By Devasagayaraj M. Zackarias
New Delhi, Jan 12, 2019: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Office for SC/BC is deeply concerned about the dichotomy in rendering social justice in India.
Both the houses of the Parliament passed the bill giving 10% reservation in education and employment for the Economically Weaker Section in India.
Though there are various schemes, scholarships and programs available for the economically weaker section, the Government was keen and haste in passing the bill.
It is a known fact that the Economically Weaker Section is not affected by the caste system in India. We also understand that the bill was introduced in the Parliament without a scientific study of the Economically Weaker Section.
The CBCP Office for SC/BC is sorry that the Government does not show the same kind of concern for the issue of Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste origin, thus discriminating them in the name of religion.
Christians and Muslims of SC origin have been demanding the right to be included in Scheduled Caste list since 1950. Christians and Muslims of SC origin were born in untouchable communities and still experience exclusion and stigma of untouchability. They are educationally and economically backward as their counterpart Hindu Dalits.
Backward Class Commissions acknowledge the social and economic backwardness of Christians of Scheduled Caste origin and recommend Scheduled Caste status to them (Sri Kaka Kalelkar Backward Class Commission, Government of India, 1955, Nettur Commission Report, Government of Kerala, 1965, Backward Class Commission of Andhra Pradesh, 1970, Elayaperumal Commission, 1969 etc.).
National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM), 2007, stated that non-inclusion of Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin in the SC list is a discrimination based on religion and goes against the Constitution.
“Dalits in the Muslim and Christian Communities, a status Report on Current Social and Scientific Knowledge”, Prepared for the National Commission for Minorities, Government of India by Prof. Satish Deshpande clearly states, “There is no compelling evidence to justify denying SC status to Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians.”
It is really a social injustice that in spite of all the recommendations of the Commissions and scientific studies, the Government denies justice to the Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste Origin.
Therefore we request the Hon. Prime Minister of India to pass a bill to include Christians and Muslims of Scheduled Caste origin in the Scheduled Caste list and increase the reservation to SCs and STs, proportionate to their population.
(Devasagayaraj M. Zackarias is the National Secretary, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Office for SC/BC).