Why Christians in Nepal need the gift of Christmas

December 24, 2018 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Nepal, December 24, 2018: Religion was one of the most discussed issues of the year in Nepal, fueled by the government’s draft policy on faith-based NGOs, a new act banning proselytization and criminalizing religious conversion, and a less than flattering report from the European Union on the national election.

In fact, religious minorities including Christian communities have found themselves struggling to exist in a shrinking space since January amid a general clampdown on freedom of religious expression.

Nepal’s two-phase legislative election, the political hot cake of the previous New Year, took place on Nov. 26 and Dec. 7, 2017, just months before the nation held its third presidential election on March 13.

In its February report, the EU’s Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) raised a number of concerning issues including how Christians were not represented in the election despite comprising 1.4 percent of the population.

It singled this out for criticism as Nepal’s electoral system supposedly operates on a proportional representation system.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) responded with a press release in March citing its dissatisfaction with the EU.

Some critics of the European body said it was loath to see Nepal making social progress due to its communist leadership.

Others saw it as a response to fears the country may be “too pro-India,” after representatives from both countries met in Brussels and agreed there were flaws in Nepal’s constitution.

Under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is seen as being unhappy with the direction Nepal has been taking, for example, abolishing its monarchy and establishing secularism. Moreover, there have been a number of conflicts involving Terai-based Madheshi political parties, which have close ties to New Delhi.

This assumption gained more credibility when India was accused of triggering an economic and humanitarian crisis in Nepal — which as a landlocked country relies on its bigger neighbor for all of its petroleum supplies — by launching an undeclared blockade on the country in September 2015, the same month Nepal passed its long-stalled charter.

New Delhi responded by denying the blockade and blaming the shortages on (India-backed) Madheshi protesters, who claimed the new constitution violated their human rights and sought to further marginalize them.

Inflamed by the content of the recent EUEOM report, nationalistic Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli requested the European body “correct” it with immediate effect. He said it was “unacceptable” for the agency to interfere with religious issues in Nepal.

Many Nepalese still eye Christianity warily as a so-called “greenback-funded foreign religion.”

But I would argue the Christian population is not even acknowledged as a minority group in Nepal.

Christian leaders claim there are over 12,000 churches in the country and a total of three million Christians. That means as much as 10 percent of the population could identify with the religious faith. As such, their representatives in parliament should be more demanding.

National integrity

In April, a 23-page draft of the National Integrity Policy was released as the government sketched out plans to tightly control non-governmental organizations (NGOs), especially those suspected of proselytizing via foreign Christian and other faith-based groups.

I believe this was a direct manifestation of the anger K.P. Oli felt at the EUEOM report.

This policy would have prevented campaigning on issues such as the rights of indigenous people, migrants and refugees, as well as freedom of expression and of religious belief.

However, after much criticism, the office of the prime minister held broader consultations with more stakeholders and sought feedback that could be incorporated into the policy.

It seems the policy is still being discussed, as the final version has not been made available yet.

The government is encouraging NGOs not to get involved in religious activities. I am aware that the social welfare council (SWC), the government agency responsible for monitoring NGOs, does not allow projects on inter-faith dialogue and religious harmony nowadays.

It rejects the fact that larger numbers of civic associations and religious bodies still have to register as NGOs.

SWC officers scrutinize proposed projects and mark out any “controversial” words or phrases such as religion, inter-faith dialogue, religious harmony, faith-based groups, integral, and holistic, to name a few.

Code word: crackdown

The Criminal Code (Act) passed by Nepal’s parliament in 2017 criminalizes religious conversion. It took effect in August, triggering the arrests of some Nepalese Christians and the deportation of certain foreign missionaries.

In July, the government fined and deported a foreign couple on charges of religiously converting others.

Later in October a member of Nepal’s security personnel was arrested for giving testimony at a religious conference.

Meanwhile, 10 evangelists were nabbed in November in two separate incidents, along with one Japanese, an Australian, and five Jehovah’s Witnesses.

This was a clear indication of how the criminalization of religious activities is specifically targeting Christian groups.

