28 August, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile






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

e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 01/18/2013
BHUTAN - INDIA
Between Gross happiness index and anti-Christian persecution
by Nirmala Carvalho
The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) slams anti-conversion laws used to persecute non-Buddhists, especially Christians. Formally, Bhutan guarantees freedom of worship; in reality, Christians cannot build churches or say Mass in public.

Thimphu (AsiaNews) - Instead of promoting its 'Gross National Happiness' index' (GNH), Bhutan should "guarantee religious freedom to the kingdom's Christians," said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). He spoke to AsiaNews ahead of India's 64th Republic Day (26 January) where Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is expected. On that day, the people of India will celebrate the country's constitution and its secular status. For the Christian leader, it is also the right moment to talk about existing anti-conversion laws, which are used to persecute "foreign missionaries" and small Christian communities.

Created in 1972, the GNH is based on four pillars: sustainable development, cultural values, natural environment and good governance. The Centre for Bhutan Studies further developed the concept, coming up with nine pillars with 72 objective and subjective variables to measure well-being: time use, psychological and physical health, community vitality, cultural variety, education level, standard of life, good governance and quality environment. On the basis of these criteria, 66 per cent of the Bhutanese population of 742,000 is sufficiently happy.

Since 2006, the Bhutanese government has introduced democratic reforms after centuries of absolute monarchy during which religions other than Buddhism were banned.

In 2008, a new constitution was adopted that, formally at least, recognised religious freedom for all Bhutanese, as long as they informed the authorities. A few Hindu temples were thus built but Christians continue to be denied the right to build their churches or hold Masses in public.

The situation has in fact worsened since anti-conversion laws were adopted in 2010. "These laws were designed to prevent forced conversions or the use of financial inducements to convert," said Sajan George said. "And they impose a three-year sentence for 'proselytising'."

"As in some Indian states, these laws are being used to persecute Christians, on the basis of false charges with regards to forced conversions," he explained. "Often, they are used against charities as well."

In India, seven states have anti-conversions. They are: Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Himanachal Pradesh.

"The GNH is promoted and publicised as a reliable indicator of development," the GCIC president noted; "however, it is a concept, alienating loose. The kingdom has many challenges ahead, like religious freedom, if it wants to achieve some kind of global development. As Benedict XVI said, material progress has not made people happier or freer. True happiness can only be found in God and faith."

 


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
07/22/2011 BHUTAN – UNITED NATIONS
“Gross National Happiness” on UN agenda
03/23/2011 BHUTAN
Archbishop on secret visit to Bhutan’s Christians, first in 18 years
by mons. Thomas Menamparampil, sdb
03/30/2012 INDIA
Karnataka: Protestant clergyman risks jail, attack against him seventh case in 2012
by Nirmala Carvalho
07/03/2014 BHUTAN - JAPAN
Bhutan plans to increase happiness with an electric cars only policy
03/19/2009 INDIA
Radical Hindu leader killed. Tension in Orissa
by Nirmala Carvalho

Editor's choices
LEBANON
Muslims defend Christians’ freedom in Beirut DeclarationFreedom of religion, education and opinion are defended by quoting the Qur’ān, which is the basis for the rule of law, not a religious state. Lebanese Sunnis slam violence committed in the name of God. The full declaration is reprinted here.
LEBANON
Islamic Makassed launch doctrinal battle against Muslim extremism
by Fady NounOfficial reference point for Lebanon’s Sunnis approves a document entitled "Beirut Declaration on Religious Freedom". Speculation over whether Dar el-Fatwa will succeed in gradually regaining control of Islamic religious teaching in the nation’s mosques.
HONG KONG – CHINA
For Card Zen, removing crosses in Zhejiang is an insult to the faith of CatholicsHong Kong’s bishop emeritus has come to the conclusion that the campaign to dismantle crosses and religious buildings is part of a broader, nation-wide strategy, and constitutes regression in terms of the mainland's religious policy. Catholics and Protestants in Hong Kong now fear that it might happen to them. In Zhejiang, another 15 religious buildings are slated for destruction by 1 September.

Dossier

Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.