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Caritas urged to combat 'intellectual poverty'
    In addition to material impoverishment, Caritas India has been urged by a state official to help ease India's 'intellectual poverty'.
    In an opening address last Wednesday to the group's second national assembly, Justice Michael F. Saldanha of the High Court of the southern state of Karnataka urged those present 'to reorient efforts and action plan to eradicate not only the physical poverty but also the intellectual poverty in the country'.
    Saldanha said he committed to education as a means of development, convinced that it will transform the children, who in turn will transform society.
    He said: "Poverty is the greatest pollutant, both physical and intellectual."
    The three-day assembly in Bangalore, attended by 250 participants, reflected on the topic, "Faces of Poverty at the Turn of the Century," and evaluated ways that poverty has been addressed in the past, as well as action for the future.
    Father Ivan Joseph, Caritas executive director, said that Caritas is committed to the humanisation of the nation-building process. "Strengthening the panchayati [village self-rule] system should be part of our animation programs and capacity-building," he said.
    He told the media that Caritas programs benefited all groups of marginalised people. "Approximately 85% of the beneficiaries are from the mainstream Hindu as well as Muslim communities," he said.