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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NCCI letter to Prime Minister of India

August 3, 2017

To,

Shri Narendra Modi,
Honourable Prime Minster of India.

Dear Prime Minister,

Greetings to you from the National Council of Churches in India!

Your good self and indeed all the citizens of the country are well aware of the phenomenon of minority targeted violence in the country. In the long list of such occurrences, we mention just a few recent incidents:

  • Ainul Ansari attacked in Jharkhand on suspicion that he was taking beef to an Iftaar gathering in June 2017.
  • Junaid Khan stabbed to death by a mob in a train on the eve of Id in Ballagarh in June, 2017.
  • Alimuddin Ansari lynched in Jharkhand on suspicion of carrying beef in June 2017.
  • Sultan Masih, a Christian pastor was killed in Punjab on 15th July, 2017 and the culprits have not yet been arrested.
  • In Goa, incidents of desecration of Holy Crosses and Graves are happening very frequently in places such as Curtoriam, Chandor, Gudi- Paroda and Churchorem in South Goa. The atmosphere in Goa is communalized and the Christian and Muslim communities are facing serious discrimination and threat.

We are deeply disturbed about the various expressions of vigilantism in different parts of our Country. We strongly condemn incidents of lynching and mob violence, particularly against Muslims and Dalits. In fact minority communities are experiencing horrendous forms of Symbolic, Structural and Physical violence. Such occurrences not only corrode the secular ethos of   our Country but also tarnish the name of India in the international sphere.  On the one hand while we are boasting about our technological and economic development, our record in human relational secular development is not so laudable.

What makes us feel so exasperated is that the State and Central Governments are not taking severe action against the different expressions of vigilantism. Mere words of condemnation are not enough. We are horrified that various states are bringing severe anti cow slaughter acts where as there is so much reluctance to bring in anti lynching / mob violence acts and to implement them. Unfortunately, because of the link of vigilantes with political parties and cultural originations, state mechanisms are afraid to take action against them.  Some of our national leaders keeping asserting that “law and order” is a state subject; nevertheless the Centre needs to pressurize the states to act. Since governance of the country in our times revolves around you, we strongly urge you to bring in a new act to address the present situation or execute severe action against perpetrators of violence using the existing laws.

At the same time the churches are deeply pained about the killing of 7 Amarnath Yatra Pilgims by terrorists. We urge you to provide more security to the pilgrims and bring the culprits to the law.

Therefore we call upon you to take effective positive steps for the inclusive multi-dimensional development of all the communities in our beloved country, India.

We also assure you the Christian community continues to pray for the country and to contribute to its all round development.

Yours sincerely,

SD/-

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,

General Secretary, NCCI.

Letter to Prime Minister of India | August 3, 2017 | Page 1 of 2

 

Letter to Prime Minister of India | August 3, 2017 | Page 2 of 2

 

NCCI Letter to President of India

August3, 2017

 

To,

Shri Ram Nath Kovind,
Honourable President of India.

Your Excellency,

Greetings to you from the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI)!

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) represents 14 million Protestant and Orthodox Christians in the country. On behalf of the Council, we congratulate you for being elected as the 14th President of India. We pray that the God will grant you wisdom and health to lead our great country, India.

As a guardian of the Constitution, we expect and request you to safeguard the democratic secular republic character and ethos of the Constitution of India. We are glad that you have affirmed the diversity of our country in your inaugural address. At the same time, we urge you to ensure justice to, and the dignity and development of, marginalized communities in our country. As the President of India we also are hopeful that you will ensure that constitutional rights of minority communities are upheld and protected.

May your term as President of India be blessed by God so that your office could be a blessing to all citizens of the country!

Yours sincerely,

SD/-

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
General Secretary, National Council of Churches in India.

 

Letter to President of India | August 3, 2017

 

NEICC letter to the Ministry of Law and Justice with reference to report no. 267 of the Law Commission of India.

North East India Christian Council (NEICC), a regional council of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) has written a letter (see below) to Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Cabinet minister, Ministry of Law and Justice of the Government of India requesting not to bring amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 as per proposal made by the Law Commission of India, namely, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2017. This is with reference to Report no. 267 of the Law Commission of India dated March 2017.

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of NCCI appreciates NEICC for the initiatives they are taking. Since it is important to communicate and make known our concerns, he urges Churches and councils to write on specific issues and concerns to corresponding authority bodies. Read more

Statement of United Christian Forum of North East India (UCFNEI) on the portrayal of Jesus as “demon”.

19th June, 2017.

The United Christian Forum of North East India (UCFNEI) takes serious objection to the portrayal of Jesus as “demon” in the Class 9 Hindi language text book published by the Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB). The 16th Chapter of the book entitled “Bharatiya Sanskriti me Guru-Shishya Sambandh” on page number 69 reads: “Is sambandh me „haivaan Issa‟ ka ek kathan sada smaraniya hai” (In this context, a statement by ‘demon Jesus’ is always memorable). These words in the text book have shocked and deeply hurt the sentiments of Christian Community and of all people who respect the religious beliefs of all the communities in the secular State. One fails to understand the wisdom behind such a derogatory depiction of Jesus, who is revered by Christians in India and all over the world, as their Saviour and by many others like Mahatma Gandhi as a religious leader. The UCFNEI notes with utmost pain such caricaturing of Jesus.

Apart from hurting the sentiments of the Christian Community, the said chapter grossly misrepresents the person of Jesus and provides erroneous information to children. The GSSTB, which should have taken trouble to provide correct historical information, has erred in executing its duty. One gets a feeling that it is a deliberate attempt to malign a minority group. This statement comes not from a fringe fundamentalist group but from an official body of the Government of Gujarat. We are shocked to see an official body of the State taking such a stand.

