chain specializing in residential schools which are co-educational and residential. Its website http://donboscopublicschool.com/ says it is purely a vegetarian school run by professionals. Worse, the trust website also has a certificate of blessing by Pope Pius XI, from 1934. According to The CSF, this does not constitute any permission to use the name, nor does it denote any association with the Catholic Church or the Salesians, founded by Don Bosco. The Salesians have been in India for over a century and work largely with poor and needy children, unlike the said CBSE schools run by the dubious trust. The values and culture associated with the trust, comes nowhere to the Salesian ideals and goals. The Salesian run hundreds of institution throughout the country and have educated lakhs of students over the last 10 decades.
Fraud & Misappropriation
The CSF is of the opinion that this is nothing short of misrepresentation and it is effectively committing fraud on gullible parents, who are bound to be misled. Even more mercenary is the fact that it amounts to exploiting the saint for commercial and advertising purposes by a private enterprise. Surely, the trust could have checked with the Church or Salesians, before registering the title Don Bosco, which displays it malicious and fraudulent intent. This is akin to cyber squatters, who register websites of prominent names and then blackmail those concerned to surrender their claim. The Church, Salesians and the community need to safeguard against such rampant misuse of Christian names by scrupulous elements and have a duty to see that the public is not deceived by such abuse. In a legal notice, The CSF calls upon the trust to immediately remove all material like the certificate of the Pope and surrender its claim of the words ‘Don Bosco’ being its own, which belongs to the Salesians and the Catholic Church, and has been misappropriated by the said trust. The CSF, failing which, will also file criminal charges against the trust for fraud and cheating. Surely, the trust concerned would know of the existence of the Salesians and Don Bosco institutions, which makes it all the more culpable.
Many instances for the Church to act
The CSF has in the past pointed out several instances of Christian names being used by non-Christian entities, which are misleading such as a St. Joseph Convent being run by one Sumerchand Agarwal, through a private trust called Bhayaram Sisram Shikshan Sanshtha and which has nothing to do with the community. Similarly throughout the country, several non-Church or even non-Christian educational institutions are using Christian names, to mislead parents. Hence, The CSF has in a memorandum to the union education minister, Kapil Sibal, called for checks and suitable guidlines to be issued to the concerned government to be cautious when registering educational institutions. Church or Christian institutions speak of a certain quality standard and this is why non Church or non Christian institutions attempt to use Christian names or words like convent. Recently, the government of Karnataka issued a circular asking English-medium schools to use the word ‘convent’ discretely.
Salesians in the service of the Indian Church
Of the 119 Salesian bishops in the world, five are cardinals. In the last 104 years of Salesian presence in India, 22 Salesians served the Indian church hierarchy. Eight of them were archbishops. Archbishop Eugene Mederlet of Madras was the first Salesian bishop in India (1928-1934) while Bishop Paul Mariaselvam of Vellore (1953-54) was the first Indian Salesian to become a bishop. The first five of them were missionaries from abroad while the remaining 17 are native sons of the Church. Currently there are 10 Salesian prelates in India – five in the northeast India, three in Tamil Nadu and two in West Bengal. Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, Archbishop Dominic Jala of Shillong, Retired Bishop Robert Kerketta of Tezpur, Bishop Joseph Aind of Dibrugarh and Bishop George Paliparambil of Miao serve northeast India. While Archbishop Lucas Sirkar of Kolkata and Bishop Joseph Gomes of Krishnagar serve the Church in West Bengal, Archbishop Chinnappa of Madras-Mylapore, Bishop Soundaraj of Vellore and Bishop Joseph Antony of Dharmapuri serve Tamil Nadu Church.
*Joseph Dias, General Secretary, The CSF