In recent years, India has undergone considerable economic development. Together with China, the country stands as a new economic and technological superpower, with a rapidly growing middle class.
But India is a land of contrasts. Indian minorities, including Dalits and indigenous groups, have not realised many of their basic human rights. Large groups of people still live in poverty, with limited influence on decisions affecting their own lives and a lack of access to basic goods and rights.
In recent decades, India has increasingly experienced local tension and conflicts. Much of this tension has religious undertones. India is also home to the largest refugee settlement in South Asia.
In 2011, Norwegian Church Aid will phase out annual financial support to our long-standing ACT partners in India. Cooperation related to peace and reconciliation through inter-religious dialogue will continue.
The right to peace and security: Norwegian Church Aid works for better understanding and interaction between central religious groups. The basis for our work in India is approximately 20 local inter-religious networks, including women's groups, in a number of states. Our partner organisation, Interfaith Coalition for Peace, has on several occasions been invited to facilitate dialogue in local conflicts.
We encourage groups and networks to identify values and issues in which representatives from different religions have common interests. The threat posed by climate change is an example of this.
A particular challenge is to ensure that women's views on conflict resolution come forward. Joint travel, in which women from different religions meet women affected by conflict, is an important approach.
Coordination through the ACT Alliance
India is the country with the most members in the ACT Alliance. Several of the Indian ACT members have broad expertise in areas such as emergency response, which Norwegian Church Aid has drawn on in our work in other parts of Asia.