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Dalit Liberation Sunday 2018

Respected Ecumenical Leaders,

Warm greetings from NCCI – Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns

Dalit Liberation Sunday has become an important feature in the calendar of Indian Churches and Ecumenical movements. Over the years, there has been a positive response in sensitizing the local congregations towards concerns of Dalits, for no longer caste issue is visualized as a sociological issue or an issue outside the purview of church but more seen as an issue challenging the core of our faith and gospel. Dalit Liberation Sunday is a joint programme of National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (CBCI), aiming at the empowerment of the local congregations for Dalit liberation. Thanks to the enormous support received from across the churches, dioceses, parishes and theological institutions in celebrating this special Sunday.

The theme for this year’s Dalit Liberation Sunday is “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). We take this opportunity to invite you to observe Dalit Liberation Sunday on 11th November 2018 in your church/local parish/institution in a creative way and rededicate our commitment to the Gospel by accompanying the unaccompanied. However, if you already have some programme on 11th November 2018, you may think of celebrating this Special day on later Sundays.

You can download the POSTER (.jpg Hi-Res 6.70 mb | .jpg Lo-Res 537 kb) and special ORDER OF WORSHIP SERVICE (.pdf HI-RES 18 mb  | .pdf MED-RES 12.5 mb  | .pdf LO-RES 2.77 mb) for the day. You may take the freedom to use the entire worship order and translate it in your vernacular language or adapt parts of it.

We would appreciate if you send a brief report along with a few photographs of the observance to the undersigned. Let us join to observe Dalit Liberation Sunday on 11th November 2018.

Thanking you in anticipation.

With regards,

In Christ,

Pradip Bansrior,
Executive Secretary,
Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns.
National Council of Churches in India.

 

DOWNLOADS (Right-click and “Save link as…”):

  1. POSTER (.jpg Hi-Res 6.70 mb | .jpg Lo-Res 537 kb)
  2. ORDER OF WORSHIP SERVICE (.pdf HI-RES 18 mb  | .pdf MED-RES 12.5 mb  | .pdf LO-RES 2.77 mb)

‘Day of Mourning’ on 10th August 2018

The National Council of Churches in India – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns observed the Day of Mourning on 10th of August 2018 as a protest against the infamous Presidential Order 1950 (August 10th) Paragraph 3, which excludes Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians from the Scheduled Caste (SC) status, and the related affirmative action benefits of the Government.

Thus the Day of Mourning was a time to express  solidarity with the struggles and problems of  Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians in  contemporary India where they are deprived of their rights.  On this day the NCCI staff gathered on the lawn of the NCCI premises, displaying posters expressing their protest. This act was not only an expression of mourning  but also an urgent appeal to the authorities to repeal the unconstitutional law that violates the rights of the ones who are genuinely in need of it. A short speech was delivered by Mr. Saurabh Khobragade, NCCI Intern of Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns, regarding the significance of the protest.  He not only cited the infamous Presidential Order that was signed on 10th August 1950, but also emphasized how concerned people should  respond in times like this – to be critical  about the unjust ways of the authorities, to relate justly and responsibly  with our neighbours in society, and to be responsible citizens and  stewards in the service  of God. The observance of the Day of Mourning  concluded with a word of prayer remembering the suffering of  marginalized people, and seeking  God’s  intervention in the struggles for justice and inclusivity in the society and country at large.

 

Tribal and Adivasi Sunday 2018 Report from Different Churches and Theological Colleges

Report from  Bishop’s College, Kolkata

The community of Bishop’s College, Kolkata, observed Tribal/Adivasi Sunday on August 5, 2018. The leader of the worship Rev. Priscilla Papiya Durairaj led the worship service following the order of worship provided by NCCI, Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns with certain modifications. Among the few modifications were lighting of lamps by different members of the community to invoke the divine presence; an adivasi dance procession of different tribal/advasi groups from the community at the beginning of the service to celebrate jal, jungle and jameen. This was followed by the bringing of water, plants and earth at the altar, as symbols of thanksgiving for God’s gift to us. The sermon focused on the selected verse from the theme Leviticus 25:23 and highlighted certain facts about water, land and forest considering them as the natural gifts to us from God and hence these have to be preserved instead of exploiting them. The sermon highlighted the significance of honoring and protecting the natural resources which are explained in the Bible particularly in the gospels and the specific use of parables having  natural imageries. The sermon emphasized the vulnerable condition of and struggles faced by the tribal and adivasi communities and the responsibility of church and faith community towards caring for these communities and also caring for the gifts given by God.  There were two special songs sung by the student community, apart from the two songs in the order of worship. The service concluded with the benediction, followed by an Adivasi dance in which the congregation also participated, dancing and going out to affirm and celebrate Jal, Jungle and Jameen once again. Read more

Report of the Consultation on “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices” (July 24 – 26, 2018 | CSI Centre, Chennai)

The Church cannot be dumbfound towards the precarious issues faced by Dalits, Tribals and Adivasis as they have been ostracized from the historical accounts by the dominant historians and writers of ancient Indian history. The need of the hour therefore, in  contemporary times, is to listen to the people from the margins, about their struggles […]

Appeal to observe AUGUST 10th as “Day of Mourning”

 

August 2, 2018

Warm greetings from NCCI – Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns!

