INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT | An Indian Theological Response


1. We, the 55 participants of the 36th National Conference and Annual Meeting of the Indian Theological Association (ITA), gathered together at Proggaloy, Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre, Archdiocese of Kolkata, Basarat, Rathtala, Kolkata, from 02 – 06 October 2013, deem it a matter of importance to bring out this statement which contains the fruits of our reflection and deliberation during the conference.

2. Today, the world is taking great strides in ‘development’ with the support of advanced science and technology on the one hand, and experiences extreme levels of deprivation of basic necessities on the other. While a small section of people enjoys material wealth, social power and opportunities, the vast majority lives under conditions of poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, under-employment, social indignity and discrimination. This causes great concern for all those who are conscientious and ethically sensitive, and especially to us - Christian theologians, who are deeply challenged by our faith that proclaims ‘fullness of life for all’.

3. Spurred by this concern, we chose to reflect upon the theme of Inclusive Development: An Indian Theological Response for the 36th National Conference of ITA. In this reflection, we are led by our faith in Jesus who envisioned and initiated on earth the Reigning of God, a foundational process, at once temporal and eschatological, unfolding the fullness of life for the whole of creation. Reigning of God unveiled a public vision of a ‘new religious culture’ embodying a deeper experience of the transcendent Divine which necessarily promotes growth for all, social justice and equity. It initiated an unfailing process of inclusive and integral development of human beings partnering with the whole of creation, thereby experiencing the ‘inclusive ontology of incarnational ubiquity of the Immanuel’.

4. In our reflection, we experience the guiding light of God that comes especially through the timely intervention Pope Francis is making today through his simplicity, egalitarian and participatory approach to life and mission, and very specially a radical openness to God in human concerns that intrigue our life today. It is immensely inspirational to listen to his instruction to have the ‘courage to open up new areas to God’.

5. We believe that Church is a community inaugurated by Jesus to contribute to the building of a pluralist, universal and inclusive community so that the family of humankind reflects freedom, fellowship, justice, compassion and sharing. This community needs to re-envision and rejuvenate itself as an inclusive inter-religious community so as to be able to bear witness to the hope of a universal community where justice, in distributive and commutative dimensions, flows down to the marginalised, fringe groups, minorities, women, and children, and thereby an inclusive development is achieved for everyone on earth.

6. The demand for inclusive growth and development is a defining voice being heard in our times from the wider public. It involves a comprehensive process which includes social, economic and cultural aspects of life. It affects people’s cognitive and behavioral perspectives, institutional modifications, and restructuring of societal relationship. Hence, a theology of inclusive growth is a public theology that takes the public concerns as theological resources and interprets them in the light of the Gospel.

7. The logic of this theology demands contextual, interdisciplinary, relational, collaborative and dialogical hermeneutics of Christian faith so that theology becomes a substantive agency of societal transformation for a humane and harmonious social order. This theology goes beyond particular ecclesial domains intended for clerical training. It is a prophetic and liberative theology that help us journey towards the ideals of egalitarianism, equity, justice, harmonious growth, development, and peace.


Part I
Our Context in Need of Inclusive Development

8. Articles 14, 15 (1), 15 (2), 16(1), 16(2), and 29 (2) of the Indian Constitution guarantee equality before the law, and no discrimination against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them in matters of employment and appointment in any office under the state or admission in educational institutions recognized by the state. Article 17 outlaws the practice of untouchability in any form, and Article 18 abolishes titles other than the military or academic distinctions. These Articles uphold the principle of egalitarian society and serve as instruments to order the society wherein people live as responsible subjects of the society according to the convictions of their conscience or religious faith.

