To organize and bring together all Indian American Christians living in the US and Canada to have a collective voice in Washington and elsewhere.
To gather and disseminate information and news items that are relevant to the interest of Indian Christian churches, community organizations and individuals.
To provide support network and guidance to Indian Christian organizations of all denominations
To provide liaison between Churches in India and in North America
To foster alliances with like minded organizations in the USA, Canada, and elsewhere to help fulfill the Mission of FIACONA
To represent the interests of member organizations of the Federation before relevant national and international agencies both governmental and civil.
To provide guidance and counselling to students of the Indian American Christian communities for Washington internships and courier opportunities.
To help safeguard the religious freedom of fellow Christians in India by coming to the aid of a persecuted church.
Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
March 19, 2015. Washington DC. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA) is deeply troubled by the escalation of violence against Christian institutions and its leaders in India again after a brief lull following the Delhi elections.
Though, the rape of a 71 year old Catholic nun at the Jesus and Mary convent in the town of Ranaghat in Nadia district of West Bengal State last Saturday was first reported as common robbery incident, people on the ground inform us that the reported robbery could be merely a cover.
We are concerned that the law enforcement has been dragging its feet even after the CCTV images of the culprits were released. It makes us wonder if the accused are being protected by powerful political groups.
While welcoming Mr. Modi's reported interest in this case, we are disappointed that his government has been maintaining silence over another incident in another northern State of Haryana, where his own party is in power. There, a church under construction was demolished by members of BJP’s sister organizations. These members also replaced the cross on the site with an image of Hanuman - a Hindu god, and a saffron color flag of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP).
Meanwhile, the Global Council of Indian Christians report that, on Monday, the General Secretary of the VHP, Surendra Jain defended the demolition of the church.
Yesterday, the chief elected official of the State of Haryana Mr. Manohar Lal Khattar, belonging to Mr. Modi’s BJP party, tried to turn the tables on the Christian priest Subhash Masih accusing him of assaulting a Hindu youth in the village triggering the action. Mr. Masih originally lodged the complaint about the desecration and demolition of the church. Mr. Khattar said police received a complaint from someone saying that Mr. Masih assaulted a youth for running away from a prayer meeting in which they claim Mr. Masih insulted their gods.
Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations is increasingly suspecting the commitment Mr. Modi’s made to the nation and the world last month. We ask Mr. Modi and his government to end such hostilities carried out by BJP’s affiliated organizations. Statements like the one from the Chief Minister of the State of Haryana only creates the image that the BJP would try and protect the perpetrators of such hateful violence regardless of what the Prime Minister Modi has promised.
FIACONA will hold individual leaders of these violent groups along with State & national leaders of ruling BJP party personally responsible for this incident. We will hold them fully responsible for their tacit support to radical sister organizations and also for their failure to put an end to such violence.
FIACONA is deeply disturbed by the recent developments in India
December 29, 2014
The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) is deeply disturbed by the forced conversion of Christians in India, under the present nationalist BJP government.
Organizations that are affiliated with this nationalist movement and Mr. Modi’s government in India are creating havoc in the country by threatening Christians to convert to Hinduism, in most cases with an “or else …” statements. This development raises enormous concerns about the internal stability affecting conducive environment for foreign investments in the country.
The hostilities towards Christians has increased manifold since this religious fundamentalist party came to power.
In recent days, several Christian communities are under threat to convert, like the kind of pressure Christian communities feel in Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Egypt. A well-orchestrated campaign has been launched with social sanctions and public debates solely aimed at intimidating a tiny population of Christians while making them feel that they have somehow betrayed their allegiance to India for beeing Christians. It is indeed a sad development in a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-racial and multi-religious country like India.
After Mr. Modi was elected Prime Minister, religious fundamentalist groups are emboldened to harass and intimidate Christian communities even in places like Kerala where Christianity is as old as its founding! These fundamentalist groups have a very simplistic view that the identity of being an Indian is to be a Hindu by faith. This means all Indians must follow Hinduism. For them Faith and Nationality should be one and the same, like the version we see in hardline Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia. The question FIACONA is asking, “Is an educated and progressive country like India, with its rich plural traditions and cultures, really sinking in that direction, under the leadership of a man from such misguided group as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (Nationalist Voluntary Organization)?”
