New Delhi: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and CBCI Office for Tribal Affairs jointly organized here a conference on the theme “The Sustainable Development Goals and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Indian context” on August 9.
The conference was organized to commemorate the 10th Vishwa Adivasi Diwas (International Day of Indigenous peoples), that is celebrated on August 9.
With the support of demographic and socio-economic data of the tribals of the country, the conference deliberated on the various issues affecting the Advasi/Tribal communities of India including their abject poverty, lack of education, health care and transportation facilities and lack of opportunities for skill development, difficulties faced in accessing different government schemes and entitlements.
“The provisions of different Tribal Development Plans and Schemes have not been adequately implemented in India and the tribal communities by and large remain excluded from the mainstream society”, lamented Adv. Father Nicholas Barla, the Secretary of CBCI Commission for Tribal Affairs who belongs to the Oraon Tribal community of Odisha.
“Leave no one from the development agenda of the country” said, Adv. Barla as he stressed on ‘the strategy of social and economic inclusion’ for the integrated development of the tribals of the country.
“The Catholic Church believes firmly in working for the development of the poor and marginalized without any self interest because Jesus has taught us to serve them”, stated Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, SFX, Secretary General of the CBCI. Quoting relevant statistics, he pointed out how Adivasis, the original inhabitants of our land, remain deprived and marginalized.
“Protecting the identity of the tribals at all costs and ensuring their development is the need of the hour,” he further stated. “The Church in India wants to work with the Government, the United Nations, other International, National, and local organizations and institutions in protecting and preserving the identity of the tribal communities of India and in ensuring their integrated development”, said Bishop Theodore.
Dr. Ajmera Sitaram Naik, Member of Parliament from Telangana advocated the need for parliament and governors to implement tribal laws. She and Naba Kumar Sarania, Member of Parliament from Assam promised all help to the Catholic Church in working for the development of the tribals.
Prof. Sona Jhariya Minj of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, Ms. Ranu Kayastha Bhogal, Director – Policy Research & Campaigns, Oxfam, India, Mr. Vincent Darlong of IFAD, besides other scholars, researchers and social workers attended the meeting.
Fr. Frederick D’Souza, Executive Director of Caritas India, summed up the deliberations of the Conference and Mr. Ajay Xaxa proposed the vote of thanks.