9. Similarly, after declaring India a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic, the Constitution’s Preamble affirms securing of certain basic political goods to all its citizens. Among them, pride of place is given to providing social, economic and political justice for all, especially keeping in view the benefit of the weaker sections of society. To achieve this goal, the framers of the Constitution have incorporated a number of provisions as Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the Constitution. The positive and constructive content of political freedom must be the creation of an inclusive society informed by the principles of welfare state as spelt out in Part IV of the Constitution. In several instances, the Supreme Court reiterated that these Directive Principles were to fix certain social and economic goals and their immediate attainment by means of non-violent social revolution, so as to change the structure of the Indian society into a more humane and progressive one.

10. However, these ideals enshrined in our Constitution are being conveniently left behind to embrace the dictates of neo-capitalism that is ruling the world today. Under its impact, countries of the world are divided as rich and poor, developed and developing, advanced and backward, south and north, first and third worlds, etc. International institutions such as UN, IMF, WB, and WTO which were founded to heal the wounds of division, have, in the long run, deepened the divide. Countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India, the former colonies of European countries, which are characterised by extensive poverty depend heavily on the technological and financial resources of the rich countries.

11. The road to development has taken different models over the centuries. The western model of industrialisation and modernisation has led to market-based economic growth, but a one-sided growth at that. As a result of this one-sided growth, 5.5 billion people (80% of the global population today) who live in developing countries own only 20 % of the global GNP, while the rest 20% own 80% of the GNP. In India, 10% own 40% of the wealth, 20% own 30%, 40% own 20%, and the bottom 30% own just 10%. It is a scandalously skewed trajectory of exclusionary economic growth, which goes with the ideology of neo-liberalism, whose ‘trickle down’ theory is a gross failure.

12. It causes a culture of violence, which is nothing but a culture of death. The consumerist goods produced in massive scale causing an abysmal depletion of natural resources is an indication of the culture of death promoted by the neo-capitalist economy. It induces a spiral of violence starting with the violence inherent in the capitalist system, which triggers the violent resistance of the victims, which in turn is repressed violently by the states, supported often by MNCs.

13. An alternative vision of development is very much the need of the hour today. Amartya Sen speaks of development as freedom, wherein growth generates resources with which public and private efforts can be systematically mobilized to expand education, health care, nutrition, security of life and other essential needs which lead to fuller and freer life for all. Development means liberation – liberation from pain, misery, hunger, disease, violence, destruction, power politics and war. This is a liberation achieved not in confrontation but together with nature.

14. In the Indian context, several models of development have been projected over the decades of the post-Independent period. The colonial dispensation left a western-centred capitalist model of economic growth and development, which created a middle class in our country, but did not ensure an inclusive development. Mahatma Gandhi proposed the concept of sarvodaya, wherein the welfare of all was to be ensured by the participation of people in a panchayat-raj based development. However, it was in the hands of Nehru, the first Prime Minister, to embark upon a mixed model of development known as the Nehruvian socialist model, after the Soviet model of socialist development. The five year plans were supposed to produce a progressive development to all the people of India. Unfortunately, this model has not succeeded to produce an inclusive development yet. It was the Congress regime under the leadership of Narasimha Rao in early 1990s which made a Structural Adjustment Programme and introduced the neo-liberal policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. The subsequent governments have only followed up on these programmes and have caused a deep divide between the rich and the poor.

15. It is in this context, discourse on inclusive development obtains significance in India. Eleventh five year plan (2007-2013) of India speaks about the inclusive development in terms of 1) poverty reduction, ensuring an adequate flow of benefits to the poor and the marginalised; 2) group equality, as a consideration of the status of the group as a whole relative to the general population; 3) rectifying regional balance; 4) reduction of income inequality; 5) empowerment and participation in democracy; and 6) environmental sustainability

16. Inclusive growth basically means ‘broad based’, shared and pro-poor growth. It involves the people into the growth process of the country. It implies equitable allocations of resources with benefits distributed to every section of the society. It reduces the vulnerability of the most disadvantaged while benefitting everyone. It is about expanding the choices people have to lead lives that they value, and improving the conditions so that they can have the chance to lead full lives.

