Letter to the Editor – Delhi Archbishop’s prayer for secularism: Tempest in a tea-cup becomes controversial

Letter to the Editor

 

Sir,

This has reference to the above-captioned article published on 30th May 2018 in Church Citizens' Voice.

The article also reproduced a Times of India report on the opinion of Retired IPS and a Padma Bhushan Awardee Julio Ribeiro.  The title of this report very strangely was:

Hindu Rashtra, which would make my country

a saffron Pakistan, is profoundly anti-national.

In the said Times of India report, the following remarks have been attributed to Mr Julio Ribeiro:
 

(1) I, for one, am preparing for the Hindu Rashtra!

(2) I am trying to figure out, to start with, what Hindu Rashtra really means.

(3) K.S. Sudershan, the predecessor of the present RSS chief. He talked incessantly ‘80%’, by which he excluded Muslims and Christians from the mass that constitutes this country’s population!

The above comments reportedly coming from a well-reputed IPS officer, is very astonishing, in the light of clear stipulations in the Constitution of India.

Let me begin with point (3). Is there anything wrong with K.S. Sudershan's remark ‘80%’ (Hindus), except that he uttered it explicitely? There is a minority community which officially has 30% of the population in West Bengal and is on the rise, without explicitely saying this. The Census Reports show that India has historically always been dominated by Hindus.  Even the 2011 Census shows this figure as given below:

Category

Percent

Number

Hindu

80.5%

1,031,958,408 people

Muslim

13.4%

171,779,412 people

Christian

2.3%

29,484,526 people

Sikh

1.9%

24,356,782 people

Other

1.8%

23,074,846 people

Unspecified

0.1%

1,281,936 people

 

Based on the above census 2011 statistics, a discerning reader will fail to see anything new but sensationalism in Mr Julio's remark. 80% Hindu population of India has not happened overnight during the current NDA regime. It has always been there. It was there during the 60 years of Congress/UPA regime. Then why hasn't India become a "Hindu Rashtra" all these years? Why aren't United Kingdom or the United States of America Christian nations in spite of Christians being the majority of the population there? Can Mr Ribeiro or his supporters explain this?

Having been an IPS officer, Mr Julio studied the Indian Constitution as an integral part of his civil service requirements.  However, it appears, while passing the above purported remarks, he has overlooked the historic Kesavananda Bharati case in 1973, where the Supreme Court of India categorically laid down that the BASIC STRUCTURE of the Indian Constitution is SACROSANCT and cannot be altered or destroyed by any legislature/amendments by parliament, even by absolute majority vote. Included in the BASIC STRUCTURE are: Supremacy of the Constitution, the principle of Separation of Powers, Secularism, Freedom and Dignity of the individual, Independence of the Judiciary, Judicial Review, Parliamentary System of Government – which cannot be altered by the Parliament even by absolute majority. In this historic case, the Supreme Court of India recognized BASIC STRUCTURE concept for the first time.  Since this landmark case, the Supreme Court has been the interpreter of the Constitution and the arbiter of all amendments made by parliament. By virtue of the above stricture, even if the Parliament decides by absolute majority that India would be a Hindu or Muslim State, Supreme Court will step in and declare it NULL & VOID. Therefore, Mr Julio's remarsk "I, for one, am preparing for the Hindu Rashtra!" will not come true at least during his lifetime and until and unless the Supreme Court which is the interpreter of the Constitution and the arbiter of all amendments made by parliament, is converted into an extreme right wing club. The latter possibility is highly unlikely given the mindset of majority of today's youth who in today's increasingly pluralistic culture, care two hoots for religious fundamentalism. 

Therefore, Mr Rebeiro's expressed fears are constitutionally incorrect.  If at all, they will only serve to give ammunition to fringe groups which look for opportunities to convert observations by personalities like Mr Rebeiro, Archbishops Thomas Macwan, Anil Couto into communal violence.  Archbishop Couto's and Mr Rebeiro's remarks and now and now Goa Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao's 14-page, more than  6,000-word pastoral letter dated May 20 read in all parishes in the archdiocese on June 3,  have only succeeded in polarising the 2.3% Christians, much against their wish, and exposed them to future persecution, which our Christian Leaders look for, to hog the news headlines.

Had the Archbishops Couto and Ferrao issued their "Pastoral Letter" during the Model Code of Conduct being in force, the Election Commission would have served them a notice asking them to explain their political remarks (not prayer for peace and poverty) in the letter. Similar notice had been served to Archbishop Thomas Macwan of Gandhinagar Gujarat for his letter dated November 21 in which he said the “democratic fabric of our country is at stake” in the Gujarat elections. He spoke of “a growing sense of insecurity among the religious minorities, OBCs, BCs, poor etc.,” and called for prayers to elect people who would be “faithful to our Indian Constitution and respect every human being without any sort of discrimination.” He had also written that the poll would be “significant and have repercussions and reverberations” throughout the country. So, Archbishop Couto's letter is not a "tempest in a tea-cup" as the caption of the article suggests.

How many times have our Archbishops/bishops and especially Christian leaders who appear on TV shows to get lambasted repeatedly, faced batons, bayonets and bullets for our Christian Community? One Catholic lay leader often comes on the TV channel, got bashed up on Republic TV only yesterday. Tell them to show a road map for Diocesewise and Parishwise Development-from-grassroots Concept, they will flounder miserably.  Tell them to show how many impact studies they have done on Development Schemes, they will seem to be searching for one. Instead of throwing fists in the air and pricking holes in the government, it is time that our Christian leadership single-mindedly concentrate on encouraging a culture of skill and quality development across all our dioceses and parishes. For ultimately it quality which wins over quantity and all rhetorics.    

 

 

 

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