Beating swords into plowshares …

(Isaiah 2:4, Joel 3:10, Micah 4:3)

Indian Republic day 2021

Never before has the recollection of this iconic phrase been more relevant than on this Indian Republic day 26th January 2021 when representatives of the agricultural community are calling the attention of the nation to address the sovereignty of food for securing the sovereignty of the nation and her peoples.

The phrase, used in referencing to the biblical text or otherwise, has been used by Statesmen in their swearing in, while signing peace accords or while addressing the United Nations. It is also used by musicians in different parts of the world calling for peace amidst peoples.

For close to three millennia, the biblical texts have called for an end to war, “… they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). Yet, we have not learnt from our experiences and continue to strife one with another. A large percentage of the budget of almost every nation including the poorer ones has been allocated for improving ‘security’ of the respective countries. Industries of war have been the only beneficiaries while the poor of every nation continue to be at the receiving end.

The tractors of the food producing communities in India run a commentary today on the above biblical texts that point to the fact that the sovereignty of the nations rest not in their weapons of war but in affirming food sovereignties. This will in turn reduce illnesses, eradicate malnutrition, prosper mutual cooperation, ensure fair trade and just commerce, and further fraternal relations.

On this anniversary of the Republic day, the 26th of January 2021, may ‘we the people’ of the Sovereign Socialist Democratic Republic of India challenge ourselves to build for us and for all creatures in our shared home – this planet – secure and sovereign neighbourhoods and states that say NO to sovereignties affirmed through war and bloodshed and YES to affirming sovereignties of food communities of health and healing.

Indians here and everywhere, and those of Indian origin, lead the way everywhere. In considering the call of the farmers we must show the world we have a different socio-political perspective to the healing of the nations, where every individual’s, groups’ and communities’ freedom of expression and conscience, as well as that of religion and belief is respected. We will invite all to join in the familiar anti-war agro-based song:

“And everyone ‘neath their vine and fig tree
Shall live in peace and unafraid
And everyone ‘neath their vine and fig tree
Shall live in peace and unafraid

And into plowshares turn their swords
Nations shall learn war no more
And into plowshares turn their swords
Nations shall learn war no more”


Jai Hind !

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary
National Council of Churches in India

Astounding wisdom of Christmas, growing weak through every passing year . . .

At a time when the Roman power was at its peak, the Greek philosophy was flourishing and the Jewish religion looked upon itself as the only revelation of the one pure God, the birth of Jesus comes crashing in as an alternative to the status quo of a disempowering power, disorienting wisdom, and distancing religious experiences.

In the birth of Jesus the nomadic sheep-farming community finds something worthwhile to proclaim to the world. The wisdom of the east identifies in the birth of a baby, and comes seeking, the deliverance of the world. At a time when philosophic, religious and government nexus wielded power to the extent where an alternate could not even be dreamt off, deliverance was identified in Jesus by the belittled, poor, despised nomads, and the citizens of the east.

 When hope seemed hopeless the voice in the wilderness identified Jesus as the Messiah of the times. The woman who supposedly lived with many men ran into the city with the message of hope that she had found the Messiah. A visually challenged person Bartimaeus discerned the Messiah in Jesus. The roman soldier who was put on guard until Jesus died cried out that Jesus is truly the chosen one of God. Through the ages and in every generation peoples of no noble birth and nondescript persons have identified redemption and redeemers from among them that can redeem the world. Such astounding wisdom which comes alive in every age and time has the potential to transform peoples into flourishing communities of hope. This we need to celebrate lest it wane into oblivion.

At the close of a stressful year that no one wants to remember and at the threshold of what was expected to be a better year, we are met with a strain – a new strain of the virus that has dashed hopes of respite in the New Year. Wisdom and scientific temper, human understanding and intellect, are all stretched to the limit. The virus mutates and still evades us. Depressed and disappointed the world is aghast with desperation.

Christmas reminds us that agrarian and farming communities and the wisdom from eastern traditions have much to offer for renewal and recouping. Their wisdom in identifying Jesus as the Christ has stood the test of times – for more than 2000 years of Christian witness through successive generations. There is immense wisdom in the farming community, the poor, the worker, the young, children, women, people with disabilities, persons of different gender identities and sexual orientations, and all such despised persons and communities.