17. We speak of inclusive development in terms of affirmative action undertaken by the Govt. This action has indeed borne fruits and continues to serve its purpose, however weakened though it may be in today’s climate of privatisation of opportunities. However, it must also be noted that it creates more of vertical relationships, which must go with the formation of horizontal relationships characterised by an inclusive sociality nurtured by the ‘feel for the other,’ the expression of love. This inclusiveness is the intensity of sociality, an anchoring of relationality. Inclusive development in India should remedy the serious impairment of sociality caused by the evil of caste discrimination. The purity-pollution divide between caste groups keep reproducing itself in today’s society. The difficulty of sustaining inter-caste marriages is a case in point.

18. Women remain excluded from participation in the process of decision-making at various levels. The long-drawn struggle even to achieve 33% quota in spheres of political representation remains a distant dream. It is an affront to their dignity that patriarchy operates as a force not merely in domestic sphere, but also as a cultural habitus which prevents them from participation. That they continue to be excluded from various forms of church ministries is an anti-witness to the vision of the Reign of God.

19. People living with various forms and levels of physical challenges, known generally as disability, silently suffer psychological, social, cultural, political and economic exclusions. Their struggle for a positive self-identity, empowerment and full participation in society continues to be a matter of public apathy. They suffer also from inabilities to organise themselves at regional or national levels.

20. Inclusive development should value the epistemological systems of the periphery, the endogenous knowledge-systems of the indigenous communities. The Enlightenment paradigm of Eurocentric modernity rooted in the conquest of nature and the demonization of tribal / indigenous peoples’ spirituality is one of the major causes of crisis today. It visualizes a highly mechanized and industrialized society. The booming of economic progress, high-tech and throw away life-style is perceived as attainment of higher quality of life. ‘Growth’, especially material growth, is seen as the only principle for liberation. The material driven consumerist economic system and one-sided development pursuits have led to colonization of others and laid ideological justification for subjugation and exploitation of non-renewable earth’s resources in a massive scale. This dominant extractive growth model has become a threat to life in general, to indigenous people in particular.

21. The aspirations of the Tribal people for their identity, symbiotically linked to their aspiration for land should become an important component of inclusive development. The alienation of Tribal land, which occurs for reasons of setting up industries, advancement of technology, etc. which are the so-called markers of the western colonial model of development does not promote the real freedom of the indigenous people. Land is the source not merely for physical existence, but for the religion and ethics of the Tribal people. And therefore, development as freedom would be a struggle to resist the onslaught of the MNCs and the government to grab the land from the people.

22. Our educational system suffers from a lack of integral vision. Education should basically be a process of socialization into values, during the course of which students acquire skills for growth and development. Unfortunately, this integral vision is eclipsed at the cost of promotion of one-sided education which prepares students to compete for jobs. Even this form of education is not available to everyone equally, because people are excluded from it in terms of ethnicity, economic opportunity, gender, disability, region, etc. That even now only 9.97% of Indian youth reach to the level of higher education is a sad story of Indian educational system.

23. These multiple forms of exclusions appeal to our conscience. They demand of us actions, propelled by our faith. We need to generate a radically new culture of inclusive vision and development patterns. It will be nothing short of a cultural revolution for a new humanity, a revolution which must occur along with the economic revolution. This integrated cultural revolution is a vision which springs from Jesus’ vision of the Reigning of God, which embodies a new economics of salvation. A theological understanding of this new economics of inclusive development would go a long way in inspiring our Christian community into this transformative action.


