India is one of the largest economies in the world. However the dazzling “economic miracle” engulfing India is only a mirage for millions of people there; it is estimated that over 40% of India’s population of 1.3 billion lives on less than US$1.25 a day. Their dream of a new tomorrow can become a reality only if justice and respect for human dignity, and focus on inclusive growth, guide the economic and social policy shaping the swift development.
The district of Darjeeling, famed for its fragrant tea leaves, is feeling the impact of the changing times. Significant economic and social transformation is taking place in this northeast corner of India with the opening of new arteries leading to China.
The Jesuits in Darjeeling, as elsewhere in India, strive to meet the social challenges posed by economic growth and, paradoxically, persistent poverty. It is making a renewed effort in the area of education and specialized training to meet the needs of the local economy and reaching out to those excluded from the growth, especially tea estate workers and indigenous peoples. This region used to be the responsibility of the Jesuits of English Canada, and Canadian Jesuits who went to Darjeeling planted the seeds of some projects, now headed by Indian Jesuits, which CJI supports to this day.
In Darjeeling, there are parishes, social service centres like Hayden Hall and HLDRC, agricultural training initiatives like SOJASI, health projects like Jesu Ashram, and schools like Gandhi Ashram and Jisu Niketan, which cater to the poorest children.
CJI also supports Jesuit projects elsewhere in India, in places like Karnataka, Mumbai and Gujarat. The regional project Lok Manch (People’s Forum) covers 12 Indian states and promotes human rights for many rural families and minority communities.
India news and articles:
• India: Food and the politics of denial by Lalit P. Tirkey SJ
• Workers’ rights, employment and dignity by Lalit P. Tirkey SJ
• A shot in the arm for activists by Xavier Jeyaraj SJ
• Tribute to Fr Abe by CJI staff
• Gandhi Ashram: Bearing fruit by Paul D’Souza SJ