Caritas India


Strategic Plan – 2013 – 2018


I – Introduction to Caritas India


Caritas India – the National Organisation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) for Social Concern and Development – was founded in October, 1962. Caritas India is an organization with 166 local counterparts who are the Diocesan Social Service Societies (DSSS) and other NGO partners.

Caritas India is a member of a global network of Caritas Internationalis that comprises of members with common values and beliefs, and linked through common vision. As Caritas India networks with the diocese and other NGOs, we have a wide outreach to poor and marginalized communities. Hence she is in a unique position to bridge efforts and resources worldwide to support grass-roots development interventions. Caritas India is effectively facilitating partnerships between funding partners and grassroots development organizations, as well as an on-going dialogue on current development issues among partners to support strategic action.

Caritas India is guided by the faith of Catholic Church and the catholic social teachings. All these are derived from the bible and the periodical teachings, documents and the encyclicals of the church, which has been evolved periodically reading the signs of the time. This is making the church and her related institutions relevant to the time and the people with whom she is concerned about.

The encyclical letter No. 21 by the Pope Benedict XVI namely “Caritas in Veritate”, the principles of Catholic Social Teachings, the declaration by the CBCI after the 30th General

Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India in February 2012 namely “The Church’s Role for a Better India” and the policy of Caritas India on

“Operationalization of Catholic Ethos” re-emphasis our mandate to the work for human dignity and justice

Caritas India believes that there is a close relationship between poverty and the denial of human rights and fundamental freedom, where lack of human rights and fundamental freedom can be both a cause and consequence of poverty. Since its inception in 1962, Caritas India has been unique in its strategic responsiveness to emerging social challenges in international and national levels by engaging with social researchers, proponents and the policy makers.

The vision of Caritas India is: Formation of a Just and Sustainable Social Order; where the Gospel Values of Love, Equality and Peace are Nurtured and Lived.

Her Mission is: Restoration of Human Dignity of the Poor and Marginalized by Partnering with Intermediary Organizations in Extending Support and Facilitation and Advocating for the Rights of the People.

The guiding values and principles of Caritas India, derived from its vision and mission, include: building solidarity and social justice; upholding human dignity everywhere and at all times; combating poverty through option for the poor; strengthening the capacities of the local partners; building partners locally and globally; and gender equity.

In order to facilitate creation of a just society, Caritas India progressively moved from Charity Model to Welfare/Needs Model to the present day Rights Based Model. Now, Caritas India strives to simultaneously address immediate conditions of poverty and deprivation, while working towards securing rights of the people for a dignified life. In this universal rights based framework, Caritas India has defined its major thrust areas, e.g. the right to health, education and political participation.

An elaborate process of Organization Development was taken up from 2005 onwards which led to development of a strategic plan with following goals dealing with:

  • Resource support for weaker regions
  • Networking and advocacy
  • Disaster management
  • Natural resource management
  • Being a learning organization
  • Becoming a responsible Partner

Today, Caritas India is a leading organization in community managed disaster risk reduction and natural resource management. Community mobilization has become its overarching strategy. Empowerment is the key to self-reliant human development. For Caritas India this is an obligation and not merely an option. We cannot also rest content with our contributions, as poverty is increasing and the poor are being pushed more and more to the margins in a competitive world market economy. We need to engage in a more effective way to bring a paradigm shift in our engagement.

Initiating the next phase of strategic plan

Five years of Caritas India strategic plan period is ending in 2013. The present MDG period is coming to end in 2015. Caritas India also completed 50 Years of service to the nation in 2012 which is a great milestone in the life of any organization. In the light of these, and looking at the fast changing realities across the world and in the country, Caritas India decided to initiate the next phase of Strategic plan.

Caritas India utilized The Golden Jubilee celebrations as an opportunity to reflect and analyse with partners and stakeholders, our current context and engagements and how we need to respond and remain relevant and effective. 15 events were organized across the country at regional and national level on following themes:

  • Anti-Human Trafficking
  • Agrarian Crisis: Challenges and opportunities
  • Tribal Land Issues in India
  • Urban Poverty in India:
  • Rights and Entitlements for Excluded Communities -Towards Inclusive Development:
  • Rights Based Approach for the Integral Development of Society through Better Governance
  • Community-managed Development Prospects
  • Sustainable Livelihood for Poverty Alleviation through Natural Resource Management
  • Climate Change and its Impacts on Agriculture and Health
  • Food Security

All these helped to take stock of the contribution of Caritas India and the Indian Church to development work and nation-building. This was also seen as an ideal occasion, in the light of this learning, for us to study how Caritas India can be made even more relevant to the emerging trends and bring about changes accordingly on the ground.

Simultaneously, a country wide study of Caritas India initiatives on the contributions made by Caritas India and the lessons learnt was conducted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

In addition, an internal review was organized in October 12 which has facilitated the process of, inter alia, finalizing the Program focus to become more relevant and enhance the effectiveness of the organization. The next sections of this document, in a sequence, present the Efforts and Achievements of the past, then present the current Indian context and finally present the Future focus for the new Strategic Plan.




Caritas India has been playing the role of a Resource support agency. Caritas India has also worked as a professional organization, engaged in building the capacities of the stakeholders at the local, regional and national levels, on Development Dynamics, Gender, Natural Resource Management, Disaster Management, Project Cycle Management, Organization Development, Financial management etc.

The following six thematic areas formed the areas of thrust in the current five year plan period, ending in 2013.

  • Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Health
  • Gender
  • Indigenous People
  • Peace

Caritas India has emerged as a unique organization in the field of development in India. Many studies conducted over the years have pointed out the following strengths of Caritas India.

Network of partners: Caritas India is a member of a large network based on common values and beliefs, and linked through a common vision.

Effective facilitation between funding partners and grassroots development organizations: Caritas India plays a major role in being a facilitator between funding partners and grassroots organizations. It has tailor-made support in financial management for organizational development and capacity building to meet the requirements of international donors.

