04/05/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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Tamil Nadu: Quotas for Christian and Muslim Dalits

by Nirmala Carvalho
Chief Minister announces plans to reserve quotas for Dalits in schools and public service. No details are yet forthcoming but everyone is waiting for a Supreme Court decision on the matter.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – School and public service quotas for Christian and Muslim Dalits in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu will be implemented, the state’s Chief Minister Karunanidhi Muthuvel announced. Both Christian and Muslim Dalits will receive Scheduled Caste status which guarantees a series of benefits and privileges, including quotas in public schools and in the public service.

Mr Karunanidhi made his announcement during a debate in the state assembly. He said that his government will introduce quotas for Christian and Muslim Dalits as soon as the Supreme Court will have ruled in late May whether Christian Dalits should receive the same treatment as other Dalits.

Quotas will be decided after the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Party (DMK) consults its allies.

Non Hindu Dalits lost their Scheduled Caste status in 1950, but whilst Sikhs and Buddhist Dalits were eventually able to get it back, Christians and Muslims were not.

In the 2006 state elections, the DMK included Dalit demands in its political platform.

When last year’s budget was signed, the state government reassured Christian and Muslim Dalits that it would reintroduce quotas for them and urged the central government to do the same at the national level.

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