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New Commission For India’s Christians

11 Feb 2011 – by Sara Angle

ROME (CNS) — The Catholic Church in India is asking the federal government to launch a new commission that could help improve conditions of Christians in India.

“ We want the government to be aware of the marginalization of Christians in terms of poverty, land ownership and education,” the All Indian Christian Council told the Vatican missionary news agency Fides Feb. 9.

The proposal is supported by Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi and other Christian leaders, Fides said.

The commission would be modeled after the 2006 Sachar Commission, which reported on the status of Muslims in India, and would keep track of the numbers, social conditions and problems facing Christians in India.

The Sachar Commission was the first of its kind and suggested ways for improving the conditions of Muslims in India by providing equal opportunities for housing, employment and education.

Christians in India have long experienced discrimination and persecution, including a series of attacks in 2008 against Christian prayer halls.

The call for the commission came just days after the Catholic Church, among others, rejected the report of the Justice Somasekhara Commission, which failed to identify those responsible for the 2008 church attacks in Karnataka.

The U.S. State Department reports that of the 1.17 billion citizens in India, 80.5 percent are Hindu, 13.4 percent are Muslim and 2.3 percent are Christian. Catholics in India number about 19 million, according to Vatican statistics.