By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi, March 25, 2019: India’s largest forum for Protestant and Orthodox Churches on March 24 launched weeklong prayers for a new government.
“Constitutionally, the Indian state cannot have any appeasement to any religion whether majority or minority. The contemporary tendency to polarize people in the name of religion, for political gain, has to be countered,” says a statement from the Policy Governess and Public Witness of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI).
About 80 percent of the Indian population is Hindu. Muslims make up almost 15 percent and Christians are 2.3 percent.
The Indian Constitution upholds the country as a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic that does not discriminate people on the basis of religion, caste, language, gender or ethnicity.
“Indian secularism is not the same as that which we see in the Western countries. Our secularism is neither antagonistic nor religiously charged. It is neutral to all religions but respects all religions and non-religious ideas,” the NCCI statement explains.
The council urges its members and others to thank God for the country’s leaders who drafted the constitution that guarantees equal opportunity to all.
India, it points out, is the largest democratic country in the world. Indian democracy cannot tolerate any kind of authoritarian expressions. “Therefore it is imperative for us to have a government which follows secular and democratic values in India,” the statement says.
The council calls for prayers of religious minority groups that it says has become the victims of communal violence. “Pray for the formation of a government in India which promotes the values of secularism and democracy,” the statement says.
India will hold general elections in seven phases from April 11 to May 19. The counting is scheduled for May 23 and the results are expected on the same day.
Alongside the vote for the Lower House of the federal Parliament, the votes will be held for four state assemblies, in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha.