As we turn 75 . . .

Message on the 75th Indian Independence day

On this day in the year 2021 we begin the 75th year of our journey as an independent nation. On the 15th of August 1947 we wrested our independence from the occupiers and with it the right to govern us ourselves.

Several experiments based on different political ideologies have brought us to where we are today. While we celebrate the successes, we must confess that we have not adequately reflected on things that we have not done well. In some cases we have tried to set right the wrongs in ways that are more damaging. We should also confess that we have failed to capture the dreams and aspirations of the average citizens and give expression to it. Oftentimes we have tried to compete with the our neighbors and peers and failed to cater to the needs of our own people.

The annual observance of this sacred day of the independence of our nation and particularly the 75th year can be an opportune moment to revisit what we wanted to be, where circumstances have taken us, and how best to correct our course to realise all that we wanted to be. We should seize the occasion lest it’s momentousness be just another memory.

Promotion of a dynamic intermingling of all faith and belief traditions toward the affirmation of dignity and life of every single citizen, overcoming the majority-minority polemic by drawing the national ‘development’ agenda from the perspective of the weak and vulnerable sections of the population including ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities as well as those of gender identity, sexual orientation, age and ability who together make up a large percentage of the population of this country, nurturing a human rights oriented secular community in which freedom of conscience, speech, expression, association, assembly, religion and belief is lifted up with no compromise, cannot but be on our agenda.

Focusing on the ‘panchayati raj’ as the key to planning, and the identification, acknowledgement and strengthening of the ‘gram sabhas’ as primary institutions of local governance, can be the key. This should strengthen participation of ALL people in the realisation of our common destiny and will give confidence that it is WE who govern ourselves the way we wanted and are not dictated to behave the way our ‘rulers’ in the national or state capital want us to, nor be dictated by finance capital but make it serve the interest of the common person.

The Christian scripture, as would all revelations that are authenticated by their focus on the emancipation of life of all, affirms that “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for common good (1 Corinthians 12:7)”. It further exhorts that each of us look not only to ours but to the interests of all (Philippians 2:4)

Prayer moves the hand that moves the world. On this NCCI-EFI National Day of Prayer (August 15, 2021) let us thus align our will to that of the God of the universe, the Principal and Ultimate principle, the source of all things visible and invisible, and the Great Leveller. And….in so doing challenge exercise of authority that is unjust, also thereby affirming with all its citizens an India that evolves further to be our Pride – in which there is no poor, no oppressed, no marginalised and none live with stigma and ostracization. We stand firm when we kneel more.

God bless India. Please accept the best wishes of the National Council of Churches in India on this solemn occasion of the observance of our 75th Independence day. Jai Hind!

Rev. Asir Ebenezer (he, his, him)
General Secretary NCCI

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