Indian Catholic News

Christians contribute toward BJP’s election manifesto

The CBCI Delegation presented suggestions and proposals for the “Sankalp Patra” towards the 2019 Lok Sabha Polls.

New Delhi: 

India’s Catholic bishops have presented a set of suggestions and proposals on behalf of Christians in the country to be included in the Sankalp Patra (manifesto) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP, ahead of general elections.

A team from Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India attended the March 7 meeting in New Delhi chaired by Minister for Minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi that aimed to take the views of minority religions such as Buddhists, Christians Jains and Muslims in preparation for BJP’s poll manifesto.

The CBCI team was led by Salesain Father Joseph Manipadam, Secretary to the CBCI Office for Education and culture. It included Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

The CBCI Delegation presented the following suggestions and proposals prepared by Father Manipadam

1. The Minority Communities should feel secure in the country. The secular nature of the Country, Democratic Principles, Constitutional values, Republic Character, Parliamentary traditions should be upheld. Minority Rights are basic to the Indian Constitutions and they have to be preserved and promoted. Suppression of the Media, lynching in the name of differences in religious practices, food habits and cultural differences have considerably dented the credibility of the Government and made the minorities feel unsafe. The Constitutional right to practice, preach and propagate one’s religion must be upheld.

2. The priority of the Government should be Employment for all, Housing for all, Education for all food security for all. The Government must focus on a hunger-free society, poverty alleviation, protection of the farmers, promotion of agriculture and care of the rural areas as India lives in its villages.

3. All religions should be respected and promoted. Government must respect the sacred days and celebrations of all religions and support, participate and promote such events. The various religions are an asset to the country and uphold the morality and spiritual wellbeing and ethics in the country.

4. National Institutions, Autonomous Bodies (UGC, Universities, Colleges, CBSE, NCERT, Various Examination Boards, IITs, IIMs, CBCI, ED, Judiciary etc.) should be allowed to function without restraint and should not be suppressed or substituted People have more faith in autonomous Bodies rather than government offices.

5. Education is something that affects all the people of the country so any change should be brought about gradually and carefully. Going headlong into making a new Education Policy and targeting to bring it out in 100 days turned out to be a flip flop as the NEP is still to see the light of day even with two Drafting Committees working on it. Multiple education providers should be there as there are still 50 million children out of school and only about 19% of school graduates can get admission for higher education. There should be neighbourhood schools and not composite schools and they should be inclusive. There should be no Centralisation, commercialisation and communalisation of Education. There should be no saffronization of text books or distortion of Historical facts. Acknowledge the valuable contribution of the Christian Missionaries in education in India right from the year 1542. Even today they run the most sought after institutions in the country. Promote them and involve them in drafting the National Education Policy. Include them in the Standing Committees and accreditation Bodies using their experience and time tested expertise.

6. Revive the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI). It is still without a chairperson and a Christian Member for the last more than three years. Facilitate issuing the Minority Certificates by the State Minority Commissions and the NCMEI without too many hassles or allow the National Bodies of the minority communities to issue such certification as they know best regarding the minority status of each institution.

7. An overall inclusive approach, unprejudiced treatment, supportive attitude, appreciation towards all and celebration of differences can contribute to restore confidence in the minority communities. Nationalism is in the blood of every Indian whether belonging to majority or minority. No one should even doubt such a thing or alienate anyone by being suspicious. No one needs to prove one’s nationalism. We have all contributed towards the independence, development, progress and welfare of the country in its onward journey.

8. Diversity not uniformity is to be promoted. The Government must protect indigenous cultures and communities. Take special care of the dalits, the tribals, the poor and the marginalised. Extend scheduled cast status and reservation also to Christian and Muslim dalits. Chottanagpur Tenancy Act, Santal Pargana Tenancy Act, Forest Rights must be upheld and respected. Eviction, displacement and land alienation of Tribals and forest dwellers should be stopped. Caste system and untouchability should be abolished and violations should be made punishable. Tribal land should be protected. Schedules caste status / reservation should be extended to tribals and dalits who have domicile anywhere in the country. Scholarships, Fellowships and all grants for higher education for tribal students should be resumed. Adequate policy should be made for proper implementation of 5th and 6th Schedules (provisions of PESA Act 1996) of the Constitutions making structural changes in governance.

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