Gossner Mission in India

At a glance

The main focus of the Gossner work in India is the commitment among the Adivasi (literally: "first inhabitants"). The Gossner Mission maintains close relations with its partner church, the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chotanagpur and Assam, which has been independent since 1919. Among other things, the Gossner Mission supports the education, health and development projects of the Gossner Church and works together with it for the rights of the Adivasi in Indian society. The Gossner Mission also maintains close contacts with the North Western Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chotanagpur and Assam (North West Gossner Church), which split off from the Gossner Church more than 40 years ago.

At the side of the Adivasi

A total of around 105 million Adivasis live in India. They are outside the Hindu caste system, are often marginalised, oppressed and deprived of their dignity. Their historical rights to land, forests and other resources on their own territory are often violated. Around 350,000 Adivasis belong to the Gossner Church, which sees itself as an Adivasi church, and 100,000 to the North-West Gossner Church.

India occupies top positions worldwide in technology and science. But social and cultural barriers discriminate against many population groups. These include above all the Adivasis and the Dalits, formerly called "casteless" or "untouchables".

Gossner Church is an Adivasi Church

The Gossner Church is an "Adivasi Church": more than 90 percent of its approximately 350,000 members are Adivasis: in Odisha, Chattisgarh, Assam, on the Andaman/Nicobar archipelago and above all in the newly founded state of Jharkhand in 2000. The Adivasis had been pushing for the establishment of "their" state of Jharkhand for decades. But the hopes associated with the founding of the state have evaporated.

The main cause is the continued systematic expropriation of the Adivasis in this region. Jharkhand is one of the richest regions in India in terms of raw materials: with huge deposits of coal, iron ore, mica, bauxite and limestone. There are also considerable deposits of copper, manganese, dolomite and kaolin, not to mention the abundance of forests. The natural wealth contrasts sharply with the poverty of the people who live here. The various Adivasi communities, originally 85 to 90 per cent of Jharkhand's population, are the most affected by land exploitation, industrialisation and commercial use of the forests.

The compensation payments - if they are offered at all - are far below the value of the loss. Moreover, with the forced abandonment of their land, the Adivasis lose their culture, their value system and their identity. Thus, industrial development in Jharkhand has led to the displacement, uprooting and proletarianization of hundreds of thousands of Adivasis. Due to migration, they are now only a minority in Jharkhand as well.

The Gossner Church has been independent for more than 100 years.