Several Indian church officials said that they are not concerned that Hindu extremist groups will increase after a landslide victory for the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the government elections, noting that religious minorities are protected by the Constitution.
"Minorities, such as Christians and Muslims are an integral part of the nation and of the social fabric of Indian society. Minorities are protected by the Constitution, I believe that the new government cannot and will not want to go against the Constitution. As Christians we are confident," said His Exc. Mgr. Stanley Roman, Bishop of Quilon, in the state of Kerala, according to Fides News Agency on Friday.
CNBC reported on Friday that early results from India's five-week long elections are pointing to a big victory for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi. It has already won or is winning 338 parliamentary seats, which is more than the required majority of 272. India's National Congress party, which had been in power for the past decade, was leading in only 68 seats, which is its worst-ever showing. more >>
The roughly two million or so transgendered people in India will be recognized as a third gender following a ruling by India's Supreme Court.
"It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," the Supreme Court said, according to BBC News. The ruling also mandates the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities.
Estimates state that there are close to two million transgender people in India, who are often discriminated against and ostracized by the rest of society, forced to live in poverty. more >>
India suffers from an abysmal literacy rate, weak infrastructure and rampant poverty. But one of the toughest challenges the world's second largest country must confront in the 21st century is how it will better serve its declining and vulnerable female population.
The causes discouraging families and communities from raising and protecting girls and women are explored in "Veil of Tears," a new documentary from Gospel for Asia, which releases in the U.S. on March 28. more >>
A new economic report on India revealed a lower poverty rate in the world's second most populous country. At the same time, more than half of the population still cannot meet their basic needs. With that, the Roman Catholic Church in India echoed Pope Francis' call to devote itself to serving the poor and those marginalized by society.
"The Catholic community intends to improve its services to education, making schools and other educational institutions closer to the poor. It also aims to combat the culture of well-being, which leads to 'globalization of indifference,' as Pope Francis defines it," Agenzia Fides reported on Thursday, citing comments by the "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Indian Bishops.
The McKinsey Global Institute report, commissioned by the Indian government and released this month, revealed mixed economic news for the South Asian country. While the official poverty rate has gone down from 45 percent of the population in 1994 to 22 percent in 2012, it was found that 56 percent of the population, or 680 million people, still lack the means to meet essential needs, such as food, energy, housing, drinking water, sanitation, healthcare, education, and social security. more >>
Christians are being persecuted, sexually assaulted and attacked by mobs in India, and the crimes are going unpunished, according to testimony by Alliance Defending Freedom before the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.
"India, in spite of its long tradition for religious tolerance, finds itself in the throes of religious fundamentalism and violence against religious minorities for the past few decades. Reports by faith-based rights agencies show that Christians in India have suffered about 150 violent attacks on an average in the past few years," argued ADF attorney Tehmina Arora before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.
"These attacks include physical and sexual assaults, murder and desecration of places of worship and graveyards." more >>
A 35-year-old tea picker from West Bengal, India, with a tail growing from the base of his spine since birth is now being worshipped as a god by hundreds of followers.
"Many people come to me. Some even from far off places. They feel that I am God Hanuman. My tail is good for me," said Chandre Oraon, the man with the tail, in a Barcroft TV interview.
Hanuman, according to pantheon.org, is one of three major Hindu gods with animalistic features. The monkey-like god is very popular in North India and is said to have a potent effect in warding off evil. People believe Chandre is a reincarnation of Hanuman. more >>