FIACONA feels that acceptance of such interpretations, of nationality or identity, by the civil society and intelligentsia both inside and outside India, is a prelude to a disaster waiting to happen. India will not be able to progress the way it has for the past 50 years or so by intimidating or disenfranchising sections of its own populations. Such attitudes by majority communities have only proven disastrous in many other countries. Even a very progressive, up and coming country like Sri Lanka until 1980s, found-out how destructive such attitudes could be in the not so distant past.
Now that President Obama has agreed to share the dais with the leader of this ideology on January 26, 2015 in Delhi, for whatever national interest he may have, we wonder how this would be interpreted to legitimize the acceptance of their fundamentalist ideology. Is this another Neville Chamberlain hailing the Third Reich for his own national interest? While we strongly support US-India relations and co-operation, FIACONA is very wary of leaders of the international community endorsing (or seemingly to endorse) the vision of fundamentalist forces in India. These fundamentalist forces dream of a religiously homogenized nation at the expense of Christians in India. The fact is that the subcontinent is as diverse as it could ever get with the only binding factor being its culture, not the languages, not the food, not the attire and not even the religion.
Reports coming out of India indicate that conversion of Christians to Hinduism in hostile environments has already started taking place in many places during highly publicized events. These events are organized by the nationalist organizations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and other sister organizations with ties to Modi and his government. Vishwa Hindu Parishad is one of the sister organizations of the misguided parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. This organization of which Modi has been a life-long member, believes that India should be a "Hindu Nation" with no room for the people of other religious faiths.
The clamor of paid media services over the election of Mr. Modi as Prime Minister of India earlier this year, by glossing over the extremist radical philosophy of this nationalist party has already started to cause serious damage to the safety and security of millions of Christians in India. FIACONA hopes that journalists and bloggers who were intentionally misinformed by the handlers of this fundamentalist party now realize the negative impact they have created.
Large scale public intimidations and forceful conversions of Christians to Hinduism started in 1999 when the same Hindu Nationalist party formed the national government last time in Delhi under the Prime Ministership of A.B. Vajpayee. It is not a coincidence to see the same attitudes repeating again when the same party has once again formed the government. Now under Modi, the same divisive forces have come back to haunt with a vengeance. The only difference this time is the help of paid media services and PR companies trying to protect the image of an extremist agenda harbored by this Hindu nationalist group and its current benefactor Mr. Modi in the Prime Minister's office.
FIACONA National Executive Committee
Fiacona is very concerned about the escalation of violence and arson against Christian community even in the very heart of India ' s capital, Delhi. The perpetrators, emboldened by the their new found strength after the Hindu nationalist party came to power, have been slowly but steadily increasing their hostilities towards the Christian community. This recent incident earlier this week in Delhi is a symptom of this deep rooted ideology that over 50 million Christians in India should be harassed enough to give up their Faith to become Hindus. This group which carried out this attack really does not believe that the Christians belong in the Indian society.
Fiacona strongly condemns this attack and wants Mr. Rajnathsingh, the Home Minister of India to use all necessary means to clamp down on these activities without showing leniency.
Following is the statement issued by the leaders of the Christian community in India.
Violence Against Churches And Personnel In India By Concerned Citizens
04 December, 2014
TEXT OF MEMORANDUM TO PRIME MINISTER, HOME MINISTER OF INDIA AND LET. GOVERNOR OF DELHI
2nd December 2014
It is with a heavy heart and great concern that we address this memorandum to you to bring to your attention incidents of violence against our Churches and personnel in the country, the latest of which is the arson in the Catholic Archdiocese of Delhi’s St Sebastian’s Church in Dlishad Garden, East Delhi in the early hours of 1st December 2014.
The gutting of the St. Sebastian’s Church, as well as the other incidents of targeted violence in other parts of the country, speak of extreme police and administrative impunity and disregard not only to the sentiments and injured religious feelings of our community but also the guarantees of the Constitution of India. Delhi is governed directly by the Union Government’s Ministry of Home Affairs which makes it all the more serious.
We call upon you to order an immediate judicial enquiry by at least a High court serving or retired judge to ascertain the facts of this malicious act and the circumstances surrounding the polarisation that is taking place.
We also request you to ensure that the Delhi administration repairs the entirely gutted church so that the faithful of the capital region can celebrate the Christmas Midnight Mass prayer service on the night of 24th December 2014.
