ASIA/INDIA - The Director of the PMS: "Farmers and religious minorities abandoned by the Indian government"

Friday, 12 June 2015

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - A year after its election, the Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi "has abandoned farmers, the backbone of the Indian economy, and granted a free hand to extremist groups who attack religious minorities such as Muslims and Christians": This is what Fr. Fusine Lobo, National Director of the Pontifical Missionary Societies (PMS) in India says to Agenzia Fides.
The Director explains to Fides: "Modi promised 'development for all' before the elections and, a year after the vote, he proudly says to have started this develpoment. It must be said that Modi has found a favorable global economic environment (for example the price of oil fell and India has benefited greatly). In addition India is enjoying the fruits of many processes and measures initiated by the previous government. Not least, Modi has excellent communication skills".
Fr. Lobo noted the other side of the coin: "There is talk of development: to whom and at what price? On the one hand, minorities are targeted by extremist groups. This is a real problem for minorities. They want to make India a Hindu nation: this is an attack on pluralism. Modi leaves them space as these groups support the government".
The abandonment of farmers is very serious: "The government has cut subsidies - explains the Director - and pursues a policy favorable to big interest groups and corporations, which have financed the election campaign. With the Land Acquisition Bill, just approved, the government can confiscate land without their consent, and then give it in concession to multinational corporations. Local farmers suffer. The increase in suicides among farmers is an alarming signal. Farmers are not able to sell their products at a reasonable price which allows them to survive. Natural disasters worsen the already precarious situation. The loss of crops, without any public subsidy, means poverty. The situation is critical".
Fr. Lobo said that "40% of India is an agricultural country and agriculture is an important part of the national economy. So this area must be further protected by the government, since it is an important sector for the authentic development of the country". The Director concludes: "The government should serve in the interest of all citizens, without discrimination of caste, religion, profession, status or social category". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 12/06/2015)