Despite its status as a fiscal powerhouse, however, in some areas, particularly in the North, millions of its people remain trapped in absolute poverty.
Last year’s UN human development report showed that India’s strong economic performance had not improved access to education, healthcare and overall higher living standards for many in need.
“It’s one of the most spiritually and materially needy areas of the world,” explains Feba UK‘s, John Sutor. “We recognised that, in North India especially, the need was massive – and we wanted to revisit how we could support Feba India in making a difference there.”
The recognition prompted a recent week-long conference between Feba UK and Feba Delhi on how best to address the pressing issues affecting people in North India.
“Research findings gave us a sense of the scale of needs and opportunities in North India, and the Delhi team was able to identify a new set of priorities and strategies for the region,” says John. “There was a tangible sense of optimism and enthusiasm.”
It comes as, after more than 50 years broadcasting via short wave to North India, the Feba team in Delhi has been reassessing its ministry and taking a fresh look at how it can engage audiences more effectively.
During the week, the team was asked to spend time in solitude seeking God’s will for North India and what their role should be. A clear and compelling vision emerged as the team committed themselves to using media for social and spiritual transformation – addressing issues including health, community, women, families, young people, values, the Gospel and the transforming grace of Christ.
They proposed an ongoing need for short wave, certainly in the short-term, noting that 72 per cent of the population still lived in rural areas, with just 2 per cent accessing the internet.
There are, however, 290 million mobile phone subscribers in rural India, with another 200 million expected this year. The team therefore suggested that plans should include delivering content via mobile.
They noted too that, with 50 per cent of the population below the age of 25, youth should be a priority.
“Every individual had the opportunity to share what God had laid on their hearts, and a number of common themes emerged,” says John. “The picture that surfaced was a very exciting one and hugely motivating for the team, bringing with it a sense of focus and urgency. The Delhi team made an astonishing journey during the week.”