Disaster response and rehabilitation: Caritas India has long experience in disaster management. The Indian government has recognized the work of Caritas India as laudable in the rehabilitation work done for earthquake-affected victims in Latur (1994) and Gujarat (2000); tsunami-affected victims in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh (2005) and Orissa Super Cyclone victims (2000). Caritas India has also tirelessly engaged itself in the rehabilitation of the earthquake victims in Kashmir (2005) and victims of Bihar floods (2008).

With a wide experience of Community Based Disaster Preparedness (CBDP) measures, it is continuously working towards concepts for Linking Relief, Rehabilitation to Development (LRRD), moving towards Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction. Over the years, it dawned on the organization through its experience in the field that a much better approach for managing disasters would be to prepare the local people to respond to emergencies. Such preparedness is bearing fruit and the work is being recognized. Caritas India is currently working closely with the Government of Bihar and National Disaster Management Authority to develop the District Disaster Management Plan for West Champaran district.

Community mobilization and animation: Community mobilization and animation has been a methodology over many years in various community based intervention. Supporting and accompanying the work with approximately 250,000 self-help groups have allowed Caritas India to build up broad experience in this field. As per the 2009-10 report, Caritas India reached 12,183 villages with 11,245,100 people. Of these, more than 60 per cent of people were women and nearly 70 per cent were from tribal and Scheduled Caste communities (Source: Annual Report Supplement 2009-2010).

Natural resource management: Even before environment became an important agenda in the developmental debate and its concerns were visible at the local level, Caritas India initiated its projects around this theme as early as 1970s. Caritas India has made many significant achievements in this regard, including intervention in the remote areas.

It works mainly with the poor and the marginalized landless, small and marginal landholder communities. Caritas India was invited by the Government of India to join a working group on Natural Resource Management and Agriculture Extension for developing the 11th Five Year Plan.

Promoting Green Garden and Centre for Environment Studies are the new initiatives in the heart of the rural area at Paratwada, Amravati District of Maharashtra. Through these, Caritas India attempted to create a space for the farmers for discussions and dialogues on various issues and concerns.

Rights-based Approach: Caritas India has over the years changed its stance in developmental work from the Charity Model, to the Welfare/Needs Model, and to the current Rights Based Model. Caritas India’s rights-based model facilitates a process where communities can assert their rights and demand their entitlements. This has been a defining moment for Caritas India, picking up from experience. The rights-based approach has facilitated and contributed to the identification of the marginalized groups for targeted intervention, taking into account the existing power relations and structures in society. By identifying inequalities, injustices, and iniquitous power structures and by addressing them from a rights-based perspective, Caritas India has been able to help the communities to negotiate with and challenge the State and those in control of resources.

Especially the tribal and Dalit communities have started to recognize their own potential and use it for improving the quality of their lives through self-employment activities.

Today we are looking for purposeful and effective association of the CBOs to the local Governance structures, envisaging a true democratization process.

Project Management Approach: Caritas India has introduced and mainstreamed the Results Based Management approach in its initiatives, emphasizing on on-going learning and accountability to various stakeholders.

Capacity Enhancement of Partner Organizations: Mainstreaming Animation: Caritas India’s main strategy is supporting and facilitating its partners in their efforts to implement programmes for the poor and the marginalized. This has been a process of building the capacity of the partner organizations and improving their systems and structures. Caritas India aims towards professionalism in partner organizations to achieve the desired results.

Through various people’s collectives, a process of empowerment and skill development is facilitated, including linkages with financial institutions, etc. The quality of the children’s education, better health, better economic chances, participation in politics, bargaining power with government officers, etc. which has been documented by the research (TISS) team.

The Development Dynamic Course, organized at various places every year, is one of the most sought after courses by the partners. Many have been trained through this course to view society with a critical perspective in order to understand and offer remedies for the deep-rooted problems of the poor. Participants have even included people from neighbouring countries.

Gender Equity: As in most communities, in the communities that Caritas India has been engaging with, incidence of domestic violence and dowry harassment was common. Trafficking of women and girls from remote and impoverished areas across the state borders has also been increasing over the years. Caritas India has taken initiatives to intervene in these aspects. Breakthroughs have been achieved through various means and mechanisms, such as work on child rights and anti-child trafficking advocacy in schools, etc.

Several initiatives have documented evidence of women gaining increased access to resources, assets, bargaining for their rights and participation in Panchayats.

Health: In the area of health, the organization widened its scope of intervention in Community Health and HIV/AIDS programmes in Gujarat (in 373 villages) in partnership with NACO and GSACS; it focuses on behavioural changes among the communities, especially among the high-risk groups. The intensified Malaria Control Project-II in the North East (in 86 districts) in partnership with the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme of the Government of India is another major health intervention.

Organizational System Development: The organization policies such as NRM, gender mainstreaming, quality management and human resources, etc. have helped to focus in each area of intervention with greater depth. Caritas India also helps the partners to develop their policies.

Areas for Improvement during next five years

There are some areas where Caritas India needs to improve its functioning in the period to come. These are:

Enhanced ability to manage Change: Caritas India needs to shed conventional ways of thinking. More and more staff needs to be encouraged, enabled and challenged to embrace change than a status quoist position. Caritas India needs to shed it being viewed as a funding organization. Neither should it be dependent on donors or their priorities. For this, the staff needs to be equipped to take on the role of being “facilitators of change”.

Sustainability of change processes: Rather than implement merely projects, Caritas India needs to have long term priorities, budgets and consistent engagement till the change and transformation takes place. Simultaneously there is a need to improve the quality in accompaniment process with partners and introduce effective and efficient quality management systems and procedures.

Improved Knowledge management: Mechanisms and tools for Knowledge management need to be introduced within the organization. There is the need for a system to gauge and analyse the priority issues of the marginalized on an on-going basis in the country. Research and development needs a major fillip. The successes and learnings too need to be documented.

Greater Visibility: Visibility of Caritas India, especially with Government and Private sector needs to be enhanced. This calls for a clear visibility plan and a supporting budget.

Scope for tapping resources and management: Local resource mobilization including at the National level needs to be emphasised. Different sources need to be tapped for this purpose. A clear resource mobilization plan needs to be developed.

