NCCI Webinar on Dalit Christians: 70 years of discrimination based on religion

NCCI Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns

Tuesday, 4 August 2020 at 02.30pm – 04.00pm (IST)

Dalit Christians had launched agitations since 1950s towards the Union Government demanding the amendment of the Constitutional (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950, which excludes the Dalit Christians from enjoying the benefits of the Scheduled Castes. The main reason for including only castes professing Hindu religion in the Scheduled Caste list was directly linked to the practice of untouchability. The criteria suggested by the then Census Commissioner were used to identify the castes to be listed under the Schedules created by the Government of India Act 1935. The Government of India Scheduled Caste Order 1936 was issued under this Act. Paragraph 3 of this Order provides that “No Indian Christian shall be deemed to be a member of Scheduled Caste”. In the year 1950, the President of India issued the “ Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950” specifying the castes to be recognised as the Scheduled Castes by exercising the authority conferred on him under article 341 (1) of the Constitution of India. The third paragraph of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950, popularly known as the Presidential Order, stipulates that “no person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of Scheduled Caste”. This Order violates the spirit of many articles of our Constitution such as article 15 that mentions equal treatment of all citizens and article 25 that affirm the freedom of religion.

Approximately 70% of the Christian population in India are from Scheduled caste backgrounds. Dalit Christians have a unique history of faith experiences because of the caste identity. Dalits embraced Christianity as a faith affirmation against caste slavery and these experiences vary according to regional contexts. Dalits continue to be excluded, discriminated, and dehumanized even after India became an independent democratic nation. Dalits are the victims of multiple social and religious discriminations and are kept as untouchables, polluted, and forced to do the traditional, menial, and unclean occupations. The struggle for being constitutionally recognized as Christians of Scheduled Caste Origin has not been materialized. NCCI made several representations since 1950 to the Government and these have included Presentation of Memorandum to the President, Prime Minister, and advocating for the Dalit Christians with Members of Parliament. In 2004 a writ petition (180/2004) was filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation Challenging the Presidential (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950. This case is still pending in the Supreme Court due to the delay of the Union Government of India to give a reply to the Court inspite of the assurance given in 2008 to the Court that they would give a reply within eight weeks! In 2013, NCCI has filed an impleading application in the Supreme Court of India as the Civil Writ petition (180/2004) is pending before the Hon’ble Court. The case has been posted for hearing from October 2019 onwards. The 70 years of struggle for justice has to be supported by the people who believe in equality and democracy.

A panel of distinguished speakers, listed below, will draw our attention to the struggle of a seventy years and it’s current stage, how successive governments have failed us, the socio-political fallout of this discrimination, and the challenging way ahead..

Ms. Tehmina Arora  – Director, ADF India
Rev. Dr. Cosmon Arokiaraj – Director, St. Peter’s Arts and Science College, Andimadam, Tamil Nadu,
Rev. Sunil Raj Philip – Director, CSI Synod Dept. of Communication and Department of Dalit and Adivasi Concerns

 The Webinar will be facilitated by Mr. Pradip Bansrior and Mr. Shibi Peter.

Please do join us in virtual meeting on Zoom platform and encourage others to join. The Zoom link, ID and Password are mentioned below.

Click here for Zoom Link 

 Meeting ID: 967 4542 3418

 Password: 905018

 For any queries please contact:  dataconcerns@ncci1914.com

Sincerely,

Pradip Bansrior
Executive Secretary
Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns, NCCI

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