Round Table Discussion on Unity

20150504_130710On the initiative taken by the NCCI Board of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (BOCOMA), Dr. Jetti T. Oliver, Chairman and Rev. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary, along with the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, Mar Thoma Syrian Church, and Chairman, National Advisory Council (which has been constituted by the BOCOMA) a Round Table meeting was arranged at the Mar Thoma Centre, New Delhi in which leaders of the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church (GELC) and the North West Gossner Evamgelical Lutheran Church (NWGELC) participated. Focussing on the theme, “Seeking the Reconciling Power of Jesus” the leaders of the GELC (The Most Rev. Johan Dang – Moderator; The Rt. Rev. J. M. Topno – Dy. Moderator; Mr. Eliazer Topno – General Secretary; Mr. Atal Irad Khess – Treasurer cum Finance Secretary; and Rev. Dr. Manmasih Ekka – Ecclesiastical Secretary and Principal, G. T. C.) and of the NWGELC (The Rt. Rev. Dular Lakra – Bishop; Mr. Albel Lakra – Chief Secretary; Mr. Pawal Xalxo – Chairman, G.B.; Rev. Dr. Jhakmak Neeraj Ekka – NDTC; and Rev. Rajiw Satish Toppo – Principal, NDTC) held talks, with the support of the NCCI leaders, on the need for the two churches to come together and the possible structure which they could adopt to express their togetherness. A second meeting will be held in Ranchi during August 17-19,2015 to take the discussion further.

Religious Extremism and Our Response

Fr. Cedric Prakash, SJ of Ahmedabad who runs Prashant has written an insightful and practical piece on the rise of religious extremism and the responses we need to make. We are grateful to Dr. John Dayal for sharing the same with us. This is important for all Christians, in particular church leaders, pastors and evangelists.

– General Secretary, NCCI

“WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS…!!!”

-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*

… Some “hot issues” in the context of the rise of religious extremism and what we are experiencing on the ground

This brief presentation is in two parts – their strategies and our possible responses:

THEIR STRATEGIES

Their strategies are multi-pronged, well thought of and with meticulous planning. They have been using some of these very effectively since their inception in the 1930s; these include:

  • to have well oiled propaganda

-effective, simple, mass, vicious

-tell a lie a thousand times (Goebblesian)

-fuel myths / rumours (they can easily take you for a ride)

-indulge in half-truths / selectivity, manipulate facts and data

  • to mobilise as many as possible

-all sections of society (particularly poor and unemployed) / also adivasis and dalits

-get them to do their “dirty tricks” with money, liquor, meat and false promises

-rope in middle class who can be lured by “achche din”

  • to divide and rule

-a time-tested strategy by dictators and those who want to control others

-‘they’ are the problem

-not ‘you’ but ‘them’

-to provide lollipops (sponsor “pilgrimages” to the Holy Land)

  • to co-opt

-invite for a “dialogue”

-those attacks are just ‘aberrations’; a law and order problem

-we know that but we cannot control them

-don’t worry if there is any problem, just come to me; I am “OK”; (so vote for me)

  • to make ‘victims’ the perpetrators

-you provoked first eg. conversion / beef eating etc

-we have proof that your boys were throwing stones

-you are the problem

  • to ‘hook’ us, make us reactionary

-we are sucked up into their agenda

-they set the terms and conditions

-we often play along

-we become defocused from our main work

  • to create panic and fear

-through attacks, burning, looting, raping

-vandalising / desecration

-scattering the flock

  • to run with the hare and hunt with the hound

-propagate the “development” model / “tolerance for all”

-permit hate speeches / attacks

-introduce anti-minority and draconian legislations

-we are not “responsible” for what they do

  • to infiltrate

-government and bureaucracy

-police and judiciary

-educational system / media

  • to woo the corporate sector, the rich and the powerful

-allow them to do what they want

-flout laws, by pass rules and regulations

-use their planes and other facilities (institutionalize corruption)

-help them to take over the media

OUR RESPONSE

Our response therefore, has to be multi-dimensional: a non-reactionary one, appropriate and focussed – and as a citizen of the country; these could include:

