The Force is Within Her : Grassroots Church Women Leaders Transforming Communities and Lives

Grassroots Women Leaders  engaged in Group Discussions during  Convention Organized by  Durgapur Diocese, Church of North India

The Women’s Convention   of Diocesan Women’s Fellowship for Christian Service (DWFCS)  of Durgapur  Diocese met on 10th – 14th October 2017 in St Michael All Angels Cathedral . 125 grassroots Church Women Leaders from Bankura, Purulia, Asansol, West Dinajpur, Malda , Durgapur etc attended this convention . Most of the women leaders are from indigenous or Dalit background. The theme of the Convention was “THE FORCE IS WITHIN HER” ( God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. (PSALMS 46:5)

 Mrs Rita Dutta President of Women’s Fellowship of Durgapur Diocese ( DWFCS) shared ” We organize Women’s Convention annually. Grassroots women church leaders during this Convention share about  their experiences of weaving justice and peace in their communities, their hopes and challenges and strategizes to transform communities . Revd Papia Priscilla Duriaraj facilitated the delegates  to re-read the Bible from Gender Justice perspective. Ms Moumita Biswas – Executive Secretary of Women’s Concern Ministry of National Council of Churches in India facilitated a diaogical  session on Role of Christian Women in Society.

During the Convention women praised and worshiped through the rhythms of  their bodies  folk dances and  songs in St Michael All Angels Cathedral in Durgapur. According to Mrs Archana. A. Dey Secretary of DWFCS “ Dance is therapeutic it helps women to heal within, break the culture of silence on violence on women and build bonds of love and fellowship in communities. We promote indigenous expressions of worship and spiritualities  to discover Asian Christ .”

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Churches’ Week of Action on Food – 2017

(October  11 – 17, 2017)

The Churches Week of Action on Food is a Global Campaign for Food Justice initiated by the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and the National Council of Churches in India is part of this campaign for years. This week (11 -17 October), highlights the UN days of Gild Child (11), Disaster Reduction (13), Rural Women (15) World Food day (16) and Eradication of Poverty 17).

The theme for World Food Day, this year (2017) is “Change the Future of Migration: Invest in Food Security and Rural Development”. It has been chosen to highlight the role of civil societies and faith communities in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger by addressing climate change with the Gospel Values of Justice, Love and Peace.

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Colonel Chelliah Mony, Territorial Commander of India Central Territory of The Salvation Army, passes away.

Colonel Chelliah Mony, Territorial Commander India Central Territory of The Salvation Army, was promoted to Glory on 25 September, 2017.

Chelliah Mony entered training from Osaravilai Corps in the India South Eastern Territory as a cadet of the Overcomers Session, and was commissioned on 13 May 1976. Also in May 1976 he married Mallika Mony, who was a cadet in the Disciples of Jesus Session. Lieutenant Chelliah Mony was then serving as Corps Officer of the Kolencoidu Corps.

After Cadet Mallika completed her training, they served as Corps Officers in the India South Eastern Territory before they were both appointed to the Training College in July 1981. With this came the promotion to the rank of captain for Chelliah Mony. The Captain also attended the Brengle Institute in this year.

In 1983 the Monys were appointed first to Thuckalay Division and then to Vallyoor Division, where Captain Chelliah Mony served as Divisional Youth Officer. In 1987 they were appointed to Cape South Division. Again, Captain Chelliah served as Divisional Youth Officer.

Following attendance at the International College for Officers in 1988, Captain Chelliah Mony was appointed to THQ, India South Eastern Territory as Youth Secretary. Further appointments at THQ followed in 1997 when Major Mony was appointed to Human Resources Development Secretary and in the following year, Social Secretary.

A return to the Cape South Division as Divisional Commander came in May 2003. In June 2009 Major Chelliah Mony was appointed back to THQ, as Social and Education Secretary and the following year as Secretary for Programme Administration.

Transfer to the India South Western Territory in July 2012 saw Lieut-Colonel Chelliah Mony appointed as Chief Secretary of that territory. In June 2014 further international service followed with a transfer to the India Central Territory as Territorial Commander, with a promotion to the rank of colonel. It is from this appointment that Colonel Chelliah Mony was promoted to Glory.

