Alarmed over rising unemployment rates among Christians in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the local archbishop has called on the state government to take steps to reverse the tide. The government should formulate "measures to eradicate" unemployment among Christians so "that the trust and confidence can be formed among the (religious) minority community," said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal in a statement on Feb. 24.
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 period. It showed Christians who lived in villages were employed 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.
Speaking to UCANEWS, Archbishop Cornelio blamed the state-sanctioned discrimination against Christians as the “the biggest reason" behind growing 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,” Archbishop Cornelio stressed, saying, “religion does not change a person's social or economic situation.” “The government should take measures to end this discrimination," he said, noting educated Christians don’t get the jobs they deserve. Most often they are discriminated against in state departments because of their religion, he added. (Source: UCAN)