  • to be aware of their strategies (do not be ‘naive’)
  • to be united: work in tandem; complement one another; cooperation not
  • competition
  • to do a reality check: stop being fundamentalists ourselves
  • to find new ways and approaches in ‘evangelization’; being a witness
  • to speak truth to power (to be visible and vocal)
  • to propagate Constitutional and Universal Rights of ALL
  • to mainstream human rights and value education in our educational institution
  • to seek legal redress against injustices and draconian law
  • to develop a spirituality that is incarnational
  • to help in the contextual formation of laity, religious and priests / pastor
  • to foster an intellectual depth that is critical
  • to be inclusive; to collaborate with all men and women of goodwill
  • to take a stand that is prophetic

(cfr. PRASHANT document “WE ALWAYS NEED TO BE PREPARED!” Oct. 2014)

CONCLUSION

We can no longer remain silent.

“All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world – is for the good people to do nothing” – Edmund Burke

We need to get our ACT TOGETHER NOW!

“WE ALWAYS NEED TO BE PREPARED!”

I PRAY

  • pray without ceasing
  • read, pray and meditate on Mt 25:1-13
  • organize special prayers in our parishes / institutions
  • keep our churches / chapels / prayer halls open for prayer
  • pray with our Christian brethren (also in their churches)
  • conduct / join meaningful inter-faith prayer (Sarva Dharma Prathna)
  • be sensitive (our prayers and other programmes need not be “jarring”/“blasting”/ a nuisance to others

DO NOT “FIRE CRACKERS” nor use high decibel speakers – specially

after 10.00 pm (remember that many of our neighbours are little children or elderly persons and perhaps even sick)

(cfr. the Supreme Court rulings on these matters)

what does Jesus say about “praying?”

II DIALOGUE

  • keep avenues of dialogue always open with all
  • do not get co-opted or provide legitimacy in any way to fascists/ fundamentalists
  • do not be naïve…dialogue is always in the context of respect, equity and dignity.
  • participate in Festivals/Prayers of others and invite them to ours
  • strengthen areas that unite/connect (search for commonalities/ connectors)
  • take a stand against divisiveness/biases/prejudices
  • network and collaborate with other secular/like-minded individuals / groups

III STUDY – DOCUMENT – WRITE

  • study and analyze the situation
  • study the ideology of fascists; learn how they operate (“divide and rule”)
  • study the Constitution of India; existing laws
  • do not limit yourself to issues involving Christians only; get involved in ALL
  • Human Rights issues, sp. in the defense of dalits, tribals, women, children, differently-abled persons, other minority/vulnerable groups
  • collect “Patrikas” and other relevant literature (sp. derogatory ones)
  • document Newspaper / Journal articles on topical / sensitive, relevant issues
  • video / audio record inflammatory speeches / proceedings
  • write articles / letters to the Editor in national / local / vernacular newspapers /
  • journals on crucial issues
  • use “The Right to Information” Act to get information from / of the Government (Govt.officials/spending)

IV STAND UP FOR TRUTH, HUMAN RIGHTS, JUSTICE AND PEACE

“Peace in society cannot be understood as pacification or the mere absence of violence resulting from the domination of one part of society over others. Nor does true peace act as a pretext for justifying a social structure which silences or appeases the poor, so that the more affluent can placidly support their lifestyle while others have to make do as they can. Demands involving the distribution of wealth, concern for the poor and human rights cannot be suppressed under the guise of creating a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority. The dignity of the human person and the common good rank higher than the comfort of those who refuse to renounce their privileges. When these values are threatened, a prophetic voice must be raised.” (Pope Francis in ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ # 218)