It is a matter of deep regret that the local police officers paid little heed to our repeated requests that the scene of the crime be investigated properly. No senior officer visited the spot till late in the afternoon, and the forensic team came only by the evening. In addition to the judicial enquiry, an internal departmental enquiry also must be ordered to identify officers and men guilty of dereliction of duty.
We are confident that you will ensure that the guilty are traced by the police at the earliest and charges brought against them for arson, hurting the religious sentiments of the Christian community and for attempts to create religious discord.
The details of the arson in the St. Sebastian’s Church, Dilshad Garden, East Delhi, and incidents in other parts of the country are as follows;
St. Sebastian’s Church in Dilshad Garden was constructed in 2001 and is among the biggest churches in the area. The fire was reported early this morning. The entire interior, including the Altar, the Holy Bible and Cross were reduced to ashes. On the complaint of Church priest Fr. Anthony Francis, the police have registered an FIR against unknown outsiders for causing the fire with malicious intent. Senior officers of Delhi police, the Special Branch and the Forensic Crime unit came to the spot after many hours, and once the agitated members of the Catholic community blocked the roads in the area. Samples were retrieved from the inside of the church, which still smelt of fuel oil. Till late in the evening, police could not say they had made any progress in their investigations. Addressing the media, Archbishop Couto said apart from the judicial enquiry, the government must repair the building before Christmas, ensure that policemen guilty of dereliction of duty are punished, and special police investigation teams are set up to trace the guilty.
In Madhya Pradesh On Sunday, 30th November 2014, two house churches in Annupur district of Madhya Pradesh were attacked.
Chattisgarh has particularly witnessed regular and repeated attacks on the fundamental rights of the minority Christian community. Most recently, according to the media and local sources, local politico organisations such as the VHP are pressurising local Catholic missionaries to put up pictures of Goddess Saraswati in their educational institutions. The Catholic schools are also under pressure to rename the principals in their schools, as “Pracharya”, or “Up-pracharya”, instead of the term “Father”, which is usually used.
Some of the other incidents briefly outlined below are representative the hostility and discrimination being faced by Christians across India.
The entry of and propaganda by non-Hindu missionaries, especially Christians, is banned in more than 50 villages of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region by the local gram panchayats since late May.
In Deggarh district, Odisha several tribal Christian families were excommunicated on 28 April allegedly at the behest of religious extremists. The three Christian families were excommunicated and deprived from enjoying common facilities of the village road, water and forest land because of their faith in Christ. The well commonly used by the Christians was polluted by adding filth to it. And the Christians have been forbidden to mix or talk to anybody, to take part in any social functions or walk on the main road. The extremists also threatened to snatch away the Govt. land allotted to the Christians, to cancelled their BPL Cards and demolished their houses if they do not renounce Christ.
On 16 June, a mob of religious extremists brutally beat up Christians and 10 believers including two women who were later rushed to the hospital in Sirisguda, Bastar town, Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh. About 100 Christians who were denied rations for two months for their faith in Christ were beaten up by a mob. At about 1 pm, Christians from 52 families came together before the district Food Inspector office when the mob rushed in and started to beat the Christians indiscriminately. The mob beat up the Christians with sticks, kicked and punched them and hurled stones at those who were trying to escape from the scene. Two women were pulled to the ground while the perpetrators stood on them and hit their genital organs. No FIR was registered against members of the mob.
Religious-political extremists locked up a church on June 5 after they beat up a Christian family in Balwanazir, Kaliyanganj, Bihar. The mob comprising of beat up Sadanandan Singh and his family for their faith in Christ on May and June and finally locked up the church of the Indian Evangelical Team. Singh and his family were dragged on the road and the entire family including two minor girls were beaten up mercilessly. The extremists have locked up the church and told Singh that he is not allowed to pray in the future in the village.
Desecration of and Restrictions on House Churches or Building Churches.
Local religious political groups threatened to harm Pastor Bhikanlal Dhurvey several times for conducting prayer meetings in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. However, the pastor continued to conduct worship services and later started to build a prayer hall in his land. Subsequently, the extremists filed a police complaint against the pastor of illegal construction. The construction has since been stopped and prayers are now being conducted in the homes of local Christians
On 18th May in Kundupur, Karnataka the properties of two churches were allegedly damaged by unidentified miscreants. An ornamental pot at the entrance of the Holy Rosary church was broken and a signpost leading to St. Antony Church in Koteshwar also was uprooted.
