NCCI XXVIII Assembly Resolutions on Public Issues
We, the delegates of the 28th Quadrennial Assembly of the National Council of Churches in India held at Christ Church Girls’ Senior Secondary School, Jabalpur from April 27 to April 30, 2016, having solemnly reflected upon issues affecting India in particular and the world at large, hereby pass resolutions on the same.
1. Affirming Secularism in Pluralistic Society:
The present Indian society is seriously affected by the phenomena of fundamentalism, communalism, saffronisation of education and cultures, restrictions on churches, christian institutions and their services, intolerance, shrinking space for freedom of speech and expression, attacks on religious minorities, criminalization in the name of God, Faith, Ideologies and Confessions.
We therefore resolve:
- The government should adopt policies and undertake measures that affirm the secular spirit of the Indian Constitution which guarantees freedom to all its citizens to practice, preach and propagate their respective faiths.
- The government should respect and protect the rights of religious minorities and their institutions.
- The government should create mechanisms for promoting interfaith and inter-ideological harmony.
- Churches should engage in responsible liberativeevangelism and mission expressing the positive values of the gospel and its relevance to our contemporary context.
2. Affirming Human Rights in Indian Society:
Contemporary Indian society is plagued by structural evils of patriarchy, caste and globalization, which result in gender injustice, oppression and exploitation of dalits and tribals / adivasis, unequal distribution of wealth, resources, production and consumption of energy, poverty, increase in unemployment and underemployment, displacement of labour, migration and human trafficking, exploitation of natural resources, life-killing agriculture, corporate terrorism, etc. While Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees Right to Life as a fundamental right of the people, we experience the denial of rights to Children, Women, Youth, Tribals, Adivasis, Dalits, People with Disabilities, Sexual Minorities, People infected and affected with HIV and AIDS, Migrants, Labour, homeless and resourceless people, slum dwellers and other marginalized groups.
On the issue of patriarchy we therefore resolve:
- The government should take strict measures against sexual and gender discrimination, sexual abuse, domestic violence, sexual harassment at the work place, female foeticide / infanticide, dowry deaths, trafficking, etc.
- The government should pass bills that ensure at least 1/3 representation of women in the parliament and state assemblies. Furthermore, women should be given the freedom and power to take decisions on their own at all levels of government and civil administration.
- Churches should seriously address and facilitate the partnership of women in all ecclesial bodies, including the ordination of women.
- Churches should encourage families to cultivate and strengthen a culture of equality, respect, love, service and harmony. Practices of female foeticide and dowry should be strongly prohibited.
On the issue of caste we therefore resolve:
- The government should provide reservation for all dalits including Christians and Muslims, and ensure that reservation allotments are made.
- The government should delete para 3 of Presidential order 1950 that excludes dalit Christians and dalit Muslims. People are dalits by birth and not by religion. Therefore their faith should not deprive those dalits who are Muslims and Christians of the reservations and entitlements given to other dalits.
- The Church and civil society movements have been engaged in a long battle with the government demanding reservation for dalit Christians and dalit Muslims in line with their counterparts of other faiths. The government should file its reply to the supreme court petition.
- Churches must seriously implement the campaign of NCCI “No one can serve Christ and caste”, and actively take measures to end caste-based discrimination within their bodies.
On the issue of globalization we therefore resolve:
- Governments and churches should take cognizance of the outcome and impact of economic globalization in terms of acquisition of people’s lands in the name of development and their displacement, homelessness, forced migration, human trafficking, farmer suicides and urbanization.
- The policies of corporates, financial institutions and governments are unjustly biased; necessary changes in terms of affirmative action need to be brought about in favour of the people and all creation.
- Governments should take care to see that indigenous / rural people are not deprived of their homelands in the name of development. Those whose lands have already been acquired should be given just compensation and opportunities for development. And if the land acquired is not put to use for the said purpose and if the particular development activities are completed, such lands with proper compensation to rebuild the land for cultivation or other use to be given back to the original land owners who sold the land as a lease for development. So also serious attention should be given to the concerns of deforestation, desertification, and adverse climate change as a result of globalization.
- Governments should undertake measures to root out corruption in government and corporate agreements and transactions. The forces of law and order, along with investigative mechanisms as well as the judicial systems and processes should remain unhindered by vested interests of third parties.