  • fear ONLY God and no one else; stand up ALWAYS for Truth and Justice.
  • join/support other initiatives like the PUCL, INSAF, MSD, CJP, ANHAD, etc. (contact us for details)
  • participate also in the activities / initiatives / programmes of other like minded individuals / NGOs / groups
  • publicize secular efforts / initiatives in our churches / institutions
  • screen films on social issues like “Parzania”, “Final Solution”, “Dharm”, “Well Done, Abba!”, “Mr. & Mrs. Iyer”
  • be visible on important issues:speak out; participate in campaigns/dharnas/rallies; sign online petitions
  • keep at a distance ALL vested interests. Do not let them compromise you.
  • beware of getting involved in issues/ politics which make us sectarian /fundamentalist/exclusive
  • denounce Communalism, Corruption, Casteism, Consumerism, Criminalisation of society/politics
  • organize programmes/seminars/workshops on human rights/relevant issues/legal literacy/topical issues
  • constitute village/mohalla/Parish Justice and Peace Committees (JPCs)
  • initiate Constitutional Values/Peace Education/Human Rights Education in your Schools/Institutions
  • use value education books from KHOJ RESOURCES (www.khojedu.net ) and/or the “YES WE CAN” series (by RATNA SAGAR www.ratnasagar.com )
  • celebrate UN/special days like Women’s Day (March 8th), Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21st), Oscar Romero Day (March 24th), Ambedkar Jayanti (April 14th), Environment Day (June 5th), Indigenous People’s Day (August 9th), Day of Non-Violence (October 2nd), Human Rights Day (December 10th)
  • identify trouble makers/peace breakers/ rumour mongers/divisive persons
  • stop rumours/gossip (always try to authenticate things)
  • propagate the Right to Information (RTI), the Right to Education (RTE) and the Right to Food (RTF)
  • protect, promote, propagate Constitutional Rights/Freedoms & the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

V KEEP OUR HOUSE IN ORDER

  • maintain and update ALL official documents (land records, building permissions, registrations, licenses) and personal identity cards (Sp. Elector’s Photo Identity Card – EPIC)
  • keep copies of these always at hand/filed/laminated / secured – with your ORIGINALS in a Safe Deposit
  • adhere to strict accounting/accountability procedures
  • ALWAYS BE Open and Transparent
  • never indulge in any corrupt practice for whatever reasons (taking/giving bribes etc)
  • ensure timely payment of all taxes (income, building, land etc)
  • know and adhere to requisites of the Govt./Charity Commissioner/Registrar of Societies/FCRA etc.
  • register Medical Personnel with the Medical/Nursing Council
  • provide the requisite bio-medical waste treatment/disposal facilities in hospitals/dispensaries
  • refrain from physical and/or other types of abuse on any one
  • pay just wages; have service conditions, give appointment letters (cfr. Labour laws)

(THEY HIT US WHERE WE ARE VULNERABLE )

VI PRE-EMPT TROUBLE

  • provide prior and authentic information/meet your JPC
  • contact / alert your focal / nodal point immediately, if you sense trouble
  • contact the authorities, wherever possible (preferably in writing) – with a proof of submission
  • inform the police (know your local police / station); request protection (ONLY if desperately needed)
  • remember “providing security” is also an official way of them keeping tabs on us! (Don’t be NAÏVE)
  • never panic / DO NOT give in to fear
  • check if your phones are tapped
  • never give your email passwords to others / change them frequently

VII ADDRESS THE “REALITY”

  • do not get provoked (whatever the reason)….be calm and cool!
  • seek the support of others (like-minded individuals / groups)
  • protect / provide shelter for the weak (old / women / children / infirm)
  • inform the police / authorities (always be courteous / polite to them)
  • be careful on how and what information you provide about others photograph / video/audio record the trouble/trouble makers douse out flames
  • do not destroy/alter/change/remove the evidence
  • do not underplay/exaggerate the reality
  • if a situation arises, start writing/computerizing the complete details as soon as possible
  • file an FIR/complaint(name people/be accurate). You can write your complaint in English / Hindi / Gujarati (or your regional language) and have it attached to the FIR
  • approach a higher authority (with full details) if you have problems with your local police
  • in case the police have written the FIR /recorded your statement, you MUST read it carefully before you sign it with the date and time clearly mentioned
  • ensure that the copy is signed with the appropriate seal affixed by the concerned police official/station
  • request a copy of the FIR/complaint for yourself (you MUST get it)

VIII BE VIGILANT

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty ! – Wendell Phillips

Remember that police/official interrogations in a police station and/ or our institution, must normally take place only during working hours, on working days. Police/Government officials should normally·NOT visit officially any institutions which house women between 1800 hrs to 0900 hrs.