Christmas beckons us to get back to the drawing board, evaluate structures and systems that have betrayed us and, on the terms of and along with victim and vulnerable communities, work on building sustaining and life flourishing communities. It is a call to be prophetic and pragmatic. Let us therefore bow before the manger of this astounding wisdom; the wisdom that exemplified at the first Christmas, was relevant through the ages, and that which stands out as the hope of any possible future.

May we be blessed at Christmas and all through the New Year.


Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary,
National Council of Churches in India

Churches challenged to commit to uphold Gender Rights of Dalit Women

The churches and its institutions should work towards ensuring the dignity and safety of Dalit women working in healthcare and care-giving sectors. There is also a need to open other available professions and ventures in order to encourage Dalit women their participation and representation. Ms. Hannah Dhanaraj, a dalit feminist professional, one of the panelists spoke thus in the webinar conducted by the NCCI Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns and the NCCI Women’s concerns program clusters to commemorate the International Human Rights day on Thursday the 10th December 2020. She also said that the church should be aware that the Dalit women are made to work only on certain sectors of labor as in life-sustaining work and as caregivers. She also said that strategically the choice for dalit women professionals is limited and also are underpaid.

On the same note Ms. Deepthi Sukumar co-convener of the Safai Karmachari Andolan mentioned that a major effort is required to address the safety and protection to women working as sanitation and health care workers. She also mentioned that Churches should take note and involve in rebuilding, restarting and reworking strategies on eradicating and challenging caste atrocities and forcing dalit women and men to dangerous works such as manual scavenging. She also said that churches can involve in advocacy, lobbying, researching new forms of untouchability practices that have emerged during the pandemic and post-pandemic situations.

Speaking from the Human rights angle Ms. Cynthia Stephen, social activist and human rights defender spoke of the need to devote resources to uplift the dalit women in order to make them economically and socially empowered. She said that the task of the church is to bring out special provisions in the way of giving leadership to the women priests and clergy. She also said that the challenge is for the churches, its institutions and clergy particularly male clergy is to distribute and encourage the sharing of resources to the Dalit women. She also mentioned that there is a desperate need to become a part of the system that upholds the rights and dignity of Dalit women.

It is to be noted that caste system is the most heinous social structure world has ever seen. Caste-based discrimination involves massive violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Dalit women are one of the largest socially segregated groups in our country. The dominant caste groups (oppressors) use sexual abuse and other forms of violence and humiliation against Dalit women as tools to inflict “lessons” and crush dissent of labor and other movements within Dalit communities. Hathras case is one of the recent examples of such violence.

Although both Dalit men and women suffer under the same traditional taboos, Dalit women are confronted with these more often and are frequent victims of sexual abuse. They are discriminated not only by people of dominant castes, but also within their own communities, where men are dominant. In such perilous times the significance of Human Rights in the context of Caste based Gender violence constraining to the women in the margin becomes a dire need of the hour. Human Rights is the fundamental right of every human being to live, sustain and thrive on earth and betrayal of a person’s human right is a serious attempt to shatter the person’s dignity and right to life.

The theme for the international Human Rights Day 2020 suggested by the United Nations say “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights.”  The theme speaks volumes towards a praxis-oriented step to rebuild, rethink, restructure and rework from the past to form a brand new present which sojourns by taking everyone together without any form of discrimination or differentiation.

The National Council of Churches in India – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns and Women’s Concerns organized the webinar to mark the Human Rights Day and also conclude the 16 days of global activism against gender based violence. The webinar was yet another opportunity to reflect and emphasize effective and praxis-oriented activism. The Churches in the membership of the NCCI must stand with the Dalit women who are fighting for rights, fighting for justice, and together push for eradicating caste and caste based gender discrimination.


