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Church urged to help tribal people integrate

Indian Jesuit says mixed communities will speed development in Jharkhand

Tribal people in Jharkhand perform a traditional dance Tribal people in Jharkhand perform a traditional dance
  • Ajit Paul, Ranchi
  • India
  • February 9, 2011
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A Jesuit social scientist is urging the Church in Jharkhand to help tribal people integrate with other communities for the sake of the eastern Indian state’s development.

The Church should take the lead in promoting unity amid diversity and bring justice, peace and development in Jharkhand, said Father Alex Ekka, who directs Xavier Institute of Social Science in Ranchi, the state capital.

Jharkhand was created for the advancement of tribal communities 10 years ago, but it still lacks development, governance, peace and prosperity, Father Ekka lamented at a recent symposium.

The February 4 program in Ranchi was part of the state’s commemoration of Pope John Paul II’s first visit to India 25 years ago.

Father Ekka in his keynote address on “Social Concerns of Jharkhand” said Church social teaching can play “a significant role” in providing political education and promoting sustainable development and communal harmony.

The Church, he said, has contributed immensely to the education of Jharkhand people, who now have self-dignity and social mobility.

“The People of Jharkhand now look up to the Church for empowerment and training in leadership,” he added.

The Oraon tribal priest regretted that Jharkhand still suffers from unemployment, disease and extremism, despite possessing immense natural and mineral wealth.

He also stressed its people should evolve a new identity as they come from diverse traditions and backgrounds.

“Such an identity must have the core values of justice, mutual respect, equality, fraternity, liberty and solidarity” and the Church can help people achieve these goals, Father Ekka added.

He also urged the Church to encourage sustainable development that is people and eco-friendly and educate people about their rights and duties as citizens.

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