  • DO NOT GIVE ANY INFORMATION to people who approach you, who do not have an official identity and a written authorization (signed and sealed) or if it is NOT within their PURVIEW
  • check who the APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY is…..some officials demand information even when it does not come under their purview
  • study carefully the official/actual RULE/ACT/LAW
  • request full particulars of the person concerned (name, designation, address, email id, telephone/mobile nos)
  • LISTEN to what is being asked – NEVER be in a hurry to ANSWER ORALLY
  • request that the questions are written and a signed copy is provided to you
  • in normal circumstances, DO NOT PROVIDE any official information IMMEDIATELY
  • tell the person concerned that you MAY provide the information after some days
  • no one has the right to inspect any of our registers/documents/records/premises unless there is a written warrant from a Magistrate / Court to do so
  • meanwhile, contact a higher authority/ nodal agency for further steps and before providing any information
  • remember that very often, those who seek information come to you on the dictate of individuals/groups who are hostile/inimical to us and our institutions
  • a community/institution must have only ONE spokesperson(preferably someone conversant in the vernacular)
  • study the law/be legally literate
  • take legal counsel/be in touch with human rights lawyers. Buy legal booklets published by the Indian Social Institute, 10 Institutional Area, Lodi Road, New Delhi – 110 003. These booklets have been translated into Gujarati by Ashadeep, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Anand Dt. 388 120
  • contact a JESA institution in your area if you need some help. JESA Gujarat groups are: HDRC (Ahmedabad), SXSSS (Ahmedabad), Sangath (Modasa), LAHRC (Songadh), RSSS (Rajpipla), Navsarjan (Surat), Ashadeep (Vidyanagar), Nyay Darshan (Vadodara)
  • circulate/popularize relevant books/documents/films by other agencies (there is no need to re-invent the wheel)

IX COMMUNICATE

  • learn to be communicative
  • share with others what is happening/ has happened
  • develop good Public Relations / Perception Management skills
  • join and use social networks like facebook, twitter, whatsapp, email groups
  • have your OWN blog with a social content
  • befriend the media: give them your point of view; let them highlight the good works done by/through your institution. Keep a data bank of media personnel (with mobile numbers, email ids etc)
  • contact immediately (phone/fax/email) any focal point that could take up your problem
  • send to an appropriate authority/us COMPLETE and AUTHENTIC
  • DETAILS (FIR copies, press clippings, photos, audio/video tapes)
  • QUICKLY (pay someone to carry them…. hire a vehicle) BUT DO NOT DELAY!
  • send a written complaint by Registered Post/Courier /Fax /email to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) at:

National Human Rights Commission,

Manav Adhikar Bhawan, 

Block-C, GPO Complex, INA, New Delhi – 110023

Tel. No. (011) 24651330 Fax No.(011) 24651329 email: covdnhrc@nic.in / ionhrc@nic.in

Website: www.nhrc.nic.in

Telegraphic address: HUMANRIGHTS

and / or to the

National Commission for Minorities (NCM) at :

National Commission for Minorities,

5th Floor, Lok Nayak Bhavan,

Khan Market, New Delhi 110 003

Tel. No. (011) 24615583

Fax No. (011) 24693302, 24642645, 24698410

(Toll free Number 1800-110-088)

email: ro-ncm@nic.in <www.ncm.nic.in>

  •  depending upon the issue / the victims, you can also send your complaint to one of the other appropriate National Commissions like Women / Tribal / SC / Children, etc

CASA’s Response to the Earthquake in Nepal

AppealThe killer earthquake that hit Nepal on the noon of April 25th, 2015 has devastated human lives and property. It is believed to have killed over 7,000 people and left more than 12,000 injured, and several thousand houses flattened. The apprehension is that the death toll may rise to 10,000. Further, it is estimated that about eight million people are severely affected in the Himalayan region by this devastating earthquake. Read more

