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India's modern borders contain thousands of years' worth of cultures and civilizations and over a billion people within a large section of South Asia. As a result there are many different languages and ethnicities among the people of India. Most Indians are followers of Hinduism or Islam, but true to India's incredible diversity, there are long-standing communities of adherents to other religious traditions including Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Baha'i, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and non-Hindu indigenous religions. Included among those groups are over 150,000 members of Mennonite World Conference churches, whose history stretches back at least to 1899.
While India is a rising global economic and political power, Indian society faces many challenges in sustaining such a large and diverse population. Recent economic growth mainly benefits populations who are already educated or in possession of the capital necessary to make investments. Meanwhile, the inflation caused by overall growth has raised food prices for all, leaving the poor hungry and increasingly thirsty as industry and population growth stress India’s water supplies. On top of these challenges, Indians face interfaith and ethnic violence, the stratifying legacy of colonialism, a large number of HIV infections, yearly monsoon flooding, and occasional earthquakes and tropical storms.
Mennonite Central Committee India is based in Kolkata and manages development partnerships focused in nearby provinces as well as relief and peace work spread more broadly. MCC's relief work in India includes food and monetary aid for both short-term disaster mitigation and long-term disaster preparedness projects. MCC's education support arm, Global Family, is very active in India, sponsoring community schools, vocational training, and lifeskills courses in peacebuilding. MCC India also supports some pastors and other community leaders as they attend peacebuilding programs and seminars and take that knowledge back to help transform conflicts in their communities into opportunities to grow closer together.