On 29 April, three chapels in Irinjalakuda diocese were damaged after allegedly police cleared the way for the "Way of the Cross' procession of the Saint Anthony's Catholic Church. Earlier on 11 April, extremists had blocked the procession of St Antony's Catholic Church. The police intervened and cleared the passage for the procession as this was the traditional practise for several years and the local temple administration has given permission for the same.
India is a land where different religious faiths have long since flourished and our founding father made special efforts to ensure that the rights of all are safeguarded irrespective of our religious beliefs, gender or caste. India is committed to secularism and any attempt to weaken the socio-religious fabric of the nation must be dealt with swiftly and effective.
We hope and pray that such discrimination and targeted violence will be ended by strong political will and administrative action.
You and your government are poised in a unique moment in the history of the nation to ensure that all people, irrespective of faith, feel secure. Small religious communities such as the Christians need to be reassured they are protected and are secure and safe in their motherland.
We continue to pray for you and the government. We pray for India and for the welfare of all its people.
For further information, please contact: Fr. Savarimuthu, 09968006616, firstname.lastname@example.org, Dr. John Dayal, 09811021072, email@example.com and Fr. Stanley 09910504011, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA) confirmed the newly elected national executive board, in its annual general body meeting on April 12, 2014, held at its offices on Capitol Hill, in Washington DC.
While expressing the desire that the national general elections in India should be held free and fair, the Executive Board of FIACONA urged the leaders of political parties there to be respectful of the civil and social rights of every single citizen of India, regardless of one’s religious or social affiliation. The Board also took note of a reported story in the media, about the electronic voting machines tested for accuracy before the first round of elections in North East India, found to be tallying the votes cast only in favor of one particular political party, irrespective of which party was chosen by the voters.
While wishing all political parties best of luck ahead of the elections, FIACONA urged, Mr. Rajnath Singh, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, Ms. Jayalalitha, Mr. Karunanithi, Mr. Mulayam Singh, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu, Mr. Jagan Reddy, Mr. Kejeriwal, Ms. Mayawati, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, Mr. Patnaik, Mr. Karat, Mr. Pawar, Mr. Sharat Yadav, Mr. Chautala, Mr. Abdullah, Mr. Gowda, Mr. Shekar Tiwari and other leaders of the national and regional political parties to work for the unity of the nation and to heal the division that has caused strife in the society. FIACONA urges them not to create enmity among the people on the basis of one’s religious or caste identity, for short term electoral gains which causes long term damage to an age old civilization.
FIACONA expressed its disappointment in the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh and his government’s inability to meet several challenges head on, in spite of the mandate given to him, while recognizing his contribution to, and the able management of, the economy during his two terms as Prime Minister. However, his inability to check other members of his coalition government from misusing their high offices for personal financial gains is deplored along with his inability to stand firmly for what is right and to speak out firmly when injustices were done to well-meaning people. The Board also pointed out that the current President of FIACONA, Mr. Prabhudoss is denied visa to visit India by Dr. Singh’s government since 2010, for supporting the victims of Kandhammal violence in Orissa during 2008.
The Executive Board also expressed deep felt condolences to both the family of Mr. Abraham Mammen, who had passed away in New York, and to Mr. Shashi Thaoor, who had lost his wife Ms. Sunandha Pushkar in New Delhi, in January of this year. Mr. Mammen had served as the President of FIACONA from April 2009 until he passed away on January 7, 2014 of illness. Mr. Shashi Tharoor has been an active supporter and a well-wisher of the Federation from his days at the United Nations.
FIACONA wishes the people of India good luck and urged them to be very mindful of what kind of future they want for their children and make the right choice when they exercise their right to vote.