Broadening Partnership beyond the Diocesan organizations, to work on new identified issues and in new ways: Caritas India needs to identify new partners who are pioneers or exemplary performers in their fields and partnership forged with them. The learning from these new partnerships will further enhance and enrich the quality of partnership with the diocesan partners.

Scope for increasing involvement in Advocacy at National and International level: More emphasis needs to be laid on Advocacy and rights based discourse. Advocacy on National and regional issues needs to be taken up and networking with other advocacy organizations and networks needs to be strengthened.

Need to go National and International level involvement: There is a need for increasing our emphasis from local to National and even International level involvement, whether on matters of inter country cooperation on aspects such as preventing trafficking or on aspects of value chain across country.

All the above points for improvement have been incorporated in the new strategies presented in the chapter IV on future focus of Caritas India.


III – Current Indian context


The social, political and the economic face of the country have undergone tremendous transformation after adopting globalization policy by Government of India. Today the economy of India is the ninth1 largest in the world by nominal GDP and the third largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). The country is one of the G-20 major economies according to the IMF. India recorded the highest growth rate in the mid- 2000s and is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. India has recorded a growth of over 200 times in per capita income in a period from 1947 (
249.6) to 2011. India is the nineteenth largest exporter2 and tenth largest importer in the world. Economic growth rate stood at around 6.5% for the 2011–12 fiscal year.

Significant changes in India in the last two decades have been summarized below. The Planning Commission of India has formulated these as the key achievements of the Eleventh Five Year Plan3, even though the level of benefits reaching the people, particularly the poor is contended.

  • GDP growth in the Eleventh Plan 2007–08 to 2011–12 was 7.9 per cent compared with 7.6 per cent in the Tenth Plan (2002–03 to 2006–07) and only 5.7 per cent in the Ninth Plan (1997–98 to 2001–02). The growth rate of 7.9 per cent in the Eleventh Plan period is one of the highest of any country in that period which saw two global crises.
  • Agricultural GDP growth accelerated in the Eleventh Plan, to an average rate of 3.3 per cent, compared with 2.4 per cent in the Tenth Plan, and 2.5 per cent in the Ninth Plan.
  • The percentage of the population below the poverty line declined at the rate of 1.5 percentage points (ppt) per year in the period 2004–05 to 2009–10, twice the rate at which it declined in the previous period 1993–94 to 2004–05. (When the data for the latest NSSO survey for 2011–12 become available, it is likely that the rate of decline may be close to 2 ppt per year.)
  • The rate of growth of real consumption per capita in rural areas in the period 2004–05 to 2011–12 was 3.4 per cent per year which was four times the rate in the previous period 1993–94 to 2004–05.
  • The rate of unemployment declined from 8.2 per cent in 2004–05 to 6.6 per cent in 2009–10 reversing the trend observed in the earlier period when it had actually increased from 6.1 per cent in 1993–94 to 8.2 per cent in 2004–05.
  • Rural real wages increased 6.8 per cent per year in the Eleventh Plan (2007–08 to 2011–12) compared to an average 1.1 per cent per year in the previous decade, led largely by the government’s rural policies and initiatives.
  • Complete immunization rate increased by 2.1 ppt per year between 2002–04 and 2007–08, compared to 1.7 ppt fall per year between 1998–99 and 2002–04. Similarly, institutional deliveries increased by 1.6 ppt per year between 2002–04 and 2007–08 higher than the 1.3 ppt increase per year between 1998–99 and 2002–04.
  • Net enrolment rate at the primary level rose to a near universal 98.3 per cent in 2009–10. Dropout rate (classes I–VIII) also showed improvements, falling 1.7 ppt per year between 2003–04 and 2009–10, which was twice the 0.8 ppt fall between 1998–99 and 2003–04.

Globally, India is claiming its place on the World stage and is being recognized too by several powerful countries. India is part of many regional and global alliances- BRIC, G20, India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA), SAARC, ASEAN. Political stability in the country has been an added advantage and despite internal challenges, India has had smooth transitions of power done through vast electoral processes.

The civil society in the country has gained wide recognition, both in the World and also by the Government of India. Government of India has constituted a National Advisory Council with the leaders of the Civil Society Movement as its members and there is also a National policy on Voluntary Organizations. The Civil Society actively works with a variety of approach and growingly a rights based approach using the legal frameworks provided by the National Parliament (Right to Information Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Forest Right Act, the Right to Education Act and the upcoming Food Security Act.). On the other hand, some tough measures have also been taken against organizations working on human rights and rights of the marginalized and that causes concerns in the minds of civil society organization.

Also, while India has demonstrated high indicators of growth, it does not mean that everything is fine with this country. An expert committee, set up by the Rural Development Ministry and headed by N.C. Saxena, says 50 per cent of Indians are Below the Poverty Line if one takes into account the criterion of calorie intake. This nearly doubles the BPL numbers.

The World Bank estimates that India is ranked 2nd in the world of the number of children suffering from malnutrition, after Bangladesh (in 1998), where 47% of the children exhibit a degree of malnutrition. The prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world, and is nearly double that of Sub-Saharan Africa with dire consequences for mobility, mortality, productivity and economic growth. The UN estimates that 2.1 million Indian children die before reaching the age of 5 every year – four in every minute – mostly from preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea, typhoid, malaria, measles and pneumonia. Every day, 1,000 Indian children die because of diarrhoea alone.

The 2011 Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report ranked India 15th, amongst leading countries with hunger situation. It also places India amongst the three countries where the GHI between 1996 and 2011 went up from 22.9 to 23.7

The paradox of India can be understood by the following at a Glance comparison of the situation of “The country”, its “Corporate sector” and its “people”.

