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Challenges Faced By Dalit Christians UPSC NOTE


Dalit Christians

  • The term Dalit Christian or Christian Dalit is used to describe those who have converted to Christianity mainly from Hindu Dalits.

  • It was to escape the horror of discrimination that millions of Hindu Dalits converted to more egalitarian religions including Christianity, in the hope of escaping the clutches of casteism and experiencing the equality promised by such religions.

Challenges Faced By Dalit Christians

  • They are subjected to structural intersectional discrimination, thereby experiencing exclusion by society, the church and the state.

  • The term ‘Dalit Christian’ cannot be understood as a mere addition of two words but rather as a distinctive category, as this intersection is a unique hybrid creation of multiple social identities.

  • The disabilities of Dalit Christians continue after conversion and the state views them as just ‘Christians’, eventually pushing them into an ‘intersectional invisibility’.

Need for their inclusion in the Scheduled Caste (SC) category

  • In 2022 the Union Government constituted a commission, headed by the former Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, to study the possibility of granting Scheduled Caste (SC) status to Dalit Christians. 

  • Recently, a resolution was adopted by the Tamil Nadu Assembly to amend the 1950 Presidential (SC) order in this regard. 

  • The Justice Ranganath Misra Commission (2007) recommended ‘permitting Dalits who converted to Christianity to avail of reservation benefits under the SC quota’. 

  • The findings arrived at by Deshpande and Bapna (2008) appointed by the National Commission of Minorities, stated that ‘there is no compelling evidence to justify denying them of SC status’.

  • In the Soosai Etc vs Union Of India And Others case (1985), Soosai, a Dalit Catholic shoemaker, moved the Supreme Court of India for an extension in setting up a kiosk on a platform in Madras, provided by the State government, so that he was on a par with Hindu shoemakers.

  • The Court dismissed the case, stating that ‘It is necessary to establish further that the disabilities and handicaps suffered from such caste membership in the social order of its origin Hinduism — continue in their oppressive severity in the new environment of a different religions community’. 

  • This means that the ‘Dalitness’ of Soosai was completely ignored on the use of ‘single-axis frame work’ approach.

  • Ashish Nandy argues that the Constitution of India subscribes to the idea that caste-based discrimination exists in Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism and extends benefits to its Dalits, but excludes Dalit Christians on the basis of an assumption that Christianity is of ‘foreign import’, making their very democratic citizenship questionable.

  • Thus, the ‘single-axis’ communal framework of the law has resulted in the failure of Dalit Christians being included in the SC list, because of the unwillingness of the state, in spite of much evidence in their favour. 

  • A way forward lies in the amendment of the 1950 Presidential (SC) order to include Dalit Christians in the SC list.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Challenges Faced By Dalit Christians UPSC NOTE
Challenges Faced By Dalit Christians UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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