Mr. John Prabhudoss, President
Dr. K.P. Verghese, Vice President
Dr. Angie Lazarus, General Secretary
Dr. Raj Sampson, Asst. Gen. Secretary
Mr. Titus Mathew, Treasurer
Published : March 10, 2014
By George Abraham, Chairman INOC(I) USA
A team consisted of George Abraham, Chairman and Harbachan Singh, General Secretary of the INOC (Indian National Overseas Congress (I), USA) along with Mohammed Imran, Joint Coordinator of the NRI-SAHI (Non-resident Indians for a Secular and Harmonious India) visited the Malakpura refugee camp for the Muzaffarnagar riot victims and learned of first hand the deplorable conditions under which those victims are forced to live. ‘It is a shame on our great democracy when we let these riots happen and then disregard the plight of the innocent victims to live in such a wretched condition without basic necessities and growing threat of diseases’ said George Abraham, who headed the team to visit Muzaffarnagar in U.P. ‘This is the height of incivility and indecency and a responsible system of governance has to be held accountable’ he added. ‘It is shocking to see the inaction by a Government that is supposed to protect the lives and properties of its citizens’ said Mohammad Imran who also vowed to do his very best in getting the information across to the authorities and the media. The team first visited Muzaffarnagar where a legal team is doing their best to assist the victims. The team met with Rahimuddin, Syed Sajid Hasan and Saifan who briefed us on the events leading to the riots and the political motives and the players behind the scenes. These volunteers are working with an NGO called ‘Popular Front of India Civil Rights Movement’ to get justice for the victims including compensation for resettlement. In our discussions, we were told that FIRs were filed against 19 politicians for inciting riots and three of them have been arrested for a short time and then released. The team repeatedly heard of the criticism of the appointment of Amit Shah, the former home minister of Gujarat who was arrested on charges of encounter killings in Gujarat as the Modi Campaign Coordinator for the Western U.P. before the riots. The Muzaffarnagar riots took place in September 2013 that killed about 67 people, injured 150 and displaced about 45000 people to the refugee camps. In addition, several women were raped and scores of houses were looted and torched including places of worship and items. Although 566 FIRs were filed, very few cases are currently being heard in the courts. It is alleged that the State Government headed by the Samajawadi party is more interested in pushing people out of camps for a Public Relations exercise than hearing their complaints of settling the claims. ‘The Jats and the Muslims are the same people culturally who have lived in peace over the years’ said one of the volunteers who is involved with relief efforts. ‘When an Imam issued a fatwa over the use of cell phone by Muslim women, the whole community, including the Jats and Muslims went to the Police Station and filed an FIR against such an illegal action. Breaking up of that unity was politically motivated’ The team traveled another 52 Km to the village of Malakpura to visit the largest camp where about 5000 victims are housed. It took almost 3.5 hours to cover that distance where the roads are of such bad conditions that one couldn't help but to think that these camps were deliberately put in remote places where people would not dare to travel thereby leaving the victims without proper support from NGOs or Civil Society groups. The mere sight of the camp looked dusty and dirty with numerous tents covered with sheets of tarpaulin providing protection from scorching sun and severe cold temperature at night. The Children were running around barefoot while others were huddled indoors hoping to stay warm. Tents were torn and some looked collapsed barely surviving the winter months. The family belongings are scattered across and few bricks put together made up of a cooking facility outside the tent. Except for some hand pumps providing water, there was no steady supply of milk for the infants or fuel for cooking other than cut leaves from nearby sugar canes, They have lived through one of the harshest winters in history and often at nights, we were told, freezing water would be seeping down through the tarp and causing many children to fall ill and succumb to deaths right at the camp. We met a woman who is grieving for two of her children who recently died at the camp. We were also shown the freshly dug grave sites where many of these bodies of the children were recently buried. The men we met at the camp were eager to get back to work however; there was very little opportunity to find jobs around the camp. The children are deprived of their education as there are no logistics to send them to nearby schools. The refugees are afraid to go back to their own villages as they fear for their lives and the authorities are doing very little either to assure their safety or resettle them in other parts of the State where they could possibly resume normal lives. It is a great tragedy that is heart breaking and yet still unfolding. A detailed report of the Muzaffarnagar visit by the team will be published soon and will be sent to local and central authorities in India with an NRI perspective.