- Churches should ensure that their ministries do not fall prey to the ideology of globalization and its practices. In particular, churches should not commercialize their educational, health care and social service ministries.
- Churches should partner with civil society movements which challenge the system of globalization and which endeavor to usher in holistic alternatives to globalization.
- Churches should engage in exposing the role of financial institutions and the investments that are root causes of poverty, unemployment, resource degradation, farmers sucide and permeating injustices.
- NCCI Member Churches would approve the social security policy guidelines to assure dignity of labour with adequate and lawful social security and affirm the dignity of labouras its missional intervention. Churches would also lobby with the governments to ensure pro-labour / pro-worker social security policies.
3. Affirming Life in its Fullness:
In line with the Biblical vision of ‘Fullness of life for all creation’, and in accordance with the directive principles of state policy as laid down in the Indian Constitution, the government, the church and all religious organizations along with NGOs and civil society movements, should be committed to the enhancement of the quality of life for all creation.
On the issue of Education, we therefore resolve:
- On the basis of the United Nations Declaration on Universal Education and Right to Education, the government should provide basic education to all. The government should ensure that children are not deprived of this right to education, which often is the case of children belonging to weaker sections of the society.
- The Government should ensure the environment through their appropriate policies that encourages and ensures the pupil from marginalized and rural communities to fully and lawfully pursue their higher education in professional institutions and universities, to affirm ‘Right to Higher Education’ to affirm social justice of all and for all.
- The government, the church, NGOs and civil society movements should encourage in particular the education of girl children.
- Furthermore, the government, the church, NGOs and civil society movements should build the capacities of students from weaker sections of society, particularly dalits and tribals / adivasis, and facilitate them to go for higher education.
- The churches should condemn the privatization of the educational system by corporates. They should also create more space in their institutions for education of the poor and the dalit, adivasis, tribals and other marginalized communities.
- The churches should develop education systems that address unemployment by creating space for capacity building for self and gainful employment opportunities.
On the issue of Health, we therefore resolve:
- The government should discern factors that are responsible for ill health, malnutrition and other related problems especially among the children and the people such as socio-economic structures which cause exploitation, deprivation, in-accessibility of basic health care, increasing landlessness, hunger and starvation, climate change, extractive industries, chemical fertilizers, genetic engineering, life-killing agriculture, fast food culture, inaccessibility to clean potable water, pollution, etc. Stringent action needs to be taken against all the perpetrators of the factors of ill health and malnutrition in the society.
- The government should ensure facilities that promote the heath of people particularly the poor, dalits, tribals / adivasis, women, children, the disabled, those infected and affected with HIV and AIDS, and people with sexual diversities.
- The government should ensure that medical facilities are easily accessible to the people in terms of geographical proximity and economic affordability.
- Churches should facilitate health justice by campaigning and advocating for policy changes in health, education, land, forest, agriculture, water and sanitation.
- The churches, along with NGOs and civil society movements, provide easily accessible health care facilities and treatment. Churches should resist the temptation of commercialization of health care.
On the issue of Climate Change, we therefore resolve:
- The government and corporates should acknowledge that their development models, mega projects, extractive industries, manufacture of non-biodegradable products and the promotion of consumerist lifestyles, have led to global pollution and global warming thereby adversely affecting the life of all creation. Therefore urgent efforts should be undertaken to mitigate and prevent the ill effects of global pollution.
- The government and corporates should urgently commit themselves to follow eco-friendly models of sustainable development.
- The Churches should address and respond to the impact of climate change and the victims of climate change triggering global warming and causing drought, erratic rain fall, flash floods, water crisis, sea level rises, heat waves, cyclones by enabling the communities to adapt and mitigate through climate action plans of alternative production models of energy, food and other industries contributing to climate change and life styles.
- The churches should encourage members to develop eco-friendly theologies and eco-integrated practices.
On the issue of Transparency, Accountability and Responsibility, we therefore resolve:
- The government should respect the RTI Act and make all its administrative procedures and executive actions transparent, accountable and responsible to the citizens of the country.
- The government should bring in ‘Lok Pal’ Acts and mechanisms which would render them as democratic, people-friendly agencies of service.
- Churches should also ensure that their records, accounts, resolutions, etc. are transparent, accountable and responsible.