Government officials also recently requested that a Biblical epithet be removed from a hospital building financed by a Christian faith-based NGO in western Nepal’s Surkhet District.

Yet several statues of the Hindu deity Shiva that featured prominently in its garden, as well as an image of Lord Krishna hanging above its front door, were left untouched.

There have also been cases where Christian-run schools and homes have been accused of proselytizing by conducting morning and evening prayers, or offering counseling services for children.

The authorities seem to have conveniently forgotten that many senior bureaucrats, including members of the royal family, have benefited from the more comprehensive and cheaper education these private schools offer.

As a final insult, the public was invited to give feedback on the Criminal Code on April 14, 2016 but Christian leaders say their suggestions fell on deaf ears despite submitting over 45,000 petitions.

Some have compared the severity of the situation to Muslim-majority Pakistan with its strict blasphemy laws.

Whether this is a legitimate argument or not, the provisions in the nation’s new Criminal Code further distance Nepal from its international human rights’ commitments.

Dust of secularism

In contrast to the SWC officers, K.P. Oli’s nationalistic secularism seems to have turned into what we in Nepali refer to as lampasarbad — or the bureaucratic tendency to prostrate oneself at another’s foot.

For example, vast government resources were mobilized for the hosting of the Asia-Pacific summit of the Korean Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in Kathmandu in early December.

The public voiced its displeasure after reports emerged the government had spent over US$1 million in providing security for VIPs and generally staging the summit, a platform for high-level interfaith dialogue and other issues.

After people cottoned on to the UPF’s connection to the wealthy Korean Unification Church, the government began taking flak from other politicians, influential leaders from the ruling party itself and the media for supporting what many consider to be a quirky religion, or even a cult.

The Unification Church was founded in 1954 by messiah claimant Sun Myung Moon of South Korea. His followers, often referred to pejoratively as “Moonies,” adhere to a unique Christian theology.

This year ahead of Dashain, the country’s most important Hindu festival that falls in October, the office of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari issued a public notice inviting senior officials, political figures, businesspeople and members of the public to dab a red mark on their forehead.

It is worth pointing out here that secularism in Nepal is not absolute, in the sense that religions are not fully detached from the state. In fact, most state sectors have close practical ties to the rules and laws that apply to Hinduism.

I don’t see any rationale behind banning interfaith dialogue in a country like Nepal where most people have deeply-rooted religious values. Such dialogue is needed to prevent conflict.

And of course, all religious groups should be treated equally, and freedom of religious or belief has to be guaranteed.

Christian unity

I see the lack of ecumenical collaboration between the numerous Christian denominations and several parallel federations who are active in Nepal as being among the biggest challenges for Nepal’s Christian community. Moreover, there are numerous cults similar to Moon’s UPF that many Churches do not acknowledge as being a legitimate part of Christianity, yet they remain more active on the ground than other denominations.

These cults, whether they are genuine branches of Christianity or not, as viewed by the general public and government as being “on the same page” as Nepal’s broader Christian community.

Despite all these doctrinal differences, however, and as anti-Christian sentiment continues to grow in Nepal, Christian groups must not forget the age-old mantra, “united we stand, divided we fall.” They should combine their efforts to bring society closer for the common good.

By the same token, they should open their hearts and foster friendly ties with more prominent religions in the country.

Peace will only be possible if minority groups can also enjoy justice and everyone tries to be more sensitive to cultural, social and religious differences.

Hopefully, the government can get the ball rolling by making Christmas a public holiday so all Nepalis can celebrate their respective faiths respectfully.

– ucan

Christ symbolised peace, harmony and hope, says President on Christmas eve

December 24, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, December 24, 2018: Greeting people on the eve of Christmas on Monday, President Ram Nath Kovind said Jesus Christ symbolised peace, harmony and hope.

On the occasion of Christmas, I extend my warm greetings and best wishes to all fellow citizens in India and abroad, especially to my Christian brothers and sisters,’’ he said here in a message.

Christmas is a celebration of human values that nurture mutual caring and sharing and transform life itself into a festival,’’ he said.

May this Christmas inspire us to promote fraternity and humaneness in our nation and across our planet,’’ he said.

