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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Celebration of Tribal and Adivasi Sunday 2017

Celebration of Tribal and Adivasi Sunday has become an important feature in the calendar of Indian Churches and Ecumenical movements. Over the years Tribal and Adivasi Sunday has been celebrated in many parts of our country in sensitizing  local congregations on Tribal and Adivasi Concerns. Thanks to the churches, dioceses, parishes and institutions for their encouraging partnership in celebrating this special day on the first and the following Sundays of August. The theme for this year’s Tribal and Adivasi Sunday was “Solidarity in Christ: Bearing One Another’s Burdens” (cf. Galatians 6:2). Few reports and pictures received from member churches and institutions are presented here.

Celebration at All Saints Cathedral CNI, Nagpur

On the 6th August 2017, the All Saints Cathedral celebrated the Tribal and Adivasi Sunday. Rev. John George the Priest in charge led the service as per the order of worship provided by NCCI. The message was brought by Mr. Mathingmi Hongchui, Intern of Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi (DATA) Concerns, NCCI. The speaker  drew attention to the problems faced by Tribal and Adivasi communities since antiquity. Prayer alone is not enough in today’s context; it is imperative  to speak up for the voiceless and ensure justice for those who are poor and needy, which is the need of the hour. The message was concluded with a quote of John Stott, “To be a burden-bearer is a great ministry. It is something that every Christian should and can do. It is a natural consequence of walking by the Spirit. It fulfills the law of Christ.”

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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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Indian Missional Conversation

National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission

Indian Missional Conversation on

‘Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia’

 

The Indian Missional Conversation on Asia Mission Conference – 2017 on the theme ‘Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia was held in Ranchi, Jharkhand from 23rd to 24th August, 2017. This conversation was facilitated by the National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission (NCCI) along with the  Diocese of Chotanagpur, Church of North India – (DCN-CNI), National Missionary Society of India (NMSI), India Missions Association (IMA), Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) and Christian Service Agency (CSA).

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Memorandum submitted to the Governor of Jharkhand to repeal the proposed religious freedom bill and the amendments to the land acquisition bill.

 

 

 

Bishop Johan Dang (Moderator, GEL Church), Bishop Dular Lakra (NWGEL Church), Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad (General Secretary, NCCI), Mr. Pradip Bansrior (Executive Secretary, Dalit & Tribal / Adivasi Concerns, NCCI), Mr. Joy Tudu (Secretary, Santalia Council of Churches), Rev. Arun Barwa (Secretary, Jharkhand Council of Churches), and Rev. Ashisan Bage (Women Representative).

These leaders submitted a memorandum to the Governor of Jharkhand to repeal the proposed religious freedom bill and the amendments to the land acquisition bill.

 

Text of the memorandum:

To

Her Excellency,

Shrimati Draupadi Murmu

Governor of Jharkhand

Raj Bhawan, Ranchi – 834001

Jharkhand

Subject: An appeal to Repeal the Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill2017 and Jharkhand Right to Fair Compensationand Transparency in land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Ammendment) Bill 2017by the Jharkhand Vidhan Sabha on 12th August 2017.

Honorable Governor Shrimati Draupadi Murmu,

We, as citizens of India and on behalf of National Council of Churches in India, Jharkhand Council of Churches and Santalia Council of Churches bring our greetings of respect, love and joy to you. The Jharkhand assembly on 12th August 2017 passed the Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill2017 and Jharkhand Right to Fair Compensationand Transparency in land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Ammendment) Bill 2017 brought by the BJP-led government. During the debate on Religious Freedom Bill 2017in theassembly, a figure was presented by the BJP led government, which states that in 2011 there were 10,90,283 Christians in Jharkhand which rose to 14,18,783 in 2017 which means in the last five years an increase of 30 percent in the population of Christian religion. According to Indian government census report it was 4.1 percent of the population who accepted Christianity in 1951 in Jharkhand, which rose 4.3 percent in 2011, i.e. an increase of just 0.2 percent of the population of Christians in 70 years. Your Excellencyan increase of30 percents in just five years is just impossible; it is only a politically motivated inflated figure.In India, as per the government census the Christian population in the country was 2.33 per cent 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 the same kind of scenario too. Though the State was formed in 2000, yet for a larger picture the 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 stagnant. The census occurs once in every ten years. How could the Jharkhand government introduce its figure on Christian population percentage to the assembly? The BJP led government has misled the assembly by introducing fake figures. Is this not a travesty of democracy?

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INDIAN MISSIONAL CONVERSATION

Indian Missional Conversation on Asia Mission Conference – 2017

Theme:

‘Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia’

The Christian Conference of Asia is organizing the Asia Mission Conference (AMC)  in Yangon, Myanmar from 11 – 17 October 2017 along with its Diamond Jubilee Celebrations (for details please visit www.cca.org.hk).

