Four Christians as ministers reflects Indian diversity: community

May 28th, 2009 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) India’s Catholic Christians are happy over increased representation of the community in the new government, with four of them being inducted into the union council of ministers.
A.K. Antony is defence minister while K.V. Thomas, Agatha Sangma and Vincent Pala are ministers of state. The previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had three Christian ministers.

“It shows the cultural and religious diversity of India, which has been the hallmark of our history and tradition,” said Rev Babu Joseph, spokesman, Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (CBCI).

“All four of them are Catholics,” he said.

However, Antony, former Kerala chief minister and a Rajya Sabha MP, is a known atheist and declined to take oath of office in the name of god during the swearing-in ceremony of the Manmohan Singh cabinet last week.

Catholic Christians make up 1.8 percent of the country’s population, while the total Christian population is 2.5 percent.

While Antony and Thomas are from Kerala, Sangma and Pala belong to the northeastern state of Meghalaya.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader P.A. Sangma’s daughter Agatha, 28, is the youngest minister in the council of ministers. She represents Tura constituency in Meghalaya. Congress leader Vincent Pala, 41, is a first-time MP. He represents Shillong constituency. K.V. Thomas, 63, is a former Kerala minister. Thomas won the Lok Sabha elections from Ernakulam constituency.

The CBCI also said the inclusion of more Christian ministers in the council of ministers was a move towards an inclusive approach in the Indian polity.

Antony, Oscar Fernandez and P.R. Kyndia were the three Christians in the previous government.

However, the representation of Muslims in the new council of ministers has come down from six in the previous government to five - two of whom are cabinet ministers and three are ministers of state. Muslims constitute 14 percent of India’s population.

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