Part II
A Theological Vision for Inclusive Development

24. The demand for inclusive development springs from our faith in God, nourished continuously by the Holy Scripture and Tradition, the two vital sources of our Faith. The God encountered through our history of salvation, as narrated in the Bible, is a zealous God who intervenes to protect the life and freedom of those who are denied of them. This God is the source and giver of life, life in fullness. Creation gets its life as an act of this Creator God who enabled it to partake of the Divine glory. Human beings, both male and female, get created in God’s image and likeness, so as to become capable of sharing in the fullness of life that reflects the glory of God. Thus, our faith in a creator God is a fundamental assurance of life and freedom to the whole of creation, without any form of exclusion. God’s creative work begins with the command: “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1: 28), and confers blessings on all God’s creatures so that they may flourish and prosper, and cooperate with each other for a life of fullness.

25. When life was violently denied to the innocent, God demanded justice. When the cry of the blood of Abel rose up, this zealous God demanded justice on account of this life denied of its opportunity to live. The cry of those slaves whose labour was exploited by the taskmasters of the Egyptian monarch was heard by this zealous God who came down to “deliver them from the Egyptians” (Ex. 3: 8). Trusting in this God, the slaves, the Israelites passed over from slavery to freedom. When these people had settled down in their new land with their own power structures, God assured those who had become victims of these power structures of God’s ever abiding presence which would deliver them from the clutches of exploitation. The Israelites began to observe the Sabbatical year as well as the Jubilee year, whereby they proclaimed liberty to everyone – bonded labourers, cattle, land, etc (Lev. 25). It was to remind them that life and freedom was destined for everyone by this zealous God. In their later history, the judges, as the spokespersons of this zealous God, stood by those who were wronged by the powerful. The kings of Israel, instead of being defenders, became exploiters of the people of God. It was in this context that the prophets became the sharp voice of this righteous God. Prophet Nathan’s call to justice broke the heart of David, the powerful monarch who ruled the Israelites. Prophet Isaiah made a clarion call in favour of the poor and the oppressed. Prophet Amos condemned the rituals that soothed the rich who continued to exploit the poor; and instead, he called for actions to make justice and righteousness roll down like an ever-flowing stream (Am 5: 21-24). All these events of the history of salvation are manifestations of the divine glory that the Israelites encountered in their journey of faith; they were great divine urges seeking life and freedom to those who were denied of them, thereby nurturing their hope for the ultimate salvation.

26. Jesus fulfilled this salvific hope by inaugurating the reign of God, calling for conversion to believe the Good News of salvation. His life and mission critiqued and confronted the exclusionary socio-economic and religious-cultural features of the then society, which exploited and excluded the poor and the marginalised. They were counted among the majority as labourers, slaves, people suffering from deadly diseases like leprosy, Samaritans, women, poor tenants, and so on. The Jewish religious system had become burdensome to the poor. The Sanhedrin looked down upon the poor and the marginalized, and excluded them from the vicinity of the sacred power of the temple. It was in this context that Jesus proclaimed the radically inclusive vision of the reigning of God (Mark 1, 15). His Nazareth Manifesto (Lk 4, 15-16) gave out this inclusive vision in detail.

27. Faith in the Reigning of God unfolded as a way of life based on freedom, fellowship, justice, dignity, equality, compassion, and sharing. It was ultimately the revelation of God’s unconditional love, a love that was all-inclusive and all-embracing. In Jesus Christ, God revealed God’s self as Abba, Father, the embodiment of unconditional love. It was a force to transform the world by confronting the forces of injustice, violence, oppression and exclusion.

28. Reigning of God is an offer of Divine strength primarily to the poor (anawim YHWH – poor in a comprehensive and inclusive sense of all who are deprived of the fullness of life) who are denied of resources and excluded from power structures of the society (Luke 4, 15-19). The mystery of God’s preferential option for the poor is revealed and the Gospel of the Reigning of God is being shaped in the reality of their lives. Hence, the poor are the corner stone of the hermeneutics of the Reigning of God and the latter is the milieu against which the exclusion of the poor is denounced as sinful on the one hand, and on the other, the inclusion of everyone as brothers and sisters is announced.