At this juncture, the NCCI – Unity and Mission deems it important to have an Indian Missional Conversation on the AMC theme: ‘Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia’,  so that we, as Indian Churches and Mission Boards, could share our Indian Missional concerns and contribute to the AMC deliberations. Therefore, the NCCI – Unity and Mission joins the National Missionary Society of India (NMSI) and India Missions Association (IMA) and the CNI Diocese of Chotanagpur in organizing an Indian Missional Conversation from 23rd to  24th August 2017 at  CNI – HPDC, Church Road, Ranchi, Jharkhand.

On behalf of the organizers, you are genially invited to be part of this Conversation and  enlighten the discussions with your ministerial and theological experiences.

For details, please read the Concept Note.

Soliciting your prayers.

Contact:

Executive Secretary,

NCCI – Unity and Mission

<mission@ncci1914.com>

Independence Day 2017 – Open letter to The Prime Minister of India

To,
Shri Narendra Modi,
The Prime Minister of India.

Dear Prime Minister,

Greetings!

On Good Friday 14th April 2017 (The Day commemorating the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, instigated by the communal minded right wing religious and political leaders of the time), I had written an open letter to you expressing my concern as an Indian citizen about the state of affairs in the country. Perhaps you were too busy to respond to that letter or you thought it unnecessary to respond to an ordinary Indian citizen’s mann ki baat (which I could not transmit on national communication systems).

This time I write to you as an Indian spiritual seeker of God’s reign of justice, love and peace in our beloved country India.  As all Indians go on to celebrate Independence day on 15th August 2017, and as we keep on hearing statements which stereotype Christians as being aliens or as being people whose patriotism is questioned, I would like to draw your attention to a very strong statement (with my added emphasis) made on “Church and State in Post-War India” by the National Council of Churches in India (an ecumenical body of Indian Protestant and Orthodox Tradition churches representing around 14 million Christians today) in its Council meeting in 1944[1]:

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Consultation cum Workshop on ‘Food and Migration’

World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance

National Council of Churches in India – Unity and Mission

Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI) and

Christian Service Agency

Consultation on “Food and Migration”

 and

Workshop to Develop Worship Resources for Churches’ Week of Action on Food

The week between 10 – 17 October is  an important week for the all the Global Ecumenical Movements, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) since they collectively involve and participate in a campaign for Food-Justice. The World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance has declared this week as “Churches’ Week of Action on Food”.  It is a global campaign tool to advocate Food-justice ‘OF’ all – Food Justice ‘FOR all. This is part of the WCC -EAA’s global Campaign on ‘Food for Life’.

This is an invitation to several thousand congregations around the globe to observe this week meaningfully. Hence, this week includes the ‘International Day for Disaster Reduction’ (13 October), ‘International Day for Rural Women (15 October), World Food Day (16 October) and International Day for Eradication of Poverty (17 October). In fact the UN’s FAO Committee on Food Security meets between 11 -16 October every year in its head quarters in Rome, Italy. The WCC – EAA invites churches to observe the Sunday falling during this week  as ‘Food for Life Sunday’.

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Black Day Observance in Delhi

 

Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims observe

10th August as a BLACK DAY

In Delhi, Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims observed Black Day on August 10th 2017 at Jantar Mantar. We  expressed our dissatisfaction over the discriminatory paragraph 3 of the Presidential Order of 1950 and demanded SC status for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. It was organised by National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) Delhi Office and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Office for SC/BC. Around 100 members participated in the protest. We  also submitted a memorandum to the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind.

Samuel Jaykumar,

Executive Secretary, NCCI

 

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Observance of “Black Day” at NCCI Campus, Nagpur

The National Council of Churches in India with the initiative of the Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns observed  ‘Black Day’ on  10th August 2017, protesting against the continual negligence of the government to the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the country. On this day in solidarity with the people who are oppressed, 27 members gathered together on the lawn of NCCI wearing black badges and displaying posters. A black flag was hoisted by Rev. Caesar J. David – Executive Secretary of Communications. It was not only an emblem of mourning for the injustice inflicted upon Dalit Christians and Muslims, but also an urgent appeal to the authority to repeal the unconstitutional law that violates and suppresses the rights of many citizens.

Mr. Pradip Bansrior – Executive Secretary of the Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns shared a reflection on the significance of the protest against the infamous Presidential Order that was signed on 10th August 1950 by the then President of India which said, “No person who professes a religion other than Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the scheduled caste,” which was later amended to include Sikhs (1956) and Buddhists (1990) in the Scheduled Caste net. But this law continues to rule out  Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians from the Scheduled Castes List until date. Mr Pradip Bansrior also suggested how concerned people should  respond in times like this: to be critical about not only the powers that be, but also about the way one lives, being a responsible citizen and a steward of God. The observance concluded with a prayer by Ms. Ushakiran Herold, remembering the plight and affliction of the people who are oppressed, and  beseeching God to intervene and to bring justice for the oppressed.

Mathingmi Hongchui
Intern – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns
National Council of Churches in India