- Churches should play a prophetic and proactive role in bringing about changes in their systems in favour of people, and responsibly managing church resources such as land, building, other properties including human resources.
On the issue of Peace and Human Security, we therefore resolve:
- The government should adopt policies of peace-building and human security. Therefore the security and defense budgets for weapons production and militarization have to be cut down.
- Churches should engage in the national and global struggle against production of of destructive weapons, militarization and nuclearization. They should, in line with the NCCI’s efforts, engage in campaigns against Arms Trade and nuclearization.
- Churches, along with NGOs and civil society movements, should stand, as they have done in some cases, in solidarity with people who are victims of, and protesting against, militarization and nuclearlization projects and processes in the country and oppose forceful imposition of the unconstitutional security laws such as AFSPA, SalwaJudum and such special acts that reduce the public spaces and voices.
- Churches should serve as channels of conflict-resolution and peace-building in the society.
On the issue of challenges in South Asia, we resolve:
- The governments and churches should appreciatively respect the plurality of rich cultures and harmonious societal living in South Asia.
- The governments and churches should condemn the recent phenomena of rise of fundamentalism, cultural nationalism, weapon-solution ideologies (resistant movements) and cross border terrorism that have sharply divided Countries and Societies. Intolerance, hatred, hostility and enmity have almost become the way of life for many people in the region.
- Churches should acknowledge and condemn that even some right-oriented faith(s) are responsible for division and restlessness in society.
- Since in all the South Asian Countries, Christians are a minority, we the churches, along with NCCI, appeal to all the heads of the South Asian Nations to assure the safety and security of all religious and other minorities including Christians.
On the issue of challenges in West Asia, we resolve:
- We, the churches, along with NCCI, express our solidarity with church Leaders and other faith leaders, men and women of Christian, Muslim, and Yazigi faiths who are being taken as hostages, thrown out of their homes, dispossessed, and killed in large numbers.
- We strongly condemn the abduction of HG Mor. GregoriosYohanna Ibrahim, the Metropolitan of the Syriac Orthodox Church and MorBoulosYasigi, the Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Church, who are still in the custody of the extremists and we ask the extremists to release them immediately and unconditionally.
4. Affirming Churches’ role in advocacy and other transformation processes:
Advocacy must be one of the Church’s priority. Advocacy is considered to be one of the effective means of social and political change. Empowerment of the marginalized communities and sensitizing (making aware) the rich are essential components of action in the present context of the development processes. Therefore Churches should take up issue-based activities focusing on bringing change in power equations and influencing policy-making authorities and institutions through democratic means. Daily we come across campaigns, struggles, morchas against mal-developmental interventions that adversely affect the people and the environment. We need to resort to Judicial and Legislative Advocacy as well as overall grassroots mobilization, networking and direct actions.
We therefore resolve:
- To facilitate a joint process by the Southern and Northern partners of identifying issues concerning humanity.
- To provide conceptual clarity in understanding advocacy not as a tool for change but as a way of life.
- To identify peoples’ struggles for justice in the country’s context and find ways to strengthen their struggles; to arrange international meetings to share and raise voices against injustices.
- To organize campaigns, struggles through mass movements and existing judicial institutions; to work out possibilities for church representatives to participate in issue-based meetings.
- To facilitate periodic interface of the Churches with the so-called rich, both in the South and North, thereby sensitizing them to bring about changes in their mind-set and development philosophies.
- To arrange capacity-building programmes for Church representatives to effectively counter the rich and their development policies that are impoverishing and marginalizing the people – both in the North and in the South.
- To identify International institutions which are already playing effective advocacy role in the field of environment, development, displacement, human rights, child labour, women, oppression, racism etc.
- To promote national level advocacy units in the churches and to network at the international Level – among Churches and with secular movements.
- To identify government companies of the North which are doing business in the South. The churches in the North should involve in identifying private and logistical support for and solidarity with people in the South who are the victims of mal-developmental interventions.
- To build data on legal and social activities and provide necessary issue-based documentation for further action. To identify pro-people media and use the media effectively. To help Churches in documenting case studies on issues for advocacy work.
- To raise resources for such activities and accompany the partners on a long term basis to bring desirable changes both in the South and in the North.
May we all be committed to working for and facilitating just and inclusive communities!