Pradip Bansrior
Executive Secretary
Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns
National Council of Churches in India


The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1.14 NIV

Dear Beloved members of the large family of NCCI,

There cannot be a more relevant Bible verse for Christmas this year than John 1.14, where our great yearning is met by the assurance of the Word of God. The reason is obvious. We live in a world torn apart by the attack of the great pandemic. COVID- 19 is not just a serious health hazard only. It is a plague which has affected our courage, mental peace, family life, economy, spiritual life, educational system, job security and future planning in all areas of life. We are suffering for almost 10 months now because of the devastating pandemic taking away the lives of many and leaving many disabled. The whole world is running around looking for the discovery of vaccine as well as for other ways of escaping from the pandemic. If someone who has the power and courage can come and live with us to heal us, comfort us and restore us, that is what we require urgently. The word of God says, that in the birth of Jesus, that is accomplished fully. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He is very much present among us as Immanuel, “God with us.”

I am happy to note that the NCCI secretariat took up the challenges of COVID-19 and organized many programmes and activities through Webinars, Zoom meetings and other virtual techniques. Churches accompanying Distressed Migrants to Life, Church and Women during COVID-19, Six Webinars of “We the people:”, deliberation on our Constitution, Pastoral Care During COVID-19, Sustainable Environment, Affirming Human Rights and intercepting Human

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Tribute to an Ecumenical Stalwart: His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma


The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) joins the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church in thanking God for the life and witness of the Metropolitan His Grace Dr Joseph Mar Thoma, who received his home call in the early hours of 18 October, 2020 months after his 90th birthday.

The Metropolitan has been a great ecumenist, visionary and a committed church leader. Churches in India will remember his astute and graceful leadership for years to come. His passing away is at a time when Christian communities in India desperately need strong and proficient leadership.

The 63 long years of his ministry through the church benefited not only the Mar Thoma Church but also other churches in India and Asia. Besides giving leadership to the NCCI as its President, the Metropolitan also provided leadership to the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), Christian Conference of Asia and World Council of Churches in various capacities.

A man of courage, His Grace helped NCCI face critical moments in its history with determination especially during organizational crises. The Metropolitan was an influential and effective mediator of conflicts that emerged within and between member churches. His initiatives in peace talks in Nagaland, Manipur, East Timor, Cambodia and Sri Lanka are remarkable and witness to his gift and talent as a peace-builder.

HG Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma willingly acknowledged people who worked in ecumenical organizations, and many in ecumenical circles will testify to his hospitality and care with a personal touch. He took daring decisions once he was convinced of a cause and executed the same without fear or favour.

NCCI joins the Mar Thoma Church in praying God that the Church will find comfort and peace in the certain hope of resurrection to eternal life. With ardent hope in the Triune God we continue to pray for the meaningful journey of the Church.

Most Rev. Dr. P. C.Singh

Rev. Dr. D. Ratnakara Sadananda
Ms. Aleyamma Thomas
Mr. Liju Kuriakose
Vice Presidents

Rev. Joshua Peter

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary

NCCI condemns brutal rape of young dalit girl leading to her death as crime against humanity, initiates campaign to address caste based gender violence

National Council of Churches in India condemns the alleged gang rape and assault of 19 year young dalit girl in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh leading to her death. The barbaric torture has led the victim to undergo an enormous amount of mental, emotional and physical suffering along with a dent on her dignity. Atrocities against women have increased now in India and in this case the victim was a Dalit and she was denied the basic dignity even in her funeral. Denial of dignified funeral was the ultimate of the turmoil for the family of the victim. This act exposes the vulnerability of women in India and especially the women belonging to the discriminated sections of the society such as the dalits, adivasi and tribals.

The alarming torture of gang rape on a girl cannot be neglected as it raises a serious concern on the security of women and girls in society and more importantly the rising toxic masculinity as assertion of power. We cannot neglect the alleged cutting off of the tongue which is a sign to silence a person and their community. We cannot remain silent now otherwise a whole generation will be lost due to brutality and lust of toxic masculinity.

This horrific incident is a blot on the affirmation of Human Rights, Right to Dignity of Life, Protection of dalits and Adivasi/ Tribal communities. The NCCI demands effective judicial action to be taken against the perpetrators of this crime and the officials involved in delaying the writing of FIR and doing a hurried non ritualistic funeral of the victim allegedly without consent of the family. The NCCI demands that speedy justice should be delivered to the victim and the bereaved family, and that protection be given to family members of the deceased as the family need moral and judicial help because they are vulnerable due to their economic and social status of being Dalits.