29. The Reigning of God proclaimed and lived by Jesus is not territorial but an inclusive way of life based on freedom, fellowship, justice, compassion and sharing. It is grounded in the communion and simultaneity of existence which is nurtured and fostered through a praxis of networking of every segment and sections of the society. To declare the excluded groups like lepers, tax-collectors, sinners and the poor to be children of God’s Reign was indeed a cultural shock, political attack and critique on the economic structures of the Jewish establishments of the day. Jesus sustained a continuum of every aspect of human life be it of politics, economy, culture, society, or religion; his occupation was bonding the secular and sacred and bringing about a new mutually clarifying equity and equilibrium, creative synthesis and harmony between the dusty and the divine. Thus Jesus reconstructed the idea of religion and God in an inclusive manner whereby nobody is excluded from the fullness of life.

30. The early Christian community lived the vision of inclusive development through a way of life that bespoke the Reigning of God. Mary, the mother of God, with her deep-seated desire (as found in her magnificat) for an egalitarian society, was a source of divine strength for the incipient new community of faith. The members of new community ‘held everything in common and there was no needy person among them’ (Act 2: 42-47, 4: 32-35). This was a remarkable witness of faith to inclusive life. They understood themselves as a new way, proclaiming life to all. Paul defended the right of the un-circumcised to become members of the Church, new creation in Christ (Gal 6, 15), and to partake of the redeeming grace of God. Peter called the whole Church as a ‘chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people’ (1 Pet. 2: 9). James decried those who showed favouritism to the rich and disrespect to the poor, and called for a life without partiality and exclusion (James 2: 1-13). Thus, we see that the early Christian community, pulsating with the vision of the Reigning of God, had an inclusive dynamism in its activities.

31. The Church in its history down through the centuries had difficult moments when it could not bear witness to the Reigning of God. Those that held ecclesiastical power came to exercise a predominance which excluded others from the process of participation and decision making in the life of the Church. However, there were always persons or initiatives which kept reminding the universal inclusive message of the Christian faith. Vatican II of the twentieth century played a vital role in reviving our hope in the Reigning of God during the modern era. It pointedly described the Church as “People of God” where everyone shares in “the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ” by virtue of their baptism. Therefore, everyone who is excluded from the decision-making procedures and apostolic responsibilities of the Church is to be included in order to be a visible sign of the reigning of God.

32. Several other important Church - documents point to the inclusive dimension of life and mission of the Church. According to Centesimus Annus, ‘the struggle for inclusive development and growth is no longer just as an aspiration or a plea for economic, social and political betterment, rather a right and decisive action (Centesimus Annus No.35) for the realization of justice, peace and fraternity for all’. Ecclesia in Asia points out that ‘human development is not merely a technical and economic question, but fundamentally a human and moral question’ (EA 32), and paves the way for the necessity of integrating ethical judgement in the process of economic development. Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes invite the Church from out of an inward looking self-preoccupation to be involved in the world for an inclusive development. In the concept of People of God, no one is excluded but everyone is related to the People of God in one way or the other. It calls the Church for a positive appraisal of pluralism in faith understanding and a commitment to authentic dialogue with other religions. Gaudium et Spes is addressed to all peoples and deals respectfully with the world of the secular by pointing out the Church’s role in economic, social, political and cultural life. Pope Paul VI said, ‘another name for development is peace, hence creating a culture of peace and harmony ensures promotion of inclusive development, which cannot be achieved without a concerted effort of all persons of good will’.

33. Reigning of God is a universal reality, extending far beyond the boundaries of the church. Therefore, the Church is called upon to collaborate with every person of good will who engages in the same task for the full flowering of the human person and the transformation of the world into the full realisation of the reigning of God. It demands from all its members a Christ-like self-emptying (Phil 2, 6-11) and a radical openness towards other faith communities and people. The Spirit of Christ and of the Creator God, who accompany us through all phases of history, invites us to network with all forces of life and freedom to actualise the vision of fullness of life for every creature. It is this Spirit who assures us that God’s dwelling place is among us (Rev. 21: 3), ‘makes all things new’ (Rev. 21: 5), and leads us to the realisation of new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21: 1), wherein every creature and every human being will experience the fullness of life and freedom.

