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


    » 01/18/2013, 00.00

    BHUTAN - INDIA

    Between Gross happiness index and anti-Christian persecution

    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."

     

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    See also

    22/07/2011 BHUTAN – UNITED NATIONS
    “Gross National Happiness” on UN agenda
    Created by the government of Bhutan, the indicator is seen as an element to add to economics-based indicators of development and productivity. For Bhutanese prime minister, “Our endeavour will have to be to prove and convince that it is, in fact, relevant to every human being and for every country”.

    23/03/2011 BHUTAN
    Archbishop on secret visit to Bhutan’s Christians, first in 18 years
    Bhutan’s Christian community is growing, but authorities have forbidden all forms of proselytism, will not allow the building of churches and the public in celebration of masst. Msgr. Menamparampi, Archbishop of Guwahati (India), speaks to AsiaNews about the lives of the small Bhutanese Christian communities, many of which are never visited by a prelate. Comparing them with the first community of Acts of the Apostles, the Archbishop describes the zeal and courage of these faithful, largely Protestant, witnesses of Christ, despite government abuses and restrictions.

    30/03/2012 INDIA
    Karnataka: Protestant clergyman risks jail, attack against him seventh case in 2012
    Hindu nationalists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) beat Rev Mallikarjun Sangalada and four of his parishioners, after accusing him of engaging in forced conversions. The five victims were coming home from a prayer meeting. The pastor has been the head of a community of 35 members for the past two years.

    03/07/2014 BHUTAN - JAPAN
    Bhutan plans to increase happiness with an electric cars only policy
    Electric cars are set to replace combustion vehicles. Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay has asked Japanese automakers Nissan and Mitsubishi to help him achieve this goal. For him, "Sustainable transportation will bring citizens happiness."

    09/02/2016 13:33:00 INDIA
    Rising violence against Christians in Uttar Pradesh ahead of state elections

    The state’s legislative assembly is set for renewal next year. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, acts of violence and incidents of discrimination against the Christian minority have reached a crescendo. A pastor and two worshipers have been arrested in Noida. The pastor of the Mission India Church was held for hours without charges along with 20 other religious leaders in Robertsganj.





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