Kerala Floods – CASA Response

This is an update from a Constituent member body of NCCI, Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) on their relief work for Kerala floods. Received the following by email from Joseph P. Sahayam, Additional Emergency Officer (HQ), CASA.

Kerala Floods | Pic Source: casa-india.org

Greetings from CASA!

As you are aware the Monsoon Floods in Kerala has created havoc in 13 of the 14 districts in Kerala. CASA has been responding since the first flooding in July and continuing the intervention in the Second wave of floods with many of the Church Partners.

I am herewith sharing the updates on our intervention and the same is appended below.

 

Sl.No Partner Church / Agency Programme Cost (INR) Area Type of Intervention Total Number
1 CARD (Christian Agency for Rural Development) 8,55,600.00 Kottayam, Allapuzha and Pathanamthitta (Peringara GP, Edathua GP, Nedumudy GP, Thalavady GP, Ramankery GP, Veliyanadu GP, Muttar GP, Payipad  GP, Payipad  GP, Thiruvalla) Dry Ration 1775
2 CSI Synod

(CSI Malabar Diocese)

9,00,000.00 Wayanad

Koilery Area – Mavanthavadi Taluk,

Moolakani Area, Sultan Battery Municipality

Dry Ration 710
3 CSI Madhya Kerala Diocese 10,00,00.00 Kottayam, Allapuzha and Pathanamthitta

(Perumthuruthy, tTamaral, Merpal. Chathenkery, Adichikad)

Dry Ration 1000
4 CSI East Kerala Diocese 5,00,000 Idukki and Ernakulam Dray Ration /   NFI 600
5 Malankara Orthodox Church 5,00,000 Wayand and Kozhikode Dray Ration /  NFI 500
Total 37,56,000 Wayand, Allapuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Kozhikode 4585

Apart from this CASA is also directly intervening in Wayanad and Idukki providing 1200 Dry Ration Kit, Tarpaulin, Hygiene Kit and Support for 150 House Repair and 1100 Shelter and Non Food Items in Idukki. CASA staff are Stationed in the above mentioned districts.


Please continue to remember in prayer the relief operations in Kerala undertaken by CASA and other constituent bodies of NCCI.

PRAYER EPISTLE – CONCERN FOR KERALA AND FLOOD VICTIMS

Prayer for Kerala and other Flood Victims

The southern State of Kerala is known as ‘God’s Own Country’. It attracts  numerous global tourists because of  its  beaches, mountains, rivers, back-waters, valleys and forests. The land is thus regarded as  a  miniature expression of the Garden of Eden and God’s wonderful creation.

It is unfortunate that Kerala is reeling under one of its worst flooding disasters in its history.  There are 39 dams in this State; shutters of 35 dams have been opened.

There are 44 rivers in this State, and in 41, water levels have risen above the danger mark; river banks are washed away. Since, it is a land of forests, several land-slides have damaged houses and habitats of the people. The hilly districts of Wayanad and Idukki have received excess rain of 70% and they have got cut-off from the rest of the State due to land-slides and floods.

The Cochin International Airport has been waterlogged; the run way is under 3 to 4 feet of water. Therefore the airport is closed.  Even the road and river transport has come to a stand still in several parts and routes.

As per media reports, the death toll has risen over 60 (as on 15th August) and several are missing. In fact, a Red Alert has been issued in 14 districts. So far the loss estimated is 12,000/- crores. Several have lost their homes, lives, livelihoods, and agricultural fields.Not only have many people lost their dear ones and property, they are also under severe mental stress and anxiety.

While people may discuss the reasons for this calamity, it is a time for the entire Nation and the Global Communities to stretch both hands to embrace our sisters and brothers with our prayers and extend whatever support possible.

The National Council of Churches in India mourns with the people of Kerala. We assures them of our prayers and accompaniment at this time of trial and experience of  crossing the valley of darkness. We hope and pray that the rains will subside and the flood waters recede.

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Certificate Course on Gender Justice | Theme: PROPHETIC ECCLESIA: CATALYST OF GENDER JUSTICE

Brief Report

Certificate Course on Gender Justice
Theme: PROPHETIC ECCLESIA: CATALYST OF GENDER JUSTICE

National Council of Churches in India | Women Concerns Ministry

13th-17th June 2018 | Vishranti nilayam, Bangalore |Organized in partnership with CSI Women’s Fellowship | Australian Church Women Inc.

Trainees with the General Secretary of CSI Women’s Fellowship, Rev. Synthia Chopra after Valedictory Service.

