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  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato

    » 09/01/2005, 00.00


    After 13 years, the National Integration Council is back in business in India

    Nirmala Carvalho

    With PM Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi in attendance, the Archbishop of New Delhi forcefully pleads the case of Christian Dalits, emphasising the values of the Gospels and warning against extremism in Gujarat.

    New Delhi (AsiaNews) – India's true national integration is threatened by violence in some states of the Indian Union, the intolerance and extremism of some political groupings and the lack of interest shown by the central government, this according to Mgr Vincent Conçessao, Archbishop of New Delhi, who spoke at the inaugural meeting of the reconstituted National Integration Council (NIC).

    Established by Pandit Nehru as a multiparty agency that would serve as forum for meetings and discussions that could help in building a truly democratic political system, the NIC had not met since 1992.

    Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi, leaders of all the national and regional parties, 12 Chief Ministers and 12 Union ministers were present at the ceremony.

    In yesterday's first session, a statement signed by Archbishop Vincent Conçessao, Christian minority rights leader John Dayal, leader and Reverend Valson Thampu was presented on behalf of India's Christian minority demanding equal rights for Christian Dalits or outcastes and an end to ethnic and religious violence.

    In the statement that Archbishop Conçessao read, emphasis was placed on the Council's role as guarantor against the violence that prevails in some states of the Union.

    "Local violence is one of the greatest threats to national integration," the Archbishop said. "The authorities cannot abdicate their responsibilities and leave the population at the mercy of violence. This discredits the law in the eyes of the people."

    In an interview with AsiaNews, Mgr Conçessao said: "I am very satisfied with the proceedings of the NIC. Our demand of justice for Christian Dalits was very well received by most political parties. The NIC members heard the grievances of Christian Dalits who feel alienated by a distant political system and a development process that excludes them." All now understand the plight of Christian outcastes.

    "If the Union government really wants to pursue its policy of 'justice for all' it must solve the Dalit issue," the prelate said.

    "Everyone agreed, except for members of rightwing (extremist Hindu) parties beclouded by centuries of discrimination," he added.

    Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, was also present. Nicknamed 'Hitler' for his role in the ethnic and religious violence that have marred life in his state, Modi delivered a speech in which he praised Gujarat as a "model state" and a "state of communal harmony", inviting the Council to hold its next meeting there.

    However, after riots causing the death of some 2,000 Muslims and the countless cases of violence and discrimination inflicted on the Christian minority, his words sounded hollow.

    "Not only was I uncomfortable with his speech, but so was everyone present," Archbishop Conçessao said. "There was a general feeling that he was bluffing and pulling a con job. Modi was aware of the hostile reception to his speech and disappeared immediately after speaking, giving no one a chance to confront him."

    The prelate said that he offered the Council "a Christian outlook on national integration, based on the values of truth, justice and love expressed in the Gospels as well as on the duties that fall on the citizens of a truly democratic state as dreamt by social reformers and the founding fathers of the nation."

    Addressing the gathering, he stressed that the "Christian community is your partner in any and every efforts at reconciliation and healing, justice, and lasting peace."

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    See also

    25/08/2005 INDIA
    India's Supreme Court postpones hearing on Christian dalits' rights again

    The Delhi archbishop criticises the decision and blames discriminatory laws

    05/08/2006 INDIA
    Sonia Gandhi and Congress party condemn anti-conversion laws
    The president of India's ruling party reiterates its strong opposition to 'laws on freedom of religion' passed in states run by Hindu fundamentalists. Minority leaders call on the central government to issue a white paper on the status of Christians.

    28/04/2006 PAKISTAN
    Human rights in Pakistan, not UN Council, should worry government, say Pakistani bishops

    As the government prepares to join a new United Nations' Human Rights Council, the National Commission for Justice and Peace notes that its pledges are vague and insufficient. It urges the government to ratify international treaties before applying to join the Council.

    23/03/2005 INDIA
    Indian Bishop wants help for Christian and Muslim Dalits penalised by corruption
    Mgr Oswald Gracias, the newly-elected President of the Catholic Conference of Bishops, and sociologist SM Michael ask the government to take concrete steps to protect minorities against Hindutva and 'human weaknesses', i.e. corruption in public service.

    02/11/2004 PAKISTAN
    Changes to Blasphemy Law fall short of expectations

    For Christians, the law must be rejected. Human rights activists are dissatisfied with Hudood ordinances.

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