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Re: BROKEN PEOPLE-Report, Dalits and Christian Dalits



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[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
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"Ram Narayanan" <
Email: lorain@worldnet.att.net

Dear Ram,
Thank you for your email. It was good talking to you over the phone
during
my brief visit to New York.I am giving my comments to your querries as
desired by you. I hope they are useful for your study of Dalit issues.
With my best wishes,
Henry 

 I thank Ram Narayanan for  drawing attention to the Dalit Christian
website.  I am aware of it. Father Benjamin Chinnappan, A Dalit Priest,
from
Pondicherry Diocese, where caste discrimination is rampant  has designed
it,
as he now is studying or living in Princeton. As you live in US you are
surprised about reading the Dalit situations much of which we see here
as
our ground realities in India. The  If Dalit Christians is a
contradiction
in terms why are the people call themselves as "Syrian Christians", 
"Nadar
Christians", and "Vellala Christians".  Educated people in India do not
mind
is some one calls himself as Syrian Christian and Nadar Christian but
get
agitated over the world Dalit Christian.  If you take matrimonial
columns of
the newspapers like The Hindu and the Indian Express, which I read
regularly, people invariably mention their caste and state that they are
looking for a bride or groom of the same clan. They are not ashamed of
their
caste discrimination!
 You have taken a very simple view of Christianity that once a person
accepts Christ he becomes Christian.  Yes in India, the 2000 years of
Indian
history and the caste system and the Indian mindset is so deeply grained
in
caste system that our human mind is distorted or has a "twist" in the
mind
that cannot easily go away. The Catholic missionaries like Veera
Mamunivar
(PESKY- a Jesuit) wrote to the then Pope, that casteism may be practiced
in
the Church and a Papal Bull was issued then, as early as 17th century,
to
enable him to convert the upper caste people to Christianity as at that
time
only Dalits were becoming Christians and the Brahmin is a prize catch.
Churches in India are predominantly Dalit about 80% whereas leaders
comes
from upper caste very similar to the Communist and Marxist movements in
India where the leaders and ideologists come from upper caste and
whereas
the workers are coming from lower caste.  An authority on Dalit
Movements
and Christian Conversion id Dr John Webster in USA who edits the Dalit
International Newsletter. Recently there is a greater awareness on the
part
of Dalit Christians leading to revolt against discrimination in the
Church
and to ask for justice in the Church.  The Church equally is guilty as
the
government and society started service projects like hospitals and
schools,
which are becoming increasingly commercialised and Church leaders are
specialising in this commercialisation rather than service. The
beneficiaries of these Church institutions, schools and hospitals are
upper
caste people who can give handsome donations and to pay a fee which the
poor
Dalit Christians cannot pay.

Regarding the argument you heard that giving reservation to Dalit
Christians
will erode the quota, the existing reservation system is not fully
implemented because of lack of dalits with higher education and tardy
and
half hearted implementation policy. The fear of Dalit Christian
dominating
and eroding has been so cleverly manipulated by nazi-minded upper caste
politicians who want to keep Dalits divided to keep the enslaved and
rule
over the landless labourers. The conversion bogey that all Dalits will
become Christians is again a myth, a bogey, fabricated to keep Dalits
down
for the fear that they will become educated and liberated! After 250
years
colonialism, and 50 years of Independence, the Christian population
figures
according to Govt. census is getting lesser and lesser. From 3 % three
decades ago it is 2.3% now, despite all the preaching and missionary
enterprise and BJP claims of mass conversions! Often even educated
Indians
lose their balance and talk perpetuating myths, as we love to hear myths
and
legends as Indians, instead of being rationalistic and scientific! For
me it
is not a question of reservation. It is fundamental Human right to
choose a
belief, a faith according to your conscience. It is assured in the
Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and in our Indian constitution, which
declares
there should be no discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, sex,
etc.
Then to bring religious discrimination is bad in law! First the Indian
Govt.
in 1950 said the concessions are only for Hindu Dalits, then they
brought an
amendment to include Sikhs then they brought an amendment to include
Buddhists (Conversion to Buddhism from Dalit communities is greater to
Christian faith). So why not to Christian Dalits?

Please see the website by National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights.
www.Dalits.org

Regarding your comments quoted by your good friend about the book: the
"Broken People" whoever has given the comments has not been quite
practical.
Statistics given by the Government may be unreliable.  Nevertheless they
are
the only sources to refer to.  Let me comment on your friend's points,
one
by one: The Broken People is the only Human Rights Report, very unique,
for
the simple reason the researcher interacted with Dalit activists both in
the
South and the North of India and discussed her draft and modified it. It
is
an interactive report.  The Researcher took the trouble to interview
people
in the villages sat through the enquiry commission and then interacted
with
NGOs and personnel in voluntary service sector.  

