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NCCI names General Secretary designate

The Rev. Asir Ebenezer. General Secretary designate, NCCI.

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), in its Executive meeting in Chennai on August 28, 2018, announced Rev. Asir Ebenezer as the next General Secretary of NCCI. He will be taking charge at the turn of the year to succeed the present General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad.

Rev. Asir Ebenezer is an ordained minister of the Church of South India (CSI). He has been in ministry since 1992 and has served in various positions in national and global ecumenical forums.

He currently serves as Director of Social Empowerment: Vision in Action (SEVA)  at the CSI Synod. He had earlier served the NCCI in various positions, including Officiating General Secretary of NCCI in 2010. A well-known figure in ecumenical circles, theologian, community-enabler and finance expert, the multiple competencies of Rev. Asir Ebenezer will go a long way to strengthen the council.

 

 

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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Celebrate Democracy Day!

15th August and 26th January are important days for all Indians, including people belonging to minority communities. 15th August is the day of freedom from colonial rule, the independence of the country, and governing of the country by its own leaders. 26th January is the day of affirming that we are a democratic socialist republic with our own constitution, and our commitment to uphold the constitution in our racially, biologically, ethnically, and religiously pluralistic country.

However we are living in times where democracy and all the values and principles of our constitution are being eroded or given a new meaning. It is becoming the rule (cracy) of people who claim to represent a majority religious community, asserting that they are the primary citizens (demos) of India. Indian democracy is being degenerated into a communal understanding of India as a “nation of Hindus.” As has been said by one of their leaders,

“Nation Concept comprises the five constituent ideas—country, race, religion, culture and language—as the necessary and indispensable ingredients, in the existence of which five in a homogeneous whole, the Nation exists and in the destruction of any one of which the Nation itself experiences extinction.

If, as is indisputably proved, Hindusthan is the land of the Hindus and is the terra firma for the Hindu nation alone to flourish upon, what is to be the fate of all those, who, today, happen to live upon the land, though not belonging to the Hindu Race, Religion and culture?

. . . we must bear in mind that so far as ‘nation’ is concerned, all those, who fall outside the five-fold limits of that idea, can have no place in the national life, unless they abandon their differences, adopt the religion, culture and language of the Nation and completely merge themselves in the National Race. So long, however, as they maintain their racial, religious and cultural differences, they cannot but be only foreigners, who may be either friendly or inimical to the Nation. . .”

Thus we are confronted with Hindutva  Nationocracy. As mentioned in a press release two years ago, “Today our society is witness to increasing religious polarization and fear; and attacks on women, Dalits, Adivasis, religious minorities and working people; the criminal neglect of agriculture leading to an epidemic of farmer suicides; the theft of natural resources; and attacks on livelihoods and workers’ rights; gender violence; the neglect of persons with disabilities; discrimination against Dalit students in schools and universities across the country; and the persecution of people marginalised on the basis of their gender identity and sexual orientation. Worst of all, the members and allies of the so-called Sangh Parivar are bent upon curbing our freedoms. They tell people what to wear, write and speak; whom to love and what to eat.” Even persons such as Swami Agnivesh (Social activist and Bandhua Mukti Morcha leader) are not spared.  The Swami said there was a pattern in an assault on him at Pakur on 17th July 2018  in Jharkhand and incidents of mob attacks by vigilante groups on dalits and minorities which appeared “state sponsored”.

Let us celebrate democracy!

This most diverse country in the world belongs equally to all persons who make it its own, regardless of their religious faith (or for that matter, their denial of faith), their caste, gender, class, language, ethnicities, physical and mental abilities, gender identity and sexual orientation. This is the promise that we had made to ourselves during the Independence movement. This is the soul of India’s secular, socialist democratic Constitution.

Let us as Indian Christians, celebrate the spirit and purpose of our independence in our churches and in our mission services. Let us celebrate our democracy along with all like–minded fellow citizens of India. As 15th August 2018 approaches let us give meaningful expressions of our Indian democracy based on our constitution. Let us not only sing the national anthem and salute the Indian Tri-colour but, while praying for the country, also affirm:

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; and 

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual, and the unity and integrity of all Indians

 

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

 

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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This is my Last HP!


Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led Movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity. (https://bdsmovement.net/what-is-bds).

BOYCOTT HP: GLOBAL CAMPAIGN

Hewlett Packard (HP) plays a key role in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. (https://bdsmovement.net/boycott-hp)

HP provides and operates much of the technology infrastructure that Israel uses to maintain its system of apartheid and settler colonialism over the Palestinian people. HP Enterprise is the prime contractor of the Basel system, an automated biometric access control system employed within Israel’s checkpoints and apartheid wall. These checkpoints fragment and segregate the Occupied Palestinian Territories and its residents through electric fences, watchtowers, sensors, and concrete barriers. The checkpoint system separates Palestinian workers from their jobs, farmers from their land, students from their schools, patients from hospitals, and families from each other.

The ID cards distributed as part of this system form the basis of Israel’s systematic discrimination against Palestinians. This ID system forms the part of the Israeli apartheid regime’s tiered system of citizenship that gives different rights to different people and leads to institutionalized discrimination in housing, employment, marriage, healthcare, education, and policing.