– uni

Christmas festivities grips Assam

December 24, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Assam, December 24, 2018: The Christmas festivity gripped Assam on Monday with Churches decorated with nativity scenes, brightly lit X-mas trees, colourful lights and singing of carols to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

With a festive atmosphere prevailing in the state where Christianity is the third largest religion, private homes belonging to both Christians and other people were lit up with decorative lights and stars adding to the happy festival.

Shops selling Christmas trees, bright tree ornaments, colourful bubbles, lanterns, stars, Santa clauses, red caps have sprang up along roads.

People have started thronging the 175-year old Christ Church founded in 1844, Guwahati Baptist Church established in 1845 as well as Don Bosco Church along with other churches in the state.

Besides thronging the churches to attend special prayers and soak in the festive atmosphere, people are also visiting various public halls where Christmas celebrations and carols were sung spreading the message of peace among all.

Christmas cheer also gripped the hill district of Dima Hasao where the Christian population is nearly 30 per cent and Karbi Anglong where the faithfuls comprise 16.5 per cent of the population as per the 2011 census.

As per records, two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries – Cabral and Cacella – were the first Christian Missionaries to set foot in Assam followed by missionary work by Nathan Brown and Oliver Cutter from USA in 1836.

– india.com

Christmas 2018: History, Importance & Significance of Christmas festival in India

December 24, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, December 24, 2018: Celebrated across the world on December 25 every year, the day marks the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the second of the Holy Trinity of Christianity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit).

According to the Bible, Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem to Mother Mary and Saint Joseph. The virgin Mother Mary was engaged to Joseph when she miraculously conceived through the Holy Spirit. She was foretold about this by an angel of God, who further said she will name the child Jesus and he will be known as the Messiah, or saviour. The shepherds were the first to see the newborn, following them, three kings from far away lands, guided by the star of David, visited the baby and offered him precious gifts.

In 336 A.D., Emperor Constantine or Constantine the Great, a Christian Roman Emperor, declared that December 25 will be celebrated as Christmas to mark the birth of Christ. Over the centuries, it has become one of the biggest festivals to be observed all over the world. Celebrations start from December 24 (Christmas Eve) and continue till December 26 (Boxing Day).

The birth of Christ is an event of utmost importance to the followers of Christianity as it is believed that God had sent his Son on earth as a sacrifice to redeem the people of the world from their sins. This sacrifice denotes crucifixion of Christ.

Many attend the midnight mass at churches followed by an elaborate Christmas feast on this day. Christmas carols and Santa Claus are important part of the festivity too.

During this time, pine trees are decorated with colourful bells, candles, candies, stars and gift stockings. Most of the Christmas decorations consist of four colours — red, green, golden and white, and they have their significance as well. While green denotes eternal life, red signifies the blood Christ shed, golden denotes royalty (he was known as the Son of David, the King of Israel) and white denotes peace.

The Christmas feast is a delicious spread that the entire family enjoys together. The traditional Christmas meal comprises of delicacies such as roasted turkey, gingerbread, roasted chicken, mince-pie, Christmas cake, pudding, eggnog, mashed potatoes and mulled wine.

– indian express

Philippines exports priests for Christmas Masses

December 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Manila, December 18, 2018: Filipino priests are being “exported” this month for the “Misa de Gallo,” the traditional nine-day early morning Masses that usher in Christmas in the Philippines.

Father Roy Bellen of the Office of Communications in Manila Archdiocese said some parishes abroad, especially in the Middle East, “borrow” priests from Manila for the celebrations.

“Because they know that we have this tradition, they request a Filipino priest,” said Father Bellen, adding that foreign priests working with Filipino migrants “don’t understand our culture.”

He said that in several parishes abroad, Filipino priests officiate at the early morning Masses during the Christmas season.

Father Bellen said parishes in other countries where there are many Filipinos would usually write to priests back in the Philippines months before December conveying the request.

In Malaysia, a local church hosted the “Misa de Gallo” by inviting priests from Manila.

The idea for hosting the traditional Filipino Masses came from a local parish priest who wanted to express gratitude to Filipino workers and students in the country.

