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A Round Table Discussion on 1st October 2017

A round table discussion on “Religious Minorities in India: Challenges and Responses” was held on 1st October 2017, at New Delhi YMCA. 44 members attended the meeting representing NCCI member churches, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Evangelical Organisations and Civil Society Organisations. It was moderated by Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI). Three presentations were made by Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of World Council of Churches (WCC); Prof. T.K. Oommen, Emeritus Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Adv. Irfan Engineer, Director of Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. Mrs. Aleyamma Thomas, Vice-President, NCCI felicitated the Chief Guest and the two panelists. Rev. Dr. Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar, a WCC Executive Secretary, delivered the vote of thanks.

 

Mr. Samuel Jayakumar
Executive Secretary
Policy, Governance and Public Witness
National Council of Churches in India

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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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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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

Meeting with Shri George Kurian, Vice-Chairperson, and National Commission for Minorities (NCM)

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) organized a meeting with Shri George Kurian , the new Vice Chairperson of the  National Commission for Minorities (NCM), on 20th June, 2017 at CNI Delhi Diocesan Office, New Delhi. Around 20 leaders from the Churches representing Orthodox and Protestant Traditions participated in this meeting. While welcoming him, the church leaders also raised concerns of the minority communities, particularly of Christians, such as religious discrimination, FCRA renewal, Dalit Christian issues, Education policy, etc. Shri George Kurian assured the leaders that NCM will protect the Constitutional and legal rights of the minorities. The meeting was moderated by Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary, NCCI and hosted by Rt. Rev.  Warris K. Masih, Bishop, CNI Delhi Diocese.


Samuel Jayakumar
Executive Secretary,
Policy, Governance and Public Witness,
National Council of Churches in India.

India at UPR UN meet on May 4, 2017

Photo Credit: ndtv.com

Minority rights, NGO crackdown raised at UN meet, India says freedoms secure

Concept of torture alien to our culture: Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi


From complaints of eroding minority rights and religious intolerance to the crackdown against NGOs, women’s rights to LGBT rights, Kashmir to Afrophobia — India’s track record on human rights came under sharp scrutiny at the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday in Geneva.

Several countries expressed concerns on India’s FCRA laws, incidents of religious intolerance, women’s rights and even racism. The Kashmir issue was also raised by Pakistan during the hearing of the third “Universal Periodic Review.” India has undergone this voluntary review twice before, in 2008 and 2012.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who presented India’s position, strongly denied the allegations. “The right to fair trial and free legal aid up to the highest court are enshrined as fundamental rights in the Constitution of India and thus guaranteed to all individuals. So much so that as the Attorney General of India, I was summoned by the Supreme Court at 2 in the morning to hear a last-ditch petition, after several rounds of litigation, by a convict who was guilty of terrorism to escape punishment (a reference to the Yakub Memon case). This shows the importance attached to upholding of human rights by India,” he told the UNHRC.

Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka backed India on its human rights record. But a group of countries, including the US, Australia, Germany, Czech Republic, Norway and Ireland, asked India to look at its FCRA laws with US saying that there is “complete lack of transparency” in the implementation which affects NGOs in India.

Germany, Vatican, Kazakhstan, Kenya, UK, South Korea and the Netherlands expressed concern over the issues of rights of religious minorities and intolerance.

Pakistan called for a stop to the use of pellet guns. India countered saying the situation in Kashmir is due to Pakistan’s actions and there is zero tolerance to terrorism.

Haiti raised the issue of “Afrophobia” which was denied by an Indian delegate who called the country a “land of Buddha” which did not have a racist mindset and said that these incidents were a case of local crime.

While Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Liechtenstein were among countries which raised concerns on women’s rights, Israel and Ireland raised the issue of equal rights for the LGBT community. Several countries asked India to ratify the convention against torture.

Leading the Indian delegation, Rohatgi said that India makes no distinction between caste, creed, colour or religion of a citizen. “India is a secular state with no state religion,” he said, adding that the Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion to every individual. He said the right to free speech and expression occupies its rightful place in the core of the Constitution.

“As the world’s largest multi-layered democracy, we fully recognise the importance of free speech and expression. Our people are conscious of their political freedoms and exercise their choices at every opportunity,” Rohatgi said. “We believe in peace, non-violence and upholding human dignity. As such, the concept of torture is completely alien to our culture and it has no place in the governance of the nation.”

On the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Rohatgi said the Act is applied only to disturbed areas — few and in proximity to some international borders. Several countries, including the US, raised the issue of AFSPA. “Whether this Act should be repealed or not is a matter of on-going vibrant political debate in my country,” he said.

On transgenders, Rohatgi said that India has been at the forefront of recognising their equal rights. The Supreme Court gave a landmark judgement in 2014 directing the government to declare trans-genders a “third gender” and included them as an “Other Backward Class” entitled to affirmative action benefits.

The apex court also reinforced that trans-genders should have all rights under law, including marriage, adoption, divorce, succession and inheritance, Rohatgi added.

Rohatgi said India seeks to ensure inclusive development and the protection of rights of vulnerable groups and it has enacted a range of laws to address sexual assault and other gender-based crimes.

“We have overhauled the legal framework for dealing with child sexual assault,” he said, adding that India remains deeply committed towards reinforcing and accelerating efforts towards combating human trafficking.

Source: Indian Express (http://indianexpress.com/article/india/minority-rights-ngo-crackdown-raised-at-un-meet-india-says-freedoms-secure-4641197/) Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published:May 5, 2017 5:17 am

 

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National Level Church Leaders Consultation in Delhi

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The National United Christian Forum (NUCF) composed of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) & Evangelical Fellowship of India Council of Churches (EFICC) held a ‘National Level Church Leaders Consultation’ on 15th March 2017, at Bible Bhavan, Delhi.

Around 40 leaders from various Churches attended this meeting, which was arranged by Rev. Dr. Richard Howell.

Discussions were held on three important topics which the Christian communities are currently facing, that is, the Uniform Civil Code, the National Education Policy & the Juvenile Justice Act.

Prof. T.K. Oommen, Adv. M.P. Raju & Adv. Oommen Thomas made presentations on these concerns.

The Church leaders were apprehensive about the Governments move regarding  the Uniform Civil Code & the National Education Policy. They also raised concerns on some provisions in the Juvenile Justice Act which are affecting the Church-run Institutions. It was decided to make a joint response  about these concerns to the Government.

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad anchored the meeting.

The Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma, His Eminence Baselios Cardinal Cleemis, Bishop Dr. PC Singh, President of NCCI along with leaders from Orthodox, Catholic & Protestant Churches were part of the consultation.

 

Samuel Jayakumar

Executive Secretary

Policy, Governance & Public Witness, NCCI

NWICC discussion on Ecumenical Transparency, Accountability & Responsibility’

The North West India Council of Churches (NWICC) in collaboration with National Council Churches in India (NCCI) organised a seminar on 25th February 2017 themed upon ‘National Ecumenical Campaign for Transparency, Accountability & Responsibility’. Bishop Collin C. Theodore, Secretary, NWICC was hosting the seminar.

The two resource persons for the seminar Rev. Arvind Peter & Ms. Nirmala Fenn reflected upon the topic discussing the biblical nature of corruption in this modern world and deliberated on how to ‘be JUST’ IMG_20170225_145509