National Council of Churches in India calls upon the National Human Rights Commission to take appropriate measures to safeguard the constitutional rights that affirm life ‘OF’ all and life ‘FOR’ all to ensure justice without bias so that the rights and dignity of the members belonging to victimised and vulnerable communities will be protected. The NCCI will address such heinous caste based gender violence in its campaign leading to the Human Rights day involving the participation of its constituents.

Rev. Jyoti Singh Pillai                                                                                                                    Pradip Bansrior 
Executive Secretary                                                                                                                          Executive Secretary
Women’s Concerns                                                                                                                          Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary
National Council of Churches in India

Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims await justice; 70 Years of Discrimination based on Religion


Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims observe August 10th across the country as a day to highlight and protest the denial of the fundamental constitutional rights to them for the last seventy years!

When India became a Republic, we resolved as a nation to secure Justice, Equality, Liberty and Dignity for all our citizens. Members of castes worst affected from centuries of social oppression, the Scheduled Castes (SCs), were constitutionally assured special protection and affirmative benefits. These measures are necessary to help them overcome the effect of centuries of discrimination and oppression. The Constitution of India is a protector of democratic values, and articles 25 to 28 list provisions that ensure freedom of religion. Unfortunately, these fundamental rights have been denied to the Dalit communities converted to Christianity and Islam through the infamous Presidential (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950. This privilege was extended in 1956 to Sikhs and in 1990 to Buddhists of dalit origin. Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims continue to be kept outside this privilege.

Approximately 70% of the Christian population in India are from Scheduled Caste backgrounds. Dalit Christians have a unique history of faith experiences because of their caste identity. They embraced Christianity as a faith affirmation against caste slavery and these experiences vary according to regional contexts. It is not only common knowledge but also borne out of numerous extensive research studies that the Dalits are unfortunately still identified first by their caste by a large section of the Indian society. All their other identities, arising from their religious, regional, linguistic and other affiliations are secondary identities that do nothing to displace the severity of the caste-based discrimination and violence that they suffer.

Followed by the decades long mass struggles and advocacy initiatives, finally a Writ Petition (180/2004) was filed in the Supreme Court of India by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation challenging the Presidential (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950. The Writ Petition is also looking for justice from the apex court to allow and extend the Scheduled Caste status to Christians of Scheduled Caste origin for availing special privilege in education, getting scholarships, employment opportunity, welfare measures, affirmative actions, right to contest in the reserved constituencies from panchayat, legislative assemblies up to the Parliament and for availing the legal remedy/protection under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes (Prevention) of Atrocities Act, 1989 amended in the year 2018.

On January 7th 2020, The Supreme Court agreed to examine the plea filed by Adv. Franklin Ceaser Thomas that Dalit Christians or Christians of Scheduled Castes origin should enjoy the same quota benefits reserved for Scheduled Castes. A bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde issued notice to the central government that reservation for government jobs and admissions in education institutions should be made “religion neutral”. The Civil Writ petition is pending before the Hon’ble Court for further hearing. The 70 years of  struggle for justice should be supported by the people who believe in equality and democracy. The Supreme Court has a monumental opportunity now to render justice to millions of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims who continue to suffer from social stigma and the horrors of untouchability.

We await Justice with earnest faith in God

Rev. Asir Ebenezer 
General Secretary

August 2020

NCCI Webinar on Dalit Christians: 70 years of discrimination based on religion

NCCI Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns

Tuesday, 4 August 2020 at 02.30pm – 04.00pm (IST)

