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An Ecumenical Commemoration of 500 Years of Reformation

“Reformation is a Process and we need to adopt and adapt to…”

said Fr. Peter, a Catholic Rector at the Ecumenical Commemoration of 500 Years of Reformation.

The Churches and the Christian Communities and Organisations in Nagpur gathered together at the All Saints Cathedral of the Church of North India in Nagpur, to participate in a commemorative Eucharist worship on 31st October 2017 at 6.30 pm. remembering Martin Luther and his colleagues, who advocated reformation in the Church 500 years ago on the same day.

Over hundred people, including persons with disabilities, clerics, theologates, mission and social workers, participated in this ecumenical worship representing different ecclesial confessions from Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Methodist, Lutheran, Church of North India,  and Free Church Traditions.

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Disability Advocacy Sunday 2017

NCCI –IDEA (Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment) is an Ecumenical Initiative of National Council of Churches in India accompanied by Unity and Mission. NCCI – IDEA theologically motivates ministerial interventions of its constituencies  in encouraging and facilitating the Indian Churches to be inclusive and disabled-friendly. Considering the importance of inclusivity, the XXVIII Quadrennial Assembly of NCCI has chosen a theme ‘Towards… Just and Inclusive Communities for this Quadrannum thus, the Members of NCCI would be encouraged to ensure that their ministerial interventions result in inclusivity.

Since 2009 the Disability Advocacy Sunday (DAS) is being organized by NCCI – IDEA along with ecumenical organizations, local congregations and institutions. NCCI-IDEA has been a facilitator of conversations with communities in Church and Society in regard to advocacy for disability rights. The recently concluded interfaith roundtable on disability has propelled the work with significant stride towards just and inclusive communities. Considering the importance of observing this day, the NCCI Executive Committee in 2011 officially approved of designating the Sunday before the Advent as DAS, since 3rd December the International Day of People with Disability.

From its inception, DAS has focused on ‘An Inclusive Church’, through its sermons, urging the Church, to move from being charitable, to becoming an accompanier seeking justice ‘for’, ‘by’ and ‘with’ persons with disabilities . Surveying the past celebrations and the positive responses from the Churches and the local congregations to the observance of DAS, NCCI-IDEA expects that the congregations have become more open to PWDs and more Disabled-friendly.

This year Churches and the Congregations are encouraged to contemplate on the theme: ‘Creator of the disabled, reform your creation’. Persons with disabilities reflect God’s image and likeness. Hence, we are praying to this Creator God to reform creation through the persons with disabilities, with the 500th year of reformation as the background.

Every year, NCCI – IDEA assists the Churches and the Congregations with the Order of Worship for DAS observances. Since 26th November 2017 is the Sunday prior to the Advent season, IDEA recommends to churches to observe it as DAS.  In case you are not able to observe the DAS on 26th November, please feel free to observe any Sunday that is convenient to you and your congregations.

We are glad to inform you that the NCCI-IDEA have already planned to celebrate ‘Christmas of the Disabled’ on 3rd December 2017. Therefore, we encourage you to organize and celebrate along with us in your respective Churches and Congregations.

Kindly,  share with us the inspirational stories and the divine interventions through the DAS 2017 in your Church or Congregation.

With Prayer and Wishes,

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

Director, NCCI – IDEA

Mrs. Glory Cynthia Shinde

Coordinator, NCCI – IDEA

Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh

President, NCCI

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad

General Secretary, NCCI

 

Downloads:

  1. Disability Advocacy Sunday 2017 Order of Worship – English
  2. Poster to print (in .pdf)

Ecumenical Dhorom Sabha 2017

Santalia Council of Churches organised its yearly event ‘Ecumenical Dhorom Sabha’ from October 26 – 29, 2017 at CNI Mission, Taljhari, Dist Sahibganj, Santal Parganas, Jharkhand. More than 5000 delegates from Santal Churches of Assam, Bihar, Bengal & Jharkhand participated in this event. Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary, NCCI was the Chief Guest and the Main Speaker for the event. The Keynote address was delivered by Moderator Emeritus The Most Rev. Dr. Philip P. Marandi, CNI. The theme for this year was taken from Mathew 5:41. The Most Rev. B. Murmu, Moderator, NELC, Rt. Rev. B.B. Baskey, Diocese of Chotanagpur, CNI, Rt. Rev. Sushil Tudu of NELC and Rev. Emmanuel Chitrakar, Pakur District Superintendent of the Bengal Regional Conference of Methodist Church in India, were among other dignitaries present during the Dhorom Sabha. Rev. Francis Hansdak and Rev. Pradip Hansdak shared responsibility in smooth functioning of the entire programme.

