Report of Maharashtra Manthan 2018-19: Strengthening Secularism
NCCI , EFI, UM | 30th April – 2nd May 2018 | M.L.A. Hostel, Nagpur.
“Maharashtra Manthan : Strengthening Secularism”, a 3 days seminar organized by National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) and United Maharashtra (UM), was held at MLA Hostel, Nagpur from April 30 to May 2, 2018. More than 75 people which included youth and female participants from different cities of Maharashtra state participated in this seminar. There were 8 women participants and about 25 young people.
30th April 2018 (Day 1)
Maharashtra Manthan started at 12:45 pm with an opening prayer by Pastor Amit Manwatkar. The Coordinator of the Maharashtra Manthan was Rev. Devashish Dubey who introduced the concept of Maharashtra Manthan to the participants. He emphasized that the main objective of Maharashtra Manthan 2018 is to bring awareness about the contemporary contextual situation in the country among the participants and to guide the community and society in building new, sensitized and responsible leadership through the training. Mr. Pradip Bansrior (NCCI Representative) presented the guidelines for the two and half day’s seminar to all participants.
Rev. Vijayesh Lal, General Secretary of (EFI) inaugurated the program and welcomed the participants including the resource persons.
The key note address was given by Dr. John Dayal. Talking about ideologies, he made it more precise by distinguishing different ideologies in two parts 1) those which are adopted or liked by people and 2) those which are not so liked or followed by people. Dr. Dayal gave examples of various Christian political leaders of India and discussed their contribution to the Christian communities in general through a critical examination of their services. Dr. Dayal observed that the contemporary problems the country is faced with are due to the demoralized and communal unhealthy conditions in the country. The minority communities in the country especially the Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Adivasis and Tribals have suffered since a long time. The Christian community in particular has been subjected since a very long time to precarious conditions where they have not been given justice and have been charged with various false cases leveled against them.
The second session (post lunch) was taken by the Rev. Vijayesh Lal, General Secretary of EFI on the topic of ‘Present Church Scenario in India.’ Rev. Lal shared that while churches in India are growing they are also going through various issues and troubling situations in the present scenario. Rev. Lal gave the example of two situations of the churches in the Indian context: 1) Growing church, and 2) Threatened church. He highlighted the various reasons why the churches in India are experiencing tremendous and spontaneous growth, by citing certain examples which are happening in different parts of India. He also highlighted how the Threatened church is suffering because of many internal threats such as disunity, casteism, political naivety, corruption and persecution. He stated that churches in India can stand up to persecution only when Christians and people of other faiths get united counter the communal ideologies which are penetrating in the society rapidly.
The concluding session of the day on “Contextual Scanning” was taken by Dr. Ram Puniyani. He expressed concern about the rising violence in the country and analyzed the reasons for it, asserting that it has been propagated by the people belonging to right-wing Hindutva groups. While presenting the history of the country, he talked about the pseudo historical accounts which are propagated by the Hindutva groups who tamper with the historical accounts of Indian history and distort it from their perspectives. He also advocated using social commonsense in understanding and interpreting the history of India and not to read it with communal eyes.
1st May (Day 2)
The second day started with a devotion conducted by Bishop Dr. Roshan Jamble. He highlighted the key aspects of how Christians are called for the ministry of God to love and serve others in every possible way whether it may be in the religious setup or else in the political setup.
Session 1, on Gandhian ideology, was presented by Prof. Vijay Barse. He highlighted various features of Gandhian ideology particularly the emphasis on truth, non-violence and identifying with the struggles of the poor which he borrowed from Jesus Christ’s life as presented in the gospels. Prof. Barse also narrated how Gandhi inspired many people across the country and the world.
The second session started at 12:00 noon on RSS ideologies. This session was addressed by Dr. Geeta Singh, professor of Hindi literature from Nagpur. She spoke about the various forms and concepts related to RSS. Dr. Singh in her address highlighted the Varna System in ancient India and explained how different works were divided among people through the Varna System.
After lunch, the next session, which was on Ambedkar’s ideology, started at 2:00 pm. The resource person was Rev. Sunil Sardar, a social activist serving Dalits and Adivasis in the rural and urban parts of India, and the founder of Truth Seekers Ministry. Rev. Sardar highlighted how Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar accepted Gautam Buddha, Kabir, Sant Tukaram and Mahatma Phule as his role models and propagated their teachings and ideologies in his life. According to Rev. Sardar, Dr. Ambedkar should be called the Moses of the Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis of India.
The session on Communist ideologies started at 4:30 pm. This session was jointly conducted by Mr. Rajesh Jadhav and Dr. John Dayal. They both highlighted the ideology of Communism, its origin and its future. Mr. Jadhav explained the origin and the expansion of the communist ideologies in different nations and their motifs through various power point presentations. Dr. Dayal explained the history behind the rise of communal powers in various parts of the world especially in America, United Kingdom and in different parts of the Asian and South Asian counties. Jesus Christ is also called a communist because he was a carpenter who belonged to the workers’ class. Dr. Dayal also explained the importance of Labour Day.
2nd May (Day 3)
The morning devotion was led by Rev. Sunil Sardar. After this, at 10:30 am, Mr. Sunil David Dongardive (Convenor, Rashtriya Christian Morcha, Amravati) and Mr. Munna Eltan (Leader, BJP Minority Morcha Khristi Cell Maharashtra, Chandrapur) exchanged their thoughts with all participants.
The third day of the program was especially meant for a panel discussion and to bring out a good statement which would conclude thought processes of the Manthan, and lead the same towards a meaningful direction in the future.
The panel was anchored by Mr. Pradip Bansrior. Dr. Ms. Vandana Benjamin, Rev. Sunil Sardar, Dr. John Dayal, Prof. Vijay Barse, Mr. Satish Mahendre, Bishop Roshan Jamble, and Mr. Ashish Shinde were the panel members. The Panel members responded to the questions raised by the audience regarding scholarships, right to education, reservation in Christian institutions, lack of active Christian participation in politics, and regarding tribal and scheduled caste Christians and their rights.
Mr. Kasta Dip, convener of the statement committee, presented the Statement of Maharashtra Manthan in English while Pastor Devashish Dubey presented the same in Marathi.
This seminar concluded with the suggestion of sharing Maharashtra Manthan statement with different churches, so that it would be discussed in the congregations, leading to constructive action.
Program Assistant- NCCI Communications