HP also directly contracts with the Israeli municipalities of Modi’in Ilit and Ariel, two of the largest Jewish-only Israeli settlements in the West Bank, providing them with a range of services.

HP technology helps the Israeli navy enforce the siege on Gaza. HP provides broad IT infrastructure and support services for Israeli occupation forces, particularly the Israeli Navy that maintains the siege on Gaza. Israel’s frequent massacres of Palestinians in Gaza and its siege are deliberately implemented to deny Palestinians their basic rights to life, freedom and self-determination, and to physically segregate them.

HP also provides services and equipment to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), including providing and maintaining its central server system. Israel’s prison system is used to suppress Palestinian political activity, and to stifle opposition to its policies. By helping Israel run its prisons, HP is at the heart of Israel’s use of mass incarceration to undermine Palestinian opposition to apartheid.

According to Human Rights Watch, “the extraction of confessions under duress, and the acceptance into evidence of such confessions…form the backbone of Israel’s military justice system”. Each year, 500-700 Palestinian Children are arrested, detained and prosecuted by Israel. The ill-treatment of children imprisoned by Israel is “widespread, systematic and institutionalized” according to UNICEF.

THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST HP

As the coalition, Massachusetts Against HP, has noted, HP technology underpins oppressive practices across the world:

  • In the US, HP donated technology to the National Security Agency that play a key part of the NSA’s illegal domestic surveillance programs.
  • HP is a major player in the US prison-industrial complex, providing essential infrastructure to private and public prisons.
  • HP is a ‘Top 20’ provider of military and ‘homeland security’ contracts to the US government and military.
  • HP caters to repressive governments around the world, which use HP network surveillance technology to identify and suppress dissidents, as well as censor information.

The campaign against HP was launched quite recently but has already achieved some important successes:

US churches divest from HP

Friends Fiduciary Corporation, the socially responsible investment firm serving over 300 Quaker institutions in the United States, divested from HP in 2012. The US Presbyterian Church voted to divest from HP in 2014. The United Church of Christ (US) voted to divest from HP in 2015.

Mass mobilization

More than 1.8 million people have signed a petition calling on HP to end its role in Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism. In 2014, 1,000 activists with the Boston for Palestine coalition marched on an HP conference. There is active campaigning on HP across the US, as well as in the UK and Italy. More than a dozen student governments in the US have called on their university to divest from HP.

      16 Million-Strong Organization in India Joins the BDS Movement

In October 2017, the largest national organization representing farmers and agricultural workers in India, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), announced that it has joined the BDS movement. AIKS is spread across 21 states in India and is over 16 million members strong. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/communist-indian-farmers-join-boycott-israel-movement/)

 AIKS has resolved to:

  • Endorse the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law, in order to stand for the rights of the Palestinian people and to resist the corporate takeover of Indian agriculture sector by Israeli companies.
  • Denounce and document any cases of Israeli corporate takeover in the Indian agro-sector.
  • Raise awareness among Indian farmers to prevent Israel and its corporations from reaping profits in India that finance military occupation and apartheid in Palestine.

TAKE ACTION

HP relies on its good image and its contracts with public organisations, civil society bodies and private businesses. Effective grassroots campaigning can push HP to end its role in Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism. 

The Palestinian BDS National Committee is calling for a boycott of all HP consumer products including laptops, printers and printer ink. Ask consumers not to buy HP products and work with your local retailers to get them to deshelve HP products. 

 

Indian stamp from 1981 expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people.

 

Individuals, churches and indeed all Indians in India are hereby encouraged to join this campaign against HP. In case you are using an HP paste a pledge on your HP, stating that this would be your last HP. You could think of other ways to express your commitment. 

You may also

Sign the international pledge to boycott HP.

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,

General Secretary,

National Council of Churches in India

Open letter to The Prime Minister of India

To

Shri Narendra Modi,
The Prime Minister of India

Dear Prime Minister,

Greetings!

This is my third letter to you. This letter comes three days after we in the Church have celebrated Pentecost Sunday. The observance of Pentecost reminds us how people need to be empowered by the Spirit of God to bring about transformation in society, to be channels of justice and peace in the society. Political and religious leaders, engaged in transforming society, are reminded by the words of God: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.’ And as we celebrated Pentecost Sunday on 23rd May 2018, churches as usual have prayed for God’s Spirit to guide and empower the rulers of our country, a prayer that is said every Sunday in most of our churches in India.

In my first letter (dated 14 April 2017) I wrote to you as an Indian citizen, joining all Indian citizens who are concerned about the state of affairs in our country, India. My second letter (dated 15th August 2017) was addressed to you by me as an Indian spiritual seeker of God’s reign of justice, love and peace in our beloved country India. I had thought I would not write to you anymore, but recent events have moved me in the Spirit to write to you again.