Context:

Gender based violence has become a pandemic in India. It is one of the major national problems; however it is not adequately addressed as a major problem either by the Government or by civil society. The worst victims of such violence are girls, women, and children. India is the 4th dangerous country for women to live in and for the girl child to survive. 53 percent children get sexually abused in India (that means one out of two children). Though girls are vulnerable, boys also face sexual abuse. Gender based violence violates human rights, and harms and impoverishes communities, reinforces other forms of violence throughout societies, restricts economic growth and undermines development. Violence on women in India often take on inhuman and intolerable dimensions in the form of domestic violence, eve teasing, sexual assaults, rape, psychological  abuse, dowry burning, honour killing, acid attack, harassment in work place, human trafficking etc. The culture of rape is a common phenomenon in India and marital rape is not recognized by society as rape. Gender based violence has its roots in spiritual poverty. It is in this context Women Concerns Ministry (earlier known as All India Council of Christian Women) of National Council of Churches in India as a part of its Ecumenical and Spiritual Formation Program has evolved ‘Training the Trainers Program – Certificate Course on Gender Justice’.

This three-year programme, which is supported by Australian Church Women Inc through Winifred Kiek Scholarship Trust especially for young women, and through local contributions from Women’s Fellowships and churches (to support scholarships for male candidates) will be conducted between June 2017 and June 2019.

Aim of the three-year programme: Ecumenical and Spiritual Formation in Gender Justice to intercept the culture of Gender based violence and build inclusive Just communities Read more

Report of the Consultation on “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices” (July 24 – 26, 2018 | CSI Centre, Chennai)

The Church cannot be dumbfound towards the precarious issues faced by Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis as they have been ostracized from the historical accounts by the dominant historians and writers of ancient Indian history. The need of the hour therefore, in  contemporary times, is to listen to the people from the margins, about their struggles […]

Kandhamal Carnage: No Justice Yet! What “Independence” to Celebrate?

Ten Years since the Kandhamal Carnage:  Yet no Justice!

What kind of “freedom” do we celebrate on 15th August every year?

This August 25, 2018, it will be ten years, since the biggest anti Christian violence, biggest communal violence in Odisha, will complete ten years. It was on this date, in the wake of the slaying of VHP leader Swami Lakshamananda Sarswati on the night of August 23, 2008, that a nun working in the Dibyajyoti Pastoral Centre of Kandhamal, ran away from the centre with Father Thomas Chellam fearing attack from a violent mob. She was forced out of her shelter the next day and was subjected to horrifying physical and sexual violence. As reported by the National Solidarity Forum in the communal fire that raged over Kandhamal, around 393 churches and worship places which belonged to the Adivasi Christians and Dalit Christians were destroyed, around 6,500 houses were destroyed, over 100 people were killed, over 40 women were subjected to rape, molestation and humiliation and several educational, social service and health institutions were destroyed and looted. The shocking fact is that all these incidents took place in full view of police and the police remained mute spectators.

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A Response to MHRD Draft Bill for Repeal of UGC Act 1956 & Setting up HECI

The ALL INDIA FORUM FOR RIGHT TO EDUCATION, with its office in Hyderabad, has given a response to the MHRD Draft Bill for repeal of UGC Act 1956 & setting up HECI (Higher Education Commission of India). The same is being shared for our reflection on this important issue, as the Church in India continues to be one of the significant agencies of contributing to the advancement of education in India.

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20 July 2018

Response to MHRD Draft Bill for repeal of UGC Act 1956 & setting up HECI (Higher Education Commission of India).

For the last 60 years the UGC was taking decisions related to allocation of funds, deciding course structure, monitoring quality and giving clearance for setting up new campuses. But now, as has become common practice, MHRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has tweeted that “In a landmark decision, a draft Act for repeal of #UGC & setting up #HECI (Higher Education Commission of India) has been prepared,” in accordance with the “commitment of the government” to reform the regulatory mechanism to provide “more autonomy” to higher education institutes to “promote excellence” and “facilitate holistic growth of the education”.

The MHRD Note further proclaims that “Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked a process of reform of the regulatory agencies for better administration of the higher education sector.”

What are the changes sought to be introduced through the proposed Bill, which the Minister incorrectly refers to as an Act even though it has not been placed before or passed yet by Parliament?

  • HECI will not determine, allot and disburse grants to Institutions of Higher Education (IHE); these will be directly handled by the MHRD;
  • All new courses will henceforth have to be approved by HECI;
  • HECI will have the powers to shut down and initiate criminal action against IHE that fail to act according to its decisions;
  • HECI will be advised by an overarching Advisory Council with Minister and Secretary MHRD as Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson respectively and its `advice’ will be “implemented” by HECI;
  • Overriding the specific Central and State Acts establishing universities and the other related legislations of states, the HECI Bill, if passed, will legislate on a concurrent subject thereby encroaching on the rights and powers of the state governments and jeopardising constitutional federalism. According to the Article 246 read with Entry 32 of List 2 and Entry 44 of List 1 in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, the “Incorporation, Regulation and Winding up of a University is an exclusive domain of the State Government” and the Union Government cannot legislate on these matters.