Published : Feb 01, 2014
By George Abraham, Chairman INOC(I) USA
To adapt a line from Mark Twain: Reports of the death of the Indian National Congress Party are highly exaggerated! Yes, the over one hundred year old party is currently going through a difficult period in its great existence as it faces the upcoming Parliamentary election. A combination of factors contributes to such a quandary that include anti-incumbency sentiment; a host of corruption scandals; rising prices of consumer goods and services; and a restless electorate who are demanding efficient and effective governance. Amidst the clamor and hype, even the political pundits are quite unwilling to conduct an objective analysis of some of the great achievements of UPA I and UPA II governments, an administration headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh whose impeccable credentials and integrity is beyond reproach. The Right to Information Act (RTI) that exposed the behind-the-scenes deal-makings of the bureaucracy; the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act that provided jobs to millions; the National Food Security Bill that would assure a safety net for the nourishment of two thirds of the population, the India Rape law, a sweeping law to protect women against sexual violence; the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Treaty that legitimized India as a member of the Nuclear Club; and the Lokpal Bill that would deal with corruption in public places etc. were all landmark achievements on which the UPA could pride themselves. However, as Mr. Kapil Sibal, the Union Minister admitted, the UPA has failed to communicate its achievements to the people in the last four years. We also need to be cognizant of the fact that the UPA never had a comfortable majority even in Lok Sabha, and two of its biggest allies walked out. Despite such a predicament, it has successfully passed some sterling reforms such as liberalizing Foreign Investment in Multi-brand retail and airlines; as well as the long delayed de-controlling of diesel prices. Power lines in India now connect 5.6 lakh villages and high speed broadband is being rolled out in 2.5 lakh panchayats. The Unique ID program will give all Indian citizens a chance to access electronic banking and provide a valid proof of identity. In two years’ time, rural power, rural data connectivity and financial inclusion will indeed change the face of India as never before. Nevertheless, an increasingly educated and knowledgeable public demands even more. It is indeed their right to demand good governance and clean administration from those who have taken an oath to uphold the law and discharge their responsibility faithfully. Obviously, the party is compelled to look into recent elections and introspect to be more responsive to the common man. There is a widespread feeling that over the years, many in the leadership have drifted away from grassroots concerns as they began to enjoy the seats of power. The glory days of Seva Dal and the inculcating of values and principles of the party through study classes by its esteemed leaders, all seem to have disappeared from the scene. Therefore the question remains: what does the Congress Party need to do to regain the trust of the people? As the 2014 election is fast approaching, the most pressing issue for Congress party is to select clean candidates from diverse backgrounds, giving proper representation to young and the women. It is imperative for the party to deny tickets to those with criminal and financial irregularities in their backgrounds. Rahul Gandhi needs to take a firm and audible stand on this matter regardless of the fact that he may face criticism that could result in minor revolts in the party; even at the cost of losing some seats. As the party is indeed looking towards the future, it needs to identify and attract young leaders with good academic backgrounds, vision and knowledge. It is important to provide opportunity for these young leaders to bring their talents and excel in rebuilding the party at the grassroots level. The Party needs to quickly formulate a 10 point plan similar to the ‘Contract with America’, that the Republicans have put together in 1994 election for the House of Representatives. Considering that the Congress Party has been slow in impressing upon the electorate their numerous achievements, a simplified minimum plan would better communicate their aspirations and plans to the voting public. At the top of the agenda ought to be combating corruption at all levels of the Government. Now that Lokpal is passed into law, a quick implementation of those provisions needs to happen. One such example would be to carry out prosecutions of the accused under a more independent CBI Directorate on a fast track judicial process. It should result in swift adjudication of cases involving attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means. The major failure to combat corruption charges until now has been the long and drawn out cases that could last several decades, during which time, the person who has amassed wealth through corrupt means could easily outlast any prosecutorial efforts. There is no doubt that the stability of the Central Government is key to providing effective governance with long-term planning. However, the rise of the regional parties and coalition politics are increasingly rendering the legislative process a slow and painful operation. The platform ought to include a promise to enact legislation in a way that prevents the disruption of parliament, while ensuring that debates and decision-making proceed uninterrupted. Any breach of conduct should carry hefty monetary penalties with suspension from the house for a stipulated period of time. Strengthening governance goes without saying. The party must continue to uphold democratic and secular values, while ensuring that weaker sections are given adequate consideration in the upcoming election by allocating an adequate number of seats as well as providing a forum for their voices. It is incumbent upon the party to reassert the moral high ground on these issues and take necessary actions to educate and remove