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  • Govt opposed to Dalit status for converts

    NEW DELHI: The Centre believes that granting dalit status to converts from Islam and Christianity would encourage religious conversions, coming out against the demand that the list of Scheduled Castes be opened up beyond Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. 

    Union social justice minister Thavar Chand Gehlot told TOI, "Allowing SC status to converts would provide a fillip to religious conversions. The demand is not constitutional and we want to work within the parameters of the statute for the welfare of these communities." 

    The unequivocal stance indicates that the Centre may oppose the demand of dalit Christians in the Supreme Court. The issue has been hanging fire as the UPA government, in its affidavit, continuously dragged its feet in the Court.

    The call for extension of dalit status to Christianity and Islam is a sensitive subject that has resulted in divisions among social groups. While the dalit converts have long complained that stigma of caste-system exists in their new religions and they be clubbed with SCs, a section of existing dalits oppose it out of the fear that new members to the SC list would add more claimants for benefits like job reservations and cut into their share. 

    Groups like Sangh Parivar apprehend if dalit status is opened to practitioners of Christianity and Islam, there would be nothing to stop dalits from changing faith. The ineligibility for welfare benefits is seen as a check against conversion.

    Speaking to TOI, Gehlot argued that opening the SC list would bring new claimants for benefits available to existing dalits. "It will encroach upon the facilities of SCs," he said. On the other hand, he claimed the dalit converts are availing facilities extended to (backward) Christians and Muslims. "Now, if they get SC status, they will be eligible for dual benefits," he added. 

    According to the minister, the demand was unjustified because dalit-converts left the Hindu fold to escape the scourge of untouchability. "They converted to other religions because untouchability did not exist there. The conversion has solved the problems they faced as Hindus. So, they should not ask for SC status," he argued. 

    Coming out strongly against the campaign of dalit converts, the Union minister said the subject was debated in detail in the Constituent Assembly and has also been examined by government and the Supreme Court in the past. "They did not support it then and it should not be done now," he insisted. 

    Refusing to spell out the stand the government may take in the apex court, Gehlot said, "I am not aware of the affidavit the law ministry would file. But we are against opening dalit status to converts."


  • Need of formation of National Diversity Movement

    New Delhi: Bahujan Diversity Mission has launched a nation-wide movement to ensure representation to Scheduled castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in private sectors.  9th Diversity Day celebrated at Indian Social Institute, while addressing the delegates from across the country National President of the Mission Shri H.L. Dusadh stressed upon the need of formation of a broader alliance small groups working in every state to achieve the goal.


    Since Constitutional reservations given by Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to these communities in government sectors have been shrinking due to rapidly growing privatization, therefore, we should force the Union government to introduce a Bill in Parliament to ensure reservation in private sectors. This will not be possible until SC/ST is united at national level.


    Dalit Christian leader and columnist R.L. Francis said that globalization has promoted private sectors. The Union government is not keen for the creation of jobs in government sectors; consequently, job opportunity in government is shrinking day by day. In the given situation Dalit-Adivasis have no future if they are not going to confront with the government to implement diversity in private sectors.


    Francis also raised the point as to how Churches of India have denied representation to Dalits in church controlled institutions. He strongly opposed the demand of Dalit Christians should be included Hindu SC list. He further elaborated that Church is the richest institution having second largest economy after government of India. There are more than 45,000 institutions run by the Churches in India but none of them willing to give representation to Dalits. He forcefully argued Church must ensure Dalit representation as well as adopt diversity as soon as possible. 


    Dr. Mahendra Pratap Rana, activist and thinker raised the issue of dual slavery carried out by elected representatives in Lok Sabha, State Assembles and even lower level. There are 131 MPs in Lok Sabha belonging to SC/ST, out of this figure; SC numbers is 84 and ST 47 respectively. SC and ST candidates are given tickets according to the Articles 330 and 332 of the Indian constitution. Therefore, constitutionally, the elected members constitute a separate group. However, they are not recognized as a separate group in the house. SC/ST candidates elected on a symbol of any particular political party are counted the member of that political party.


    When it comes to voting in the house, they have to vote on party line despite all disagreements, they are tied with party whip. Defying the whip means losing membership. Whip and party affiliation both is political gimmick to keep SC/ST elected members divide. This is against the spirit of Articles 330 and 332 of the Indian Constitution. Since they are elected under the special provision (Reservation) of the Indian Constitution, therefore, party constitution and party whip should not be binding on them. They should not be controlled by party constitution and party whip. The dual slavery of SC and ST elected candidates will not end till they are not liberated from party line and party whip. The SC and ST elected members for Lok Sabha and Assemblies should be recognized a separate group and must be allotted seats at one place.


    Dr. Udit Raj, M.P. Lok Sabha Chief Guest endorsed the proposal of formation of a national level organization and assured to extend all possible support. Vijayendra Kumar Singh, editor-Dainik Swaraj Newspaper said that Dalits have been pushed behind socially, educationally and economically. Justice can be accorded to them only when diversity is implemented in India. Mr. Sudesh Tanwar called entire Dalit community to get united if they really want their due share and this could be achieved only through diversity. Prof. (Ms.) Hemlata Mahiswar, Sheel Bodhi and many others share their views and supported the resolution moved in the end of the programme.    


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