While we participate in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25) and focus on the theme, “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious In Power” (Ex. 15:6), reminding ourselves of God’s engagement to liberate people from the bondage of political, social and economic oppression, it is but apt that churches also observe important days in the life of our country . As citizens of India, on Republic Day, let us affirm the Nazareth Manifesto (Luke 4:18-19) of Jesus Christ, standing for justice, liberation and holistic well being of all, and as disciples of the Crucified Jesus Christ be reminded of the cost of discipleship on Martyrs Day, as we move on in the resurrection hope of a new just peaceful eco-integrated world of love!
The following appeal has been drafted for your deliberation and action.
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
General Secretary, NCCI.
A Call to Churches to be Committed to a Campaign
To DEFEND Democracy
(REMEMBERING AMBEDKAR & GANDHI)
26th to 30th January, 2018
Threats looming large over the Indian Democracy have become more real today than ever before; and the country is witnessing an escalation in the violent attacks on minorities, dalits, adivasis, intellectuals, workers, writers, journalists, artists, students and community leaders who raise their voices honestly and express dissent and disagreement. Proclamations by the fascist and corporate forces to alter the Indian Constitution is part-and-parcel of a grand design to establish autocracy, especially with regard to removing “Socialism” and “Secularism” from the Preamble, and are also definitely designed to change the basic character of the Indian Constitution & Sovereignty of the State and, in turn, pave the way for establishing the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in its place.
Recent developments undermining and over-riding the established institutions and practices including the Parliament, Judiciary, Executive and the Press are clear writings on the wall to destroy democratic polity in India. The latest warning has come from four senior most judges of the Supreme Court who on 12th January called a press conference and said the situation in the apex court of the country was “not in order”, and many “less than desirable” things have taken place. Unless this institution is preserved, “democracy will not survive in this country,” the four judges said.
Just a few days ago, on 9th of January, hundreds and thousands of youth and students from all over the country had assembled in the capital city of the country in what was declared the ‘Yuva Hunkaar Rally’. Led by Dalit spearhead Jignesh Mevani, a newly-elected Gujarat MLA, and Former and current JNU student leaders, including Kanhaiya Kumar, Shehla Rashid and Umar Khalid, the rally proclaimed that : “There is a threat to our Constitution. We only want to save our Constitution.” The rally emphasized on some real issues like corruption, poverty, unemployment, educational rights, livelihood and gender justice etc., over against ghar-wapsi, love jihad and cows. Former JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar said that, “No matter how angry they make you, do not indulge in violence. When they come with lathis, prepare your backs, stand together but don’t forget, this cycle of violence can only be won with love.”
This uprising against the fascist and corporate agenda is to be viewed in the context of many democratic and peaceful people’s movements for justice, freedom, peace, equality and dignity; most of it being led by working class, adivasis, dalits, women and students asserting their fundamental right to Life, Livelihood and Liberty.
The repression and violence unleashed by both State and Non-State Actors on the citizens in general, and on suffering and struggling people in particular, has led to a situation which can definitely be described as the ‘undeclared’ Emergency Rule in India.
Against this backdrop, it is the people’s united voices of dissent and peaceful protests that can put a halt to this dangerous and draconian rule of a criminal combine of fascists and corporate forces that cut at the very root of the secular-socialist-democratic fabric of the polity in India. History and experience has taught us that at such times of threats and challenges, people have risen up to defeat the forces of death and destruction.
In continuation to the Church’s contribution to and participation in Nation-Building, drawing inspirations from the teachings of Jesus Christ, and our pledge to uphold the principles and values enshrined in the Constitution of India,
As Free Citizens of
the Republic of india
- To uphold and sustain the basic principles enshrined in the Constitution of India;
- To conscientize Christian congregations, and other patriotic citizens in the neighbourhood towards strengthening the secular-democratic polity in the country, and to follow non-violent and peaceful ways and means to do so;
- To unitedly work in the direction of development with justice and, in turn, demonstrate social activism aimed at establishing of a society based on equality, liberty and dignity for all;
- To galvanize our resources – both ideological and institutional – and forge a broad-based alliance to defend democracy, combat communalism and promote peace and justice through parliamentary and non-violent means.
As a first step in this direction, we have to
- Establish peace and justice, organize people’s forum to identity threats and challenges to the secular-socialist-democratic fabric of our polity; create conducive and healthy environment for collectively celebrating national, social and religious events; and recognize the great contribution of great social reformers: and above all that of Babasaheb Bheemrao Ambedkar (in the context of Republic Day, his contribution to the drafting of the Constitution of India is widely recognized) and of Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (whose unfailing faith in Non-violence motivated many in India and abroad);
- To provide substance to the social movements/campaigns and free the country and society from poverty, illiteracy, hunger and starvation, diseases and malnutrition, unemployment, discrimination in all its forms, communal, caste and gender violence and hatred, social evils such as alcoholism/drug addiction etc., child-marriage, child labour, dowry, untouchability, police atrocities and repression, corruption, discrimination, superstition, etc.
- Observing REPUBLIC DAY on 26th January, 2018 upholding the Constitutional
Values and Principles in all Churches and Christian Institutions all over India;
- Conducting Special Sunday Worship on 28th January, 2018 in Defense of Democracy and stout practice of Non-Violence;
- FASTING be undertaken in a Public Place to strengthen the spiritual dimension of NON-VIOLENCE on the Martyr’s Day on 30th January 2018;
- Engaging Youth, Students & Sunday School Children through Debate/Essay/Quiz Competitions on the significance of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed in the Constitution of India, and relevance of Non-violence as a way of life.
Appeal drafted and endorsed by a group of concerned Indian Christians.