Isaac Harold Gomes (Kolkotta)
Member Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA)
Church official: Silence makes government an accomplice in attacks.
India, November 6, 2014: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) said that the silence from the part of the Narendra Modi government makes it an accomplice in the increasing attacks against minorities in the nation.
“The government is focusing on the development and city cleansing. What is needed is, first of all, a cleansing of the heart. We want a clean India, but above all from a clean heart, thanks to peace, justice and brotherhood,” said Father Charles Irudayam, Executive Secretary of the Justice, Peace and Development Commission in the CBCI.
Expressing the Indian bishops’ point of view, the priest said, “The new government of nationalist leader Narendra Modi is not openly against minorities, but we are sad and worried about what is happening in India: The government says and does nothing to stop the right wing religious groups who attack minorities. This makes the government an accomplice.”
CBCI’s view that the silence on the part of the Narendra Modi government makes it an accomplice in the increasing attacks against minorities in the nation needs moderation.
It should remember that law and order is a state subject. Therefore the incidence of atrocities on minorities in a state technically should be taken up with the respective State Administration without throwing darts at the Modi Government. Narendra Modi as Prime Minister can be kept abreast of Christian Concerns but blanket blame on him will only alienate him. In the interest of Christian Community, when dealing with Modi, it is better to meet him with constructive proposals for common good (like eco-friendly housing, health, sanitation, women empowerment, etc.) rather than arouse the alleged demon in him by criticizing him.
Secondly CBCI should set up a PRO cell of professionals who would address the Media (National Channels) with our concerns backed up by evidences (videos). But most national channels are now owned by big corporate houses who have links with big political parties and have their own mutual agenda. Therefore Concerted Christian Concerns may not be aired on these channels. We need our own TV Channel. This is the age of Communication. The sooner CBCI and our church authorities realise this, the better. PRO exercise is a MUST both for airing our concerns on local and national issues and also for spreading the Good News. It cannot be only a Complaints Channel. Otherwise viewership will decline fast. To run this Channel, donations/ collection can be solicited in all the dioceses of India, by creation of a special fund. This fund should be transparent and be accountable. If it can be put under 80G, donors will get tax exemption and will be encouraged to donate more.
Last but not the least, seeking public sympathy will serve very limited purpose without alleviating our problems. We have similar minorities like us e.g. Parsis, Jains, etc. How is it they do not seek sympathy?
What is needed is:
1. Disaster Management Techniques (by taking help of renowned NGOs like World Vision India)
2. Portable Shelters / Transportable Homes to rebuild in quick time after a calamity.
These shelters should be stored at four zones of our country or arrangements should be made with a number of vendors to supply at short notice. We should not wait for Human Rights Commission or Government representatives to arrive at the quantum of our loss and wait indefinitely for help / compensation. For by this time, the victims will be sunk into further tragedy and be only fodders for photographs / news item.
3. Teaching the art of self-defence, particularly for our girls and womenfolk (the easiest targets for any atrocities). This should be taught / sponsored in a quiet manner by sending them in groups to civilian centres where they teach these arts. In this way, the church can be immune to the close scrutiny of the local / central government who might accuse it of raising an army of revolutionaries which it does not for others e.g. Bajrang Dal, VHS, etc!
It is sincerely hoped Father Charles Irudayam, Executive Secretary of the Justice, Peace and Development Commission in the CBCI, will take note of the above suggestions. He might consult exerts like Human Rights Law Network Founder and Senior Supreme Court Lawyer, Colin Gonsalves who was presented with the award of Doctor of the University, honoris causa, by the University of Middlesex, UK.