Kolkata, December 13, 2015
President Pranab Mukherjee at the closing ceremony of the Bicentenary Celebrations of the Diocese of Calcutta, Church North India, in Kolkata on December 13, 2015.
President Pranab Mukherjee today said that it was the mosaic of being multi-religious that made India an oasis of peaceful co-existence and communal harmony.
"The fabric of our society would remain strong when every individual irrespective of caste, creed, language, region and religion can live and partake in its progress without fear and prejudice," he said in his address at the closing ceremony of the bicentenary celebrations of the Diocese of Calcutta, Church of North India, at St. Paul’s Cathedral here.
Mr. Mukherjee said that every religion preached the fundamental values of humanity.
"Forbearance, restraint and acceptance of different views form some of our core principles. India prides itself in its pluralistic ideals. In India, several major religions have thrived due to its assimilative character that has come to define our civilization over the centuries. People professing different faiths have lived here in harmony for a long time," he said.
"It is here that the Christian community is looked upon with respect for their peaceful and humanitarian nature and for their magnanimous contribution to the process of nation building. In this context, the Diocese of Calcutta’s effort in promoting inter-faith dialogue is truly commendable," he said.
"The Diocese of Calcutta has a significant history behind its inception and existence. In 1814, a Letter of Patent was issued where upon the 'Bishopric of Calcutta' was given effect to and the Diocese of Calcutta was defined. The Diocese of Calcutta at that time comprised entire India, including Burma. It extended up to Ceylon and gradually even as far as Borneo, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Cape Town and China. However by the time India became independent in 1947, most of the dioceses outside the geographical boundary of India had become separate. Presently, the Diocese of Calcutta comprises the Churches and institutions in and around the city of Kolkata, a Church at East Midnapore, and the churches located in the neighbouring districts of Howrah and Hooghly," he noted.
Mr. Mukherjee said it was sacrosanct to have faith in the greatness of God through kindness and concern for others.
He said it was heartening to note that the Diocese of Calcutta along with its Churches, educational institutions and organizations was extensively involved in helping the underprivileged sections of society.
"Their efforts are aimed at providing equal opportunity to all the deprived and needy people in terms of developing social awareness, gaining access to quality education, building capacity, and providing healthcare services," he said.
Mr. Mukherjee also noted that the Diocese of Calcutta runs many educational institutions, including schools at all levels, from pre-primary to primary, secondary and higher secondary levels.
"These schools impart quality education in both the vernacular and English medium. The society also operates under-graduate colleges and offers post-graduate courses as well. Nursing and engineering colleges, a hospice for AIDS patients, Child Care Centre for the children of AIDS affected or infected parents, Tuberculosis centre and hospitals, Old Age Homes, Orphanages and Day Child Care Centres are other priority projects of the diocese. Women, children, the elderly and backward sections of the population residing in both urban and rural areas are helped by the Diocese through these projects. It has empowered them to break the chains of poverty and injustice, and has helped them to lead a life of human dignity and respect," he said.