The Misa de Gallo, which became a Filipino tradition after the arrival of Spanish colonizers about 500 years ago, is a novena of Masses from Dec. 16 to Christmas Eve.

The celebration is held as early as 3 a.m. in several provinces.

Pope Sixtus V ordered that the Mass be heard before sunrise because it used to be the harvest season in the Philippines, and farmers needed to be in the fields immediately after the celebration.

During the nine-day celebration Filipinos adorn their homes with star-shaped lanterns called parol, which were believed to help parishioners before electricity was invented make their way to church in the early morning.

After Mass, Filipino families share rice cakes, pastries, and other delicacies and drink hot chocolate.

The Christmas season in the Philippines officially begins with the start of the Misa de Gallo and ends on the first Sunday of January on the feast of the Three Kings.

Father Bellen, however, warned those inviting priests to lead the traditional Filipino celebration to be wary of fake priests.

“The protocol is for the priest to present his celebret or identification card to make sure that he is not fake,” he said.

Earlier this month, Manila Archdiocese warned the public about a person who has been posing as a Catholic priest and an exorcist.

The archdiocese received reports that a certain Father Cheeno Lledo was performing “exorcisms” around the capital.

In a circular, Bishop Francisco de Leon of Antipolo also issued the same warning about Lledo.

“He should not be allowed to celebrate Mass or perform religious rites in our chapels, churches or other places for our Catholic faithful,” read the prelate’s letter.

– ucan

Another church vandalized in Assam

December 18, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Assam, December 16, 2018: Unidentified miscreants have vandalized St Thomas Catholic Church and its grotto in Chapatoli village near Duliajan in Assam.

The incident came to light on the morning of December 15 when villagers were going for their works through the church area. They noticed the church door open and spotted the statue of Mother Mary dislodged from the grotto.

The miscreants also damaged a crucifix after resorting to vandalism inside the church, Johan Lugun, a local resident said.

As the news spread, thousands of people flocked to the village from nearby areas. Police immediately picked up two suspects from the area for questioning.

Local legislator Terosh Gowala, who visited the area, has expressed solidarity with the Christian community. He promised to reinstate the damaged crucifix, Marian statue and other damages in the church.

Meanwhile, Bishop Joseph Aind of Dibrugarh while condemning the attack demanded a high-level inquiry into the incident. The Salesian prelate lamented that certain forces with ulterior motives were seeking to sow seeds of hatred and discord among the peace loving people living in the tea garden enclaves and its periphery areas.

The bishop also said people of all religions have co-existed in peace and harmony in the plantations from pre-independence era. “Only outside forces with vested interests can perpetrate such anti-social acts inside the tea garden area,” he added.

The prelate also demanded that the government set up a high-level inquiry into the incident and guarantee that the culprits, particularly the mastermind, is booked and punished and that peace is restored in the area.

“The government must also ensure security for the Christians especially during the Christmas season,” he demanded.

The incident has revived memories of earlier attacks on the community.

On Jun 20 this year, unidentified miscreants vandalized the Catholic Cathedral Church at Chapaguri in Chirang district and decamped with some valuables.

In June 2016, a parish priest and principal of a missionary school, Fr Sushil John Soren, was attacked by an unidentified person with a machete in Udalguri district’s Bhairabkunda village.

In August 2015, a statue Saint John Bosco, which was to be unveiled by then Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi at the Bharalumukh riverfront, was partially damaged and pushed into the Bharalu by a mob.

According to the Assam religious census of 2011, Christians make up 3.74 percent of the state’s population.

– assam tribune and telegraph kolkata

Mumbai: BJP makes overtures to Christians

December 18, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Mumbai, December 18, 2018: To woo the Christian community in the run-up to the elections next year, the BJP minority morcha has reached out to the members of the religious minority in the city ahead of Christmas.

At a meeting attended by around 200 community members on Saturday, the BJP assured the group that its grievances would be addressed.

“There is a misconception that the BJP is anti-minorities,” said Waseem Khan, BJP minority morcha chief. “Our governments, both at the Centre and state, have created many schemes for the welfare of the minorities. Christians form an important group among the minorities and our leaders like MLA and Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar and Maulana Azad Minorities Financial Development Corporation chairman Haji Haider Azam assured them that injustice would not be done to the Christians or any other minority.”