There is too much talk about the politics in our country being vitiated and polarized along religious lines, and propaganda being made that religious minorities are bent upon opposing right-wing forces in the country.  Therefore, indirectly the strategy of fundamentalist forces, in the context of the forthcoming General Elections, is to gain the sympathy and support of the people of the dominant religious community. I am saddened to witness such distortions of the situation in our country, separating citizens from fellow citizens. Read more

Advertisement for the post of NCCI General Secretary

April 27, 2018

To

The Constituent Members

National Council of Churches in India

 

Dear Ecumenical Leaders,

Please find here an Advertisement for the post of NCCI General Secretary. The Search Committee in its meeting held on 21st April 2018 in Chennai decided to advertise for the post of NCCI General Secretary in the official journals of all the Member churches, Related Agencies, Christian Organizations, Regional Councils of NCCI and also in their websites. The application should be addressed to the President of the NCCI. The hard and soft copies of the application must reach the following address on or before 30th June 2018.

The Most Rev. Dr. P.C. Singh
President, National Council of Churches in India
2131, Napier Town
Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh 482001.
Email: bishoppcsingh@yahoo.co.in

The application must contain a vision statement, resume, and copies of the certificates. It was further decided that if more than ten candidates apply, they will be shortlisted before being called for the interview.

Therefore, with this email you are requested to kindly contribute/support by publishing the attached advertisement in your official journals and also put in your official website for the upliftment of ecumenical movement.

With all good wishes,

Sincerely,

Most Rev. Dr. P.C. Singh
President
National Council of Churches in India.

Christian Council Campus
Near Maharashtra State Biodiversity  Board, NCCI Road,
Post Box # 205, Civil Lines, Nagpur-440 001, Maharashtra, INDIA
Tel: +91-712-2531312, 2561464 | Fax: +91-712-2520554
Email: ncci@ncci1914.com; ncci@nccindia.in |Website: ncci1914.com

 

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General Secretary 2018 Adv

A CALL FOR COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITY

REPENT AND REFORM, O BELOVED COUNTRY!

Shame, O Beloved Country! 

The two recent instances of the shameful rapes of young girls in the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh have brought ignominy to India. Such incidents keep on happening. The body of an 11 year old girl was raped, tortured and strangulated to death was found in Surat about 13 days ago. A 17-year-old girl was gang-raped in Patna early on 14th April 2018 in Patna. On the same day a 24 year old woman was said to be gang-raped by two youth on Yamuna Expressway. It is indeed ironic and horrible that Indians, who worship many Goddesses daily, have no respect for the country’s girls and women.

Worse still, in Kashmir as police tried to file charges against the men in the town of Kathua, local lawyers shouted Hindu nationalist slogans and tried to block investigators from entering the courthouse. BJP ministers in Jammu and Kashmir state’s coalition government attended rallies in support of the accused that were organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch, a nationalist group.

Similarly in the Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, the girl who was raped tried to kill herself on April 8, 2018 in front of the home of Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh chief minister, alleging the police had refused to register her case. A day later, her father died in police custody after he was beaten by Sengar’s brother, who has since been arrested.

Vrinda Grover, a Supreme Court lawyer who specializes in sexual assault cases, remarks, “Systems are manipulated from the investigation stage onwards, the processes of law are subverted by those in power. The Unnao case is the most brazen illustration of this. . . The police facilitated the beating to death of the father of the girl. If the police is going to not act according to the law, but at the behest of the accused, then there can be no hope for justice. Today, law and justice are a mirage that we are offering the women of this country.”

In addition to this culture of sexual violence and rape, there are several other evils our country is experiencing. Religious minority groups, particularly Muslims and Christians, continue to face increasing demonization by hardline Hindu groups, pro-government media and some state officials. Adivasi communities continue to be displaced by industrial projects, and hate crimes against Dalits remain widespread. Authorities are openly critical of human rights defenders and organizations, contributing to a climate of hostility against them. Mob violence, including that by vigilante cow protection groups, is being intensified. Press freedom and free speech in universities has been coming under attack. The Supreme Court and High Courts deliver several progressive judgments, but some rulings undermined human rights. Impunity for human rights abuses persists.

And much it grieves our hearts to think what humans have made of humans!

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Open Letter to Prime Minister of India | End Culture of Rape & Sexual Violence on Girls, Children & Women in India!

Date: 16th April 2018

To

Sri Narendra Modi,
Honourable Prime Minister in India,
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi -110011

Open Letter to Prime Minister of India
End Culture of Rape & Sexual Violence on Girls, Children & Women in India !

 

Honourable Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi,

Greetings from the National Council of Churches in India.

National Council of Churches represents around 14 million Christians in India from Reformation and Syrian Christian Traditions.

We write this letter at the darkest hour of our country when our Government is failing to protect girls, women and children. We express our deep anguish and pain, regarding the barbaric and heinous act of gang rape and murder of the little eight year old girl in Kathua and the rape of young 20 year old girl from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

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Call for applications to the post of NCCI Executive Secretary – Policy, Governance and Public Witness.

Kindly download a copy of the advertisement of the NCCI calling for applications to the post of NCCI Executive Secretary – Policy Governance and Public Witness.

Please encourage suitable candidates to apply for the same.

Thanking you,

Sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,
General Secretary, NCCI

 

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