22 National News

posted Feb 8, 2018, 6:26 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 8, 2018, 6:26 AM ]

New Delhi
India has 21 million unwanted girls and 63 million unborn

The desire of Indian parents to have male children has produced about 21 million "unwanted" girls. It is mentioned in the Annual Economic Survey presented recently by the Union Ministry of Finance. Experts affirm the existence of what they call "preference for the male child", which leads couples to bring daughters to the world until they get the much desired male.

In India, girls have always been considered a kind of curse for families. Tradition considers males to be the heirs of goods and those who keep families as the "breadwinners". Daughters, on the other hand, are seen as a financial burden for parents in a country where the institution of dowry at the time of marriage is very common. The country has banned the practice of female selective abortions through tests for sex determination. However, the Census numbers reveal that female feticide is still widespread. According to data from the latest 2011 demographic survey, there are 940 females to every 1000 males in India. In some states - like Punjab and Haryana - the proportion touches very high levels: 1000 females to 1200 males of the same age. What is interesting to note, analysts emphasise, is that abortion of girls is rooted even in the richest states, and not only in rural areas, where parents have even more difficultly in guaranteeing their education. 


Indian bishop calls for support of women's rights

Msgr Jacob Mar Barnabas, President of the Council for Women of the CBCI, spoke to AsiaNews about a series of initiatives in favour of women, including "a social and political movement of women to fight for women's rights and raise awareness of the value of women in India." For the prelate, "women have the same dignity as men."

The aim of this initiative by the Indian Church in favour of women is "to change the dominant mindset that generally considers them inferior to men." This "is a long process" in which "the Church is fighting for them."


Police charge four Catholic priests with rioting

Four Catholic priests have been charged with rioting and criminal intimidation in Madhya Pradesh state over a land dispute involving a hard-line Hindu group. The priests of Ujjain Diocese resisted an attempt by a Hindu group to take over a piece of land in front of a Catholic Church-run hospital in Ujjain, a city with a Hindu temple and a site for pilgrims.

"No one has been arrested yet," said an official of Madhav Nagar police station, where the case has been registered. The dispute revolves around a plot of land adjacent to Pushpa Mission Hospital, a 44-year-old facility with 200 beds. Hospital authorities say the local civic body gave the public land to the hospital for use as a parking area and to maintain its greenery.

However, some members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the pro-Hindu party that runs the state government, attempted to take over the land on Jan. 27, accusing the Church of illegally occupying the site. However, the Church obtained a "stay order" to maintain the status quo from the Madhya Pradesh High Court. Gagan Singh, who led the crowd and claimed to be the owner of the public land, is assistant to the local BJP MP.

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Caritas prepares villagers to deal with natural disasters

Catholic social workers are training vulnerable people of Kashmir in northern India on ways to save lives during frequent natural disasters. The Jammu and Kashmir state government and Caritas are jointly running a disaster risk reduction pilot project in 10 villages.

Altaf Lone, Program Coordinator of Caritas India, notes that the Kashmir Valley is prone to disasters such as floods, earthquakes, landslides and avalanches as well as high velocity winds. Research carried out by Ruheela Hassan Islamic University of Kashmir showed that between 1889 and 1990, the state experienced at least 170 earthquakes. Quakes, snowstorms, floods and heavy rains have killed tens of thousands of people in the region during recent decades.

For example, a 2005 7.4-magnitude quake killed 1,350 people on the Indian side of the border, and 79,000 people in the other part of Kashmir administered by Pakistan. In 2014, Kashmir flooding claimed some 460 lives.


Christians protest Bible burning

Representatives of Christian Minorities Welfare Association (CMWA) condemned the burning of the Holy Bible by unknown miscreants at Nagarkurnool, in Khammam on Feb. 5. The members of the Association took out a peace rally from Pavilion Grounds to Dharna Chowk in protest against the burning of the Bible, besides submitting a representation to District Collector D S Lokesh Kumar.