Christian leader Alexander D’Souza said the community in the city might think of backing the BJP if its grievances are addressed. “We will hold meetings with senior clerics and community leaders. The BJP is not harassing us and the time has come to show our solidarity with the party,” said D’Souza.

– times of india

Intolerance a temporary phase: Mukherjee

December 18, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, December 17, 2018: Indians will protect the nation’s religious and cultural diversity against intolerance, former Indian president Pranab Kumar Mukherjee told a Christmas gathering organized by Catholic bishops.

There were more than 500 invited guests at the Dec. 13 program in the capital, New Deli, including ministers from incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and Christian leaders.

“We are definitely going through troubled times,” the former president said in a veiled reference to allegations that Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tacitly supports violent Hindu fanatics.

“Divisive tendencies, intolerance and prejudiced ‘fear of the other’ seem to be defining us today, but it is a temporary phase and the idea of India will prevail.”

He noted that an historically composite and yet diverse nation had emerged during 5,000 years of co-existence, acceptance, adaptation and assimilation.

“Indians will tenaciously fight this in order to once again establish our unique national identity, which has emerged out of our civilizational values and remains etched ever so clearly in our Magna Carta – the Constitution of India,” said the 13th president of India.

Mukherjee, whose five-year term ended 2017, noted that aberrations such as crusades, jihads and violent struggles between sects would always be defeated in the favor of brotherhood, peace and prosperity.

He expressed appreciation for the Catholic Church’s good work in the fields of education, health care and social services.

The most enduring image of the Catholic Church in India were the millions of children, irrespective of religion, educated in Church institutions as well as millions who received medical help in Catholic hospitals.

Mukherjee also said that the Church in India was personified by Missionaries of Charity nuns, founded by St. Mother Teresa, tending to the most marginalized of society.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said conflicts between people and nations arose “because we don’t practice peace, love and fellowship.”

Christmas was an appropriate time for Christians and non-Christians alike to reflect on such issues, Cardinal Gracias said.

Hindu spiritual Guru Goswami Sushil Ji Maharaj agreed with Mukherjee that an atmosphere of hate and intolerance now exists in India.

“There is no doubt that we are in a bit of a difficult situation, but soon that will vanish because our age-old tradition of co-existence still exists in our country,” he said.

India has been witnessing increased incidents of violence against religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims since Modi’s BJP came to power nationally in 2014.

At least 10 Muslim men have been lynched and many injured by Hindu vigilante cow protection groups.

Rights group Amnesty India said in a report early this year that many such extremist groups seemed to operate with the support of the BJP.

Persecution Relief, an ecumenical Christian forum that monitors persecution, says it recorded 600 incidents in 2017 of violence against Christians in India, including the destruction of churches, threats and harassment, social boycotts, hate campaigns, abductions and murders as well as other physical violence.

– ucan

Thousands of women burned alive in India, not recognized as humans: Ministry warns

December 9, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, December 8, 2018: Thousands of brides are being burned alive in India despite the practice being illegal, a Christian ministry has warned.

India Partners, a Christian organization that works alonside indigenous Christian grassroots agencies in India, told Mission Network News on Thursday that there are still as many as 8,000 bride burning cases a year in the Hindu-majority country.

A representative with India Partners, identified only as John, said the low view of women is spread through parts of India’s society.

“This is true both of men and women. It’s not just of men itself. Most women see the other woman as in an inferior position and not able to recognize her rights as a human being,” he said.

The burning attacks, some of which have resulted in deaths, are tied to dowry and marriage disputes in rural districts.

“Horrible things like this happen, and many times they happen because of dowry deaths. Before marriage, the families will agree upon a dowry that the bride’s family generally will pay to the groom’s family,” John explained.

“After marriage, the groom’s family sees the leverage of threatening the girl and asking for more money. So they will begin threats, they will begin beatings, and the rule of thumb is something like the more money you want, the more you need to beat her.”

