Dalit Christians will be empowered: Odisha Bishops
By: Puroshottam Nayak
Bhubaneswar : An Ethical Imperative of Odisha Catholic Bishops’ Council (OCBC) with about 80 participants of both men and women religious provincials, vice-provincials, delegates of the provincials, major superiors, religious leaders of different congregations, vicar-generals, Commission Secretaries, stakeholders working in Odisha gathered on April 4, 2018 in Xavier Management Institute, Bhubaneswar.
Msgr Aplinar Senapati, CM, Bishop of Rayagada prayed before the session. The very objective of this seminar was to relook the discussed points on discriminations faced by Dalits in various spheres in their day-to-day lives especially within the church held in KJM, Sambalpur and prepare strategic action plan to make Dalit Policy practical in Diocese level, Parish level as well as at grassroots level in the state of Odisha.
Dr. Vincent Manoharan convenor, National Dalit Christian Watch, New Delhi and Fr. Dr. A. Selvam, Director of Indian Social Institute, Bangalore, who have been working on the issue especially to address the discriminations faced by dalits in every part of the state and nation through dalit policy joined as resource persons and brought about conceptual clarity among participants for the need for dalit policy in the diocese level.“The CBCI policy for Dalit Empowerment strives to ensure that all sections of society equally feel the call to enjoy the love, mercy and compassion of the creator who has made all of us in His own image and likeness,” said Resource person Dr. A. Selvam in his session on CBCI Dalit Policy and its Objectives.
“Let us work jointly for the empowerment of dalits and tribals in the state as the Christian minority is attacked, Mother Mary staue is beheaded and Church is vandalized in Rourkella recently,” urges Msgr. John Barwa, the Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar .“Our commitment and dedication to work together in a transparent way can bring great change and empowerment of dalit Christians in the state,” said Msgr. Sarat Chandra Nayak, Bishop of Berhampur, Odisha , National Chairperson for SC/BC (CBCI).
. “Let us begin with mission of Jesus. The spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” asserted Father Bijoy Kumar Nayak, Provincial of North Indian Province of the Congregation of the Mission (CM). He also shared some of the statistical data like 37% of Dalits are living below poverty in India, 54 % of Dalit children are undernourished in India, 12 % die before their fifth birthday, 21 % are severely underweight, literacy rates for Dalit women are as low as 37.8 % in India, 45 % of Dalits do not know to read and write in India,, Dalit women face double discrimination in India on the basis of caste and gender, 27 % of Dalit women give institutional deliveries in India, one third of Dalit households do not have basic facilities, Public health workers refused to visit Dalit homes in 33 % of villages, 27.6 % of Dalits were prevented from entering police station, 37.8 % Dalit children had to sit separately while eating in the government school.“To make Dalit Policy successful we need a constructive way forward, coordination and formation of groups to take it up as monitoring mechanism,” stated Msgr. Niranjan Sualsingh Bishop of Sambalpur.
A drafting Committee Members were formed comprising of Msgr. Sarata Chandra Nayak, Bishop of Berhmapur, Dr. Vincent Monaharan, General Secretary of NDCW, New Delhi, Dr. A. Selvam, Director of Indian Social Institute, Bangalore, Sister Gemma Barla. Father Jesuraj Rayappan, SVD, Father Ajay Kumar Singh moderated the sessions and Father Manoj Nayak was Master of ceremony.Practices of Untouchability, Discrimination and Exclusion be forthwith abolished, promotion and care of vocations to priesthood and religious life from the Dalit community, let there be Participative and Inclusive Administration and Transparency in Governance, That Liturgical and Para-liturgical Concerns of the Dalits be attended to, That special interest be taken in the Formation of Clergy and Religious, that Dalit Women and Children be accorded their due space, That Dalit Leaders be empowered to Strengthen People’s Movements were the series of recommendations shared by Dr. Vincent.