34. The God who created life and freedom, who became incarnate as the Holy Redeemer, and who accompanies us through our hopes and struggles as the Spirit of God, inspires us relentlessly to work towards the realisation of the fullness of life all over the globe and in every particular context of life. The Indian context, our own context of life, invites us to commit ourselves to work towards the blossoming of the Reining of God. Not being discouraged by our numerical status as a minority the Christian community should join hands with like-minded partners to shape the attitudes and values of individuals and societies in terms of social behaviour, economic activity, political involvement, etc., to create an egalitarian society founded on the values of the reign of God. The noble ideals of our Constitution ensuring justice, liberty, equality and fraternity to all, still remain a distant dream because of the lack of political will and absence of collective force to implement them. The local Church needs to make a serious examination of conscience to see whether its socio-pastoral activities promote a culture of integral human development or perpetuate exploitative practices in the guise of charity works. Furthermore, it is called to play the prophetic role of conscience-keeper in the civil society by challenging the policies and programmes which cater to the greed of the selected few to the determent of the exploited majority in our Indian society. To be a credible agent of inclusive development in the world, the Church in our country has to overcome the systemic evils of inequalities and exclusions based on caste, class, language, gender, ethnic, regional and other differences within its walls. Not an easy task, of course but a necessary and immediate one to make our claims of loyalty and fidelity to values of the reign of God true and real!

35. Realisation of the reigning of God includes also the protection of the eco-system, whose regenerating limit has reached 50% in our country. Ecological devastation and environmental pollution cry for retrospective action in order to save the earth. “It is the duty of the Christians and all those who look to God as Creator to protect the environment by restoring a sense of reverence for the whole of God’s creation. It is Creator’s will that human beings should conduct themselves not as ruthless exploiters but as intelligent and responsible administrators (EA 41). The Bible reveals the love of God the Creator through the entire creation, which is a manifestation of the Divine glory and magnificence. Therefore, our ‘faith should help us to devise and sustain models of development which consider creation as a gift for which we are all indebted; and it should teach us to create just forms of government, in the realisation that authority comes from God and is meant for the service of common good’ (Lumen Fidei 55).


Part III
Plans of Action and Future Orientations

36. The present situation of exclusive development which promotes a culture of violence and death and the biblical-theological imperatives to work for inclusive development calls each Indian Christian to make adequate responses.

37. To promote inclusive development, the multi-religious context of India calls for a new self-understanding of the Church, a Church that has to be seen from the perspective of the other rather than from a traditional believer’s perspective. It is important to rediscover the prophetic character of every religion, every political party, Trade unions and Peoples Movement to lead us into an all inclusive development. Our partners in a theology and praxis of inclusive development are the victims of globalisation, the marginalised and the poor. They should become the target groups whatever we do in the areas of education, health, technical schools, youth ministry, etc. As in Jesus’ Reign of God, the poor and the marginalised owing to historical or religious reasons is the hermeneutical principle in the idea and theory of inclusive development and growth.

38. The inclusive development is not just an economic growth, but a composite vision and praxis charged with political compassion, cultural underpinnings, social progress, and expansion of human freedom and capabilities. It implies approximation and anticipations of God’s reign. Liberation of the whole of humanity to the freedom of the children of God and the freedom of total human person whose ability to choose and lead the kind of lives they value is the goal of inclusive development.

39. The cry of the victims of ‘the new tyranny of worldwide market and idolatry of money’ calls for a vision that inspires the local Church to commit itself to work for a new paradigm of inclusive development, in order to be faithful to her call to be the leaven and salt for the entire humanity. We envisage this commitment to unfold at four different yet inter-related levels and ways.