The Country The Corporate The People
Top 10 movers in GDP. Second fastest growing economy. India’s largest business house, Reliance has a revenue of over $56.7 billion, equalling 4.7% of India’s GDP – cumulative percapita income of 5.7 crore Indians. Absolute number of poor has not changed in 30 years – remains at 320 million
Consistent economic growth rate of 8 – 9% 50 million sq. ft. of retail space to be developed in 2 years Urban and Rural poor were better fed 30 years ago
Fourth largest Economy in terms of GDP and PPP and fourth major wealth creating country. 132 foreign firms acquired in 2008-9 at $1.9 billion. Sixth largest investor in the UK A third of India’s adult population is malnourished
World’s most irrigated land mass. World’s largest cycle, motor cycle producers. 3rd largest producer of optical media. 2nd largest producer of alcoholic beverages. More than half of women aged 15–49 years suffer from anaemia (55.3 per cent), an increase of three percentage points over the last decade
Supplier of biggest human power to the world: 35% of doctors in USA, 36% of NASA scientists. More than 100 global companies oursource R&D facilities from India. Nearly half of India’s under three children are malnourished giving it the distinction of having the largest number of malnourished children in the world.
India is planning to spend $514 billion in infrastructure development during the 11th Plan period (2007-2012) 35% of silicon valley start-ups are by Indians The share of public expenditure on healthcare remains consistently low at 1.3% of GDP, lower than sub-Saharan Africa.

India poverty report 2011 of the World Bank States that “Improving human development outcomes for the poor remains a key challenge for India” and that “Given the recent record, it is simply not the case that continued rapid economic growth will automatically translate to commensurate improvements on human development outcomes”. It further states that “although multiple welfare indicators for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are improving, the gap between them and the general population is large and persistent”…” Female disadvantage in India continues, despite high rates of growth, and women die both in infancy and in motherhood, with poorer outcomes for women from scheduled castes and tribes”.

Despite efforts in reducing gender inequalities issues of multiple dimensions of discrimination based on gender and various forms of identity are not so far addressed. Incidence of violence including domestic violence is on increase. In terms of gender inequality indicators such as labour force participation, educational attainment, parliamentary representation, adolescent fertility, maternal mortality4 etc India lags much behind, ranking 129 out of 187 countries. Multiple structural barriers and discriminations causes situations of severe gender inequality.

Some of the facts about specific groups and their main issues are presented below.

Details Main Issues
Constitute 16.2% of the Indian population and among them 48.11% live below poverty line (Census of India 2001). As per the Census of India 2011, the number of Dalits has increased marginally to 16.9%. They form the lowest rung of the caste structure.
According to the estimates released by Planning Commission, the incidence of poverty ratio among the Dalits remains higher than the national average. In the rural areas it was found to be 42.46 and in urban areas it was 34.11 while for India it was 33.8 and 20.9 respectively.
  • Lack of access to agricultural land and capital assets, which has resulted in more than 75% of the Dalit in rural areas to be landless.
  • Low employment, high poverty: Traditionally roles of Dalit have been defined by the caste system such as scavenging. Such jobs are waged employment with poor wages; high level of stigma attached to it and hence results in low incomes and high poverty. Nearly 60% of all Dalit in both urban and rural areas depend on waged employment.
  • Education: Dalits face discrimination while accessing education opportunities also, which results in high school dropout rates, low levels of educational attainments.
  • Health: Access to health services is marred by social discrimination that results in poor health among the community. Migration increases the chances of HIV/AIDS.
  • Gender: Dalit women are oppressed by virtue of being women and Dalit. Thus they face discrimination and suffer violence at every step of their lives. Almost 1000 cases of violence against Dalit women are reported every year.
  • Discrimination, untouchability and atrocities: Access to public wells, water resources, bath, land etc are denied to Dalits even today. There are many instances in which refusal to adhere to the societal norms have resulted in alienation of Dalits and violence against them.
  • Government policies: Despite having the right to equal opportunity and abolishment of untouchability by the Indian Constitution, many times the government themselves fail to implement and protect these rights. This leads to further violation and discrimination against them.
Adivasis/Scheduled Tribes
The original inhabitants of India, they form 8.2% of the total population of the country. They are mainly concentrated in the usually remote hilly areas constituting 15% of India’s total geographical area. This has further added to their disadvantage as they are excluded from delivery of basic services.
As per the 2001 Census, of the 84.33 million Adivasi, 3.07% belong to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.
The rural population (total) living below poverty line estimated by Planning Commission was 28.30% in 2004-05 while for the Adivasi it was 47.30%.
  • Land alienation and migration which include systematic exploitation of natural resources and takeover of land in tribal belts for projects like dams, mines etc.
  • Education and health: Low rates of educational attainments and poor health standards. As per the census of 2001, only 47.10% of the Adivasi’s are literate as against 65.38% literate general population. Among the females, only 34.76% Adivasi women were found to be literate while among the non-Adivasi women, the figure stood at 54.16%.
  • Adivasi identity and culture: Policies and attitude of the non-Adivasi’s so as to facilitate greater acceptance of Adivasi among non-Adivasi, have forced them to “integrate” with the mainstream population, thereby losing their distinct identity and culture.
  • Globalization has led to use of many resources such as land and forests, which erstwhile belonged to Adivasis’s and helped them maintain their culture and identity.

Half of the Indian population suffers from atrocities and discrimination right from the womb to the tomb due to strong and skewed patriarchal nature of the Indian society. For instance, even though the literacy rates among women have increased from 2001 (53.67%) to 2011 (65.46%), the gender gap is still high (at 16.68%).

Participation of women in the labor force has decreased from 36.8% (1993-94) to 26.1% (2009-10) in the rural areas and from 17% (1993-94) to 13.8% (2009-10) in the urban areas (as per the NSSO data). Crime against women as reported by the National Crime Records Bureau indicates nearly 30% increase from 2006 to 2010. Added to this are the low rates of reporting and conviction.

