Church groups in India have called for national introspection as an anti-corruption movement led by an aging rights activist continues to draw millions of supporters. Anna Hazare’s hunger strike to force the government to pass a stricter law against corruption entered its eighth day today. Peasants, students, professionals and executives from across the country have taken to the streets to support the 74-year-old leader. Such outpouring of popular support is “a re-awakening of the moral consciousness of our nation,” the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) said yesterday in a statement. The country has lost values of honesty and integrity because corruption has entered into all areas, making ordinary Indians suffer “with a deep sense of desperation,” the EFI statement said. “It is tragic when people regard honesty, truth and integrity as negotiable values.” The EFI statement also expressed regret that the worst-affected by corruption are common people, especially women, dalits, tribal people, the poor and minority communities. The National Council of Churches in India, the body that represents Protestant and Orthodox churches in the country, says the current uprising is the result of a failure by democratic institutions to tackle rampant corruption in the country. “The civil society has no alternative but to launch movements for transparency and accountability,” an NCCI statement said yesterday. The group urged the government to heed the people and introduce laws and systems to ensure good governance and welfare of all sections, especially lower caste and tribal groups. The Church body said it wants the laws executed sincerely and responsibly without giving chance to certain individuals and sections to abuse them for selfish motives. Citing “an urgent need” for restitution and reform, NCCI called for national introspection and repentance and urged the churches in India to do whatever possible to promote justice and the holistic growth of all. Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has distanced itself from the Hazare campaign saying the Church cannot endorse attempts to undermine parliamentary democracy. Hazare has insisted the government should pass a bill his team has drafted by August 30 without debate. The bill wants the prime minister and senior judges to be subject to the Lokpal, a body of ombudsmen tasked with monitoring corruption. However, the government has refused to agree to the demand and the stalemate between the state and activists continues.
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