National Council of Churches in India – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns and Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India – Office for SC/BC jointly appeal to the Churches and organisations to actively participate in observing ‘Day of Mourning’ on 10th August to raise our protest regarding the continual negligence of the government to the cry for the rights of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the country.

This year we will use the term “Day of Mourning” instead of ‘Black Day’.  The concept of “Black v/s Fair” comes from the Brahminical mind-set that ‘black is ugly and fair is beautiful’. On the other hand, the Black people and the Dalits hail the colour and the word “Black”, and say “Black is Beautiful”. Hence, when we use the phrase Black Day for August 10th, we are assimilating and accepting the concept that Black is negative, ugly and sad.

The infamous Presidential (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950 was signed on 10th August 1950 by the then President of India. It says “No person who professes a religion other than Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the scheduled caste” which was later amended to include Sikhs (1956) and Buddhists (1990) in the Scheduled Caste net. But this law, as we are all aware of, keeps the Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians from the Scheduled Castes list.

We request you to kindly observe ‘Day of Mourning’ on August 10th by organising protest meetings/ rallies/ demonstrations/ hunger fasts/ submitting memoranda/ candle vigils/ special prayers, and other appropriate programmes in your church/institution to express our solidarity with the suffering Christians and Muslims of Scheduled caste origin.

We would appreciate if you send couple of photos and a brief report of the observance to the undersigned.

Thanking you in anticipation,

With regards,

In Christ,

Pradip Bansrior
Executive Secretary,
Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns,
National Council of Churches in India.

Email: dataconcerns@ncci1914.com

 

Statement of the Consultation for Church Leaders of the Southern Region on “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices”

National Council of Churches in India – Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns

Statement of the Consultation for Church Leaders of the Southern Region on “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices”

In partnership with EMW Germany, Christian Service Agency and Church of South India | held from 24 – 26 July 2018 at CSI Centre, Royapettah, Chennai (TN)

 

S T A T E M E N T

 

We, 46 delegates from the Member Churches, Regional Councils and All India Christian Organisations of National Council Churches in India met at the Consultation for the Church Leaders of the Southern Regions of India in partnership with Evangelisches Missionswerk in Deutschland (EMW Germany), Christian Service Agency (CSA) and Church of South India (CSI) from 24th -26th July 2018 at CSI Centre, Royapettah, Chennai on the theme: “Prophetic Role of Church Leaders in the midst of Injustices” with the following objectives:

  1. To re-read the Bible from Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi perspectives.
  2. To bring contextual awareness of Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi issues, and the imperative importance of Liberation, Equality, Justice and their Rights
  3. To motivate the church/congregation to participate actively in the struggles of oppressed and marginalized people
  4. To encourage the member churches of the NCCI to bring out educational policy guidelines from predominantly Dalit and Adivasi perspectives, which could be used by the institutions of the Churches. This education policy will help the excluded Dalit and Adivasi students to obtain more space.
  5. To make an assessment of the Church’s position and response to the current political situation in the country
  6. To struggle for participation space of Dalits and Tribals/ Adivasis in the decision making process of the Church and Society

And through various deliberations we realise and condemn: Read more

NCCI Tribal and Adivasi Sunday 2018

Respected Ecumenical Leaders,

Greetings from NCCI- Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns!

Tribal and Adivasi Sunday has been celebrated in many parts of our country in sensitizing the local congregation on Tribal and Adivasi Concerns. Thanks to the enormous support we have received from across the churches, dioceses, parishes and institutions in celebrating this special Sunday. This year also we are inviting you to celebrate the Tribal and Adivasi Sunday on 5th August 2018 in your churches/local parishes/institutions.

