INDIA: As of May 28th 2015, the population of India is 1.28 billion. The sex ratio being 943 females to 1000 males. 50% of the current population are below 25 years of age. 72.2% of the population live in the 638,000 rural villages. India has the largest illiterate population in the world. The literacy rate of India as per 2011 Population Census is 74.04%, with male literacy rate at 82.14% and female at 65.46%.
India is a country where people of different faiths live together. Christianity is only 2.5% (2.5 million) of the total population. Christianity came to India in the 1st Century A.D. but the progress of the church has been very slow. Until the 19th century, we have had much freedom for the Gospel. Of late due to the domination of the Hindu Fanaticism the Christian minorities became the persecuted lot.
The Church in India is also a divided body based on Caste System. Caste System is the social stratification of the Indian society. It is a hierarchical structure, in which the top place goes to the Brahmins-the priestly class, next to them are the Khsatriyas- the royal ruling class, then the Vaisyas-the business class, at the bottom are the Shudras-those in servitude of the upper three. Apart from this four-fold structure, there are a large group of people who are known as the Panchamas (fifth class) and they are the untouchables. They are the socially ostracized. They are supposed to do all the dirty work of the society and dwell on the carcass for their sustenance. They are known as the Dalits. The Dalits are doubly discriminated, and more than that the Dalit Women are in the bottom-line, with absolutely no rights whatsoever. Most of these Dalits live in the villages and they are below the poverty line. They have suffered untouchability for centuries together. Since they are the untouchables, the people belonging to the high caste have no social interaction with them. Despite all the development and modernization of the nation, untouchability is still practices in many parts of the country.
There are six different discriminations that the Dalits suffer, based on Mathew 25:31-46. They are:
Economically - Hungry
Politically - Thirsty
Socially - Naked
Religiously - Strangers
Physically - Sick
Culturally - Prisoners (under bondage)
These people need to be liberated and we believe the gospel has the power to liberate them. But it is unfortunate that the Church in India also follows the caste system. The AME Church believes in her ability to distinguish herself in bringing liberation and freedom to the Dalits in India.
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