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NCCI Dalit Liberation Sunday 2017 – Religious Freedom of Dalits.

Respected Ecumenical Leaders,

Warm greetings from National Council of Churches in India!

Dalit Liberation Sunday has become an important feature in the calendar of Indian Churches and Ecumenical movements. Over the years, there has been a positive response in sensitizing the local congregations towards concerns of Dalits, for no longer caste issue is visualized as a sociological issue or an issue outside the purview of church but more seen as an issue challenging the core of our faith and gospel.

Dalit Liberation Sunday is a joint programme of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (CBCI), aiming at the empowerment of the local congregations for Dalit liberation. Dalit Liberation Sunday is observed by the member churches of NCCI and the churches under CBCI in their local congregations across India.

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Congratulations to Office Bearers of Church of North India (CNI) Synod.

The Synod of the Church of North India (CNI) met during September 30 to October 3, 2017. One of the major decisions taken on 3rd October  was to elect a new Moderator, Deputy Moderator and Hony. Treasurer. After successful elections, the names of the team of Office Bearers of CNI Synod are as below:

  1. The Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh, Moderator.
  2. The Rt. Revd. Dr. Probal Kanto Dutta, Deputy Moderator.
  3. Mr. Alwan Masih, General Secretary.
  4. Mr. Jayant Agarwal, Hony. Treasurer.

(Source: Mr. Alwan Masih, General Secretary of CNI).

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) congratulates the team of Office Bearers of CNI and joins the Church in praying for the team’s leadership and wishing them every blessing for a fruitful ministry.

With the wider ministry of NCCI’s  President, the Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh, as Moderator of CNI, we look forward with joy and anticipation to the benefits of his ecumenical vision and his leadership in the church and society. May God continue to bless him and the other members of this team to accomplish much for the reign of God on earth!

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

Churches’ Week of Action on Food – 2017

(October  11 – 17, 2017)

The Churches Week of Action on Food is a Global Campaign for Food Justice initiated by the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and the National Council of Churches in India is part of this campaign for years. This week (11 -17 October), highlights the UN days of Gild Child (11), Disaster Reduction (13), Rural Women (15) World Food day (16) and Eradication of Poverty 17).

The theme for World Food Day, this year (2017) is “Change the Future of Migration: Invest in Food Security and Rural Development”. It has been chosen to highlight the role of civil societies and faith communities in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger by addressing climate change with the Gospel Values of Justice, Love and Peace.

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Reflections on Medical Missions

Let me reflect on some common queries regarding Medical Missions in the minds of Christian medical students and on ways forward:

