Indian archbishop calls for action on jobless Christians

Survey reveals unemployment among Christians has nearly doubled
Indian archbishop calls for action on jobless Christians

An unemployed Indian labourer holds balloons for sale as he waits for tourists at the Chowpatty beach in Mumbai in this 2005 file photo. (Photo by AFP)

An Indian archbishop is urging the government to take steps to reverse a rising unemployment rate among Christians.

"Unemployment among Christians is really a problem," said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal.

The government should formulate "measures to eradicate" unemployment among Christians so "that the trust and confidence can be formed among the (religious) minority community," he said in a Feb. 24 statement.

His appeal came after the National Sample Survey Office published a report that showed unemployment among Christians nearly doubled in 2010-2011 compared to the previous two years.

The report, Employment and Unemployment Situation Among Major Religious Groups in India, was released early this month based on data collected during the same period.

It showed Christians who lived in villages were unemployed at a rate of 4.5 percent, while Christians in cities were at 5.9 percent, both substantial increases from the previous survey that showed a 3.9 rate for villages and 2.9 for cities. 

Archbishop Cornelio told that state-sanctioned discrimination against Christians "is the biggest reason" for increasing unemployment. "In a secular state, every one should get equal opportunities. Lack of it will only increase issues like this," he said.

Christians do not receive the same protection as other ethnic minority and lower-caste groups. The Indian Constitution grants quotas in government jobs for lower caste people. Christians of lower caste origin are denied this benefit on the grounds that Christianity does not accept the caste system. However, majority of Christians especially in northern India are of lower caste origin.

"This situation should change. Religion does not change a person's social or economic situation. The government should take measures to end this discrimination," Archbishop Cornelio said.

"Christians are educated but they are not getting the jobs they deserve. That is the reality," he said. 

He explained that educated Christians look to get jobs according to their level of education, but most often are discriminated in state departments because of their religion.

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