India: The Demand of Dalit Christian Reservation needs People Movement. By Madhu Chandra
18 Nov 2006
The space between Indian haves and have-nots is becoming very fast widening year after year. This makes rich richer and poor poorer. How can India ever become developed country when millions of Indians live under poverty line?
Reservation provided in Indian constitution, although hated by general and upper caste community, does help narrowing down the space between Indian haves and have-nots. However after the episode of OBC 27% Quota in Professional Educational Institutions introduced by Union Human Resource Development Minister, Mr. Arjun Singh some time early of this year, a campaign to snatch away the reservation provision of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) began even by Supreme Court of Indian by introducing Creamy Layer propaganda. In Creamy layer proposed by Supreme Court of India, under different categorical heading, sons and daughters of whose parentsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ annually income exceed Rs One Lakh (one hundred thousand rupees) with possession of wealth limit prescribed by Indian Wealth Act for consecutive three years, will be listed in creamy layer, who although being low caste and socially look down, will not eligible to enjoy job and educational reservation.
Dalit Sikh and Buddhist Reservation after years of Discrimination
In Presidential Order list of SC/ST 1950, only the Dalit Hindu members were listed in SC/ST categories while leaving all other religions different from Hinduism. Dalit Sikh is one of the most organized SC communities in India who with political power fought back to be listed in Presidential Order. After 6 years denial of their birth and constitutional rights, Dalit Sikh got their statutory and beneficiaries of SC when Article 341 Para 3 amended in 1956 by including Dalit Sikh in the Presidential Order.
Dalit Buddhist got their birth and constitutional rights after 40 years of struggle in amendment of Article 341 Para 3 in 1990. Forty years of denial was more than enough to keep Dalit Buddhism socially economically and educationally backward. They will struggle to over come the forty years of damage done to them.
Dalit Christian Need to Learn People Power
Dalit origins converted to Christianity are denied from the SC/ST list from colonial period but their struggle to be listed under Presidential Order 1950 has been from the time India got Independent. Commissions after Commissions were setup and almost approved to include all the members of Dalits without any religions and faith.
At last the ball has been thrown at vineyard of Supreme Court of India, which has been postponing, seems like done desperately. Supreme CourtÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s direction to study the socio-economic and educational condition of Dalit Christians to National Commission for Religious and Minority (NCRL) headed by Ranganathan Misra Ã¢â‚¬" former Chief Justice of Supreme Court of India, seems only to get feed back from Saffron brigadeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rejection of Dalit Christian demand.
Religious discrimination in the country like India is very true and visible in its history. The demand for birth and constitutional rights of Dalit origins who once were entitled and enjoyed SC/ST Provision has been denied from the movement he/she changed his/her faith other than Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist.
Dr. John Dayal, Member of National Integration Council, President of All India Catholic Union and General Secretary of All India Christian Council reminded the people movement in Dalit Buddhist reservation struggle. He writes,
Lest we forget - when neo-Buddhists wanted the right of reservation in government jobs after their Conversion to Buddhism, the late P.N. Rajhbhoj, Member of Parliament from Pune went to eminent jurist Nani Palkhiwala, in his time one of the most sought after lawyers in the Supreme Court, to take up their case. He famously told the Dalit leaders "Bring 10 Lakh Dalit outside the Supreme Court when the case comes up, and I will get you your reservation back"
Today Dalit Buddhist has SC/ST status and benefits after forty years of struggle. Christian churches and leaders need to learn from them.
2006 Winter Parliament Session will be important as per as reservation either be it of Dalit Christians or SC/ST in Private sector. A Mass Protest during Parliament session on and before Supreme Court hearing of Dalit Christian reservation scheduled in April 2007 is a must needed.
Dalit Christian Reservation is much more than just Job and Educational Reservation
Being and born as a Dalit does not change his/her caste discrimination even after converting to any religion. Dalits in all religions suffer caste discrimination inside and outside of Hinduism. Demanding inclusion of Dalit Christians in SC status is much more than just job and educational reservation. It is demand of SC status and beneficiaries, which includes all constitutional provisions of SC communities.
Dalits other than the members of Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism do not have title to enjoy SC/ST Atrocity Prevention Act 1989 (Amendment 1995). Once Dalit Christians are listed in Presidential Order List 1950 by amendment of Article 341 Para 3, SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act will be applicable to the members of Dalit origins even converted to Christianity.
Dalits suffer caste discrimination and their denial to be listed in Presidential Order SC/ST List 1950 after converting to Christianity is double discrimination. Their demand to entitle SC/ST statutory and Beneficiary is their birth and constitutional rights.