At the Personal Level

40. Inclusive growth and development at personal level begins with the emergence of a new consciousness which sees everything as related, interconnected, sacred and as one. In the present scenario of predatory model of development where the majority is sacrificed to feed the greed of a minority, this new consciousness at individual level is called for. It is to grow in the awareness that the life of the entire planet and the dependent health of the whole humanity should not be sacrificed for the greed of a few. This awareness will help individuals to resist the present culture of violence and death by developing self discipline in one’s life and thus not to succumb to the TINA syndrome but to take steps no matter how insignificant they appear to be.

41. Saying NO to MNC products as much as possible, espousing simple living, using public transport, using water and electricity sparingly, saying no to plastics, not looking for comforts and conveniences all the time, promoting the use of alternative healing methods and medicines, etc., are little steps but if practiced by an increasing number of persons can bring about a better future for everyone. Responding to the ever-renewing call of the Gospel to repentance, and adhering to the values of the reign of God will urge each Christian to move away from selfishness and self-centeredness and move towards other-centeredness. This will improve the spiritual quality of life which is an essential ingredient of inclusive development as we understand it today.

42. Each Christian whether lay, cleric or religious needs to develop this new consciousness also in terms of her/his sensitivity to other religions. It means s/he has to develop a sense of inter-religious belonging. S/he not only belongs to the Christian community but also belongs to a larger universal community with its accompanying rights and responsibilities.


The Indian Church

43. We as Indian Church need to become aware that the entire Church is a victim of globalization. Only when we recognize and acknowledge this fact, we can come out of this victimization and become what the Church is meant to be, leaven in the dough. One aspect of inclusive growth is to give adequate emphasis to what is local, and the Church is not an exception. The Church in India, each diocese and each parish, needs to become truly a local Church, incarnating and immersing herself to the culture of the place and responding to the specific needs of the local community. This will call for a creative reception of Vat II, recognizing that the right of the people of God is not just to receive a truth but to elaborate it within a contemporary codification.

44. Church in India must commit itself to participate in the efforts to bring about inclusive development in our country which is in harmony with the reigning of God. Moreover, the Church in India needs take its place in an interfaith community, committing itself to authentic dialogue with other religions and faiths. Being aware that it is called to build contrast communities as well as inclusive communities, the Church in India is called to take adequate steps to end all divisive tendencies based on caste, class, sex, religions, languages, rites, sexual preferences and take justice issues earnestly. To this end, Christian communities at the grassroots need to encourage and support inter-caste marriages and inter-religious collaboration wherever possible.

45. Inclusive growth and development is not possible without ensuring a better quality of life both physical as well as spiritual. The Church needs to pay greater attention to respond to the spiritual quest of people. It needs to establish its credibility in the secular society by being inclusive in every way especially within its own structures of governance. Inclusive growth calls the church for an honest evaluation of itself. The present hierarchical structure and functioning of the Catholic Church excludes the laity in general and women in particular from participating in the life and mission of the Church. This needs to be addressed as a priority. Taking conscious efforts to implement the Gender Policy of the CBCI would be one important step in this direction. We must humbly remain open to the promptings of the Spirit with regard to questions like full participation of women in the ordained ministries of the Church.


Indian theology and Theological Institutes

46. In spite of the apparent differences based on multiplicity of religions and faiths, there is a common thread binding all persons. It is the human quest for the ultimate. Indian theology needs to pay special attention to this and help people discover the ultimate mystery which is inside them. In an age when we experience increasing level of fragmentation, we need to emphasize the total human person in our theological articulations. The concept of inclusive development is rather new and therefore we need to develop an Indian theology of inclusive development to ensure liberation and fulfilment to reach every human person.

