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New Delhi – We need to read, comment and teach the new generations the Preamble of the Indian Constitution in Church-managed schools in India: this is what the Office for Education and Culture under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India says in a document sent to Agenzia Fides. The document comes at a political moment when the nationalistic government of the Barathiya Janata Party, in power in the Federation, promotes policies that go in the direction of turning India into a single-religious nation.
“The CBCI Office for Education and Culture in fact has been directing the educational institutions to teach Constitutional Values to students all the while to foster true patriotism, National Integration and love for the Country”, says to Fides Salesian Father Jose Manipadam, National Secretary of the Office, who has circulated the module among bishops and heads of the Church educational institutions in the country.
The Church – he explained – intends to contribute to help teach young generations the constitutional values, while Hindu nationalist parties are making efforts to change the Constitution and promote the hindutva ideology that preaches “a religion, a culture and a nation” for India.
As Fides learns, the Catholic Bishops and leaders involved in the educational sector have welcomed the recommendation, underlining “the need for Christian schools to teach the Constitution and promote secular values promised by the Constitution”, said Archbishop Calist Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Council of Kerala. The Prelate termed as “highly dangerous” attempts by some vested interests “to invoke hatred and fear among various groups as a shortcut to power”.
The Salesian Fr. Manipadam says he felt encouraged to take the initiative after a number of Bishops requested his office for help in inculcating the values of the Constitution in young people to “bring out the authentic sense of Indian nationalism, the healthy patriotism based on constitutional values”.
At an operational level, it will proceed in four phases: in the first phase, the students are encouraged to memorize the Preamble; the second phase stresses the significance of the preamble and suggests as activities group discussions, quiz contests, essay writing and poster competition. The enacting words, “We the people of India,’ is the focus of the third stage. It wants students to stage skits and small dramas on celebrating unity in diversity through various examples, underlining the cultural and religious pluralism of the nation; in the fourth stage, the students familiarize with key words in the Preamble: “sovereign”, “socialist”, “secular”, “democratic” and “republic”. The Constitution promises “justice”, “liberty”, “equality” and “fraternity” to all the citizens without discrimination.