  1. Who is a missionary? I found this definition from Wikipedia (3) quite comprehensive, “A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word “mission” originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin missionem (nom. missio), meaning “act of sending” or mittere, meaning “to send”. The word was used in light of its biblical usage; in the Latin translation of the Bible, Christ uses the word when sending the disciples to preach in his name. The term is most commonly used for Christian missions, but can be used for any creed or ideology.” A Christian medical missionary would therefore be someone sent to provide health care on behalf of a Christian church or group and Christian medical missions would be the work done collectively by a group of such people.
  2. What are some of the characteristics of medical missionary work? I think that medical missionaries (like all other missionaries) need to be sent out to areas where they are relatively out of their comfort zone (vulnerable) and to help people who are poor and marginalized. They must excel in their professional work as well as serve in the Spirit of Christ, so that others may see Christ in and through their work. This would enable other Christian services to be offered through the activities of the mission compound.
  3. Does Medical Mission work have to be only in remote rural areas? Many of the present locations of mission hospitals in India were once rural – towns have developed around the mission compounds! However, after Indian independence, there has been a significant movement of people to urban areas and many live in slums. These people are also poor and marginalized – they do not have access to high quality medical care at affordable cost and this is an opportunity for mission hospitals in urban areas. Mission hospitals have great potential as they are among the few entities which focus on people whom nobody else is interested in.
  4. Are there opportunities for pioneering new Medical Mission work in India? Yes, Arunachal Pradesh is at present the only state in India without a Christian mission hospital. (Tripura too did not have one until we started a hospital there in 2005). There are large tracts of land in forgotten corners of our country where new hospitals are needed and can be started. However, due to local land and entry laws, it is not easy for outsiders.States such as Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland require an Inner Line Permit – similar to a visa – for non-locals to enter and several states have restrictions on non-locals purchasing land). Similarly, great opportunities for transformation exist in other needy parts of the world where few want to go.
  5. Can Medical Mission work be done in hostile areas? When Makunda started the work in Tripura, Dhalai district was the most affected by militancy with murder and abduction being common and all public transportation possible only through armed convoys. However, the work at the hospital was never affected as it was seen as a humanitarian service to the poor. I had the privilege to visit Africa last year – mission hospitals are the only long-term health facilities that work well in conflict areas because of the commitment of staff. Other NGOs (like Red Cross and MSF) offer short-term medical support services. Warring groups usually do not target missionary services, recognising their humanitarian value and universal appeal.
  6. Is Medical Mission work a sacrifice? We are called to be ‘living sacrifices’ – meaning that we offer ourselves to a life of obedience to God. Medical mission work (especially in remote rural areas) is front-line work and not easy. However, in the light of the words of the Bible, I would say that the trials and difficulties are ‘temporary and trivial inconveniences’! We should not dwell on sacrifice as it makes people into ineffective self-styled martyrs! There is no sacrifice too great for a missionary – when we feel that we have been brought to life from death by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we should be ready to die for Him. When we look at missionary history, many missionaries (often unheard and unsung) gave their lives so that the church may be built in remote areas all over the world – truly the present Christian church in these areas has been built on their sweat and blood. In comparison, the problems we face today in India are indeed trivial.
  7. Can Medical Mission work be professionally challenging? I have heard many people say that mission hospitals (especially remote rural ones) treat only diarrhea and ear discharge! When I completed my M.Ch in Pediatric Surgery at CMC Vellore, there were people who even asked why I wasted a M.Ch seat which could have been given to someone who was more likely to use it! I would like to say that I have seen and operated on some of the most professionally challenging conditions at Makunda. Since CT scans, nuclear scans and the services of other experts are often unavailable in these locations, missionary doctors need to innovate to be able to treat patients cost effectively with what is available.. I have operated on a teratoma in the right middle lobe of the lung (middle lobectomy with composite resection of two overlying ribs), ectopia cordis (unfortunately, this patient died), 35 kg ovarian tumor, retrograde jejunogastric intussusception, intra-abdominal cocoon (several cases) and so on. There have also been challenging medical as well as other specialties’ cases. All these years, I was the only full-time pediatric surgeon in the states of Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur and southern Assam – so there are certainly a huge variety of patients who need treatment (and who cannot go elsewhere because they are poor), it is only logical to conclude that professionally, medical missionaries are in for exciting opportunities.
  8. Is it not difficult to be in a ‘vulnerable’ situation? Humanly speaking, it is. However, I would say that from a spiritual perspective, this is the greatest factor in favor of Medical Missions. Vulnerability is a blessing in disguise – how else will we see God at work? God specialises in helping us as we face circumstances beyond our control. Miracles do not happen when we are in control of situations. When all else fails and we totally depend on God, we see Him at work. It is an exciting experience to see God at work and see Him build up His kingdom and be partners in this great ministry.
  9. Is Medical Mission work drudgery with few opportunities to relax? When I was in school, I was interested in tennis, rifle shooting and rowing. In college, I cultivated an interest in electronics. However, many of these activities were not possible at Makunda. I discovered that nature observation and photography are excellent for relaxation. My observations in and around Makunda have been posted and published in many sites. (4,5) If someone is looking for the nearest mall to relax in, he may be disappointed but there are other (and maybe greater) opportunities to compensate.
  10. Can work focused on the poor be self-sustaining? When we re-started Makunda, we were told that it was impossible to work primarily for the poor on a self-sustaining basis and that all successful mission hospitals subsidise treatment of the poor by treating the rich at higher rates. However, we decided to be a hospital primarily for the poor with no special facilities for the rich as a part of our ‘pro-poor’ branding strategy. All patients wait in the same queues irrespective of their social class or wealth and the same general wards are used to admit them. Charges are low and charity is liberal – the hospital is flooded with patients and high capacity utilisation leads to high efficiency and lowered costs. God has blessed the work and we have been able to invest in new equipment and buildings, start a new school, the branch in Tripura and nursing school without major grants (the external funding received each year was less than 1 percent of income for many years). When we treat the poor who cannot afford to pay, God pays their bills – often in ways that money cannot buy – by giving us satisfaction, contentment and wealth in heaven.
  11. Why is there a high attrition rate in mission hospitals? Work in mission hospitals is not easy and not for every one. There is peer-pressure from families and friends. People look for comforts and sometimes are unable to adjust to life in mission hospitals. Many are short-term and do not want to stay on to solve local problems. There is a high attrition rate in Medical Mission work all over the world – maybe <10 per cent of new staff stay on long-term. However, most staff leave after tasting God at work and often say that the best years of their lives were at the mission hospital!
  12. Are many mission hospitals today ‘beyond redemption’? Sadly, many mission hospitals are ‘sick’. This is due to inability to adapt to rapid changes, poor governance and the absence of committed long-term staff at a leadership level. Being at the cutting edge of mission work, I am sure there would also be an element of spiritual warfare. However, no hospital is beyond redemption. Major changes may need to be done to resolve problems but all of them can be revived. If a completely shut hospital (like Makunda) with severe local problems can be revived to become a thriving community, there is hope for all the other sick ones too! God is able to do great things. He just needs a few volunteers willing to submit to Him.