We salute the Colonel for his many years of faithful service to God and to The Salvation Army. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his wife, Colonel Mallika Mony and with their children, Yesumarline Mony, Yalin Rancy Mony, Darline Santhini Mony and Alwin Devarasu Mony.

The funeral for Colonel Mony was held on 26 September 2017 at Booth Tucker Memorial Church Corps Hall (Nagercoil), conducted by Colonel Edwin Masih.

Colonel Mallika Mony may be contacted at:-
82 Nungambaggam High Road
Chennai – 600 034. India.
Phone: 09962172849
e-mail: Mallika_Mony@ict.salvationarmy.org   or ICT_Leadership@ict.salvationarmy.org

Source: The Salvation Army, India National Secretariat.

Colonel Mony attended meetings of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) several times. His ecumenical outlook and genuine concern for the people proved to be a blessing for many. He served with exemplary passion for the Glory of God.

NCCI joins with The Salvation Army in praying for God to comfort the family. Colonel Mony’s  faithful service and strong leadership will always be remembered. His work will continue to light the way for seekers and future leaders.

NCCI NEWS

Rt. Rev. Dr. Samuel Amritham passes away

Rt. Rev. Dr. Samuel Amritham, a great ecumenical figure from India, passed away on September 26, 2017 in his hometown Parassala (Kerala, India) at the age of 85.

After completing his bachelor’s degree in Divinity, he was appointed as pastor in the London Mission Pastorate Church, Parassala (now named the Abbs Memorial Church after founder and LMS Missionary Rev. John Abbs). He was instrumental in the construction of the new Church building. His efforts behind the installation of the electric bell, the electric cluster lights, and the lightning arrester are appreciable.

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Unite Together… Act Early… Do Peace…

International Prayer Day for Peace – 21st September 2017

A Call to ‘Missioning’ and ‘Ministering’ Peace

Unite Together… Act Early… Do Peace…

Since 1981, the United Nations (UN) has declared 21st September as the International Day of Peace. The UN invites the global states to observe the day meaningfully to strengthen peace ties between earth communities including human communities.  Since, 2004, the World Council of Churches joined the UN and declared this day as the International Prayer Day for Peace. The International Day of Prayer for Peace offers an opportunity for church communities in all places to pray and act together to nurture lasting peace in the hearts of people, their families, communities and societies.   From 2009, the National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission (Diaconia), has been facilitating and working with the Indian Churches to make certain that this day addresses issues related to peace and social harmony.   NCCI – Unity and Mission joins the global ecumenical movements in voicing concerns for peace among nations, people, market places and earth communities.   NCCI – Unity and Mission, has been standing in solidarity with the peace initiatives and campaigns for peace in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and other countries who are in need of  peace and reconciliation, and also been voicing its concern  for peace within our  Indian contexts.

Today’s world can never be freed from conflicts. Rise of fundamentalism, Hate Campaigns by the majorities against minorities, the atrocities of unjust and inhuman policies and politics of the rulers and empires, cause  conflicts. Systems like caste, ethnicity, race, gender injustice, and patriarchy,  are a few of the factors that destroy peace among communities. We witness that the ecological catastrophes and climate change also take away peace from among people and make them vulnerable. On the other hand, there are efforts being made in the form of promotion of a few religious concepts that promise individual and personal peace by the practice of exercises like yoga and meditation. While the use of such tools can perhaps be seen as being important in conflict transformation, the natural trajectory issuing from the inherent implication of individual peace over societal values is inclined more towards individual satisfaction. However, God-intended peace is of communitarian and societal character rather than being individualistic.

In this context, another International Peace Day has come and is challenging the global communities again to observe and commemorate this day creatively and meaningfully on the theme “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”  These are a few points that may sharpen the focus of our peace-engagements.