Read more

NCCI condemns act of labelling candidates for constable post as SC/ST/ OBC on their chests

Pic Source: zeenews.india.com

Despite the right to non-discrimination on the basis of race or caste enshrined in Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, discrimination against SCs and STs is pervasive. Markings of “SC” for scheduled caste, “ST” for scheduled tribe, “O” for OBC (other backward class) and “G” for General, of candidates for the post of constable on their chests in a bid to identify their castes during their medical examination in Dhar district of BJP ruled state, Madhya Pradesh, is not only a violation of human rights but also a criminal offence under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

Read more

A Brief Report on Colloquium on Reclaiming the Constitutional and Democratic Rights

Colloquium on Reclaiming the Constitutional and Democratic Rights

Jointly organized by India Peace Center, Diocese of Chhattisgarh – CNI and NCCI- Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns

17th April 2018, Gass Memorial Hall, Raipur (Chhattisgarh)

The issue of rising communal unrest in the country and the steady penetration of the Right wing hindutva ideologies have paved an extremely narrow path for the minority groups and oppressed communities especially SC/ST’s in the country by withholding their fundamental rights in the recent times which created a great imbalance in the economic and social forms. The responsibility of the Christian communities and other faith communities is therefore to be united and to strive against the fascist forces and to rule out such ideologies which can disrupt and damage the peace and harmony of the country which is yet again a threat to the democratic values of any country and its people (citizens) as a whole.

To mark the 127th birth anniversary of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, on 17th April 2018, a Colloquium on Reclaiming the Constitutional and Democratic Rights was held at Gass Memorial Centre, Raipur, Chhattisgarh jointly organized by the India Peace Center, NCCI- Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns and Diocese of Chhattisgarh, CNI. The colloquium witnessed a participation of 50 delegates representing different Churches, Denominations and organizations as well as nine Resource Persons. The colloquium was meant to highlight the issue of reclaiming the Constitutional and Democratic Rights and also to address the growing fascism and communal activities spread by Hindutva and Right wing forces in India.

A series of sessions taken by the resource persons on the topic highlighted the various issues happening in the country and what could be the possibilities and approaches to be taken by the Christian communities in order to address them.

The introduction of the colloquium was given by Mr. Kasta Dip, Director of India Peace Centre (IPC) highlighting the various ways the present government and Right wing groups are trying to disrupt the peace and harmony of India by tampering the Indian Constitution and by bringing various changes to the laws and rights which the Dalit and the Tribal communities hold by downsizing their right to file the complaints about the atrocities done on them. Mr. Kasta Dip gave example of the murder of the late journalist Ms. Gauri Lankesh and emphasized that Christian communities should voice out the atrocities and violence committed on people from different faith groups and not only for their own Christian brethren.

Rt. Rev. Robert Ali, Bishop of Diocese of Chhattisgarh – CNI welcomed the august gathering on behalf of Diocese of Chhattisgarh and gave  a short reflection from Bible and spoke on various ways how Bible highlights the different voices of the oppressed people and identify like Jesus Christ and following the path and his teachings.

The Keynote address was delivered by Prof. Dr. Yugal Rayulu, Professor at Dharampeth Science College, highlighted the present situation of the Indian judiciary and the attack on the Constitution. Dr. Rayalu also vehemently criticized the actions taken by the present government towards attacking the rights of the SC/ST communities and following and propagating a dictatorship ruled ideology against the democratic rule in the country.

 Professor Dr. Vikas Jambulkar, Professor at Rashtriya Santh Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University (RTMNU), highlighted the various egalitarian qualities which Buddhism and Christianity professes. Dr. Jambulkar stressed on the democratic principle which the Indian Constitution holds and provides equal opportunities to both men and women. Dr. Jambulkar also highlighted the issues of moral policing done by the present government with regards to changing the eating habits and bringing pseudo-scientific discoveries in the colour of religious belief system.

Mr. Arun Panalal from United Christian Forum of Chhattisgarh, an activist based and working in the regions of Chhattisgarh especially in Raipur stressed on the importance of the Preamble and the Indian Constitution and raised the issue of knowing and be through with the fundamental rights which a Christian has. Mr. Panalal also encouraged the Christian leaders to give importance to the politics and its principles and to teach and incorporate at different levels in the churches as well as in Christian institutions especially among the youths and upcoming generations.

Advocate Rajendra Sail, highlighted the significance of the constitution and bringing people towards the understanding of becoming ‘Republic’ and “Re-peopled the De-peopled people.” Adv. Sail also stressed and talked about the minority rights and religious freedom which is been tampered and drastically changed by the influence of the Hindutva forces. Adv. Sail also spoke about the slow penetrating fascist and communal ideologies which are spreading in the country by the Right wing groups and Hindutva forces by the present government.

Mr. Akhilesh Edgar from ADF, spoke on the rising tide of the communal tension in the state of Chhattisgarh and different parts of the country. Mr. Akhilesh Edgar also in his session highlighted that there should be effective steps taken in order to preserve the Indian constitution and the rights of the SC/ST communities in the country from any kind of damage done on it and to claim the identity of the people as an integral part of country.