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Obeying a call to Medical Missions – a Testimony

In 1982, as a second year under-graduate medical student at the Kilpauk Medical College in Madras (1), I made a lifelong commitment to Jesus Christ. I started a Bible Study group in college and we discussed how to live the Christian life and make decisions that were approved in God’s sight. We heard many messages on the topic, “Finding God’s Will” but many of us were not able to get a clear convincing personal answer to this burning question. My query was answered one day when I was reading Jeremiah 29:11-13 (2) – I felt God telling me that I was not able to find His will for my life because I was not seeking with all my heart and that He was waiting to answer as soon as I realised that He had the best possible plans for my life. I also realised that I did not want to hand over my life totally into His hands; I wanted to retain control and this attitude was preventing me from seeing His plans for me. I felt God speaking to me and made a vow that I would obey Him and go where He wanted me to go and do what He wanted me to do with all my time, talents and treasure. It soon became clear to me that I should go where few others wanted to go, so that I could make a difference to people who had no access to good health care. Since the southern four states of India were well provisioned with healthcare, I had to go far away from home.

After my internship, I was not confident to run a remote hospital by myself and joined the Christian Fellowship Hospital (3) at Oddanchatram in 1987 and spent 3 wonderful years there, learning to become a more confident doctor. I also spent the 3 years (every Thursday) exploring villages in the hills of Pachalur (30 kilometers from Oddanchatram), doing medical work with some local missionaries and seeing God answering the simple prayers of poor people powerfully. For the next few years, I was involved in conducting the annual Medical Missionary Meets for medical college students of Tamil Nadu at Pachalur organised by the CF Hospital – I visited medical college fellowships in Tamil Nadu, wrote numerous letters to a large number of students and learnt many things about working with medical students.

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Copy of Official Letter to the President of India

September 18, 2017

To

Mr. Ram Nath Kovind
President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi

Sub:    Urgent Appeal not to give assent to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Amendment Bill 2017 and the Jharkhand Religious Freedom Bill 2017 of Jharkhand Government.