  • ‘Together for peace’, urges us as members of earth communities to join hands with all of creation to not only ‘speak’ / ‘preach’ peace but also ‘do’ peace.
  • ‘Respect’, ‘Safety’ in this context emphasizes  the role of the society in building hope in humanity, that the purpose of living is in living in harmony “with.” This, in turn, establishes a society that is safe for migrants, children, women, animals, social and religious ‘outcastes’ and all other earth communities. ‘Dignity for all’ should under-gird our basic attitude of human beings towards one another.
  • This call is to the national and international communities to ‘act early’ and more intensively in the face of human and earth rights violations, which are often the precursors of worse things to come.
  • May this Day ‘unite us all’ as one family to deliver the right to peace by encouraging peace-champions to lay down and give-up their arms and related ideologies.
  • Let this Day make us ‘stand in solidarity’ with the innocent victims who are killed by terrorism, war and arm-raising ideologies, the traumatized families whose homes and futures lie in ruins, the countries whose development has been set back by decades.

Jesus in all his life on earth, ministry, death and resurrection, conversed about and advocated a ‘life of abundance’ (John 10:10) which ensures that through peace, life can become more meaningful. This life is contagious when hearts are moved to live life in harmony. A peace-loving God’s mission of peace is a mission mandate that every believer in Christ has to follow.

Hence, as responsible faith-based human communities, how are we going to observe or commemorate this day  meaningfully?

Is there a possibility for us as ‘Faith-Communities’  to join with the global communities (who are made vulnerable, have suffered and lost peace due to the  political actions of the dominant and powerful, climate change and ecological catastrophes, ideologies that stigmatize and discriminate our fellow human beings including women, children, gender minorities and so on), with the folded hands and on bended knees asking God’s interventions to grant ‘Peace on Earth’?

Therefore, we,  the  NCCI – Unity and Mission, invite all NCCI Constituent Members, Inter-faith and Peace Loving Communities to creatively and meaningfully  explore the implications of this day in our respective congregations, communities and institutions through appropriate peace-engagements and expressions.

This will give an opportunity to propagate peace and ensure social harmony in the country. Matthew 5:9 says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God”. Thus, these efforts make us channels of peace, and entitle us as God’s children.

Let us also join the World Council of Churches in praying for Peace in Palestine and Middle-East and in Myanmar, for Hunger and Poverty eradication, for  relief and rehabilitation initiatives in the Caribbean and other lands that were devastated by natural catastrophes, and also for people and communities who have been under the attack of  right-wing fundamentalists groups in India, who destroy  peace ‘in’ us and ‘among’  us.

Come, Let us… UNITE TOGETHER…  ACT EARLY…  (to) DO PEACE…

Yours,

Rt. Rev. Dr. P C Singh,
President, NCCI.
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,
General Secretary, NCCI.
Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar,
Executive Secretary
Unity & Mission, NCCI.

Copy of Official Letter to the President of India

September 18, 2017

To

Mr. Ram Nath Kovind
President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi

Sub:    Urgent Appeal not to give assent to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Amendment Bill 2017 and the Jharkhand Religious Freedom Bill 2017 of Jharkhand Government.

Your Excellency President Kovind,

The National Council of Churches in India, which represents around 14 million members of the Protestant and Orthodox Church Traditions in India, and which includes significant numbers of dalits and tribals/adivasis present the following urgent appeal to you. This is regarding Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Amendment Bill 2017 and the Jharkhand Religious Freedom Bill 2017 of Jharkhand Government.

As you are already aware, the State of Jharkhand was created for the Adivasis and has Fifth Schedule Areas of which the President is the direct Constitutional custodian.

Along with the adivasis of Jharkhand the NCCI is very much concerned by the situation in the State in the recent days. We have total trust and confidence in your Excellency’s disposition towards the concerns of the State. With full respect to the elected Head of the State, we wish to bring to your Excellency’s kind notice, the objectionable and unconstitutional statements made by him against the Christian community in different government and social programs held in Ranchi, Gumla, Khunti and Dumka prior to the framing of the Religious Freedom Bill 2017.