Rev. Dr. Somen Das passed away

somendasRev. Dr. Somen Das, from the Church of North India, prominent theologian, prolific writer, teacher and ecumenist, passed away at the age of 75 in Mumbai today May 5, 2015.
After his B.A (Hons.) in English Literature and B.D from Serampore College, Rev. Dr. Somen Das pursued his further theological education in USA for his M.Th and PhD in Christian Theology and Ethics in Princeton and Boston Universities in 1967 and 1978 respectively. He was an ordained minister of the Church of North India, and taught Christian Theology and Ethics for 34 years in various Theological Seminaries – Serampore College (1969-70), United Theological College, Bangalore (1970-88) and Bishop’s College (1989-99). He served as Acting Principal at UTC, Bangalore (1987-88), Principal of Bishop’s College (1989-99), Visiting Professor at New College, Edinburgh, Scotland; Andover Newton, USA and Heidelberg University, Germany. From 2000 onwards he lived in Serampore and offered his services to Serampore College as well as the North India Institute of Post-Graduate Theology Studies (NIIPGTS). He wrote several books and published numerous articles in leading journals. Rev. Dr. Das also served as chairperson of Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI) from 1985 – 1989. He contributed greatly as resource person in NCCI programs and his support for the ecumenical movement is well-known.

Reflection for Good Friday and Easter by NCCI General Secretary

easterThe Gospel according to John presents to us several images about the death of Jesus. One of them is the expression, “being lifted up.” In John 3:14-15 Jesus says, “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” In fact Jesus repeats this thought two more times in the gospel according to John: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing of my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me.”(John 8: 28); “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all people to myself.”(John 12:32).

Read more

Karnataka Christian Council’s new Executive Committee formed. Commits to counter fundamentalism.

Bangalore, March 26, 2015.

The General Body of the Karnataka Christian Council (KaCC) met on March 26, 2015 at the Unity Building, Bangalore. KaCC  has been significant for many important decisions including unanimously being committed to working  with all Churches against religious fundamentalism and fanaticism.  Rt. Rev. Ravikumar Niranjan, CSI Bishop for Karnataka Northern Diocese chaired the meeting. Rev. Dr. Hubert Watson, the Secretary of the Council presented the activity report. Members representing Churches and institutions from all over Karnataka participated in the meeting and elected new office bearers and Executive Committee Members.

This is the newly elected executive committee of KaCC for the next three years:
Rt. Rev. Mohan Manoraj (CSI Bishop of Karnataka Southern Diocese) unanimously elected as the President of the council; Rev. Dr. N. Jayawant(Methodist Church in India, Bangalore Regional Conference) as the Vice-President ; Rev. Dr. Hubert Watson (Karnataka Theological College) as Secretary; Mr. G D Pushparaj (the Executive Secretary of the CSITA – Karnataka Inter-Diocesan Administrative, Finance and Property Board) as Treasurer.
As part of the General Body Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar, Executive Secretary, Commission of Justice, Peace and Creation and Commission on Unity, Mission and Evangelism, presented a paper on ‘The Challenges before the Karnataka Christians / Churches Today, and the need for Grassroots Ecumenism’. He said:…considering the political context and rise of fundamentalism, the Karnataka Christians and Churches are some of the most vulnerable communities in India that are encountering constant attacks on Churches, Christian Workers and Christian institutions. Therefore the Churches and Christians in Karnataka must be united for common witness and service. In keeping with the call of the NCCI Centenary findings, the Council should be involved in facilitating the grassroots ecumenical expressions to combat Hindutva strategies of ‘moral policing’, ‘ghar wapsi’ and ‘hate campaign’ based on caste and religions.
After a detailed discussion, the Council has called all the member Churches to get united and organized for a strong common witness. Considering the importance and urgent need of the hour, all the member churches of KaCC mandated the council to launch a campaign against religious fundamentalism.
NCCI Communications

MAKE IT HAPPEN NOW!!!

COMMEMORATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

NEWS FROM ALL INDIA COUNCIL OF CHRISTIAN WOMEN

pic1As the world commemorated International Women’s Day All India Council of Christian Women the women’s wing of National Council of Churches in India launched the campaign 365 Days  Zero Tolerance To Gender Based Violence: Make it Happen Now!!! IWD was also commemorated in different churches all over India.

The Executive Committee members of AICCW along with women leaders from Diocese of Nagpur, Church of North India visited different police stations in the city of Nagpur to honor the women police for the contributions. “This is the first time in my life someone is honoring me on International Women’s Day. Such event has never happened in any Police station in Nagpur.” opined Shefali Police woman serving in Sadar Police station Nagpur. Certificates of appreciation, trophies were distributed to police women in different police stations in Nagpur. “In our country where women are regarded as a burden and suffer discrimination and violence from womb to death it is not easy for a woman in India to be a police woman. Yet there are women who dare to risk their lives and overcome all challenges to become police women. They deserved to be honored” states Moumita Biswas Executive Secretary of AICCW.