The direction of the changes is significant. On the one hand the HECI will have punitive powers to `discipline’ IHE, and on the other hand the Central government’s role in the composition and the day-to-day functioning of the HECI will be enormously increased.

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PRESS RELEASE ON NIRMAL HRIDAY, MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY HOME, RANCHI


PRESS RELEASE ON THE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AT NIRMAL HRIDAY, MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY HOME AT EAST JAIL ROAD, RANCHI

(Missionaries of Charity Mother House, Kolkata- July 17, 2018)

We are deeply saddened and grieved by the recent developments at Missionaries of Charity Home – Nirmal Hriday at East Jail Road, Ranchi. Even while we place our full trust in the judicial process that is underway, we wish to express regret and sorrow for what happened and desire to express in unequivocal terms our condemnation of individual actions which have nothing to do with the congregation of the Missionaries of Charity.

We are fully cooperating with the investigations and are open to any free, fair and just inquiry. In this context, specially in view of the many myths being spread, information distorted and false news being diffused and baseless innuendos being thrown about regarding the Mother Teresa Sisters, it is expedient to lay down the  turn of events as they actually transpired.

Sr. Concelia MC (the arrested nun) was appointed as the sister-in-charge of the ‘unwed mothers’ section at Nirmal Hriday, East Jail Road, Ranchi on June 06, 2011. She was responsible for admission, hospitalization, counselling, record keeping, accompanying mothers and babies to CWC when necessary and for discharge of the unwed mothers from the Home.

Mrs. Anima Indwar (the staff member arrested) began working at Nirmal Hriday from January 2012. Initially, she worked as as a ward helper and then as a staff member to care for the unwed mothers. She learnt the work very well and ably assisted Sr. Concelia MC. Mrs. Anima Indwar thus, came to enjoy the trust of the Sisters at Nirmal Hriday. As and when Sr. Concelia MC got engaged in pressing responsibilities, Mrs. Anima Indwar would escort the unwed mothers, their babies and their guardians to Sadar Hospital, RIMS and CWC Office as and when required, by herself.

On June 29.2018, at around 12.30 pm, the child Protection officer Ms. Seema and other Social Welfare officers about five of them came to Nirmal Hriday. They called for the admission and attendance registers containing information about the inmates at the Home. They seized the registers and records maintained by Nirmal Hriday without providing the receipt for such seizure to the Home.

From the records maintained for unwed mothers, the said officials particularly enquired about Ms. Karishma Toppo and her baby. Mrs. Karishma Toppo had taken admission in Nirmal Hriday on March 19, 2018 and had delivered her baby on May 01,2018. After her delivery. Ms. Karishma Toppo had declared in the Home’s register that she would surrender her child to CWC. Mrs. Anima Indwar, Ms. Karishma Toppo and her guardian thus took the baby from Nirmal Hriday to surrender the child. Neither Nirmal Hriday nor the Sisters had any way to ascertain whether the child was actually surrendered to CWC. This is because CWC as matter of practice did not give any acknowledgment to the Home after obtaining the custody of a child from an unwed mother.

On July 03, 2018, Mrs. Anima Indwar when summoned by CWC admitted that Ms. Karishma Toppo’s child was not surrendered to CWC. Upon such admission, she was handed over to the police by CWC. Mrs. Karishma Toppo’s child too was surrendered to CWC by Mrs. Anima Indwar and Ms. Karishma Toppo on the same day.

On July 4, 2018, Sr. Concelia MC and and Sr. Marie Deanne MC, Superior of Nirmal Hriday were also questioned by the police. Sr. Concelia was arrested by the police while Sr. Marie Deanne MC after being kept in police custody till 7 PM the next day was finally let off.

On the evening of July 04, 2018 CWC along with Child Protection Officer. Ms. Seema without serving any notice to Nirmal Hriday, carried away the 11 unwed mothers, one unwed mother along with her baby and one guardian from the home. The said women were subjected to utmost humiliation and public embarrassment by the officials as they were carried in full view of the media.

For reasons unknown, our Sishu Bhawan Home at Hinoo was raided by CWC with a police force consisting about 7 members on July 06, 2018. 22 children lodged in the said Home were carried away by CWC, which included a one month old baby. One such baby took very ill in the custody of CWC and was admitted in the ICU at Rani Hospital. The records and registers of this Home too were carried away by the officials without providing the Home a receipt of such seizure. It is distressing that CWC has meted out such treatment to a Home, which its officials themselves had described as having an “excellent environment for the care of children” only about two weeks before.