The most obnoxious act is the Advertisement found in the front pages of the News Papers in the State published on 11.08.2017 misusing Mahatma Gandhi and Public Funds to fuel anti-Christian hate. Indeed, the Advertisement is erroneous, misleading and inflammatory.

The government has used tax payers’ money against tax payers which is a gross violation of democratic ethics and values fundamental to our Constitution. The democratically elected government is expected to safeguard and protect the rights of all citizens irrespective of their affiliations. On the other hand, this government has shown by publishing this Advertisement that it cannot be trusted and stands exposed of its criminal intentions. It is not there to bring about harmony and peace but put one tribal against another. The matter of great concern is the audacity displayed by the government by putting distorted words into the mouth of Mahatma Gandhi to mislead people. The Father of the Nation is used to attack a community and fuel communal disharmony.

This Ad is also a blatant attack on the Adivasis and Dalits. No proof can be brought to the defence that Mahatma Gandhi called the Adivasis ‘Vanvasis’ and presenting it as a quote of Mahatma Gandhi is dishonest and even criminal; the government should apologise to the Adivasi communities. As per the quote, the Adivasis along with the Dalits are, ‘…. mute and simple, like cows” implying that they have no mind of their own to make a decision and are seen as eternal juveniles. It is a direct attack on their very identity, on their great Adivasi leaders like Birsa Munda and Kartik Oraon whose photos adorn the Advertisement and on their valuable contribution to nation building! It is a humiliation to the great Adivasi heroes who spearheaded the freedom movement in this part of the country like Tilka Manjhi, Sido Kanhu, Birsa Munda and many others. It also shames Late Lance Naik Albert Ekka, the war hero and the posthumous recipient of India’s highest gallantry decoration, the Param Vir Chakra for his valour; Jaipal Singh Munda, one of the stalwarts who spearheaded the movement for a separate Jharkhand State and a tall parliamentarian; Mr. Michael Kindo, Sylvanus Dungdung, and Jaipal Singh, some of the best names in Indian hockey, and the list can be very long. It also belittles the constitutional heads of our nation who hail from Dalit and Adivasi Communities. It is also very disrespectful to the legislators who come from Adivasi and Dalit communities. The government has indeed humiliated all the Adivasis in the country, especially the Adivasis of Jharkhand who have been shamelessly disgraced by this government through this Advertisement and therewith the Adivasis deserve an apology from the government.

The real intention of the government is to put tribal people against one another thereby grabbing tribal land. The Advertisement is a clear indicator that the Jharkhand Government will stoop to any level to achieve its sole purpose of grabbing Adivasi land. The government is propagating ‘divide and rule’ strategy to take away tribal land and to give it to the corporate sector and leave the poor Adivasis in misery, fear and helplessness.

It is a matter for consideration here that the two bills passed in the Assembly on 12.08.2017, one of land acquisition and the other of anti-conversion, too have the same purpose. The government seems to believe that the Christians led the movement against the amendments proposed in the CNT/SPT Acts which is a baseless allegation. All the Adivasis whole heartedly opposed the amendments irrespective of their religious affiliations. The anti-conversion bill is passed with the view of avenging the Christians for no fault of theirs. The government is using this as a weapon to deal with the Christians if they make any move against the land acquisition bill passed in the Assembly.

The retrospective nature of the bill is very dangerous as the government can grab acres and acres of Adivasi land already deposited in the ‘Land Bank’ without their knowledge. The abolition of ‘Social Impact Analysis’ will give sweeping powers to the government to take away tribal land. They will be rendered landless. The evils of migration and trafficking will increase.

The sole purpose of the provisions of social impact assessment of the project in “The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resentment Act 2013” was to study the impact of the project on the project affected communities so that affected and displaced families are properly rehabilitated and resettled. The history of development-induced displacement is very dismal. In India 60 million people were displaced, which also includes 10 million Adivasis. In Jharkhand, 1.5 million people, mostly the Adivasis, were displaced but merely 25 percent have been somehow rehabilitated. The displaced Adivasis have lost their identity, culture, tradition, values and ethos precisely because, there was no such provision of the social impact assessment in the Land Acquisition Act 1894.  However, Jharkhand Government has amended the provisions made in the Land Acquisition Act 2013, which will have immense negative impact on the Adivasi community.

