Mangaluru, July 30, 2017: In the first meeting of Social & Media committee of Mangalore diocese on July 27, the convener and members with a thought of showing solidarity to the CBCI call are considering ’hakkottaya’ meeting in front of D.C.s office on 10th August and also submit a memorandum to Government. This action will be done by local parishes and others too. The CBCI commission for SC/BC is planning to have black day on 10th August urging govt to include Dalit & SC Christians in the reservation list as their counter parts in other religions enjoy the privilege.
Indian bishop wants Aug. 10 to be ‘Black Day’:
MUMBAI: A Catholic bishop in India has impressed upon the country’s bishops’ conference to observe Wednesday, August 10, as a “Black Day” in recognition of the hardships endured by the country’s Dalits and “backward classes,” meaning the “untouchables” and the underclass in Indian’s ancient caste system. Bishop Neethinathan Anthonisamy of Chinleput, India, who heads an office of the conference for Dalits and ‘backward’ classes, cited a 1950 law that offers protections for Hindu members of the underclass but not for Christians and Muslims as evidence of discrimination.
Such amendments to national law have been opposed by members of the BJP, currently in power in India, which is the political wing of the country’s powerful Hindu nationalist movement. Under India’s constitution, Hindu Dalits are entitled to affirmative action benefits, including reserved posts in all federal government jobs and admissions to government-funded universities. Dalit Christian and Muslims were denied these benefits by a 1950 presidential order, which excluded any “person who professes a religion different from Hinduism.”
The rule was amended in 1956 to include Dalit Sikhs, and in 1990 to embrace Dalit Buddhists. These are groups that still suffer from religious discrimination by the Hindu ruling class, but not to the extent of Christians and Muslims which the Hindu nationalists see as a greater threat. Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims have been observing August 10 as “Black Day” since 2010, as it is the date on which the controversial order was signed, but to date it has not been officially designated as such by the Catholic bishops’ conference.
“Meetings, rallies, demonstrations, hunger fasts, submitting memoranda, candle vigils and other forms of demonstrations can be also organized in your area to show support and solidarity to the suffering Christians of scheduled caste origin. Please make use of the media especially the social media to spread the news to the civil society.”
By most estimates, a disproportionate share of India’s Christian population, conventionally estimated at 2.3 percent of the population or roughly 28 million people, is drawn from the Dalits and the “Tribals,” meaning members of India’s indigenous peoples, who have long suffered discrimination and social exclusion. Somewhere between 60 and 75 percent of India’s Catholic population is believed to be composed of Dalits and Tribals. Many of those underclass converts have seen conversion to Christianity as a means of social emancipation, since the caste system is associated with the dominant caste groups.