Your Excellency President Kovind,

The National Council of Churches in India, which represents around 14 million members of the Protestant and Orthodox Church Traditions in India, and which includes significant numbers of dalits and tribals/adivasis present the following urgent appeal to you. This is regarding Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Amendment Bill 2017 and the Jharkhand Religious Freedom Bill 2017 of Jharkhand Government.

As you are already aware, the State of Jharkhand was created for the Adivasis and has Fifth Schedule Areas of which the President is the direct Constitutional custodian.

Along with the adivasis of Jharkhand the NCCI is very much concerned by the situation in the State in the recent days. We have total trust and confidence in your Excellency’s disposition towards the concerns of the State. With full respect to the elected Head of the State, we wish to bring to your Excellency’s kind notice, the objectionable and unconstitutional statements made by him against the Christian community in different government and social programs held in Ranchi, Gumla, Khunti and Dumka prior to the framing of the Religious Freedom Bill 2017.

The most obnoxious act is the Advertisement found in the front pages of the News Papers in the State published on 11.08.2017 misusing Mahatma Gandhi and Public Funds to fuel anti-Christian hate. Indeed, the Advertisement is erroneous, misleading and inflammatory.

The government has used tax payers’ money against tax payers which is a gross violation of democratic ethics and values fundamental to our Constitution. The democratically elected government is expected to safeguard and protect the rights of all citizens irrespective of their affiliations. On the other hand, this government has shown by publishing this Advertisement that it cannot be trusted and stands exposed of its criminal intentions. It is not there to bring about harmony and peace but put one tribal against another. The matter of great concern is the audacity displayed by the government by putting distorted words into the mouth of Mahatma Gandhi to mislead people. The Father of the Nation is used to attack a community and fuel communal disharmony.

This Ad is also a blatant attack on the Adivasis and Dalits. No proof can be brought to the defence that Mahatma Gandhi called the Adivasis ‘Vanvasis’ and presenting it as a quote of Mahatma Gandhi is dishonest and even criminal; the government should apologise to the Adivasi communities. As per the quote, the Adivasis along with the Dalits are, ‘…. mute and simple, like cows” implying that they have no mind of their own to make a decision and are seen as eternal juveniles. It is a direct attack on their very identity, on their great Adivasi leaders like Birsa Munda and Kartik Oraon whose photos adorn the Advertisement and on their valuable contribution to nation building! It is a humiliation to the great Adivasi heroes who spearheaded the freedom movement in this part of the country like Tilka Manjhi, Sido Kanhu, Birsa Munda and many others. It also shames Late Lance Naik Albert Ekka, the war hero and the posthumous recipient of India’s highest gallantry decoration, the Param Vir Chakra for his valour; Jaipal Singh Munda, one of the stalwarts who spearheaded the movement for a separate Jharkhand State and a tall parliamentarian; Mr. Michael Kindo, Sylvanus Dungdung, and Jaipal Singh, some of the best names in Indian hockey, and the list can be very long. It also belittles the constitutional heads of our nation who hail from Dalit and Adivasi Communities. It is also very disrespectful to the legislators who come from Adivasi and Dalit communities. The government has indeed humiliated all the Adivasis in the country, especially the Adivasis of Jharkhand who have been shamelessly disgraced by this government through this Advertisement and therewith the Adivasis deserve an apology from the government.

The real intention of the government is to put tribal people against one another thereby grabbing tribal land. The Advertisement is a clear indicator that the Jharkhand Government will stoop to any level to achieve its sole purpose of grabbing Adivasi land. The government is propagating ‘divide and rule’ strategy to take away tribal land and to give it to the corporate sector and leave the poor Adivasis in misery, fear and helplessness.

It is a matter for consideration here that the two bills passed in the Assembly on 12.08.2017, one of land acquisition and the other of anti-conversion, too have the same purpose. The government seems to believe that the Christians led the movement against the amendments proposed in the CNT/SPT Acts which is a baseless allegation. All the Adivasis whole heartedly opposed the amendments irrespective of their religious affiliations. The anti-conversion bill is passed with the view of avenging the Christians for no fault of theirs. The government is using this as a weapon to deal with the Christians if they make any move against the land acquisition bill passed in the Assembly.