Women are often beaten when the groom’s family demands more money, which then sometimes escalates in dousing them with flammable liquid and setting them on fire.

John said that bride burning is more common in rural districts like Uttar Pradesh because the perpetrators are less likely to be prosecuted.

“But the harassment happens everywhere. In the harassment of women, your caste doesn’t make any difference. How much education you have doesn’t make any difference,” he added.

Women in India continue to suffer from a widespread rape epidemic, with many stories of extreme violence, sexual assaults, and murder making international news.

Dalits, members of the so-called “untouchables” lowest caste class in India, are also subject to discrimination, especially those who choose to convert to Christianity.

Earlier this week, some 2,000 Christian Dalits marched in New Delhi, demanding that the government does not stop their social benefits due to their new faith.

The fears are based on government regulations that argue that Dalit Christians and Muslims who leave the Hindu faith can no longer be considered part of the caste, UCA News.com reported.

“Government comes and goes, and we get only false promises. Several protest rallies and marches in the past were useless. Now we play our drums to wake up the sleeping government,” said Father A. Arputharaj, a protest organizer in the march.

– christian post

Indian state’s move on tribal people vexes church leaders

December 9, 2018 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Ranchi, December 9, 2018: Catholic tribal leaders in India are worried over a move by Jharkhand’s government to take away tribal status from people who have left their traditional Sarna religion to join other faiths.

The eastern state’s move will deprive thousands of tribal people of social benefits meant for their advancement.

“It is a deliberate attempt to divide tribal people on grounds of religion ahead of the state and national elections next year,” said Bishop Vincent Barwa of Simdega, who is based in a tribal Christian stronghold.

A state election is due at the end of next year, while national elections are due in April.

The state government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), wants the BJP-led federal government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declassify the tribal status of tribal people who have adopted other religions, media reports said.

“The government move is disastrous and we are keeping a close watch on all developments,” Bishop Barva, chairman of the Indian bishops’ office for indigenous people, told ucanews.

Secular leaders like Dev Kumar Dhan, who leads a pan-India group of tribal people following the Sarna religion, told ucanews that the government is looking for political gains.

On Dec. 3, he presented a memorandum to state governor Draupadi Murmu, a representative the of the federal government, asking her to stop the move “to divide tribal people on religious grounds.”

Dhan said the declassification of tribal people would help non-tribal people to contest and win elections in tribal-majority constituencies that are now reserved for tribal candidates.

The state has 28 constituencies reserved for tribal candidates based on the population of tribal voters. If the proposed declassification happens, the number of seats will come down to 10 as tribal people in the other 18 seats will become non-tribal people overnight, he said.

Officially, 26 percent of Jharkhand’s 32 million people are tribal people, but declassification would reduce the tribal population to 12 percent, Dhan said.

Since the move needs federal approval and would have to be effective across the country, the representation of tribal people in India’s parliament would also be reduced.

Currently 47 of 543 parliamentary constituencies are reserved for tribal people.

Jharkhand has some 8.6 million tribal people, of whom 3.24 million have become Hindus and 1.33 million have become Christians, according to census records. Much smaller numbers have become Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains.

“The move has far-reaching implications because it will affect not only the social benefits of the people but also the policy decisions of governments in the use of natural resources like land, water and forests,” Dhan said.

Supporters of the move are shortsighted, he said.

Megha Oraon, who leads Sarna Vikas Samiti (forum for Sarna development), supported the plan and said it would end conversion to other religions and bring back those who had left the Sarna religion.

Tribal leader Babulal Munda agreed that government benefits meant for tribal people such as financial assistance for education and reservations in jobs should not be given to people who joined other religions.

However, tribal leaders maintain that those who converted to Hinduism should not be deprived benefits as the Sarna religion is broadly part of Hinduism.

Declassification of tribal people would violate the constitutional stipulation that citizens should not face discrimination over religion, said Catholic priest and lawyer Father Peter Martin.

In a federal system, a state alone cannot decide on something that could be applied across India, he said, as the consensus of other states is necessary. “That would not be an easy task,” he said.

The move will result in a massive uprising in the state as it will adversely affect millions, Father Martin said.

– ucan


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