Anto Akkara

The Rev. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the WCC, the world largest inter-Christian grouping on 14 February, addressed 200 young people in the south of the world's second most populous nation.

"We are well aware that the younger people are the target of the media," said Kobia in a speech during a nine-day visit to India. "Unless something drastic is done now, the church will lose a whole generation of leadership."

Kobia urged the Christian youth to be a "facilitating movement to revitalise the ecumenical movement", while speaking at the headquarters of the Student Christian. Movement of India in Bangalore. "Without a strong involvement of youth and students in the church, the ecumenical movement will have no future."

During his visit to the student centre, Kobia unveiled a foundation stone for a Dalit women's resource centre to be set up at the student movement headquarters. While there, he paid tribute to Ruth Manorama, the winner of the Right Livelihood award for 2005. She was the first 'Dalit' woman to win the award known as the alternate Nobel prize, for her work on the rights of marginalised women. Dalit, meaning 'trampled upon in Sanskrit, refers to the low castes treated as untouchables in India's still caste afflicted society.

Kobia, who is visiting India on the 60h anniversary of its independence from Britain, said: "In this post-colonial era, can we really say that the relations of domination are behind us? Both church and society are facing trends similar to those of colonisation when the influences of neoliberal globalisation are imposed and exploit those already most vulnerable."

The WCC head, a Kenyan Methodist, said. "In addition to economic globalisation, cultural globalisation continues to affect the identities … of young people around the world." He added, "We must call into question the dominant and Western popular cultures that are exported to all parts of the world through consumer products, media and entertainment."

The globalisation of communication and information media "leads to control and oppression of global conscientiousness", said Kobia. He noted, "Controlled information means controlled mentality. Millions of people are told what to think and not how to think. This is leading to a global culture in so far as information and entertainment are concerned. It has been appropriately dubbed 'infotainment'."

This provided a challenge to churches and Kobia asserted: "A countervailing power is essential if we are to combat the cultural power of communications overloads."

ENI