4 July, 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
ISLAM - MIDDLE EAST
Al Azhar and Vatican against terrorism. The ambiguity of the international community
by Bernardo CervelleraThe influential Sunni university denounces " heinous" violence of the Islamic state and demands the world defeat this group “through every possible means". Vatican: terrorism is a threat to all humanity. France claims to fight terrorism, but then sells weapons, aircraft, helicopter gunships to Saudi Arabia, which supports Islamic fundamentalism. Kuwait tolerates Salafis who support the Nusra Front and the Islamic state. Turkey against the Kurds; the United States against Iran, Russia and China.
TUNISIA - ISLAM
Tunis, stop terrorism by closing fundamentalist mosquesPresident Essebsi believes unified and global strategy needed to counter terrorism. The attack in Sousse almost simultaneous with those in France, Kuwait, Somalia. Islamic State claims responsibility.
VATICAN – ITALY
Pope in Turin tells young people to be chaste in love, go against the flow and not retire at 20In his last meeting on the first day of his visit to Turin, Francis met young people in Vittorio Square. In a Question and Answer exchange, he talked about love, friendship and loss of trust towards life. "I understand you. How many hypocrites speak of peace and sell weapons. How can one trust? By following Christ, whose act of extreme love, i.e. the Cross, saved humanity." The pontiff also looked at the horrors of the 20th century as evidence of the loss of trust towards world powers. He urged young people “not to retire at 20,” but “live, don’t just exist.”

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.