Indigenous People

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In 1989, the JCSA issued the Kathmandu Statement (Formation for Mission) which clearly brought out the concern of the Jesuits about the social situation of South Asia and the urgency to move in a new direction. It saw that the Jesuits were called to collaborate in the task of building human communities that are imbued with the values of the Kingdom. Today this task demands a preferential option for the poor whom the Jesuits seem to empower by participating in their struggles, through formal and non-formal educative processes, motivating and training the youth to be committed agents of social change, the use of social communications media and other such activities. By the poor it is meant all socio-economically marginalized groups, particularly the dalits, tribals, women, unorganized labour, illiterates. Jesuits' work with other groups is justified to the extent that it contributes to this empowerment of the poor.

According to the 1991 census, there is 8% tribal population in India. The Jesuits in the provinces of Ranchi, Madhya Pradesh, Hazaribag, Jamshedpur, Dumka-Raiganj and in the Kohima region are predominantly involved in the ministry among the Adivasi/indigenous/tribal peoples. The Jesuits in the provinces of Calcutta and Darjeeling in the east, Gujarat and Bombay in the west and in the region of Nepal are also working among the Adivasi/tribals to a great extent. Thus, the Jesuit ministry among the Adivasi/indigenous/tribal peoples in South Asian Assistancy has a unique significance for the Jesuits all over the world. This ministry draws special attention of all the Jesuits in the Assistancy in a very special way in facing the challenges of the prevalent socio-political situation of India with Hindutva ideology trying to influence other ideologies in a restive and aggressive manner. Apart from this, the ministry has a global character and implication with expanding network and cooperation as it will be clear from the following discussion.