The government is misleadingly using the photos of Birsa Munda and KartikOraon to destabilize tribal unity. It is worth noting here that Kartik Oraon whose photo is used in the Advertisement wrote in his book Adivasi Hindu Nahi Hai (‘The Adivasis Are Not Hindu’): “Let it be known, there is no space for Hindu gods and goddesses in the Adivasi community. Hindus believe in God whereas the Adivasis worship nature and follow the Naga culture”. Therefore, the so called ‘Ghar Wapsi’ campaign is completely against the dream of Kartik Oraon and of course Birsa Munda. The government is spreading lies using Adivasi leaders to score a point. It has hurt Adivasi sentiments very deeply.

The government is busy making a non-issue into an issue in Jharkhand. The data available with the government is the proof. In India, as per the government census the percentage of Christian population in the country was 2.33 in 1951; 2.44 in 1961; 2.60 in 1971; 2.44 in 1981; 2.32 in 1991; 2.34 in 2001 and 2.30 in 2011. The growth rate is almost static. Jharkhand has a similar Christian demographic scenario. Though the State was formed in 2000, yet for a larger picture the percentage of Christian population was 4.12 in 1951; 4.17 in 1961; 4.35 in 1971; 3.99 in 1981; 3.72 in 1991; 4.10 in 2001 and 4.30 in 2011. Here too the growth rate is almost stagnant.

A close examination of the tribal population reveals that 14.5% are Christians and 39.7% are Hindus as per the 2011 census. The very sad thing is that a large percentage of Adivasis who have accepted Hindu Religion, or its sanskritized version, have changed, or were forced to change their title to ‘Kumar’ ‘Kumari’ ‘Devi’ and thus have lost their ethnic, social and cultural identity. It is almost a planned murder of the Adivasi community. The government should come out with a law to protect the identity of Adivasi communities if they have genuine concern for them.

Jharkhand has many issues to address, beginning with that of law and order. Cow vigilantes are moving around freely, lynching innocent people in the name of cow protection. The recent incident in Ramgarh shocked the consciousness of the nation. Jharkhand has the highest number of children dying of malnourishment and most of them belong to poor tribal communities living in the rural areas. The number of stunted children too is growing rapidly making children who are considered a ‘National Asset’ into a future liability. The Adivasis have been demanding ‘Sarna Code’ for the last many years and nothing has happened so far. The government has passed the law on conversion and land acquisition even after sufficient opposition from the Opposition Parties, to cover up all the ills of the State and keep people

engaged in divisive activities while it can grab tribal land to pass onto the corporate sector.  The government is scared of Adivasi unity and this law is a weapon which will be used to break the unity of the people and give licence to the fringe elements to attack anyone in the name of conversion especially those who dare to oppose the irresponsible policies of the government. Moreover, there is no provision built into the bill to deal with cases of false accusation and misuse of the bill. The intention of the bills is anti-people, anti-constitutional, and anti-peace.

The Constitution of India guarantees fundamental right to the freedom of religion under articles 25-28.  Therefore, all persons in India are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion of one’s choice without converting anyone from one religion to another by force, allurement, or threat. The State of Jharkhand should release a white paper presenting the data of such cases of conversion by force, allurement, or threat in Jharkhand in the last 17 years. It is unfair even to think of such anti-conversion law when there are no issues on the ground.  Besides, the Indian Penal Code 295 (a) is already very strong to deal with cases of conversion by force, or coercion, or allurement.

It has been categorically stated in the Indian Constitution, Article 13(2) that ‘any law made by any legislature or other authority after commencement of the Constitution, which contravenes any of the fundamental rights included in Part III of the Constitution shall, to the extent of the contravention, be declared void. Indeed, the bill is unconstitutional and is a super imposition on the existing law. The bill has no purpose except political and ideological. The timing of the bill clearly reveals that it is politically motivated to break the unity of the Adivasis. The bill proposes to seek permission as well as inform the district collector on matters concerning one’s freedom of conscience which is a fundamental right guaranteed in the Constitution (Art. 25). The choice, or decision to embrace any religion is based on the freedom of conscience of a person and it cannot be dappled with as it is a direct violation of the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right of freedom of conscience. The question of conversion does not arise here as it is the matter of the freedom of conscience of a person. Therefore, the anti-conversion bill is ultravirus.

