08/13/2013, 00.00

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister states Dalit Christians are equal to Dalit Hindu

by Nirmala Carvalho
J Jayalalitha, from a Hindu Brahmin family, has asked the Indian Prime Minister to also grant Dalit Christians the rights provided by the castes law. According to the Constitution on the Scheduled Caste (SC) only Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist "untouchable" have access to economic, educational and social benefits.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "Dalit Christians should be treated the same as Dalit Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists and enjoy the rights enshrined in the law on castes".  This was stated by J Jayalalitha, chief minister of Tamil Nadu, in an official letter sent on August 9 to the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking him to discuss the issue in Parliament. She comes from a family of Brahmins (priests, the highest social group according to the Indian caste system, ed) and is of Hindu religion.

On the same day in New Delhi the Christian and Muslim communities marked the so-called 'Black Day' - before the church of the Sacred Heart - commemorating July 10, 1950, the date on which the Constitution on Scheduled Castes (SC) was approved. According to art. 3, the law recognizes the rights and economic, educational and social benefits only to Hindu Dalits, with jobs allocated them in the civil service. Later, in 1956 and 1990, the status was extended to Dalit Buddhists and Sikhs, excluding Christians and Muslims.

"The social tensions generated by the unbalanced status of Dalit Hindus and Christians - stresses Jayalalitha in the letter - have only gotten worse over time, increasing the sense of alienation among minority communities."

According to a new genetic study, more than 4500 years ago the people of the north and south of the Indian sub-continent began to mingle with each other, but this inter-mingling stopped about 2 thousand years ago, when - according to the study - the caste system first emerged. After independence (1947), and the drafting of the Constitution, this hierarchical stratification lost all of its ancient meaning. However, the Dalits (the outcastes) are still considered "untouchable" and represent the lowest strata of society.



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See also
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