With more than 1.3 billion inhabitants, India is the country with the world’s largest population after China. Although the country has a rapidly growing economy, many regions are still plagued by poverty and underdevelopment. In addition, India is the second most affected country in the world by the coronavirus pandemic. Many have lost their livelihoods during the pandemic, including countless Christians. As a religious minority in India, they are often victims of discrimination and violence. ACN is aware of the difficult role of the Church of India and stands by it with many aid projects.
Culture and society in India are deeply rooted in Hinduism. Hindus form the largest religious denomination with 80% of the population. Minorities such as Muslims and Christians, on the other hand, are often victims of discrimination and violent attacks. In the reporting year, the Church was particularly concerned about an announced “anti-conversion campaign” by Hindu nationalist circles who want to take massive action against alleged Christian missionary activities.
Church representatives called on the government to protect Christians and other religious minorities from attacks.
Christians need to be protected from attacks by Hindu extremists.
India also had to bear the brunt of the coronavirus crisis in 2020. When the first lockdown was announced in March, the number of unemployed skyrocketed. The hardest hit were millions of migrant workers who were left without food, money and shelter during the lockdown. At times in September, the number of new cases reached 100,000 per day.ACN concentrated its aid efforts mainly in the poor north- and north-east of India.
For example, in the Diocese of Tezpur in the state of Assam, where most Christians work on the huge tea plantations. Priests not only care for them pastorally, but also provide concrete development aid so that people can escape their misery. In the reporting year, we were able to support 113 priests with Mass stipends. We also provided training aid for seminarians, financed vehicles for pastoral care and helped with the renovation and construction of church buildings.
Help for the religious sisters of the “Daughters of the Cross” Congregation
In the Diocese of Rourkela in north-east India, 63 religious sisters of the “Daughters of the Cross” Congregation are working as teachers. As the schools were closed during the lockdown, the religious sisters did not receive salaries for months. In addition, disinfectants and protective material were needed to prevent the spread of the virus, which caused additional costs. The religious sisters sewed hundreds of metres of fabric into protective masks for those in need and supported families left destitute by the pandemic. ACN supported the religious sisters with 10,000euros.