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so kio ma(n)dhaa aakheeai jith ja(n)mehi raajaan

Mehtab Singh

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Survey: Sex ratio highest among Christians

NEW DELHI: Data provided by a National Sample Survey report in 2004-05 shows that the Christian community treats its women better —its sex ratio is the highest among all communities in India. This can also be partly due to the fact that a significant segment of the Christian population belongs to the tribal areas of the North East, and the tribals do not endorse the inhuman practice of female foeticide or discrimination against the girl child.

Sustained educational levels have led the Christians to a better economic status in India. According to the NSS Report, 47% of Christians in urban areas and 38% in the rural areas come within the top third of monthly earning categories, much ahead of Hindus (24%) and Muslims (20%). Correspondingly, Christians have the lowest proportion in the bottom third with only 8% belonging to this category, compared to 12% Hindus and 25% Muslims.

However, education cannot by itself be the path for economic progress__this is also brought out by their experience.

Their participation in the workforce is roughly the same as for other communities among men and slightly higher among women. But compared to five years ago, this represents a slowing down of their economic contribution, and hence implies lesser opportunities. This is further confirmed by unemployment rates. Among Christians, the extent of unemployed has increased from 4% to 4.4% in rural areas, and from 7% to 9% in urban areas between 1999-2000 and 2004-05. For other communities, it has remained broadly the same, or it has slightly decreased.

It is perhaps due to this increasing economic pressure being felt by the community that the issue of caste discrimination within the Christian community has come to the fore in recent years. According to some experts, over 70% of Christians are considered lower castes within the community. In the striving for better livelihoods, social discrimination of this sort is being resisted through demands for affirmative action. While there is cause for anger among Christians, there is also courage engendered by education and culture.

And, as St. Augustine wrote one and a half millennia ago, Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.


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