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Subject: [Goanet-News] Many social problems exist in India, but, above all, is 
the rising communal violence (Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao)

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Many social problems exist in India, but, above all, is the rising communal 
violence

Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao
archbp...@gmail.com

As I listened to the various speakers [from different faiths and sections of 
our society], Mahatma Gandhi's description of the seven deadly social sins came 
to my mind. The Father of the Nation named these as the seven deadly sins: 
"Wealth Without Work; Pleasure Without Conscience; Knowledge Without Character; 
Commerce Without Morality (or, rather, Business without Ethics); Science 
Without Humanity; Religion Without Sacrifice; and Politics Without Principle."

I thank the speakers for the passion and love for the country with which they 
delivered their speeches. Indeed, they have highlighted that our beloved 
country is built on diversity, tolerance and communal harmony and that the only 
way it can continue to exist and progress is not simply by maintaining these 
time-tested values, but, in fact, by proactively fostering and strengthening 
these attitudes among the people of India, across the divides of religion, 
creed, region or language.

We must admit that the 'deadly social sins' mentioned by the great Mahatma are 
to be found in countries all over the world and quite pronouncedly in our own, 
beloved India.

          There are many social problems existing in our
          society which stand as stumbling blocks in the way
          to development: poverty, unemployment, pollution,
          regionalism, illiteracy, criminality, violence
          against women, drug trafficking, child marriage,
          corruption and various other challenges that are
          posing a threat to the nation's development and
          unity. But above all these social menaces, the
          rising communal violence in India is emerging to be
          the most dangerous of all social distrusts.

Mahatma Gandhi realized the damage which communalism could cause and attended 
to the problem with the seriousness it demanded. He regarded the abolition of 
communal disharmony and the ensuing Hindu-Muslim unity as the essential 
pre-requisite for the Swaraj.

Right from his early public life, Gandhi kept alive the idea of communal unity. 
He lived in South Africa for twenty years in the midst of Muslims, who treated 
him as a member of the family. Realizing the lack of unity between Hindus and 
'Mussalmans' in South Africa, he said, "I had realized early enough in South 
Africa that there was no genuine friendship between the Hindus and the 
Mussalmans. I never missed a single opportunity to remove the obstacles in the 
way of unity" (M K Gandhi, An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with 
Truth, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1927, p. 341).

Our dear Pope Francis has placed culture in a very beautiful
light: "A culture is strengthened by its openness and its exchange of views 
with other cultures, as long as it has a clear and mature awareness of its own 
principles and values.
I, therefore, encourage professors and students to experience the University as 
an environment of true dialogue, which neither flattens nor intensifies 
diversity but opens to a constructive comparison. We are called to understand 
and appreciate the values of others, overcoming the temptation of indifference 
and fear. Never be afraid of an encounter, of dialogue, of debate!" (Address of 
Pope Francis to "Roma Tre"
University, February 17, 2017).

          Down the ages, India has been a rich and beautiful
          mosaic, a confluence of many religions, races,
          tribes and ethnic communities, having different
          cultures, languages, scripts, customs, cuisine and
          living styles, with very long ancient historical
          traditions. Here Hindus, Muslims, Christians,
          Buddhists, Jains, tribals, Jews and men and women
          of every religion, language, belief and conviction
          have, to a large extent, lived together in
          exemplary harmony and tolerance.

The world looks with awe at India's wonderfully diverse and plural society. The 
composite culture of India owes its existence not to one single community, 
race, tribe or religion, but to an intricate collage of varied influences, 
resulting in a way of life that has been crafted by an intermingling of 
cultures and peoples over the centuries.

May I use the words of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, who, in his poetic style, 
tells us: "The highest education is that which does not merely give us 
information but makes our life in harmony with all existence. Melody and 
harmony are like lines and colours in pictures. A simple linear picture may be 
completely beautiful; the introduction of colour may make it vague and 
insignificant. Yet colour may, by combination with lines, create great 
pictures, as long as it does not smother and destroy their value. Life’s errors 
cry for the merciful beauty that can modulate their isolation into a harmony 
with the whole ... Life is given to us, we earn it by giving it.
Let the dead have the immortality of fame, but the living the immortality of 
love" (Rabindranath Tagore, Mohit Kumar Ray (2007). "Poems", p.588, Atlantic 
Publishers & Dist).

Modern India is truly a wondrous entity. It is a bouquet of variegated flowers, 
a mosaic of multiple colours. The idea of India could be continued because of 
the conscious acceptance of pluralism by the leaders of India's freedom 
movement and of the post-Independence period.

In 1947, many had predicted that the immense diversities would be fatal 
contradictions; and that, unable to withstand divisive pressures, the union and 
the nation would collapse.
But the unprecedented pluralism delicately nurtured and fostered by the 
constitutional ethos became the strength of the body politic and, seven decades 
later, we are still a vibrant democracy, the largest in the world, politically 
united, geographically integrated and administratively cohesive.

Despite occasional hiccups and hurdles of riots and communal tensions and 
polarisation, the cross-currents of a genuinely plural society have powered the 
creative energy, enterprise and egalitarianism which have taken Indian society 
far ahead of the conditions prevailing here when the British left India. This 
diversity has been successfully sustained by democratic governance, right from 
the village-level to the national level and by the values incorporated in the 
Constitution of India.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was convinced of the workability of the Constitution. 
Speaking after the completion of his work, the Chairman of the Constitution 
Drafting Committee told the
Parliament: "I feel that the Constitution is workable; it is flexible and it is 
strong enough to hold the country together, both in peacetime and in wartime. 
Indeed, if I may say so, if things go wrong under the new Constitution, the 
reason will not be that we had a bad Constitution. What we will have to say is 
that Man was vile."

          In recent times, the idea of India, with its
          strongest pillars of diversity and pluralism, is
          being threatened by several emerging trends: (1)
          the emergence of both majoritarian hegemony and the
          growth of terror and extremism engendered by the
          growth of exclusivist religious fundamentalism, (2)
          the climate of fear created by movements deriding
          constitutional morality and constitutional ethics
          (3) the threat of neo-liberal corporate dominance
          with the rise of inequality and poverty, (4) the
          threat of discrimination and violence due to
          conflicts based on caste, class, gender, religion
          and ethnicities, (5) ecological and natural
          disasters due to rampant pollution and
          over-exploitation of natural resources, and (6)
          subtle and open attacks on the already marginalised
          tribal and Dalit populations.

The Catholic Church, along with the Bharatiya Sarva Dharma Sansad, wishes to 
bring all men and women of good will together for collective action to preserve 
and further social harmony. We believe that all of us, intellectuals, spiritual 
leaders, men and women from all sections of society, can unleash a positive 
energy that can lead our country towards an inclusive integral human 
development. To achieve this we need, all of us together, to walk the talk that 
we are having today and will be having in the days to come, in order to promote 
communal harmony and dialogue, irrespective of whatever differences in ideology 
and perspectives we may have.

I am glad that the meeting in Goa organized by the Catholic Bishops' Conference 
of India and the Fr. Agnel Region of the Pilar Society, along with the 
Bharatiya Sarva Dharma Sansad, wishes to address the youth to look forward 
towards this goal and to move forward towards a continuous dialogue, promoting 
a strong social bonding and harmony among the people of our Country.

May God bless us and may God bless India.

Jai Hind!
--
The above is an extract from the address of Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao at 
the public meeting for Collective Action for Dialogue and Social Harmony, 
organized by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India in collaboration with 
the Agnel Region of the Society of Pilar (Ravindra Bhavan, Margão, on April 5, 
2018)
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