41st seminar Press Note

Press Release: ACPI Annual Seminar, St. Albert’s College, Ranchi, 20-23 Oct, 2016

 The Association of Christian Philosophers of India (ACPI) hosted its 41st annual research seminar at St. Albert’s College, Ranchi, on the theme, “Becoming a Nation: Processes and Prospects”.

 We are proud to live in a country which is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, having a Constitution which safeguards the fundamental rights of its citizens. India’s tradition of plurality and diplomacy, its scientific advancement and tremendous natural and human resources are signs of its immense potentiality. The nation’s variegated religious and spiritual traditions and its multicultural richness enhance the uniqueness of the process of becoming a nation. We are invited to affirm human dignity and equality in spite of cultural and religious differences.

However, at present, there are unenlightened and dysfunctional attempts made to challenge and subvert many of these strengths and assets of Indian socio-political reality. There persists a colonial hangover resulting in religious polarization and politicization, the assertion of cultural supremacy, the homogenizing approach of certain people with vested interests, and the emergence of developmental projects which lack ecological sensitivity, traditional wisdom and popular acceptance. Current developments seem to lead to a narrow understanding of nationalism, with fundamentalist and anti-secular overtones foregrounded by the politicized use of the media, resulting in mob violence and terrorist activities. While dissent is an integral part of democracy, what we are witnessing is the suppression of dissenting voices of intellectuals and the masses. Numerous challenges to the integrity of the Constitution via anti-democratic and anti-minority policies have emerged, resulting in cultural and economic exclusion which will have severe consequences for various subaltern communities.

The seminar participants arrived at the following resolutions: The process of “becoming a nation” invites us to celebrate differences, to recognize and accept one another, to affirm cultural liberty and plurality, and to appreciate a mutually fecund co-emergence grounded in an ethics of compassionate care. We affirm socio-political thinking that is in line with the constitution, which employs democratic and rational approaches, and results in constructive activism. We support an egalitarian momentum which ushers in the welfare of all, especially that of the voiceless, trusting in their capabilities for empowerment and freedom. We will attempt to adopt methods of sustainable development which recognizes the mutuality of science and religion, and is aimed at integral and holistic growth. We will combine religious and moral education and enlightenment with relevant social activism. We will cultivate a spirit of pluralistic patriotism rather than chauvinistic nationalism. As Indians who profess the Christian faith, we will celebrate overlapping socio-cultural spaces with our fellow country men and women at macro and micro levels. Our interrelationships and collaboration with diverse communities will be aimed at fostering a spirit of harmonious coexistence.

The seminar presentations and deliberations provided an added impetus to commit ourselves even more towards the process of becoming an integrally and inclusively developed nation. We have already achieved much within a short time since independence, but there is still a lot of work to be done so that the values of freedom, equality, justice and solidarity become an ordinary and expected part of our way of life. 

 Keith D’Souza, SJ

(President, ACPI)