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Current Issue
March, 2019
Volume 45, Number 1
  
12 February 2019
Greg Kandra




Dalit children often drop out of school to work menial jobs to help support their families. But a new resolution in the Andhra Pradesh state will help Dalits receive welfare benefits enjoyed by their Hindu counterparts. (photo: Peter Lemieux)

CNEWA has long worked with the Dalits of India — many of them outcast, marginalized and poor. So we were heartened to read this news today, a hopeful milestone in the journey of the Dalits, who continue to seek justice and ways to retain their dignity:

India’s Andhra Pradesh state has passed a resolution which church leaders say will help socially poor Dalit Christians receive welfare benefits enjoyed by their counterparts in Hinduism.

The legislative house of the southern state passed the resolution on 7 February appealing to the federal government to make amendments to regulations to allow Christians from Dalit communities to enjoy benefits meant for the advancement of socially disadvantaged people.

The resolution proposed by chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu said that if Dalit people convert to Christianity it does not change their social and economic status.

“We appreciate the move. Naidu understood the plight of the poor Christians but that does not mean we achieved our target. There is still long way to go,” the Rev. Devasagaya Raj, secretary of the Indian bishops’ office for Dalits, told ucanews.com.

The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches (APFC), an ecumenical organization of heads of different churches, welcomed the resolution on behalf of the Christian community.

The APFC said it appreciated Naidu’s “consistent stand on this issue” that Dalit Christians should be treated on a par with Dalits who had adopted Sikhism and Buddhism.

The Christians’ struggle began in 1950 when a presidential order said only Dalit people following Hinduism could enjoy constitution-guaranteed concessions and seat reservations meant for the socioeconomic advancement of Dalit people.

The order effectively cut off benefits to Dalit people who converted to other religions. It was amended twice to include Dalits among Sikhs in 1956 and Buddhists in 1990.

Christians of Dalit origin are estimated to be make up 33 percent of India’s 28 million Christians.

Read more.

Related:

Healing the Forgotten

Caste Aside

India’s Christian Untouchables



Tags: India Dalits