Itanagar, December 1: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday asserted that India is a democratic and secular country, where every religion and faith is equal.
Speaking at the Indigenous Faith Day here, Khandu observed that earlier all tribes and communities followed their respective indigenous faiths, which, pushed by modernity and democratic process, changed with time.
“What we should never forget is that we are all from the same origin. So let us respect each other and focus on peace, harmony and development of our state,” he said.
The Indigenous Faith Day is celebrated to preserve, promote and protect the traditional faith and practices of tribal communities.
“I appeal to the elders to teach their young ones their native language and urge them to speak in their native language at least at home. If any of our language dies, the connection to our cultural identity will die,” the chief minister said.
Khandu appreciated the efforts of a few community-based organisations for conducting folklore and folksong competitions on social media platforms during the lockdown.
He also praised the Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society of Arunachal Pradesh (IFCSAP) for tirelessly working through its various tribe-based branches to promote, preserve and propagate indigenous faiths and cultural traditions.
The chief minister said 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.
Members will be appointed to 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 minister concerned.
Referring to Article 371(H) of the Constitution (Special provision with respect to the state of Arunachal Pradesh notwithstanding anything in the Constitution), the chief minister said that feedbacks from community-based organisations have been received and he will be calling on the Prime Minister soon to discuss the matter.
Khandu said, as people were not educated and 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 had “missed the bus”.
He expressed optimism that the central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi will resolve the issue. (PTI)