ITANAGAR: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu today asserted that India is a democratic and secular country, where every religion and faith are equal.
Speaking at the Indigenous Faith Day here this morning, Khandu observed that during the early NEFA days of the state’s origin, all tribes and communities followed and practiced their respective indigenous faiths, which, pushed by modernity and democratic process, changed with time.
“Today we have our own people following different faiths, which is quite natural. What we should never forget is that we are all from the same origin. So let’s respect each other and focus on peace, harmony and development of our state,” he said.
Khandu though underscored the importance of preserving the indigenous culture and languages practiced by the natives of the land. He said Arunachal’s identity is in the distinct and different cultures of its people.
“I repeat my appeal to the elders to teach their young ones their native language and urge the young ones to speak in their native language at least at home. If any of our language dies, the connect to our cultural identity will die,” he said.
The Chief Minister appreciated the efforts of few community based organizations for conducting folklore/folksong competitions on social media platforms during the lengthy lockdown periods.
“I saw people of all ages and gender enthusiastically participating on these platforms. Such novel and innovative ideas are to be evolved to promote our local dialects,” he pointed.
He also appreciated the Indigenous Faith & Cultural Society of Arunachal Pradesh (IFCSAP) for continuously putting in efforts through its various tribe-based branches to promote, preserve and propagate indigenous faiths and cultural traditions.
Assuring support to the Society, Khandu informed that the department of Indigenous Affairs (DIA), established in 2017 for preservation and promotion of indigenous culture of the state, will henceforth have an Advisory Council replacing the present posts of Chairman and Vice Chairman.
He said members will be appointed in the Advisory Council on rotation basis from each community of the state, who will in coordination with departmental officials chalk out plans and policies to guide the concerned minister.
Referring to the Article 371(H) of the Constitution, the Chief Minister said that feedbacks from community based organizations have been received and he will be calling on the Prime Minister soon to discuss on it.
Khandu observed that as people were not educated and well aware of their tribal rights vis a vis Constitutional provisions when Arunachal Pradesh was conferred statehood in 1987, constitutional protection of tribal rights in the state missed the bus. He expressed optimism that the central government under Narendra Modi will understand the issue and resolve it for the indigenous tribes of the state.
Meanwhile, Khandu dedicated the recently announced India Today awards of ‘Leading Small State in the fight against COVID 19’ and the ‘Best Small State in Education’ conferred on Arunachal Pradesh to the people, especially health workers, police personnel, teachers and CBOs.
The Indigenous Faith Day was earlier celebrated on 31st December every year under the aegis of IFCSAP. However, as 1st December happens to be the birth anniversary of Golgi Bote Talom Rukbo, regarded as the father of the indigenous faith movement, the day is celebrated on this day since 2013.
The celebration was also attended by Education and Indigenous Affairs minister Taba Tedir, Rajya Sabha Member Nabam Rebia, senior leaders, IFCSAP members, representatives from districts and others.