entrenched habits of discrimination from all facets of life in the society. India is still a largely agrarian country with around 60% of its population depending directly or indirectly on agriculture. As agriculture mostly depends on monsoons, a failure of rains could lead to droughts, low prices for their produces, and exploitation by middlemen. All of these have led to a series of suicides of farmers across the country. The party needs to refocus efforts and utilize existing resources to pass landmark legislation that provides substantial help to those who are currently disenfranchised. The party plank should also include a plan to revitalize the economy and create more jobs with various initiatives at the Central and the State level. It goes without saying that a more robust foreign policy is required as well, creating strategic alliance with countries with shared values to protect India’s vital interests while keeping unruly neighbors at bay. At the end of the day, which other party is more experienced and equipped to provide better governance than the party that stands for democracy, secularism, fraternity, justice, liberty and equality for all. Congress policies have always been anchored in a vision of an economically prosperous, socially just, politically united and culturally harmonious India. The Congress party ought to listen to the man on the street and let the voters make that final judgment
Published : Oct 17, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
October 17, 2011
The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA) is shocked that a secular democratic country like India has arrested tourists Evangelist William Lee and his team including Daniel Mathew, Roy Daniel and James, on alleged grounds of breaking visa norms and participating in religious sermons. William Lee along with his team had come to India on tourist visas and had participated in a Musical Concert in Kaloor Stadium in Cochin, Kerala on Thursday, 13/10/2011 organised by Faith Leaders Church of Lord, Tiruvalla. FIACONA President Abraham Mammen said, "It is alleged that he was propagating religious sermons. His arrest is totally unjustified and reflects the workings of fascist forces who want to destroy India's secular fabric for their own petty ends". It is a well-known fact that persons entering India on a tourist visa are involved in conducting religious prayer sessions. It is not yet proved whether William Lee and his team has conducted any religious prayers, but arresting them implicates that only Christians are targeted for blatant selective persecution, moral policing and sectarian violence. "How can such gross and undemocratic action take place in a country like India that is known to be secular and democratic?" questioned Abraham Mammen in a recent interview. The entire Christian community of the world is shocked. There are thousands of Christians entering India as tourists and if they go to church to pray or participate in a musical concert, does that mean that they are breaking visa norms and should be arrested? "Arresting them is absolutely shocking and FIACONA strongly condemns this undemocratic act. I am confident that the fascist forces who are bent on destroying the secular fabric of India shall not be successful and justice shall be done in favor of William Lee and his team being released with honor and respect", said Abraham Mammen. Issued by FIACONA, a non-political Federation of Christian organizations.
The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations has its permanent office in Washington DC.
It is an interdenominational and a multi linguistic organization. Members are from all Christian denominations with their own ancestral root to different states in India.
The Federation is comprised of all Indian American Christian Church organizations or organizations of Indian Christian laity or individual Indian American Christians who opt to join the Federation.
FIACONA has a presence in every single state in the US and Canada through the presence of our active members. The Federation counts over 450,000 people among its members, living in every single states in the US and Canada.
FIACONA is a cultural and ethnic organization with a strong advocacy component. It is neither a spiritual nor a religious organization. It identifies itself as a “Christian” organization for the purpose of the socio- religious and cultural identity of its members who are of Christian faith as opposed to members of other faiths.
The Federation is also open to membership from individuals who may or may not belong to an organization that is exclusively formed for the cultural and spiritual benefit of Indian American Christians.
The Federation invites Christian organizations of non-Indian origin, who shares the Federation’s vision, its goals and its objectives, as its associate members.
The General Body of the organization meets once a year. All members of the organization are eligible to seek elected offices at the state level and at the national level offices of the organization.
Members and office bearers of the organization are unpaid volunteers.
Members are encouraged to contribute voluntarily towards the campaign and other costs of the organization. Contributions are tax deductible for the US tax payers.
If you are interested in underwriting any specific programs/campaigns/expenses, please contact the Treasurer or the President of the organization. Become a Registered Member:
FIACONA’s national office in Washington strongly encourages interested eligible candidates to work as interns in various congressional, judicial or executive offices of the Federal government. FIACONA will help facilitate and provide necessary guidance to interested students in obtaining such internships in Washington.
FIACONA will also help eligible students to get internships at the United Nations office in New York. If you are interested in applying for any such internships, please contact our national office via email with a brief message and contact information. One of our voluntary guidance counselors will call and help you to find an appropriate internship that would suite your interest and courier plans.