India — January 2008

Sociopolitical situation

The most contentious political issue involves the 123-Nuclear Agreement, which pits the Communists against the coalition government, of which the Communists form a part. The Communists have threatened to pull out of the government if the agreement is passed. The government seems to be working out a solution to avoid a probable collapse. Another important political movement involves leaders of the Communist Party, who have begun speaking publicly about capitalism’s role in pushing India’s industrial growth. This suggests the Communists are scaling down their socialist ideology. These are positive signs toward furthering industrial reforms and globalization in the country. On the other hand, in two recent elections for the state legislative assemblies in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the BJP (Hindu Fundamentalist Party) won with an absolute majority.

India’s economy is booming. But prices for essential commodities are escalating. The cost of real estate is also rising due to unprecedented land procurement by organized crime groups. The gap between rich and poor is also increasing. India and China, whose combined populations make up a third of the globe’s population, are planning for more economic growth and collaboration.

Religious situation

The religious situation is very volatile and differs from state to state. Weaving together the diverse religious, ethnic, linguistic, economic and cultural threads is a challenge of awesome proportions for any government in India. Every possible split could generate fault lines in India’s complex and rigid social system. In general, religious classifications, groupings and identities are being exploited by various religious and ethnic groups and are typically aligned with political parties. Fundamentalists also take undue advantages.

It is believed the recent assault on Christians, especially the destruction of some 90 churches and houses of Christians in the state of Orissa, occurred as a result of the recent state assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. The manner in which the churches were attacked seems to indicate that the fundamentalists have calculated and planned each move ahead of time. The harassment of Christians in particular has become a frequent occurrence in various parts of India. In the north, harassment takes the form of physical violence as well as official civil control of institutions of the church. In southern India, especially in Kerala, harassment may be due to Communists’ attempts to wrestle control of Christian educational institutions, of which there are many. Kerala’s Communist government intends to nationalize all church-run institutions.

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