Pluralism Promoted in India, America

Indian American Christian Groups were among the those invited to events related to Indian Prime Minister Manmoha Singh's visit to Washington D.C. this week.

During the visit, both the U.S. and India resolved to promote open and pluralistic societies.

The two Indian American Christian groups present were the Indian American Christian Organizations of America (FIACONA), and its sister organization, the Indian Christian Forum (ICF). For the groups, the cause of religious minorities is of special concern in India since Christians represent about only about 2 percent of India's population.

Rev. Bernanrd Malik, the President of FIACONA said in a statement that respect for minority rights and freedom of religion had been under threat in India under the previous government. He added that the current Prime Minister government had taken steps toward minimizing that threat but much remained to be desired.

"Dr Manmohan Singh's government has taken various legislative and administrative steps to counter the assaults from communal elements in the political and social fabric of the country but there was still a long way to go before minority communities could feel safe and secure in some States of India," said Malik.

During the Prime Minister's visit, a joint Indo-US statement was released stating that the leaders of both nations would build on their common values and interests to promote pluralism in society.

They resolved: "To create an international environment conducive to promotion of democratic values and to strengthen democratic practices in societies which wish to become more open and pluralistic."

Expressing thanks for the invitation, both Christian groups said it was the first time that Indian American Christian organizations had been "so honored by the President of the United States."

In recent years, both FIACONA and ICF said they had worked closely with the White House, Congress, the State Department and Departments of the Treasure and Justice concerning issues related to minority communities in India "relevant" to U.S. foreign policy principles an objectives.