26 October, 2014 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
IRAQ - ITALY
Almost 700,000 euros raised as the 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraA second instalment is sent with funds raised in September. The fate of East-West relations is being played out in the Middle East and Iraq. Pope Francis and the Synod issue an appeal. Governments are lukewarm. Aid is coming from around the world. A new international community is defeating the "globalisation of indifference."
IRAQ-VATICAN
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul": Archbishops’ thanks as first aid arrives
by Amel NonaMsgr. Amel Nona, the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, who is also a refugee himself, thanks all the donors to the AsiaNews campaign. The situation is increasingly difficult given the huge number of refugees and the arrival of winter and snow, making outdoor shelters and tents impossible. The crisis, an occasion that activates the faith of Christians.
ITALY - IRAQ
After raising € 350,000, 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraDonations raised up to 31 August have been sent to the patriarch of Baghdad and the bishops of Kurdistan. The campaign helps to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled the violence of the army of the Islamic Caliphate. People in Italy and around the world have been generous, including the poor and the unemployed, a sign of hope for the world as well as those who suffer and those who give.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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.