Therefore, we humbly pray to your Excellency,

That these bills are not given assent as their purpose is anti-people and anti-Adivasis.

That the fundamental right to freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion, and freedom to manage religious affairs guaranteed under the Article 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution is protected.

That the land of the Adivasis is safeguarded not only for the present but also for the future generations to come.

You, as the Constitutional Custodian of the Fifth Schedule Areas of Jharkhand comprising the adivasis of the land, are our hope for upholding justice and secularism in the country.

Yours Sincerely

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,

General Secretary, NCCI

Rohingyas: Statement on the Human Rights of Stateless People

In the light of the plight of the Rohingya people, all churches are hereby reminded of the Statement on the Human Rights of Stateless People adopted by the WCC 10th Assembly as part of the Report of the Public Issues Committee  adopted by the WCC 10th Assembly as part of the Report of the Public Issues Committee. Please take special note of the last section of the statement. May we all stand up for our commitment to just and inclusive communities!

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,

General Secretary, NCCI

Statement on the Human Rights of Stateless People

Adopted by the WCC 10th Assembly as part of the Report of the Public Issues Committee.

Nationality is a fundamental human right which is affirmed in article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is a foundation of identity, human dignity, and security. Nationality is an essential prerequisite to the enjoyment and protection of the full range of human rights.

Currently, there are more than ten million people around the world who live without any nationality: they are stateless people. Most of these stateless people have not left their country of origin.

Statelessness can occur for a number of reasons. Some relate to technical aspects of nationality laws and procedures for acquisition of documents which prove nationality. More often, however, the cause is discrimination. Minorities are often arbitrarily excluded from citizenship due to discrimination on racial, ethnic, religious or linguistic grounds.

This kind of discrimination in the nationality law has rendered stateless more than 800,000 Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority living in Rakhine State, despite their ties to Myanmar that date back centuries. Over the past 30 years, the Rohingya have been subjected to widespread discrimination including the denial of citizenship, denial of freedom of movement and the right to marry. They have suffered forced labour and detention. As a result of discriminatory conditions inside the country, more than 200,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, though fewer than 30,000 are officially recognized as refugees. Most unregistered Rohingya live in unofficial makeshift refugee settlements, where shelters are falling apart, and malnutrition is widespread. In spite of these conditions, aid agencies have sometimes been denied permission to assist unregistered refugees. Without residence or work permits, unregistered refugees live in fear of detention and forced repatriation to Myanmar. The lack of documentation also makes Rohingya women and girls particularly vulnerable to physical attacks, sexual violence and trafficking. Rohingya populations are also found in the Gulf countries and many have made the perilous sea journey to other countries in Asia – or have died trying.

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Observance of “Black Day” on August 10, 2017

National Council of Churches in India -Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns along with many member churches, theological institutions and various organisations proactively participated in the observance of ‘Black Day’ on 10th August 2017. The infamous Presidential  Order that was signed on 10th August 1950 by the then President of India stated, “No person who professes a  religion other than Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the scheduled caste.” This Order was later amended to include Sikhs (1956) and Buddhists (1990) in the Scheduled Caste fold. It is ironical that the Government is turning deaf ears even when twelve state Governments along with union territories and political parties have endorsed the proposal to delete  paragraph-3 of the Presidential Order 1950 in order to ensure equality and justice for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in India.

Therefore on 10th August 2017, people protested against the continual negligence of the government to the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the country. At different places protest rallies, meetings, demonstrations, candle vigils, special prayers, submission of  memorandums and other appropriate programmes were organised to express solidarity with the oppressed Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste origin.