Read more

Diaconal Church in a Radically Changing India.

Chennai Affirmation

We, the participants of the National Consultation on ‘Diakonal Church in the Radically Changing India’, held at Chennai on the 23rd and 24th February 2015 jointly organized by the Church of South India Synod and Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society hereby declare that…

The ‘Diakonal Church’ is the one that is sensitive to the concerns of poor, oppressed and socially, traditionally and historically excluded communities.  It is to prepare a Table for ‘all’ to join the ‘koinonia‘ of the resurrected Christ’s community without any discrimination by affirming everyone’s dignity, respect, identities and  differences.

The motto of ‘Diaconal Church’ is to serve but not to be served (Mark 10: 45). It facilitates the Christian faith communities to embark on a journey to serve the earth communities leaving the comfort zone to take up a ‘kenotic’ and servant leadership. It is to bear a public witness politically in the presence of resurrected Christ and to re-embark on a journey of accompaniment with the struggling communities for fullness of life and livelihood.

This ‘diakonia‘ demands not only the ‘service’ but also preparation of the space to create communities of equals and dignity as described in Nazareth manifesto (Luke 4: 61-21). It is to explain the vision of God and symbolize the ‘reign of god’ with the values of Love, Justice and Peace by prophetically healing, restoring and reconciling the societies of conflicts and disparities towards fullness of all lives.

Context

We realize that, the ‘mantra’ of Economic Globalization and Developmental paradigm of the States change the whole world to be  ‘flat’ through communicating and consolidating the capital accumulations of wealth through trans-national corporatism, extractive industrialization and ecological exploitation and victimization of the earth communities by uprooting of habitats from their traditionally living and culturally rooted environments.

These ‘flattening’ policies and principals of the ‘Economic Globalization’ are creating the tailor-made ‘flat’ societies and communities by  inculcating the values such as ‘consumerism’, ‘privatization’ , ‘individualism’, ‘competition’ and ‘inequality’.

We observe that,  in the context of radically changing Indian contexts, the  ‘majoritarianism’, rise of  ‘right-wing ideological fundamentalism’ and hate campaigns are creating panic and insecurity among the ‘minority communities’, ‘economically poor’ and ‘religiously and culturally excluded’, such as Dalits, Adivasis, Tribals, Women and Children. They turn the communities to be against one another with hate and hostility.

In this context of crisis, the churches as called and committed faith communities are to be prophetic and mandated to work ‘on’ equality and ‘for’ equality. The 2010 Edinburgh declaration calls the churches of our times to re-look and review our vision, theologies and ministries from the growing influence of ‘prosperity theologies’, ‘individualistic eschatology’, upholding caste and patriarchy, and becoming the mammon worshipers.

We affirm that…

  • The Diakonal Church as a prophetic community, is called to ensure respect, dignity and life of the earth communities including the human communities through the appropriate interventions and encounters with the oppressive attitudes of the  ‘Powerful, Dominant Empires and States’ by engaging in ‘diakonia’.

  • The Diakonal Church is a conscious servant ‘of’ and ‘to’  all by prophetically engaging and encountering conformity with the Powers
  • The Diakonal Church is called to promote and prorogate the liberative and transformative Gospel values of Love, Justice and Peace in combating the exclusivism,  fundamentalism and economy based prosperity gospel and theology

We Confess that…

  • the ‘diakonia’ today is mainly dependent on funded projects and serving from comfortable zones
  •      the Indian Church today is panicked and suffocated  by the ‘minority phobia’ with  exclusive demands of ‘minority Rights rather than working towards promoting, defending and affirming the fundamental rights of every individual
  • the churches today are mostly crawling with the exclusive and prosperity theologies rather than having faiths on ‘theology of fullness of life and Economy of Life’.

   the diakonal expressions were initially founded to serve the poor and the excluded communities but now it meets the expectations of the elites and rich involving in commercialization and comodifaction of knowledge  through our Institutions

  • the Churches today are strategically made silent by the law enforcement of States while it is supposed to be prophetically accompany the journeys with the victims.