Though field workers have been studying Dalits for quite some time they
remained in academic shelves collecting dust. Atrocities have to be
documented for remedial action.  So this work is pioneering, done by a
Punjabi uppercaste young woman, who is graduate of Harvard Law school
and
was editor of Harvard Law Journal. Instead practicing a lucrative law
career
in New York, she chose the trouble of researching from grass root
realities
which many field work academics miss! The author, Smita Narula,
represents
the new younger generation of NRIs, who were brought up in an
egalitarian
society and convinced and committed to fundamental human rights, which
people of our generation missed, as were brought up in caste
hierarchical
feudal society of inequalities and accepted these inequalities and
remained
insensitive!
I hope the Human Rights Watch Report will be presented to the
international
bodies and will prick the global conscience of humanity which remained
insensitive to caste violence and rape of Dalits. It is better that it
is an
American NGO Report giving credibility to it. Please read the weekly
magazine section of the Hindu where SAINATH, another young journalist
writes
a series on caste discrimination in various parts of India. The Hindu
dated,
Sunday, May 30, 99 Magazine section, page II published a well documented
article by GOUTAM GOSH : DALIT BEATING IS A WAY OF LIFE HERE, narrating
the
plight of Dalit women in Tamil Nadu. And the high handed police
brutalities!
A conscious effort to remedy these horrendous crimes is required. 
Housing
in urban areas is a clear case of discriminatory practices, under the
pretext for vegetarians only. There is abundant material on
discrimination
in urban areas brought out Dalit scholars brought out by Dalit
website/internet. Some scholarly discourses of Buddhism and Hinduism as
well
as discrimination in the urban towns are also found in the articles-
most of
which are in the Dalit Internet service by the Dalit authors.

Regarding devolution of power: I won't bother to depend on foreign
website,
as we know in reality what is obtainable as I live here.  I did not
understand the distinction made between Scheduled Caste and Dalits.  For
many of us the word Dalits synonymously means the Scheduled Caste.  Some
times some scholars and politicians for their convenience and vote
catching
exercise include tribal people and a few other oppressed castes which
may
increase the figures. 200 million Dalits are usually mentioned by
scholars
taking that by 1999 we are one billion people in India and by combining
Scs
& STs. Please see the following from an UN Document: Report by
Mr.Glele-Ahanhanzo, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism,
Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, submitted
pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/26 United Nations
-
Economic and Social Council - Commission on Human Rights -Document
NoE/CN.4/1999/15 dated 15th Jan.1999---Paragraph 97-98 TO QUOTE

97. According to the 1991 census, 138.2 million persons belonged to the
Scheduled Castes (16.48 per cent of the estimated population of 846.3
million at the time and 67.8 million to the Scheduled Tribes (0.08 per
cent
of the population).

98. The organizations representing the untouchables or Dalits recognize
the
progress achieved on their behalf since India's independence, but point
out
that the group's situation continues to be difficult.  According to
these
organizations, while the average literacy rates in India (for men and
women,
respectively) were 63.8 per cent and 39.42 per cent in 1992, among
Dalits
the averages were only 297 per cent and 18.05 per cent). 4/  There are
currently about 115 million Dalit child labourers, 20 million of whom
work
under dangerous conditions.  Additionally, in 1996 more that 1,200 Dalit
children died from malnutrition in Maharashtra State.  5/  According to
several sources, the Dalits are most often the victims of forced
relocation,
arbitrary detention and summary execution in India.  The Dalit
Liberation
Education Trust asserts that, "every hour two Dalits are assaulted,
every
day three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered, two Dalit
houses
are burnt in India".   UNQUOTE
 I have my own doubts on Kerala - to say that Kerala is egalitarian.
Discrimination of Dalits has been reported by Dalits in Kerala. Recently
when an African -American delegation visited Trivandrum to meet the
Dalits
there, the police took their passports and they were not allowed to meet
the
Dalits.  The Home Secretary, Mr.Natarajan, IAS has been transferred
because
he agreed to address a Dalit meeting.  The detail report on this was
published in a recent issue of Dalit Voice, from Delhi. 

I do not see the relevance of Maharashtra and yet the atrocities are
known
there for several years. I have visited Maharashtra and known Dalits
there
who have described their plight to us. The report/book covers only Tamil
Nadu, Maharashtra, Bihar, Gujarat.  The statement that Laloo setting the
OBC's against Dalits seems to be politically motivated and malafied. As
the
report/the book does not cover UP and therefore reference to DSP is not
necessary.
  The reference to the United States is unwanted.  Every country
including
the United States has violations on human rights and the Amnesty
International has brought out good reports on Racism in the US.
Therefore
one should not take solace and justify because US has discrimination
other
countries can do so.  It is often alleged by African-American people
that
India n professionals, the Brown Sahibs join the whites and express
discrimination against Blacks as they have done in Africa. This does
speak
well of Indian migrants abroad. I have heard from African American
Indians
in US that Indians contribute the discrimination of blacks that they
often
joins with the white people rather than supporting the black people who
are
struggling for justice.  So it is a matter of evolving a human
consciousness, and respecting the universality of human rights on all
citizens of the world irrespective of cultural and religious differences
and
we should protect human rights every where. I have heard from African
American Indians in US that Indians contribute the discrimination of
blacks
that they often  joins with the white people rather than supporting the
black people who are struggling for justice.  So it is a matter of 
evolving
a human conscious a citizens of the world regarding the violation done.
I
have heard from African American Indians in US that Indians contribute
the
discrimination of blacks that they often  joins with the white people
rather
than supporting the black people who are struggling for justice.  So it
is a
matter of  evolving a human conscious a citizens of the world regarding
the
violation done. Every citizen in the world has every right to point out
the
problems and mistakes in a country as we live in a global village. The
violations of Human Rights in any country, concerns every global citizen
The
Nobel laureate, Champion of American Civil rights, Dr Martin Luther
King,
Jr. said: 
"We are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a
single
garment of destiny whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly"

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