Church of South India (CSI)
Today, the CSI is the largest Protestant church in India with almost four million members in 22 church dioceses and 15,000 parishes. It is therefore one of the largest Protestant churches in Asia. The CSI maintains kindergartens, schools, colleges and hospitals. The church's territory covers the large area of the five southernmost Indian federal states of Karanatka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telungana and Andhra Pradesh.
The ties between the EMS and the Church of South India (CSI) have their roots in the work of the Basel Mission in India. Both the CSI and also the Basel Mission are founder members of the EMS. The CSI is a uniated church combining Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist and Anglican traditions. The parishes that sprang up from the work of the Basel Mission, which had been active in India since 1834, have joined the CSI one after the other.
One focus of CSI work is overcoming the caste barriers and promoting women and girls. The church would like to play a mediatory role in the wide diversity of peoples and religions in India. Besides the Church of South India, the EMS works together with the Churches' Council for Child and Youth Care (CCCYC) and theological colleges.
Christianity in India
India is a secular state which guarantees freedom of religion. Today, around 80 percent of all Indians are Hindus, 13 percent Muslims, 2.4 percent Christians (mainly Catholics), 1.1 percent Sikhs, 0.7 percent Buddhists and 0.5 percent Jains. Despite the economic upswing of the last few years, there are still enormous opposites between rich and poor in India. In some cases, they have even become worse.
The church in India is small in figures and its members are mainly Dalit (formerly known as the "Untouchables"). Despite its institutional strength which goes back to a missionary movement, it is relatively socio-politically and economically weak. The 2.4 percent of Christians living in the country are extremely scattered.