The Challenges Facing India

Episcopate Highlights Social Injustice

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NEW DELHI, India, JAN. 11, 2006 ( India’s Catholic bishops have highlighted social injustice as a key challenge facing the country in the new year.

The episcopate, in a posting this week on its Web site, summarized the scope of some of the problems.

«A country that has 70% of the population depending on agriculture for its livelihood, has 32 million people going to bed without food and 10,000 dying of hunger-related pangs every day,» it states.

The text adds that «90% of Adivasi families in the states of Jharkhand and Rajasthan are facing chronic hunger this year. Moreover, this year alone, 250 farmers committed suicide in Yavatmal in the region of Vidarbha, in the state of Maharashtra.»

Street children work at «traffic crossings as child laborers, ragpickers, hounded by the police, brutalized, packed in ugly, perverse juvenile homes, even adult prisons, left to die in a democracy where President Kalam says that the children are the future of the nation,» the episcopate says.

«Which children? Of what country?» asks the message.


The document also refers to «feminine feticide,» stating that the «longing for the male child and scorn for the girl in India has drastically increased in the last decade, more so in prosperous parts of the country.»

The bishops also note the plight of workers, who constitute «90% of the labor force in India, but they have no unions, no rights, no social safety nets, no provident fund, no pension, no job security, no schools or health centers for their children, no future or hope.»

The «right to shelter» is the last point addressed, stressing that the «poor find shelter under the open sky in graveyards and garbage dumps.»

About 1.6% of India’s 1 billion inhabitants are Catholics.

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