18th July 2008
It is learnt that Union law minister, Mr Veerappa Moily is keen to settle this long pending issue very shortly. He is working overtime with his officials to settle the demand of Dalit Christians. Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh and UPA chairman Mrs Sonia Gandhi are also interested to see this issue settled once and for all.
After providing SC status to Dalit Christians of the country, they would be entitled for all the benefits reserved for schedule caste people.
Sources say that Moily has recently assured the delegation of National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC) that the UPA government would not take much time to provide SC status to Dalit Christians. Welcoming the decision of government, eminent Christian scholar and writer RV Smith said that in villages Dalits Christians are still not allowed into some areas where the upper caste population lives. They are offered menial labour, and most of the time not paid for it. At tea shops there are separate utensils for us just like for Hindu Dalits.
Statistics show that more than 70% of the Christians in India are Dalits. When Christian missionaries began their work in India in the decades before Independence, their promise of equal treatment and opportunity for all castes became the prime reason for Dalits – who find themselves at the socio-economic lowest rung of Hinduism’s hierarchy – to embrace the missionary message. But as is now well documented, conversion offered no escape from caste prejudices.