Dalit Christians had launched agitations since 1950s towards the Union Government demanding the amendment of the Constitutional (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950, which excludes the Dalit Christians from enjoying the benefits of the Scheduled Castes. The main reason for including only castes professing Hindu religion in the Scheduled Caste list was directly linked to the practice of untouchability. The criteria suggested by the then Census Commissioner were used to identify the castes to be listed under the Schedules created by the Government of India Act 1935. The Government of India Scheduled Caste Order 1936 was issued under this Act. Paragraph 3 of this Order provides that “No Indian Christian shall be deemed to be a member of Scheduled Caste”. In the year 1950, the President of India issued the “ Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950” specifying the castes to be recognised as the Scheduled Castes by exercising the authority conferred on him under article 341 (1) of the Constitution of India. The third paragraph of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950, popularly known as the Presidential Order, stipulates that “no person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of Scheduled Caste”. This Order violates the spirit of many articles of our Constitution such as article 15 that mentions equal treatment of all citizens and article 25 that affirm the freedom of religion.

Approximately 70% of the Christian population in India are from Scheduled caste backgrounds. Dalit Christians have a unique history of faith experiences because of the caste identity. Dalits embraced Christianity as a faith affirmation against caste slavery and these experiences vary according to regional contexts. Dalits continue to be excluded, discriminated, and dehumanized even after India became an independent democratic nation. Dalits are the victims of multiple social and religious discriminations and are kept as untouchables, polluted, and forced to do the traditional, menial, and unclean occupations. The struggle for being constitutionally recognized as Christians of Scheduled Caste Origin has not been materialized. NCCI made several representations since 1950 to the Government and these have included Presentation of Memorandum to the President, Prime Minister, and advocating for the Dalit Christians with Members of Parliament. In 2004 a writ petition (180/2004) was filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation Challenging the Presidential (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950. This case is still pending in the Supreme Court due to the delay of the Union Government of India to give a reply to the Court inspite of the assurance given in 2008 to the Court that they would give a reply within eight weeks! In 2013, NCCI has filed an impleading application in the Supreme Court of India as the Civil Writ petition (180/2004) is pending before the Hon’ble Court. The case has been posted for hearing from October 2019 onwards. The 70 years of struggle for justice has to be supported by the people who believe in equality and democracy.

A panel of distinguished speakers, listed below, will draw our attention to the struggle of a seventy years and it’s current stage, how successive governments have failed us, the socio-political fallout of this discrimination, and the challenging way ahead..

Ms. Tehmina Arora  – Director, ADF India
Rev. Dr. Cosmon Arokiaraj – Director, St. Peter’s Arts and Science College, Andimadam, Tamil Nadu,
Rev. Sunil Raj Philip – Director, CSI Synod Dept. of Communication and Department of Dalit and Adivasi Concerns

 The Webinar will be facilitated by Mr. Pradip Bansrior and Mr. Shibi Peter.

Please do join us in virtual meeting on Zoom platform and encourage others to join. The Zoom link, ID and Password are mentioned below.

Click here for Zoom Link 

 Meeting ID: 967 4542 3418

 Password: 905018

 For any queries please contact:


Pradip Bansrior
Executive Secretary
Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns, NCCI

Tribal and Adivasi Sunday | 9 August 2020


Respected Ecumenical Leaders,

Greetings from NCCI- Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns!

Over the years Tribal and Adivasi Sunday has been celebrated in many parts of our country in sensitizing the local congregation on Tribal and Adivasi Concerns. Thanks to the enormous support we have received from across the churches, dioceses, parishes and institutions in celebrating this special Sunday. This year also we are inviting you to celebrate the Tribal and Adivasi Sunday on 9th August 2020 in your churches/local parishes/institutions adhering to the Covid-19 protocols of restrictions on physical gathering.

The theme for this year’s Tribal and Adivasi Sunday is “COVID 19 and Reclaiming Our Indigenous Heritage” and we have prepared a special Order of Worship for the day. You may please take the freedom to use the entire worship order and translate it in your vernacular language or adapt parts of it. We sincerely hope that the observance of this special NCCI Tribal and Adivasi Sunday will be an enriching one in our faith affirmation and commitment and for widening the horizon of our ecumenical journey.

Let us join to celebrate Tribal and Adivasi Sunday on 9th August 2020.

Thanking you in anticipation.

With regards,

In Christ,

Pradip Bansrior
Executive Secretary
Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns
National Council of Churches in India

Download Order of Worship

For further information please write to us at