The archbishop invited Card Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, who is of tribal origins. About 80,000 migrants live in Mumbai largely from the plateau of Chota Nagpur (central-eastern India). They are victims of social and workplace discrimination in India’s megacities. The archdioceses of Mumbai and Ranchi work on a plan of cooperation.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The Archdiocese of Mumbai hosted the Jubilee for tribal migrants to India’s megacities in search of a stable job, but where they are often marginalised and forgotten by the authorities.
The Archbishop of Mumbai Card Oswald Gracias promoted the event in cooperation with the Chotanagpur Migrant Tribal Development Network (CMTD), a socio-pastoral movement.
"We convened this meeting to hear the problems, challenges and needs of our tribal brothers and sisters,” he told AsiaNews.
The Archbishop of Ranchi Card Telesphore Toppo, who is of tribal origin, celebrated the liturgy in St Peter's Church in Bandra. The celebration is part of the two-day Jubilee pilgrimage Card Gracias has made in his diocese, during which he also visited the sick.
More than 5,000 migrants participated in this jubilee. Most of them come from the plateau of Chota Nagpur, a region that lies between the states of Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand.
About 80,000 tribals from the highland live in Mumbai. They left home to escape poverty and the lack of employment opportunities. However, experts point out that in the big city they are forced to live in undignified housing conditions and accept menial jobs to survive.
Most live in slums on the outskirts of the city without electricity, sanitation, room, privacy and medical and health care. In these conditions it is difficult to raise children and security remains a problem for single women, who prefer to live in homes where they work as domestic servants.
Migrants suffer discrimination of all kinds; often, children are treated with contempt by their schoolmates, and domestic workers cannot accompany their employers to places of worship.
They also do not have the means to learn English, used only by the upper classes whilst most Indians speak local languages, which would allow them to work for foreigners who usually pay more.
Faced with these difficulties, the two cardinals have decided to activate development plans and engage in cooperation between the archdioceses of Mumbai and Ranchi.
"We are brothers and sisters,” Card Gracias said. “Let us be brothers and sisters. You come from outside, but you are not outsiders, you are our family. "
The archbishop of Mumbai, who is also president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), outlined a five-point action plan.
The latter means taking care of the pastoral needs of migrants: celebrating liturgies in Hindi and inviting the missionaries working in their areas, ensuring that migrants receive the sacraments, organising social events that involve migrants in an active way, register migrants arriving to create better links with the diocese of origin, and ensuring security in a city like Mumbai full of dangers.
Card Toppo expressed deep gratitude to "my brother Card Oswald". The latter’s gesture, he pointed out, makes it clear that "we are not guests, that we all belong to the family of the Church."