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Re-constitution of nic demanded

The All India Christian Council had demanded that the Centre immediately reconstitute the National Integration Council. The council, which now exists merely on paper, has not met for several years. Several of its members are now dead, particularly some who represented the Minority communities.

With the National Commission for Minorities reducing itself to a hand-maiden of the government, there is urgent need that a reconstituted National Integration Council be convened soon to discuss urgent issues that exercise the minds of the minorities. These issues include physical and institutional violence, continuing abuse of VISA and FCRA provisions, harassment of the minority Press, and non implementation of assurances under Article 30 to minority-run institutions.

All India Christian Council President Joseph D Souza and Secretary General John Dayal have written letters to recently installed chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondicherry, West Bengal and Assam, as also to the heads of the ruling parties and coalitions in these states. The letters urge the chief ministers and party heads to put pressure on the Prime Minister and other central leaders when they meet the Central functionaries during their visits to New Delhi after assuming office. The chief ministers have also been urged to ensure that the state governments take all steps to strengthen Constitutional guarantees of secular polity and administration right up to the grass roots level.

Following are excerpts of the letter sent to the chief ministers:
“Your victory places a great responsibility on you and your party/coalition not only in the state, but also in Parliament in New Delhi. The minorities, and specially the Christian community in the states and the country, hope you will ensure there is no deviation by the state government from the commitment to the secular guarantees of the Constitution and the welfare of the minorities and the marginalized groups, which have so overwhelmingly placed their faith in you.

You are fully aware, and we need not tell you, of our continuing fear of the rapid erosion of the secular fabric of the country under the dispensation of the Hindutva Parivar whose political wing is in control of the Central government. The rapid sanskritisation of Human Resource development is only one indication of this agenda. The rewriting of history, the intrusion into the curricula of school education and some states allowing their employees to join the Rasthriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) are now a matter of record. Also on record is the continuing violence against the Christian community and the increasing restrictions on mission activity and church institutions in several states.

“Recent researches have shown the extent of economic deprivation of the minorities in general and the Christian community in particular, because of the lop-sided development strategies and the failure of Central and several state governments to formulate constructive development plans in conjunction with the minority communities. Even the few programmes that exist on paper are not implemented with any integrity. If this trend is not reversed, the minorities, and especially our community, faces economic trauma in the future, specially in the context of the impact of globalization, internal privatization and the rapid abdication by the government of its role in the social sector.

“In India’s federal polity, we hope your party and your government in the state will play a leading role in expressing the aspirations of the minorities in the highest forums of the nation, and will stand boldly in challenging all political and social forces that erode India’s secular ethos by their ideology of hatred and their fixation with a neo fascist agenda of One People One Nation one Culture, a thesis overwhelmingly rejected by India at large. A first step would be the demand that the Government of India immediately reconstitute the National Integration Council. We also hope you will take up in right earnest the long standing demand of Dalit Christians for the reversal of the pernicious Presidential Order of 1950 which took away their rights of religious freedom and benefits accruing from proactive legislations.”

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