47. Inclusive growth and development is enhanced greatly when we include indigenous knowledge and metaphors into our theological articulations. Indian theology must make all efforts to reach the soul of various cultures and traditions of this country. Indian theology can contribute much in the line of research and experiment for more democratic and participatory structures both within the church and in the society. The recent legislative measures, like RTI & RTE, give hope for the possibility greater participation of the poor in the power dynamics of our society. Therefore, our pastoral action for inclusive development should not only be faith-based but also right-based, aiming at the democratisation process in the decision making as well as in pursuing inclusive development.

48. The Church in general and the leaders in particular must be radical and prophetic in their interventions on behalf of the excluded. To this end we need to take special care in preparing leaders for the future. While undergoing philosophical and theological formation, the students can be given an exposure to various people’s movements like Fisher peoples Movement, Anti Koodankulam Nuclear Movement, Anti POSCO Movement, Chengara Samaram, women’s movement, workers’ movements, etc. If possible, the respective theological institutes and seminaries could organize at least a week’s stay with one of the movements. Students can also be motivated by showing them videos where they see various struggles and issues facing the people.

Church Run Institutions

49. While acknowledging the immense service the Church in India is already doing in the field of education and health, it is still not adequate. As long as people remain illiterate and ignorant, their chances to be excluded from the development process are almost certain. Church based institutions therefore need to have much more focus on primary education. Side by side with primary education we need to promote Gandiji’s ideal of Sarvodaya (welfare for all) through antodaya (welfare of the least). We need to make conscious efforts to enhance the participation of hitherto excluded groups- Dalits, Triblas, Women, Sexual minorities, differently- abled people, etc.

50. Human being is a person in relation. The reigning of God proclaimed by Jesus emphasizes the formation of human communities where love and brotherhood/sisterhood are experienced by each one. Church community needs to take steps in promoting community and inter human relationships. We need to focus on individual in relationship rather than merely on individuals. Through positive discrimination, our Constitution and State ensure that the disadvantaged are brought to the mainstream society. We need to supplement this process by promoting intense sociality, especially among all the students in our educational institutions and others in our various ministries. Qualitative sociality with commitment is what we need to promote.

51. One major area of exclusion pertains to women. Church based institutions can play a significant role in working for male/female equality and creating opportunities for women’s progress and their contribution at all levels of society. In place of segregated form of education, Catholic schools need to change into co-ed schools rather than ‘boys’ or ‘girls’ schools wherever possible. Appropriate programmes for Gender sensitivity can be introduced in all Church run institutions using resources that are already available like the ‘Gender kit’ used in the diocese of Mumbai.

52. Working for inclusive development entails monitoring the various welfare schemes of the Government to ensure that these reach the right people. Our institutions need to engage more in lobbying and advocacy since it is a common tool to secure rights- entitlement – of the dispossessed especially in rural areas. At the same time we need to support indigenous people in their struggles to protect their land, its wealth, culture and life-style from corporate-predatory groups and exclusivist development ideologies. To this end we need to raise our voices against the growth intensive economy of the State depleting natural resources and destroying nature in the process. Church based organization can give a lead in teaching people how to do organic farming, saving and preserving seeds, etc.

53. More Church based organizations need to be part of the National Alliance of Peoples Movements. We need to join hands with all those who proclaim “Another world is possible”, and work towards the achievement of the same using all possible means including various art forms. The Indian Church needs to join, support and strengthen the various civil society organizations that serve as a counterforce to unchecked power of state and market which are hurdles to inclusive growth and development of the marginalized peoples of our nation.

An analytical look at the contemporary scenario of multiple unjust exclusions, a theological reflection upon them, and a set of proposals for pastoral commitment are the ways by which the members of the Indian Theological Association wish to contribute to the emergence of an inclusive world, a mirror image of the unfolding Reigning of God on earth. We do it with the deep faith and firm hope that our humanity will shed its exclusionary behaviours and take to inclusive thinking and actions which will ultimately help us experience the fullness of life assured to the whole of creation!

Antony Kalliath 								Shalini Mulackal
The President, 							               Vice President, ITA
Indian Theological Association.