The retrospective nature of the bill is very dangerous as the government can grab acres and acres of Adivasi land already deposited in the ‘Land Bank’ without their knowledge. The abolition of ‘Social Impact Analysis’ will give sweeping powers to the government to take away tribal land. They will be rendered landless. The evils of migration and trafficking will increase.

The sole purpose of the provisions of social impact assessment of the project in “The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resentment Act 2013” was to study the impact of the project on the project affected communities so that affected and displaced families are properly rehabilitated and resettled. The history of development-induced displacement is very dismal. In India 60 million people were displaced, which also includes 10 million Adivasis. In Jharkhand, 1.5 million people, mostly the Adivasis, were displaced but merely 25 percent have been somehow rehabilitated. The displaced Adivasis have lost their identity, culture, tradition, values and ethos precisely because, there was no such provision of the social impact assessment in the Land Acquisition Act 1894.  However, Jharkhand Government has amended the provisions made in the Land Acquisition Act 2013, which will have immense negative impact on the Adivasi community.

The government is misleadingly using the photos of Birsa Munda and KartikOraon to destabilize tribal unity. It is worth noting here that Kartik Oraon whose photo is used in the Advertisement wrote in his book Adivasi Hindu Nahi Hai (‘The Adivasis Are Not Hindu’): “Let it be known, there is no space for Hindu gods and goddesses in the Adivasi community. Hindus believe in God whereas the Adivasis worship nature and follow the Naga culture”. Therefore, the so called ‘Ghar Wapsi’ campaign is completely against the dream of Kartik Oraon and of course Birsa Munda. The government is spreading lies using Adivasi leaders to score a point. It has hurt Adivasi sentiments very deeply.

The government is busy making a non-issue into an issue in Jharkhand. The data available with the government is the proof. In India, as per the government census the percentage of Christian population in the country was 2.33 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 a similar Christian demographic scenario. Though the State was formed in 2000, yet for a larger picture the percentage of 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 almost stagnant.

A close examination of the tribal population reveals that 14.5% are Christians and 39.7% are Hindus as per the 2011 census. The very sad thing is that a large percentage of Adivasis who have accepted Hindu Religion, or its sanskritized version, have changed, or were forced to change their title to ‘Kumar’ ‘Kumari’ ‘Devi’ and thus have lost their ethnic, social and cultural identity. It is almost a planned murder of the Adivasi community. The government should come out with a law to protect the identity of Adivasi communities if they have genuine concern for them.

Jharkhand has many issues to address, beginning with that of law and order. Cow vigilantes are moving around freely, lynching innocent people in the name of cow protection. The recent incident in Ramgarh shocked the consciousness of the nation. Jharkhand has the highest number of children dying of malnourishment and most of them belong to poor tribal communities living in the rural areas. The number of stunted children too is growing rapidly making children who are considered a ‘National Asset’ into a future liability. The Adivasis have been demanding ‘Sarna Code’ for the last many years and nothing has happened so far. The government has passed the law on conversion and land acquisition even after sufficient opposition from the Opposition Parties, to cover up all the ills of the State and keep people

engaged in divisive activities while it can grab tribal land to pass onto the corporate sector.  The government is scared of Adivasi unity and this law is a weapon which will be used to break the unity of the people and give licence to the fringe elements to attack anyone in the name of conversion especially those who dare to oppose the irresponsible policies of the government. Moreover, there is no provision built into the bill to deal with cases of false accusation and misuse of the bill. The intention of the bills is anti-people, anti-constitutional, and anti-peace.

The Constitution of India guarantees fundamental right to the freedom of religion under articles 25-28.  Therefore, all persons in India are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion of one’s choice without converting anyone from one religion to another by force, allurement, or threat. The State of Jharkhand should release a white paper presenting the data of such cases of conversion by force, allurement, or threat in Jharkhand in the last 17 years. It is unfair even to think of such anti-conversion law when there are no issues on the ground.  Besides, the Indian Penal Code 295 (a) is already very strong to deal with cases of conversion by force, or coercion, or allurement.