Mr. Pradip Bansrior, Executive Secretary – Dalit and Tribal/Adivasi Concerns from NCCI stressed on Supreme Court’s ruling on dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and how the right wings in the country are making efforts and changes in manipulating and dismantling the historical accounts and bringing their own narratives in the historical accounts by tampering them. He also highlighted the articles 15, 16 and 17 of our Indian constitution

The concluding message was given by Rev. Dr. Atul Arthur, Secretary of Chhattisgarh Diocese, CNI. He encouraged the delegates to be united and strive to protect the Constitutional and Democratic Rights which in the contemporary times are at the risk of getting ruled out by the present invisible Right wing forces and Hindutva groups lead by the support of present government which aims to spread in the fascist ideology in the Indian masses which is a threat to an egalitarian based Constitution and Democratic society.

The colloquium highlighted the key points towards reclaiming the Constitutional and Democratic Rights in India.

  • To encourage the Christian communities of the state of Chhattisgarh to rise against the ideologies of Fascism and Dictatorship rule.
  • To encourage and teach the democratic values of Indian constitution in the Church and especially to the young people studying in the Christian institutions.
  • To promote an egalitarian ideology in the church and community setup and to stand united instead of being divided in different denominational and doctrinal differences.
  • To follow the path showed by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar towards making a democratic front and an egalitarian community.

The colloquium concluded with a vote of thanks offered by Mr. Kasta Dip followed by the closing prayer and benediction pronounced by Bishop, Rt. Rev. Robert Ali.

Submitted by:

Mr. Saurabh Khobragade

Intern- DATA Concerns, NCCI

For our Prayerful Commitment to the Cause of Justice in Secular Democratic India

As we are all aware, members of vulnerable communities in India organized mass protests on 2nd April 2018 against a Supreme Court ruling, which activists say will likely dilute a stringent law that was enacted to address atrocities against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, the rate of crimes against Dalits, who number more than 200 million, has risen in recent years. Reuters News Agency reports that Government data shows that by the end of 2016, about 90 percent of roughly 145,000 cases involving Dalits were still awaiting trial. Government data also shows that less than a tenth of the cases brought by Dalits in 2016 were proven to be false. In a democracy the people, who are weak, are protected by the law; the courts work for them. Hence the concern and campaign of the vulnerable sections of society for justice that assures them of protection of their lives, land and livelihood.

Dalits who constitute 16.63 percent and Tribals who constitute 8.6 percent of the Indian population, are a social minority. Dalits and Tribals/Adivasis have realized that arrests under the ST/SC (Prevention of Atrocities) Act have worked as a great deterrent.

The key features of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015, (http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=135764) are:

  • New offences of atrocities like tonsuring of head, moustache, or similar acts which are derogatory to the dignity of members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, garlanding with chappals, denying access to irrigation facilities or forest rights , dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or to dig graves, using or permitting manual scavenging, dedicating a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe women as devadasi, abusing in caste name, perpetrating witchcraft atrocities, imposing social or economic boycott, preventing Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates from filing of nomination to contest elections, hurting a Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes woman by removing her garments, forcing a member of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe to leave house , village or residence, defiling objects sacred to members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe, touching or using words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature against members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe.
  • Addition of certain IPC offences like hurt, grievous hurt, intimidation, kidnapping etc., attracting less than ten years of imprisonment, committed against members of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, as offences punishable under the PoA Act. Presently, only those offences listed in IPC as attracting punishment of 10 years or more and committed on members of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe are accepted as offences falling under the PoA Act.
  • Establishment of Exclusive Special Courts and specification of Exclusive Special Public Prosecutors also, to exclusively try the offences under the PoA Act to enable speedy and expeditious disposal of cases.
  • Power of Special Courts and Exclusive Special Courts, to take direct cognizance of offence and as far as possible, completion of trial of the case within two months, from the date of filing of the charge sheet.
  • Addition of chapter on the ‘Rights of Victims and Witnesses’.
  • Defining clearly the term ‘wilful negligence’ of public servants at all levels, starting from the registration of complaint, and covering aspects of dereliction of duty under this Act.
  • Addition of presumption to the offences – If the accused was acquainted with the victim or his family, the court will presume that the accused was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim unless proved otherwise.

SC/ST people, who are most vulnerable on account of corruption, criminalization and communal grounds, are threatened, victimized and pressurized by unsocial elements. Therefore, the ruling of the Supreme Court on March 20, 2018 which does away with immediate arrests gives rise to the apprehensions of the vulnerable minorities that perpetrators of violence will get away without being immediately taken to task for their criminal acts.. Hence the importance and urgency of protection and immediate action against the perpetrators of atrocities on them.

The State with all its mechanisms and the Society have to ensure that vulnerable communities are granted due protection against atrocities and that the injustices of the caste system are rooted out.

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
General Secretary,
National Council of Churches in India.
Mr. Pradip Bansrior
Executive Secretary
Dalit and Tribal / Adivasi Concerns, NCCI.

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