  • Violence: Violence against women have been on the rise as indicated earlier. The National Family and Health Survey (2005-06) has indicated that one third of women in the age group 15-19 have experienced physical violence and one in ten women had been a victim of sexual violence.
  • Education: Though literacy rates among women have increased over the years, many are yet to be reached out to. In terms of education also, in 2004-05, 60% of the employed women were illiterates and 3.7% were graduates. On the other hand, during the same period, 28% men were illiterates and 8% graduates. Thus difference in literacy and educational attainments among men and women is wide and needs to be bridged.
  • Basic services: Lack of access to basic services and amenities such as toilets also aggravates the situation of women. Only 46.9% of Indian households have toilets while 49.8% defecate in the open and 3.2% use public toilets (Census of India 2011). Further two thirds of the Indian homes have no access to treated drinking water from tap.
  • Health: Following from lack of access to services such as toilets etc, have led to health problems among women. Added to this are the poor health delivery systems that often force households to access private doctors and hospitals for their health concerns. Lack of resources force women from poor households not to access such services, as they are expensive. Migration in search of better employment and trafficking has also resulted in high vulnerabilities to sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Social status: Despite constituting nearly 50% of the Indian population, tradition, culture and patriarchy have forced women to stay outside the gamut of development and decision making. Women across the country are still denied rights to make decision regarding their body, their education, health, vocation and life in general.
  • Political representation: Though the Government of India has enacted law to ensure 33% of representation of women in local governments, women continue to be under represented by their own kind. In most cases, women elected representatives are mere puppets in the hands of their male relatives. India is yet to pass the Women Reservation Bill ensuring representation in the higher levels of government in spite of the 14 year old attempts.
India has been ranked one of the worse countries for children in the world. For instance, India fell from 103 (in 2004) to 112 rank in 2012 out of 141 countries in the Child Development Index (CDI) released by Save the Children. India is the home to 60-115 million working children that is one of the highest numbers in the world. There are nearly 440 million children in the country of which 136 million live in poverty. Child mortality rates are high. 26 million infants are born of which 1.7 million die before their 1st birthday and another half million between their 1st and 5th birthday. There are 12.6 million child laborers in India, which is the highest number in the world.
  • Working children: As mentioned, many children in the country are engaged as child labour. However the Law does not count most of them as child laborers as majority are engaged in agriculture. Plight of girl child and Dalit children are worse as laborers.
  • Bonded labor: Despite abolishing bonded labor legally, the country is the home to nearly one million bonded labor children as per the estimates of International Labor Organization (ILO).
  • Child trafficking: Among the 2.3 million commercial sex workers in the country, the ILO estimates that 15% of them are children.
  • HIV: Trafficking, bonded labor and all other forms of exploitation have increased the vulnerability of children to HIV/AIDS.
Our Constitution has already taken care much of what the United Nations Declaration, on the Right of Persons Belonging to National, or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, spelled out in detail. They are incorporated in Part III of the Constitution dealing with the fundamental rights of citizens. This part contains both the common rights and the specific rights of the Minorities in India.
  • Irrespective of the rights ensured in the Constitution, the minorities an excluded community in India. Only 21 percent Muslims use the PDS as compared to 33.2 percent of all the population.
  • According to the Sachar Committee Report, the literacy rate among Muslims in 2001 was 59.1%. This is far below the national average (65.1%).
  • As many as 25 per cent of Muslim children in the 6-14 year age group have either never attended school or have dropped out.
  • Innumerable schemes and programs like Prime Minister’s 15 Point Program, Prime Minister’s New 15 Point and Multi Sectoral Development Programme for 90 Minority Concentration Districts etc., were worked out, but they did not have the intended consequences on the lives and development of these communities.
Fishing community
Policy measures introduced in the 1950s and the 60s to boost fish production and export using mechanized trawlers and other sophisticated fishing technologies led to intensive fishing in the coastal waters, the traditional domain of artisanal and small-scale fishers. Though mechanized trawlers and other new fishing crafts and gear helped raise production, later, as the rate of growth in production started sliding, it was clear that the growth had come at the cost of sustainability of fisheries resources. Not only did these policy measures marginalize fishers who did not have the capital or access to capital to invest in the new technologies but the unregulated exploitation of fishing resources by others, including investors from outside the traditional fishing communities, led to a depletion of fish stocks in the near-shore waters and a decline in fish catch by artisanal and small-scale fishers. The annual per capita fish catch by artisanal fishers in the country dropped from 2,590 kg in 1980 to 420 kg in 1996-97….. Global warming and climate change can cause changes in marine ecosystems and coastal habitats, exacerbating some of these problems, and poor fishers and communities who lack the resources to adapt to the changes will be particularly vulnerable. (Source – Vulnerabilities of fishing communities to Ecological and climate change – Institute for Community Organization Research)
  • Overfishing – by the big trawlers
  • Pollution
  • Climate change
  • All the above leading to dwindling fish catch and lowering incomes
  • Climate change and Natural hazards like cyclones also lead to moves that threaten to displace the fishing communities from their habitat
  • Besides, fishing communities face all the problems associated with poverty
Marginal farmers
According to Agricultural Census 2000-01, there were an estimated 98 million small and marginal holdings out of around 120 million total land households in the country. As shown in Table 3, the share of marginal and small farmers accounted for around 81% of operational holdings in 2002-03 as compared to about 62% in 1960-61. Similarly, the area operated by small and marginal farmers has increased from about 19% to 44% during the same period. Recent data for 2005-06 shows that the share of small and marginal farmers in land holdings was 83% (Chand et al, 2011). Thus, the small holding character of Indian agriculture is much more prominent today than even before. The average size of holdings in India declined from 2.3 ha. in 1970-71 to 1.33 ha. in 2000-01. It may be noted that 63% of land holdings belong to marginal farmers with less than 1 ha. (source – Small Farmers in India – Opportunities and challenges, S. Mahendra Dev, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research)
  • Credit and indebtedness – Dependence of small and marginal farmers on informal sources is high and has led to situations as bad as farmer suicides
  • Globalization challenges: Increasing globalization has added to the problems faced by the small holding agriculture. The policies of huge subsidies and protection policies by developed countries have negative effects on small holding farmers in developing countries.
  • Impact of climate change: Climate change is a major challenge for agriculture, food security and rural livelihoods for millions of people including the poor in India. Small holding farmers are likely to be worst affected.
  • Irrigation and other inputs: Marginal farmers do not have access to irrigation and inputs due to lack of funds and poorly performing services of the government. Also they are pushed to follow the global trends of high inorganic fertilizer use which is counter- productive to their plans of sustainable agriculture.
  • Marketing: Marginal farmers still do not have access to good markets and are too dependent on middle men who are exploitative

Rise of the urban poverty

With the rapid economic growth that India is experiencing a significant fraction of the rural population has migrated to cities, making the issue of urban poverty more significant. In India, around 377 million live in urban areas of which around 97 million are poor (Poverty Estimate, Planning Commission, GOI, 2011-2012). The Commission also estimated that 535 million people, or 40% of India’s population, will live in towns and cities mainly because of migration by 2026. The level of urbanisation increased from 27.81 % in 2001 Census to 31.165 in 2011 Census. Cities becoming the centre of development, they are attracting poor people at a rapid rate. The urban poor not only have low income but also end up living in slum like conditions and face the problems of housing, water, sanitation, health, education, social security and livelihoods.