The UCFNEI strongly objects to such an attempt of the GSSTB and demands that the text book be immediately withdrawn. It also demands an apology from the GSSTB and from the Government of Gujarat to the Christian Community.

 

SD/-

FR. G.P. AMALRAJ
Deputy Secretary
North East India Regional Bishop Conference
On behalf of
THE MOST REV. BISHOP THOMAS PULLOPALLIL
President

SD/-

REV. R. LALNUNZIRA
Secretary
& Secretary
North East India Christian Council

SD/-

REV. DR. SOLOMON RONGPI
Vice President
& General Secretary
Council of Baptist Churches in North East India

SD/-

REV. ROLIANTHANG LALSIM
Joint Secretary
& Administrative Secretary
Presbyterian Church of India

UNITED CHRISTIAN FORUM NORTH EAST INDIA

Statement of UCFNEI on Jesus as Demon. pdf

Statement on Martial law in Mindanao (Philippines)

Coming from the Meeting of the Ecumenical Indigenous Peoples’ Network Reference Group (May 31, 2017 | Manila, Philippines)

We condemn the declaration of a state of martial law in the whole of Mindanao by the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s in response to the alleged terrorist attacks by the Islamic State-linked Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi City. Current reports show that state security forces are intensifying its military operations in the whole island of Mindanao especially in Marawi City through indiscriminate aerial bombings, ground confrontations and clearing operations.

We equally express alarm that Martial Law in Mindanao further heightens current military abuses and excesses against the Indigenous Peoples there who aredefending their lands against extractives, energy projects and plantations, and militarization of their communities.

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NEICC Statement on Church unity, Social concerns and Religious harmony

STATEMENT OF THE FINDINGS OF
THE ONE DAY SEMINAR ORGANIZED BY
THE NORTH EAST INDIA CHRISTIAN COUNCIL
ON
 “CHURCH UNITY, SOCIAL CONCERNS AND RELIGIOUS HARMONY”

AT THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF INDIA,  KHATLA, AIZAWL, MIZORAM SYNOD, APRIL 19, 2017.

We, the ninety two participants, representing various Churches and Christian Organisations under the umbrella of NEICC, in the one day seminar organized by the NEICC on April 19, 2017, deliberated on the theme of the seminar through five paper presentations, viz,

  • “Problems and prospects of Church Unity”, presented by Rev. Dr. R. Zolawma
  • The Role of Theological Education in Church Unity”, presented by Rev. Dr. Kethozelhou Keyho
  • “Gender Inclusive participation in the Church’s Ministry”, presented by Mrs. Gloria Patricia Pohsna
  • “Church’s Role in Social Concern”, presented by Mr L. Meru
  • “Religious Harmony”, presented by Rev. Dr. B.J. Syiemlieh

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Request for Churches and Congregations to pray for the Supreme Court hearing on the 20th of April to uphold the rights of minorities as per the Constitution of India

Letter from The Synod of The Church of North India: Request for Churches and Congregations to pray for the Supreme Court hearing on the 20th of April to uphold the rights of minorities as per the Constitution of India.

 


 

Open letter to The Prime Minister of India.

To

Shri Narendra Modi,
The Prime Minister of India

Dear Prime Minister,

Greetings!

Though a Christian pastor, and serving the National Council of Churches in India as its General Secretary, I am writing this open letter to you as an Indian citizen, joining all Indian citizens who are concerned about the state of affairs in our country, India

You have been giving the country very impressive slogans about its future, be it “Achhe Din!” or “New India!” Harping on “Development” you have been advocating and initiating schemes such as “Make in India”, “Skill India”, “Start-up India”, “Digital India”, “Smart Cities”, etc.

The question which many would like to ask: Achhe Din for whom? New India for whom? The Preamble to the Constitution of India gives us a vision for all citizens:

We the People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic, and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation

However many people who belong to your government, party, and other likeminded bodies give us a different picture of Achhe Din and of New India where the values of Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity are stifled. “Vigilantism” has become a popular methodology of such persons and bodies.

Cow Vigilantism: Cow reverence and cow protection has become a very serious concern among such people. They claim that the cow represents their religion and culture. I appreciate the cow symbol as it represents love, compassion, service, sacrifice, and non-violent living. People, when they become politically emotional about this symbol, tend to give expression to hatred, cruelty, harm, murder, and violent life-styles. I wonder whether the cow would approve of such things done in her name. Read more

Church Leaders Consultation on “Healing Ministry and the Role of the Churches and Hospitals”.

Christian Medical Association of India as the official health arm of the National Council of Churches in India has the mandate to equip the churches in responding to the healing ministry. The National Consultation will bring Church leaders from various denominations and the leaders of hospitals governed by the church together for a time of introspection and review on the contribution of Christian health services to the health challenges. Moreover, it will also be a time to dig deeper into the issues preventing or stopping us from fulfilling our role in the healing ministry.

We as the network of Christian healthcare professionals, institutions and churches are facing real challenges with regard to persisting with our vision and mission. In today’s context, we find most Christian mission hospitals – and some of its educational institutions –in a state of disarray, with out-dated infrastructure, poorly financed, equipped and staffed, struggling to eke out a living for those dependent on them. Our mission hospitals are closing down at a rapid pace. From the 900-odd thriving mission hospitals in the country at the time of independence, we are barely numbering 200 or so, most of which are struggling to keep afloat. And it is NOT for the lack of relevance of these institutions, as many are still situated in areas of tremendous need – it is simply that there is no one willing to man them, with courage and conviction that they are still tremendously useful tools in the Hands of the Master1.

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