The Missionaries of Charity, following the footsteps of our foundress St. Mother Teresa is caring for the poor, destitute and the afflicted since 1950. Today. there are 5,167 sisters, both active and contemplative, with 760 houses in 139 countries. The Missionaries of Charity have 244 houses in India including those in Jharkhand.

Our works include running homes for leprosy patients, TB patients, AIDS patients, physically and mentally challenged children and adults, night shelters, indoor primary health care facilities, homes for women in distress, girls in danger, abandoned pregnant women, for women whom poverty and starvation have driven into the streets.

The Congregation of Missionaries of Charity vows to continue their whole-hearted and free service to the poorest of the poor by serving the needy and vulnerable even in the middle of the unprecedented and unfounded criticism that it faces today. We have full faith in the courts of law and the investigating authorities and are confident that justice shall prevail.

We pray for all those who have been hurt by the recent developments and we ask God to bless all those who are standing by us in these painful and difficult moments, and we lift up to God in prayer all people of goodwill.

May our Mother, St. Teresa of Calcutta intercede for us before our Almighty Father.

Sr. M. Prema MC
Superior General

Source: “Mother Teresa Nuns explain Ranchi Incident,” http://india.ucanews.com/news/mother-teresa-nuns-explain-ranchi-incident/37760/daily, July 18, 2018.

Declaration of the National Consultation on Interfaith Engagement with Human Sexuality and Gender Diversity.

National Consultation on Interfaith Engagement with Human Sexuality and Gender Diversity

July 13-14, YMCA Tourist Hostel, New Delhi

 DECLARATION

While awaiting the judgement of the Honourable Supreme Court of India on Sec 377 of IPC — we the participants of the National Consultation on Interfaith Engagement with Human Gender, Sexes and Sexuality Diversities — organised by Aneka, Bangalore; and the National Council of Churches in India –ESHA, Nagpur; held in Delhi from 13th to 14thof July 2018; declare the following statement as an affirmation of our conviction — that human beings with diverse genders, sexes and sexuality minorities are God’s creation and are a part of natural order. This affirmation is done in the context of LGBTQHI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Hijada, Intersexual)  phobia that attempts to criminalize gender, sexual and sexuality minorities in India.

We believe that love is the basis of all religions and hatred can have no place. However, historically there have been dominant interpretations that have been used to perpetuate oppressive systems against these minorities. As a result, gender, sexual and sexuality minorities are often rejected and alienated by many religious leaders and faith communities.

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Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

9th July 2018 marked 13 years since Palestinian civil society gave the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and respects Palestinian human rights. It is a moment to remember what a simple idea of non-violent resistance can achieve if people decide to organize around it. For a background to the Palestinian call for BDS, please follow this link: http://indianculturalforum.in/2018/07/09/13-years-of-the-palestinian-bds-movement/

Some of the recent victories of the movement, which people across the world have achieved through grassroots efforts are noted here:

All of these successes have come about due to consistent efforts of people of conscience across the world.

 

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis (Reflection at Ecumenical Prayer, Geneva, Ecumenical Centre | 21 June 2018)

Theme: Ecumenical Pilgrimage – Walking, Praying and Working Together.
June 21, 2018. His Holiness Pope Francis on the ecumenical pilgrimage to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) with an address to a prayer service at the WCC Ecumenical Center. The following is the text of his homily. 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have heard the words addressed by the Apostle Paul to the Galatians, who were experiencing conflict and division. Groups were fighting and hurling accusations at one another. It is in this context that the Apostle, twice in the space of a few verses, invites us to “walk in the Spirit” (cf. Gal 5:16.25).

Walking. We human beings are constantly on the move. Throughout our lives, we are called to set out and keep walking: from our mother’s womb and at every stage of life, from when we first leave home to the day we depart from this earthly existence. The metaphor of walking reveals the real meaning of our life, a life that is not self-sufficient but always in search of something greater. Our hearts spur us to keep walking, to pursue a goal.

Walking is a discipline; it takes effort. It requires patience and exercise, day after day. We have to forego many other paths in order to choose the one that leads to the goal. We have to keep that goal constantly before us, lest we go astray. Remembering the goal. Walking also demands the humility to be prepared at times, when necessary, to retrace our steps. It also involves being concerned for our traveling companions, since only in company do we make good progress. Walking, in a word, demands constant conversion. That is why so many people refuse to do it. They prefer to remain in the quiet of their home, where it is easy to manage their affairs without facing the risks of travel. But that is to cling to a momentary security, incapable of bestowing the peace and joy for which our hearts yearn. That joy and peace can only be found by going out from ourselves.

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