Since independence, Indian policy-makers focused on rural development in response to Gandhi’s call that “India lives in its villages”. This focus was also justified by the fact that agriculture is subject to high risks from dependence on nature. As a result, urban poverty was sidelined because the urban poor were seen as people who had greater access to opportunities in dynamic urban systems and were therefore exposed to less serious uncertainties. Removal of poverty became a distinct objective since the Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-79) in India but no distinction was made between urban and rural poverty. However, urban poverty could not be ignored for very long as urban centres and poverty within them grew. It was only in the Seventh Plan (1985-90) onwards that issues related to urban poverty were discussed. The interest in addressing urban poverty peaked when the Planning Commission allocated a separate section to urban poverty in the Ninth Five Year Plan (1997-2002), putting an unprecedented focus on urban development and urban poverty alleviation.

Poverty alleviation efforts, by both government and the civil society, are dwarfed by the huge number of poor concentrated in urban areas and peripheries. Though several organisations have been making intensive but sporadic efforts to alleviate the poverty and backwardness of urban centres, these efforts have largely been insufficient to meet the real need as compared to the sheer magnitude of the problem.

Regional imbalance

The country clearly has regional imbalance and the most marginalized communities, lowest Human Development Indices are found in eight states (Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan, West Bengal and North Eastern states) which are in the Northern and Eastern Part of the country.

A recent OXFAM media briefing on 18th January 2013, very well put the current global as well as Indian situation in perspective by making following assertions:

Extreme wealth and inequality is:

  • Economically inefficient
  • Politically Corrosive
  • Socially Divisive
  • Environmentally Destructive
  • Unethical

Caritas India recognizes the widening gap in the society in India and takes the opportunity of a new strategic plan to reassert its commitment to narrow this gap and particularly side with the marginalized and excluded communities in their struggle for equality, dignity and justice.

The future focus of Caritas India, considering the current Indian context, is presented in the next section of this document.


IV – Future Focus of Caritas India


Caritas India must respond to the changing Indian context and has decided to choose its Geographical focus, target groups, issues, sectors of interventions and strategies in keeping with this country context and its own strengths and limitations.

Organizational Focus/Thrust

Inclusive, equitable and integrated development of the excluded communities

Programme Focus

Ensuring rights and entitlements of the excluded communities along with minimum service delivery by strengthening facilitation

Geographical focus

Caritas India is a National organization and will continue to focus on the developmental issues countrywide an engage with all the DSSS partners. Caritas India will identify regional issues, develop strategies to address these issues, along with the partners and try to address these issues locally.

One of the responsibilities of Caritas India is to assist the Diocesan organizations to take roots and develop their capacities. Caritas India will continue to play this role all over the country where it will assist and accompany new Dioceses or those that have remained weak till now with a time bound plan.

It is a fact that the country clearly has regional imbalances in terms of the presence of the most marginalized communities and lowest Human Development Indices. They are the Central India, North India, East India and North East India. So Caritas India would like to devote significantly larger part of the resources and efforts in these areas and to the specific target groups mentioned below for the next five years.

Target groups

As the earlier chapters amply highlight, India is characterized by the rising gap in social and economic standards and there are clearly the sections of the society that are remaining marginalized to the extent of getting excluded from the developmental and societal processes. Our interventions and projects will focus on the Dalits and Tribals, who in spite of Constitutional guarantees and provisions have remained the worst off and are further losing out on their resources. The particular focus will be on those on the lowest rungs of even the Dalit hierarchy and among the Tribal communities such as the Denotified and primitive tribes.

Religious minorities: Part III of the Constitution dealing with the fundamental rights of citizens contains both the common rights and the specific rights of the Minorities in India. Irrespective of the rights ensured in the Constitution, the minorities are an excluded community in India. Hence we consider focussed attention has to be given to these communities.

Caritas India has worked for several decades with communities depending upon agrarian economy and the natural resource base. Caritas India will stand in solidarity with landless and the marginal farmers and assist them to find sustainable livelihood solutions. Another community with whom Caritas India will continue to side are the fishing communities, especially those working at the smallest of scale to ensure their issues are dealt with and they survive and thrive in a market and large scale dominated world.

In spite of our efforts to side with the agrarian and fishing communities, Caritas India cannot deny the large scale migration, often in distressing circumstances, to the cities of India, which absorb them very readily due to growing need for workforce but unfortunately do not offer them an employment on fair terms and make them live a life of low quality, mostly treating them shabbily with poor housing, sanitation and unaffordable education and health. Caritas India will begin to work on the issues of Urban poor, looking at them both as “workers in the informal sectors” and as “residents”.

Women, who have over the years been organized by Caritas and its partners into Self Help and Rights claiming collectives, will continue to remain the focus of Caritas India. Alongside, Caritas India will focus on Children and will lay added emphasis within all their communities of work, on Persons with Disability and Elderly. While Caritas India may not begin exclusive programs for Children, Persons with Disability and Elderly, it will make sure that each program looks into these three groups in a special way and addresses their concerns in a concrete manner.

Goals, Issues and Sectors of Intervention

Caritas India will, together with its partners, deal with the following issues, which are faced by the priority target groups.

