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Posted Online on Wednesday 31, August 2005 03:55 IST

Re. Agenda for inaugural National Integration Council meet 

26 August 2005

Dr Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Chairman, National Integration Council
New Delhi

Re: Agenda for the inaugural meeting of the NIC on 31st August 2005

Greetings

The Christian Community of India, and specially its Dalit and marginalised sections, congratulate the Government of India, acting on your commitment, for reconstituting the National Integration Council, and convening its meeting after a gap of more than 13 years. 

The reconstitution of the NIC had been received with great hope and enthusiasm by the Minority communities and general and the Christian community in particular as its cries of anguish had gone unheard in the corridors of governance and administration for much the last decade. The hope was the greater because of several other welcome steps taken by your Government, including the setting up the National Commission on Minority Educational Institutions, the Rangnath Commission on backwardness among linguistic and religious groups, and the Justice Sachchar Commission to evaluate the economic condition of Muslims in India. 

It is therefore that we received the Agenda papers of the NIC meeting with great disappointment and some alarm. Some of us hope to present to the inaugural Council meeting a Paper on `A Christian perspective on National Integration’ reflecting our anxieties and expectations, and our great faith in the nurture and security of democracy in our great country.

But we feel obliged to challenge now certain basic assumptions in the Agenda papers which reflect insensitivity, to say the least, if not pre-conceived notions about our work, that seems to be a carryover from the past NDA government.

The agenda draftsmen of papers seem to believe that forcible and fraudulent conversions (to Christianity) are the main cause of civil unrest in tribal and other rural areas. This is a malicious myth propagated by obscurantist and fundamentalist – and often violent – political groups and their frontal organisations of a well known exclusivist ideology which believed in the thesis of One nation, One people, One Culture” totally negating the Indian reality of Unity and Diversity. The lie has been perpetrated for decades without evidence. Nuns have been raped, Priests murdered, churches attacked and believers harassed under the umbrella of this lie. No court, no state government and no district administration ahs been able to adduce a straw of evidence to prove fraudulent and forcible conversions. On the contrary, forcible and often violence 'ghar wapsi’ programs by criminal gangs have been the norm in the tribal belt. And yet state governments have fortified Anti-Conversion laws till they totally erode all Constitutional Guarantees of Freedom of faith and come dangerously close to India seemingly rejecting InterNational Charters of Freedom to which it is a proud signatory.

We would have expected the Inaugural NIC Agenda to be more focused and holistic, reflecting the National concern at the hijacking of the educational system, the communalization of the body fabric including the police force and the subordinate judiciary (as pointed out by the highest police and judicial officers in the land), the hunger deaths in various states, and finally, the collusion of the state and political apparatus in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, in the victimization of the religious minorities.

We also expected the Government to promise to give Statutory and Constitutional shape to the National Integration Council, to give it at least a permanent and powerful Secretariat.

I am sure you will look into it.

God bless you, you Government, and God bless India

With warm regards

Dr. John Dayal
Member: National Integration Council
National President: All India Catholic Union (Founded 1919)
Secretary General: All India Christian Council 
johndayal@vsnl.com
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