We are committed to…

  • charting a discourse on vision, mission and diakonal expressions of the churches today in  terms of Kerigma,  Metanoia  and Koinonia as embedded in the Scripture.

    envisioning a world with fuller humanity and fullness of life by enabling truth and  reconciliation with the entire earth communities towards Just-peace

    ensure the ‘transparency, accountability and responsibility in all our structures and institutions and launch a campaign for ‘transparent India’

  • listening stories of the ‘diakonia’ of neighbors of other faiths  to encompass the diakonia ‘of’ all and diakonia ‘for’ all

We call upon all the churches and ecumenical movements:

  • to draw  a creative and relevant, radical and prophetic ‘diakonia’ for today
  • to strategically plan and execute ‘prophetic ‘diakonia’ by facilitating the local congregations  for public witness

    to be united in combating the hate campaigns such as ‘Ghar Wapsi’ constitutionally and politically.

Proposed Activities

  • Net-working with the churches, Christian Institutions and Ecumenical Movements to         promote a relevant ‘diakonal Church’

      Initiate the process of organizing conversation with the church leaders and ecumenical   bodies at the regional level enhancing the capacities of the laity and clergy engage in the  ‘prophetic-dia’konia’ towards transformative mission in the Socio Economic and Political   Context of  India

  • Initiating process to develop, articulate and promote a new context specific and relevant ‘diakonia’ for all
  • Facilitating the theological fraternities and local congregations to move from the prosperity theology to ‘economy of life’ and to move from charity to solidarity and accompaniment

  • Promoting the holistic vision of theology of life as a pilgrimage of justice and peace

Life Giving Agriculture Forum India Launched

‘Life-Giving Agriculture’ Forum – 2015

Theme: “Agriculture is Life – Agriculture is Right”

 

2 – 6 Feb 2015, ECC, Bangalore, India

Jointly organized by:

Commission on Justice Peace and Creation – National Council of Churches in India – NCCI

Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society – CISRS

Ecumenical Christian Centre – ECC

Korean Christian Life Giving Agriculture Forum – KCLGAF

Mainstreaming Life-Giving Agriculture in India & Korea  

(Statement Issued by the Participants)

We, the 55 participants representing various walks of life such as farmers, activists, theologians, clergies and academicians from India and South Korea meeting at a National Consultation on ‘Life Giving Agriculture‘ from 2nd to 6th February 2015 at the Ecumenical Christian Centre, Bangalore, India, deliberated on important concerns and issues affecting farmers in India and Korea, and have issued the following Statement:

I-                Life-Giving Agriculture – Threats & Challenges

Through the deliberations, exposure, sharing and interaction discussion we  realize that, the Life Giving Agriculture Forum meets in the context of adverse effects of the Economic Globalization and Market Economy faced by farmers in both countries (and elsewhere) wherein agrarian communities have started moving from ‘agri-culture to agri-business’ by paving ways for Genetically Modified (GM) technologies to the cash crops and high-yielding variety and, often, termination seeds, mechanization for ploughing and harvesting, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides aiming at quantity rather than quality.

Secondly, the States’ pro-corporate stance leads to enforcing anti-agriculture and anti-farmer policies having adverse affects on the peasants, resulting mostly from agri-based debts, leading to migration and reducing their status to argi-refugees, as well as a major cause for forcing farmers to commit suicides. India is now opening up to corporate pillaging like never before.  Traditional knowledge Systems and indigenous practices are being snuffed out. The poor and the marginalized which are solely dependent on agriculture as a means of livelihood, have been forced to abandon their traditional sources and resources for life and livelihood, and migrate to cities.  Such onslaught affects mostly the Dalits, Adivasis, Women and other marginalized and excluded communities, especially the landless agricultural labourers in India.

We do inform that, large segment of Indian populace is facing critical questions of food sovereignty and food security since the corporates’ plunder of land, water and other natural resources continue unabated. Initiatives of low external inputs and sustainable agriculture experiments are mostly limited to the land-owning farmers, whereas such initiatives could not be practiced by Dalits and Adivasis who are marginal farmers and landless.

