04/02/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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Despite greater literacy Christians face more unemployment and job discrimination

by Nirmala Carvalho
The National Sample Survey Organisation indicates that Christians have a higher rate of unemployment despite lower illiteracy. They are also under-represented among the self-employed and over-represented among wage labourers. States should guarantee more job reservations for needy Christians, says bishop of Hazaribag.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Despite a higher literacy rate Indian Christians are more likely to be unemployed than the national average, this according to a study by the government’s National Sample Survey Organisation for 2004-2005.

The survey indicated that in rural areas, the unemployment rate was higher among the Christians (4.4 per cent) as compared to Hindus (1.5 per cent) or Muslims (2.3 per cent). However, Christians also had the lowest illiteracy rate for both rural (20 per cent for men and 31 per cent women) and urban areas (6 per cent for men and 11 per cent for women). Except for rural women, the proportion of literates among the Hindus was higher as compared to Muslims.

The worker/population ratio or WPR (i.e. the proportion of people employed) among men in rural areas was highest among Christians (56 per cent), followed by Hindus (55 per cent) and Muslims (50 per cent). For women, the ratio was 36 per cent for Christians, 34 per cent for Hindus and 18 per cent for Muslims.

The WPR among men in urban areas was highest for Hindus at 56 per cent followed by Muslims (53 per cent) and Christians (51 per cent). In case of women, the WPR was highest for Christians at 24 per cent, followed by Hindus (17 per cent) and Muslims (12 per cent).

The survey also showed that nearly 49 per cent of Muslim households in urban areas were self-employed as against 36 per cent for Hindu households and 27 per cent for Christians.

The survey covered 7,999 villages and 124,680 sample households.

Mgr Charles Soreng, bishop of Hazaribag (Jharkhand) and chairman of the Commission for Scheduled Caste sand Scheduled Tribes of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, told AsiaNews that “this survey shows that Christian Dalits are marginalised even among Dalits and face more obstacles that the other [groups]. Unemployment separates the haves from the have-nots. The data shows that [job] reservations should be guaranteed to Christian Dalits since their job opportunities are fewer.”

Also speaking to AsiaNews, John Dayal, president of the All Indian Catholic Union, said that the study confirms the state of widespread poverty in which Indian Christians find themselves since 90 per cent are Dalits and Tribals. “Most of them work in the service sector which has the lowest proportion of self-employment,” he said

“Christians,” he added, “should benefit from reservations set aside by the states for the more disadvantaged and poor. And the Church should ask the Supreme Court to be more sensitive to the needs of the poor and those who have nothing.”

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