05/29/2012, 00.00
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Andhra Pradesh says no to 4.5 per cent quota for poor Christians and Muslims

by Nirmala Carvalho
In December 2011, New Delhi said that members of religious minorities from Other Backward Classes should have their own quota. For the state's High Court, this would violate India's secular nature. For the President of the Global Council of Indian Christians, "This is just more discrimination against Christian and Muslim Dalits."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The High Court of Andhra Pradesh rejected an order issued by the central government to establish a 4.5 per cent quota in public sector employment for members of Other Backward Class (OBC) that belong to religious minorities. According to the court, the proposal of the Union government violates the secular bases of the nation because it uses religion as a criterion for employment. Under Indian law, economically and socially disadvantages members of society, like those with an OBC background, have the right to 27 per cent of all public sector jobs.

On 21 December last year, the government in New Delhi asked state governments to reserve 4.5 per cent of all public sector jobs for members of religious minorities, mostly Christians and Muslims, from Other Backward Classes. The latter are defined as 'socially and educationally backward classes' independent of their religious beliefs, and should not be confused with Scheduled Castes (Dalits) and Scheduled Tribes (indigenous tribes).

For Sajan George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the High Court ruled only to "discriminate against Christian and Muslim Dalits because in Andhra Pradesh they come under the Other Backward Classes classification."

Under Article 3 of the Indian constitution, Hindu and Buddhist Dalits enjoy special economic, educational and social rights and privileges since 1956, extended to Sikh Dalits in 1990.


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