Goal 1 – Natural resource management

Supporting marginalized rural and tribal communities to manage their natural resources, has been a long standing commitment for Caritas. We have had successes in NRM projects all around the country. Caritas will continue to support these actions in the new strategic plan. For the marginalized, it should not be just about Food security but Food Sovereignty. The marginalized farmer must have a control over what they grow and how they grow. Similarly, control over individual and community resources such as the land and water has to be wrested and the struggle for these resources at the grassroots will continue. Caritas and its partner communities have for long worked on sustainable agriculture techniques and this emphasis will continue. Finally, Caritas will intensify its work in the Climate Change mitigation and adaptation fields.

Goal – Client level

Marginalized communities will claim their rights so as to wrest over natural resources and manage them in a sustainable manner and draw sustenance out of them

Goal- Organisational level

Caritas India emerges as a resource organisation having demonstrated significant environmental justice initiatives with a national presence and influence.

  • CI is working as a self sufficient resource agency on Food Security & Environmental Justice and engaged in generating and disseminating quality knowledge products.
  • CI is making evidence based policy influence for ensuring food security & environmental justice.
  • National level peoples forums are working on promoting environmental justice

Goal 2 – Urban poverty

The level of urbanisation increased from 27.81 % in 2001 Census to 31.165 in 2011 Census. This is expected to rise to 41% by 2030 which will be over 575 million people. Cities becoming the centre of development, they are attracting poor people at a rapid rate. The urban poor not only have low income but also end up living in slum like conditions and face the problems of housing, water, sanitation, health, education, social security and livelihoods. Caritas India will begin looking at the Urban Poverty as a phenomenon and increase its interventions on the issues of the urban poor such as rights and entitlements, Housing, health and civic amenities with a Rights Based Approach.

Goal – Client level

Urban Poor will claim their rights and entitlements as respectful citizens of India and live their lives with dignity and security

Organisational level – Objective (For one year)

Caritas India will have developed its urban poverty strategy on the selected UPE themes by the end of the year.

  1. Screening and identifying Caritas India experiences and learning from the completed and ongoing programmes/projects
  2. Finalising a set of intervention themes based on detailed micro and macro level analysis and institutional capacity mapping

Goal 3 – Livelihood

The marginalized people are migrating at a very fast pace. Various surveys and estimates put the percentage of informal / unorganized sector labour anything between 70 to 90%. The informal sector is notorious for lax application of any labour laws. ILO in 2000 said in year 2000 that “Due to their isolation and invisibility, workers in the informal sector are often unaware of their rights, cannot organize them and have little negotiating power with their employers and intermediaries”. In Indian cities one does not need to dig very deep to find low wages and exploitation of labour with absolutely no social security for Construction workers, rickshaw pullers, domestic maids, waste gatherers, beedi, agarbatti makers in home based units. Caritas India takes cognizance of this large mass of workers and commits to take initiatives to work for justice and empowerment of these workers.

As per a FICCI report, “about 89% of the 15-59 year olds have had no vocational training. Of the 11% who received vocational training, only 1.3% received formal vocational training. The current training capacity is a fraction of the 12.8 million new entrants into the workforce every year. Therefore access to skills programs becomes a major challenge”. India has set a target of skilling 500 million people by 2022. Civil society organizations will have to play their role to ensure that the poor and marginalized youth has access to skill trainings. Caritas India has decided to join in this process. Simultaneously, Caritas India will also lay emphasis on facilitating self- employment and rural entrepreneurship.

Goal – Client Level: Urban and rural people particularly the youth and women will gain secure livelihood and will have increased their income

Goal – Organisational Level: Caritas India stake in livelihood policy making in government programmes

Strategic Objectives

  • Caritas India will develop model sustainable livelihood interventions in urban and rural context through concept of profitability by the end of 2015.
  • Caritas India has become a self-sufficient revenue generation ‘resource organisation’ for development & CSR for ‘Sustainable Livelihood Approach’ by 2016.
  • Caritas India has become a lead agency in evidence generation and policy influence for livelihood policies by 2017.

Goal 4 – Prevention of trafficking and safe migration

The increasing inequality and disparities in income and social status across India and South Asia make the region vulnerable to acts of trafficking and unsafe migration. The increasing growth of different categories of cities in India is acting like magnets for people from impoverished sections and areas. The country is becoming both a source and destination for migration and trafficking. Therefore Caritas India will work on issues of Safe migration and trafficking, what with so much of migration taking place of poor and marginalized families.

Goal statement – Reduced prevalence of unsafe migration and prevention of human trafficking in Caritas India intervention areas

Strategic objective

Safe migration perspectives are integrated with development programmes of Caritas India and her partners for effectively combating unsafe migration and human trafficking

  • Capacity base is created at partner levels on issues of unsafe migration and human trafficking
  • Preventive models on unsafe migration and human trafficking are developed and integrated with development projects of Caritas India and her partners

Goal 5 – Community health

Caritas will work on health, both in rural and urban areas. The focus will be on water and sanitation, reproductive child health, malnutrition is an issue and community health practices. In HIV/AIDS, where there are successes, the work will be carried on.

Goal – client level

The Poor communities will safeguard their health by own actions and by demanding their health rights and services from the Government

Goal – Organisational level

Caritas India develops and mainstream a sustainable health care system managed by the people so that morbidity and mortality could be substantially reduced.

Strategic Objectives

  1. Community Managed Health System where people become owners of their own health is established.
  2. A model for health care financing to support accessibility of services is available
  3. Health related information is managed and disseminated to strengthen the approach to health care.
  4. Caritas India is generating evidence and influencing policy on health issues and promote a culture of learning

Goal 6 – Disaster management

Client level

Communities living in hazard prone areas will take actions to reduce their risks and will minimize their loss of life and property despite onset of hazard events

Organisational level

Caritas India is acknowledged as a capable and competent organisation in India in the sector of DRR

Disaster management has been a marquee sector for Caritas India and significant work has been done in various national disasters like the Tsunami, Bihar Floods, and the cyclones and the earthquakes. Caritas India’s Disaster risk reduction programs with an ecosystems perspective have also been acknowledged by civil society and government alike. This effort will be carried on.