Observance of  Black Day at Bishop’s College, Kolkata

“Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians are citizens of India! ” was one of the slogans heard on  A.J.C. Bose Road in front of Bishop’s College, Kolkata. Black Day was observed by the theological students and faculty of  Bishop’s College, Kolkata, in keeping with its tradition and conviction of being a voice for the voiceless. Rev. Dr. Sunil Caleb (Principal of the college) briefed  the community about the significance of the observance of  Black Day. He categorically emphasized the church’s participation in the struggles of the Dalits. He provided a historical overview of the infamous Presidential Order of 1950 that excludes Christian and Muslim Dalits from the Scheduled Castes list.

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NCCI Condemns the Brutal Murder of Courageous Outspoken Senior Journalist Ms Gauri Lankesh

Gauri Lankesh ( Photo Credit : Hindu , Source: www.hindu.com /news)

National Council of Churches condemns the brutal murder of a senior gusty, outspoken journalist, editor  and activist Ms Gauri Lankesh.  Ms Gauri Lankesh  was very critical about the fascist ideologies,  fascist forces in our country and right wing. Lankesh, with dauntless courage, even challenged political leaders and corruption. She was also a theatre person and a film maker, an artist who used her talent to expose truth and injustice.

Gauri was known for advocating freedom of the press.  She worked as an editor in Lankesh Patrike and and ran her own weekly called Gauri Lankesh Patrike

Ms Lankesh  was openly critical of the caste system. In 2015, some Brahmins accused her of criticizing the novelist S.L.Bhyrappa and Brahminism during the 81st Kannada Sahitya Sammelana (Kannada literary conference) held at Shravanabelagola.  On 19 February 2015, protesters from the Hassan Zilla Brahmin Sabha (“Hassan district Brahmin Association”) organised a rally against her, urging the police to register a First Information Report against her.

According to Ms Lankesh “My Constitution teaches me to be a secular citizen, not communal. It is my right to fight against these communal elements. I oppose the caste system of the ‘Hindu Dharma’, which is unfair, unjust and gender-biased.”

The defamation cases filed against her did not deter her fearless spirit or  stop her from speaking out against corruption , fascism and different forms of violence.

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Supreme Court gives India a Private Life

A landmark decision was made by the Supreme Court on 24th August 2017. Here is a report from The Times of India, Ranchi Edition of 25th August 2017: 

 SC GIVES INDIA A PRIVATE LIFE

63-Yr-Old Judgement Overturned

by Dhananjay Mahapatra & Amit Anand Choudhary TNN

New Delhi: Propelling India into the ranks of progressive societies that ensure privacy of their citizens, a nine-judge Supreme Court bench unanimously ruled on Thursday that privacy is a fundamental right, protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty and as part of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. In a historic judgment, the bench headed by CJI J S Khehar — which included Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, R F Nariman, A M Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay K Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer — upturned a 63-year-old ruling of an eight-judge bench that had refused to recognise privacy as a fundamental right. The 547-page ruling set up many landmarks to outline what constitutes a dignified life and the obligation of the state to help its citizens lead one.

It emphasised the value of dissent and tolerance, besides the rights of minorities, including sexual minorities, clearing the way for the possible voiding of the SC’s controversial order to reverse the decriminalisation of consensual gay sex by the Delhi high court. It also boldly delineated the limits to the state’s intervention in the lives of citizens. (emphasis added)

However, the bench was alive to the challenges thrown up by technology and recognised that a balance needs to be maintained between the right to privacy and the right of the state to impose reasonable restrictions on it for legitimate aims such as national security, prevention and investigation of crimes and distribution of welfare resources.

What stood out was privacy being declared intrinsic to right to life and that it formed part of the sacrosanct chapter on fundamental rights in the Constitution, which has been regarded since 1973 as part of the basic structure, immune from Parliament’s interference. The unanimous verdict was “Right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as part of the freedoms granted by Part III

The NCCI is committed to work towards just and inclusive communities. In the spirit of the Constitution of India, we affirm the fundamental rights of all, and in the context of the above SC ruling, the right to dignity of life for all.