II-              LEARNING FROM SOUTH KOREAN FARMERS:

We do learn from South Korean farmers that,

  • Korea has experienced land reformation in 1950s.  However, the government adopts the globalised economy and World Trade Organization (WTO) and, thus, imports food grains at a large scale. This results in an open confrontation between the imported GM grains and the produce of organic farmers of Life Giving Agriculture Forum. Even so, most of the Korean youth are leaving agriculture for softer options.
  • The LGA movement promoted new strategies to popularize the traditional farming methods and knowledge systems with a view to recapturing the youth for farming. The Church in Korea is also actively involved in efforts of promoting LGA and exploring alliances with similar movements in other countries. In Korea, responding to the present oppressive conditions faced by farmers, a movement forLife Giving Agriculture was initiated which faces stiff opposition from GM Corporate giants supported by the Government Machinery. Even, in this adverse context, Korean Life Giving Agriculture Forum continues with its struggle to strive for better food security, ultimately leading to food sovereignty with a priority for the marginalized.

III-           A CALL TO THE CHURCHES & CIVIL SOCIETY:

In this hostile situation against marginal farmers prevailing in the two countries, the participants deliberated on the role of the Churches in promoting Life Giving Agriculture. Bible Study inputs helped to understand Faith response to present crisis in agriculture. There were also efforts to understand civil society initiatives and peasant movements both in Korea and India.

We the participants therefore call upon both the Indian and Korean Churches and Civil Societies,

(a)   To bring to the centre the rural Dalit and Adivasi Churches which are predominantly agrarian and who constitute eighty percent of our congregations but have been pushed to the margins for generations;

(b)   To re-read the Bible through the eyes of the marginal farmers and evolve liturgies that reflect agricultural motifs, seasons and festivals.

(c)    To lobby with the Government to implement radical land reforms and sustainable agriculture in the society-at-large.

(d)   To plead with Indian Churches to entrust vast tracts of land in their fold with local congregations promoting LGA rather than keep the land idle.

(e)   To motivate Churches in India to campaign for Food Sovereignty and negotiate with their respective States to ensure the just and fair public distribution system, and draw up schemes to eradicate hunger, malnutrition, and hunger deaths.

(f)    To organize Indian Churches to lobby for just and pro-farmer Land Legislations, and also reject the Land Acquisition Ordinance, 2014 introduced recently that supports multinational industries and corporate houses, and takes away the fundamental rights of farmers.

(g)   To promote alliance building with neighbouring South Asian countries so that churches and farmers’ movements learn from each other through exposures, joint consultations and best practices in Life Giving Agriculture.

(h)   LGA in Korea and India to address the serious problem of youth abandoning agriculture in villages and address the same on war footing.

(i)     LGA in Korea and India to explore new ground for ecumenical cooperation and collective action between rural and urban churches and between diverse denominations with LGA as focal point for the ecumenical journey tomorrow.

(j)     LGA in Korea and India to influence Seminaries to adapt theological education per se to include LGA in their regular courses as part of Ministerial Training.

IV – WE RESOLVE:

With regard to mainstreaming LGA in India, we resolve that the NCCI- CJPC promote Life-Giving Agriculture in India, and continue to dialogue and partner with LGA-Korea and promote Joint solidarity struggles and exchange of information on Life Giving Agriculture.

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Contact:

The Executive Secretary,

Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation,

National Council of Churches in India,

<ncci.cjpc@gmail.com>, <ncci@nccindia.in>

Prof. Dr. Ninan Koshy passes away

drninankoshyThe National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) is grieved to hear about the sudden death of globally celebrated ecumenical leader Prof. Dr. Ninan Koshy on 4th March 2015.
Prof. Dr. Ninan Koshy will be remembered as a noted political thinker, foreign affairs expert, theologian and social analyst. He started his ministry as President of the Youth movement of the Church of South India (CSI) Madhya Kerala Diocese, later going on to be Professor of English at the CMS College, Kottayam.  He was also the founder Vice-Principal and Head of the Department of English at Bishop Moore College, Mavelikara, and member of the Syndicate University of Kerala.  Later on he taught in Changanassery S.B. College, and Thiruvalla Marthoma College too.

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