Strategic objectives

  • All development programs of Caritas India, have an inbuilt component on risk reduction and preparedness
  • Caritas India has competencies in risk reduction in diversified situations such as fir, earthquake, conflict and hill areas
  • Caritas India is working as a self sufficient national level DM resource centre equipped with research documents, capacity building support and demonstrative models for learners, practitioners and policy makers
  • Caritas India is recognized as a lead DRR institution at different government bodies.

Strategies and approaches

Inclusive Approach: Social inclusion is a proactive strategy to put the vulnerable groups and communities on par with other groups that are better placed in accessing benefits. It seeks to render justice to these vulnerable groups by being fair to them in a way that they will have equal access to the opportunities, resources, services and institutions to develop themselves and be mainstreamed. This is based on the conviction that the marginalised and excluded communities have an inalienable right to their existence and identity human persons with all rights. For any meaningful process of inclusive and equitable growth, it is necessary that all categories and communities get due visibility and their problem stand properly highlighted and addressed. Details of this strategy are elaborated in Caritas India’s Social inclusion Policy.

Integrated Development: Mere economic growth will not be necessarily user in authentic and sustainable development of human persons and communities. Economic growth must be integral that is it has promote the good of every person and the whole person. Integrated human development embraces spiritual, psychological, physical, material and economic element. It is based on a holistic understanding of human person within the context and experience of the family and the wider community. Detail of this understanding is elaborated in Caritas India Social Development policy.

Animation: Caritas India has worked so far with Animation approach largely in collaboration with Diocesan partners. While this will continue to be a major part of future strategy, yet there will be departures and deviations so as to make meaningful contributions and also establish successful models, especially on “New issues and sectors” from which the Diocesan partners can learn and replicate.

To this effect, a conscious choice being made is to ensure Broadening of partnerships for establishing successful models and show casing them. Caritas India will work with agencies with already established expertise but those that are looking for resources. These collaborations will first serve as a learning ground for Caritas India and thereafter for the traditional partners.

Another part of the strategy for Caritas India will be to do “issue based networking”. While Caritas India will join already existing networks, especially on issues that are new for Caritas India, it will lead networks on issues on which Caritas India has been working for long.

In order for Caritas India to emerge as a Knowledge based organization, Caritas India will increase its focus on “Research and Development” with an aim to develop practice based Knowledge products. Dedicated and qualified human resource will be invested to carry out this important work.

As can be understood from above expressions, Caritas India will not work merely as a resource support organization. It will by itself be an active program planner together with partners at the grassroots and will support the partners through Partner Capacity building, issue based networking and research and documentation, especially to reorient current partners to work on emerging issues, will be a strategy in the next five year period. Partner capacity building on on-going issues will also be a continued strategy. The much sought after Development Dynamics course as well as other capacity building efforts on issues such as animation, community mobilization, rights based approach, Natural Resource Management, Community Managed Disaster Risk reduction, Results Based Management etc. will continue to receive attention to train new and refresh only workers.

As we build capacities, Partner accountability will also be strengthened by following means:

  • Work for mutual cooperation and development (jointly evolved) – Resource Mobilization, Data / knowledge / skill sharing, visibility etc.
  • Ensuring adherence to the common identities / values
  • Putting in place appropriate systems, structures and policies.

Internal capacity building of own staff members will continue to be an area of emphasis, especially as in this plan period, Caritas India chooses to work on several new issues.

Rights Based Approach, on which Caritas India embarked almost a decade ago, will continue to be a preferred approach, all the more so with the Government of India guaranteeing as rights, the education, employment, social security, information and perhaps soon also food and health. The challenge is to ensure that all these rights and entitlements, promised to be made available to the poor through various programs and schemes, currently suffer from red tape and bureaucracy in their delivery. It is important therefore that Caritas India, together with its partners, collaborates with the Government when necessary and also challenges if requires.

Engaging with the Government” and “convergence of efforts in development” will be essential parts of Caritas India’s approach. Caritas India will aim at working with the Government, wherever possible, jointly on its various development programs and on various committees at state and central level.

Gender mainstreaming and Environmental justice will continue to crosscut all programs and actions of the organization. Caritas India will particularly increase its emphasis on ensuring the inclusion of the excluded groups even among the poor and marginalized.

Caritas India has invested significantly in Results Based Management in the last few years and has succeeded in mainstreaming it in its work. Caritas India finds it to be a very useful perspective and approach and will continue to work with it.

Caritas India also recognizes the rising wealth and prosperity within certain sections of the society and believes it is the duty of every NGO to sensitize these sections of the community towards the plight of millions of the most marginalized in the same country. Caritas India will engage in this process of sensitization and will also seek their participation in various ways, including contribution of funds. Caritas India will work towards having clear annual fund raising targets within the country. A separate policy on local fund mobilization will be created including CSR initiatives, subject to following of ethical norms and practices by the companies. We may engage a set of volunteers who will be associated with Caritas India. This will particularly be done in south and western parts of the country. So, Local resource raising and sharing will be an important part of the strategy. The guidelines of Social development policy of Caritas India will be adhered in this process.

Caritas India will also work towards create the correct image through various means, including usage of social and traditional media. Caritas India will also develop a Communication Strategy to this effect, which will outline responsibility for communicating with various stakeholders/groups (beneficiaries, Govt., implementing partners, donors, general public etc). The communication channel normally used will be press briefing, publication, website management, advertisement etc.


Caritas India follows Results Based Management as an integral part of its program and organization management. In keeping with this approach, Caritas India will ensure a system for monitoring and evaluation of this Strategic plan. The features of this monitoring and evaluation system will be:

  • Internal staff team will be created to work on each of the stated goals and strategic objectives.
  • Key accountabilities of the plan will be evolved and indicators will be designed for the team with a time bound implementation plan
  • A review committee will be entrusted with the responsibility of conducting the review
  • Periodic Monitoring of the strategic plan, once in six months period
  • A mid-term and end term review / assessment will be carried out
  • Gaps will be identified and appropriate measures should be initiated to address the same.


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