A Brief Report on Colloquium on Reclaiming the Constitutional and Democratic Rights

Colloquium on Reclaiming the Constitutional and Democratic Rights

Jointly organized by India Peace Center, Diocese of Chhattisgarh – CNI and NCCI- Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns

17th April 2018, Gass Memorial Hall, Raipur (Chhattisgarh)

The issue of rising communal unrest in the country and the steady penetration of the Right wing hindutva ideologies have paved an extremely narrow path for the minority groups and oppressed communities especially SC/ST’s in the country by withholding their fundamental rights in the recent times which created a great imbalance in the economic and social forms. The responsibility of the Christian communities and other faith communities is therefore to be united and to strive against the fascist forces and to rule out such ideologies which can disrupt and damage the peace and harmony of the country which is yet again a threat to the democratic values of any country and its people (citizens) as a whole.

To mark the 127th birth anniversary of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, on 17th April 2018, a Colloquium on Reclaiming the Constitutional and Democratic Rights was held at Gass Memorial Centre, Raipur, Chhattisgarh jointly organized by the India Peace Center, NCCI- Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns and Diocese of Chhattisgarh, CNI. The colloquium witnessed a participation of 50 delegates representing different Churches, Denominations and organizations as well as nine Resource Persons. The colloquium was meant to highlight the issue of reclaiming the Constitutional and Democratic Rights and also to address the growing fascism and communal activities spread by Hindutva and Right wing forces in India.

A series of sessions taken by the resource persons on the topic highlighted the various issues happening in the country and what could be the possibilities and approaches to be taken by the Christian communities in order to address them.

The introduction of the colloquium was given by Mr. Kasta Dip, Director of India Peace Centre (IPC) highlighting the various ways the present government and Right wing groups are trying to disrupt the peace and harmony of India by tampering the Indian Constitution and by bringing various changes to the laws and rights which the Dalit and the Tribal communities hold by downsizing their right to file the complaints about the atrocities done on them. Mr. Kasta Dip gave example of the murder of the late journalist Ms. Gauri Lankesh and emphasized that Christian communities should voice out the atrocities and violence committed on people from different faith groups and not only for their own Christian brethren.

Rt. Rev. Robert Ali, Bishop of Diocese of Chhattisgarh – CNI welcomed the august gathering on behalf of Diocese of Chhattisgarh and gave  a short reflection from Bible and spoke on various ways how Bible highlights the different voices of the oppressed people and identify like Jesus Christ and following the path and his teachings.

The Keynote address was delivered by Prof. Dr. Yugal Rayulu, Professor at Dharampeth Science College, highlighted the present situation of the Indian judiciary and the attack on the Constitution. Dr. Rayalu also vehemently criticized the actions taken by the present government towards attacking the rights of the SC/ST communities and following and propagating a dictatorship ruled ideology against the democratic rule in the country.

 Professor Dr. Vikas Jambulkar, Professor at Rashtriya Santh Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University (RTMNU), highlighted the various egalitarian qualities which Buddhism and Christianity professes. Dr. Jambulkar stressed on the democratic principle which the Indian Constitution holds and provides equal opportunities to both men and women. Dr. Jambulkar also highlighted the issues of moral policing done by the present government with regards to changing the eating habits and bringing pseudo-scientific discoveries in the colour of religious belief system.

Mr. Arun Panalal from United Christian Forum of Chhattisgarh, an activist based and working in the regions of Chhattisgarh especially in Raipur stressed on the importance of the Preamble and the Indian Constitution and raised the issue of knowing and be through with the fundamental rights which a Christian has. Mr. Panalal also encouraged the Christian leaders to give importance to the politics and its principles and to teach and incorporate at different levels in the churches as well as in Christian institutions especially among the youths and upcoming generations.

Advocate Rajendra Sail, highlighted the significance of the constitution and bringing people towards the understanding of becoming ‘Republic’ and “Re-peopled the De-peopled people.” Adv. Sail also stressed and talked about the minority rights and religious freedom which is been tampered and drastically changed by the influence of the Hindutva forces. Adv. Sail also spoke about the slow penetrating fascist and communal ideologies which are spreading in the country by the Right wing groups and Hindutva forces by the present government.

Mr. Akhilesh Edgar from ADF, spoke on the rising tide of the communal tension in the state of Chhattisgarh and different parts of the country. Mr. Akhilesh Edgar also in his session highlighted that there should be effective steps taken in order to preserve the Indian constitution and the rights of the SC/ST communities in the country from any kind of damage done on it and to claim the identity of the people as an integral part of country.

Mr. Pradip Bansrior, Executive Secretary – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns from NCCI stressed on Supreme Court’s ruling on dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and how the right wings in the country are making efforts and changes in manipulating and dismantling the historical accounts and bringing their own narratives in the historical accounts by tampering them. He also highlighted the articles 15, 16 and 17 of our Indian constitution

The concluding message was given by Rev. Dr. Atul Arthur, Secretary of Chhattisgarh Diocese, CNI. He encouraged the delegates to be united and strive to protect the Constitutional and Democratic Rights which in the contemporary times are at the risk of getting ruled out by the present invisible Right wing forces and Hindutva groups lead by the support of present government which aims to spread in the fascist ideology in the Indian masses which is a threat to an egalitarian based Constitution and Democratic society.

The colloquium highlighted the key points towards reclaiming the Constitutional and Democratic Rights in India.

  • To encourage the Christian communities of the state of Chhattisgarh to rise against the ideologies of Fascism and Dictatorship rule.
  • To encourage and teach the democratic values of Indian constitution in the Church and especially to the young people studying in the Christian institutions.
  • To promote an egalitarian ideology in the church and community setup and to stand united instead of being divided in different denominational and doctrinal differences.
  • To follow the path showed by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar towards making a democratic front and an egalitarian community.

The colloquium concluded with a vote of thanks offered by Mr. Kasta Dip followed by the closing prayer and benediction pronounced by Bishop, Rt. Rev. Robert Ali.

Submitted by:

Mr. Saurabh Khobragade

Intern- DATA Concerns, NCCI

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