Hope Modi would stick to his promise to govern for all: Odisha Abp. Barwa

May 28, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Modi taking OathSurrey, May 27, 2014: Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar has said that the new Indian government could spell disaster for minority groups if it did not remain true to its promise to govern for all.

Archbishop Barwa said he hoped new Prime Minister Narendra Modi would stick to his promise to govern for every community, irrespective of caste or creed, tackling widespread corruption and providing good governance.

But he also spoke of grave fears that Modi, whose BJP party is described as a Hindu nationalist, could prove divisive, “side-lining” minority groups and stoking discrimination and prejudice.

The archbishop, who was interviewed by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, spoke against a backdrop persecution in his diocese, which in successive waves in 2007 and 2008, killed over 100 people and prompted up to 50,000 to flee their homes after a spate of attacks on Christian communities.

Speaking during a visit to Aid to the Church in Need (UK)’s national office in Sutton, Surrey, Archbishop Barwa said: “After having experienced the trauma and destructions [resulting] from a fundamentalist approach, now this party and Modi have [secured] such a high majority, surely inside of us there is a kind of fear, an anxiety, a worry.”

“I am worried of – let us say – a side-lining of minorities because in our past experiences we have – not only in Odisha but elsewhere – gone through suffering, struggle and persecution,” he added.

The prelate, during the interview, spoke of fears of an increase in discrimination against minorities amid concerns that the new government may be ambivalent in its response to oppression against Christians and other minorities.

But the archbishop highlighted Modi’s election pledge to govern for all – including smaller faith groups and less influential ethnic groups.

“Everybody was attracted by [Modi’s] slogan that there will be developmental activity, developmental progress whether they are Dalits, or they are Tribals or they are Hindus or they are Christians.” He said he “hoped and believed” this inclusive agenda would be “translated into reality”.

Highlighting the need to work for better inter-faith relations, he said that media work was crucial to breaking down barriers with other religious groups and described initiatives aimed at including non-Christians in major Church celebrations.

– ucan

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