It has been categorically stated in the Indian Constitution, Article 13(2) that ‘any law made by any legislature or other authority after commencement of the Constitution, which contravenes any of the fundamental rights included in Part III of the Constitution shall, to the extent of the contravention, be declared void. Indeed, the bill is unconstitutional and is a super imposition on the existing law. The bill has no purpose except political and ideological. The timing of the bill clearly reveals that it is politically motivated to break the unity of the Adivasis. The bill proposes to seek permission as well as inform the district collector on matters concerning one’s freedom of conscience which is a fundamental right guaranteed in the Constitution (Art. 25). The choice, or decision to embrace any religion is based on the freedom of conscience of a person and it cannot be dappled with as it is a direct violation of the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right of freedom of conscience. The question of conversion does not arise here as it is the matter of the freedom of conscience of a person. Therefore, the anti-conversion bill is ultravirus.

Therefore, we humbly pray to your Excellency,

That these bills are not given assent as their purpose is anti-people and anti-Adivasis.

That the fundamental right to freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion, and freedom to manage religious affairs guaranteed under the Article 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution is protected.

That the land of the Adivasis is safeguarded not only for the present but also for the future generations to come.

You, as the Constitutional Custodian of the Fifth Schedule Areas of Jharkhand comprising the adivasis of the land, are our hope for upholding justice and secularism in the country.

Yours Sincerely

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,

General Secretary, NCCI

Events

Disability Advocacy Sunday 2017

NCCI –IDEA (Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment) is an Ecumenical Initiative of National Council of Churches in India accompanied by Unity and Mission. NCCI – IDEA theologically motivates ministerial interventions of its constituencies  in encouraging and facilitating the Indian Churches to be inclusive and disabled-friendly. Considering the importance of inclusivity, the XXVIII Quadrennial Assembly of NCCI has chosen a theme ‘Towards… Just and Inclusive Communities for this Quadrannum thus, the Members of NCCI would be encouraged to ensure that their ministerial interventions result in inclusivity.

Since 2009 the Disability Advocacy Sunday (DAS) is being organized by NCCI – IDEA along with ecumenical organizations, local congregations and institutions. NCCI-IDEA has been a facilitator of conversations with communities in Church and Society in regard to advocacy for disability rights. The recently concluded interfaith roundtable on disability has propelled the work with significant stride towards just and inclusive communities. Considering the importance of observing this day, the NCCI Executive Committee in 2011 officially approved of designating the Sunday before the Advent as DAS, since 3rd December the International Day of People with Disability.

From its inception, DAS has focused on ‘An Inclusive Church’, through its sermons, urging the Church, to move from being charitable, to becoming an accompanier seeking justice ‘for’, ‘by’ and ‘with’ persons with disabilities . Surveying the past celebrations and the positive responses from the Churches and the local congregations to the observance of DAS, NCCI-IDEA expects that the congregations have become more open to PWDs and more Disabled-friendly.

This year Churches and the Congregations are encouraged to contemplate on the theme: ‘Creator of the disabled, reform your creation’. Persons with disabilities reflect God’s image and likeness. Hence, we are praying to this Creator God to reform creation through the persons with disabilities, with the 500th year of reformation as the background.

Every year, NCCI – IDEA assists the Churches and the Congregations with the Order of Worship for DAS observances. Since 26th November 2017 is the Sunday prior to the Advent season, IDEA recommends to churches to observe it as DAS.  In case you are not able to observe the DAS on 26th November, please feel free to observe any Sunday that is convenient to you and your congregations.

We are glad to inform you that the NCCI-IDEA have already planned to celebrate ‘Christmas of the Disabled’ on 3rd December 2017. Therefore, we encourage you to organize and celebrate along with us in your respective Churches and Congregations.

Kindly,  share with us the inspirational stories and the divine interventions through the DAS 2017 in your Church or Congregation.

With Prayer and Wishes,

Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar

Director, NCCI – IDEA

Mrs. Glory Cynthia Shinde

Coordinator, NCCI – IDEA

Most Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh

President, NCCI

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad

General Secretary, NCCI

Downloads:

  1. Disability Advocacy Sunday 2017 Order of Worship – English
  2. Poster to print (in .pdf)