Indien: Maya John Ingty

Being a respected member of the church does not constrain Maya from critiquing its regressive positions and pushing for its greater involvement with social, often secular, issues.

— Maya John Ingty

Maya John Ingty (born 1932) plays a unique role in the northeast, bringing together powerful Christian and secular organizations to work for peace. She is strongly driven by her conviction that working for social justice issues should not be determined by caste, creed, or religious persuasions. She also mobilizes the youth and women-through group discussions, skill-building, and alternative ideas for sustainable development for women-toward education and employment as a means of drawing people away from the pervasive culture of the gun.

Maya John Ingty, the first woman from the Karbi tribe to complete a masters degree, has been involved in social activities from her college days. Her appointment as an upper-level bureaucrat left her unsatisfied: she needed to be engaged with grassroots activities. In 1958, she quit her government job and joined the Union Christian College, where she mobilized a group of women and formed a women's association which conducted health programs, and started a primary school in the village. Maya, who has been involved with people who work in conflict situations, is well-known in the region, and is often sought out for counseling. Her genuine warmth and outgoing personality make it easy for her to connect with people. She is also a respected member of the church, but that does not stop her from critiquing the church's regressive positions. Maya has been instrumental in pushing for greater commitment to social issues by the church, and involvement with other secular and non-Christian peace organizations. As secretary of the Diocesan Board for Participatory Development, she has undertaken programs to help young people develop self-employment skills, which she believes will lead them away from the gun culture. Maya has also been active in ecological and conservation programs. It was through her initiative that vermicomposting training was imparted in Tinsukia (Upper Assam) as part of an ecofriendly waste control program. Since then, many young people, trained in this process, have taken up organic farming. With no skillset, and often without the support of a forum, Maya has been working single-mindedly with the marginalized in the villages since 1956.

Diocesan Board for Participatory Development Interdenominational Christian Women's Forum Northeast Christian Council Women's Assembly