India — January 2009

Sociopolitical Situation

The recent assembly elections in several states after the 26 November terror attacks in Mumbai have gone mostly in favor of the National Congress Party. This indicates that the people of India, by and large, preferred not to vote for fundamentalist parties such as the BJP, which tried to gain political mileage at this tragic time. Congress is the only national political party with sound grassroots amongst minorities and the disadvantaged — a massive voting block — groups long alienated by the BJP. While Congress may not acquire absolute majority in the next elections, it could garner more parliament seats to provide a more stable government than the present coalition. However, for the foreseeable future, India will be governed through delicately balanced coalitions of regional parties.

It has been said that the world economic recession will not shock India’s economy, due to its stringent control systems and monitoring methods. Yet, the cost of living for the common person is growing day by day. There is a kind of stagnation in all kinds of business and money transactions.

India, the seventh largest and second most populous country in the world, has already taken up a series of ambitious economic reforms for deregulation and for stimulating its participation in the global economy. The federal government’s recent decision to open a large number of technical and educational colleges throughout India will usher in even larger numbers of talent into the economy.

Religious Situation

Sporadic incidents of atrocities on Christian institutions and people in many states continue, though no major attacks have been reported since the anti-Christian riots in the state of Orissa late last year. This may be to political and government support as well as conciliatory approaches taken by various Christian leaders after retaliatory actions on the part of some Christian groups.

In other developments, India’s churches and various Christian organizations continue to provide relief to victims of the December 2004 tsunami.

The Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference has announced its intention to support families have more children to counter a decline in the size of Christian families.

The bishops of Kerala are also encountering renewed resistance from the state’s Communist-styled government, which has announced its intention to take control of Catholic schools, dictate appointments of staff, admissions policies and curricula.

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