Catholic and Protestant churches, across the country, are celebrating December 9, 2012 as ‘Dalit Liberation Sunday’. Catholic Bishop Conference of India (CBCI) and National Council for Churches in India (NCCI) have suddenly become worried for their Dalit brothers. Both of these churches work under Vatican and Geneva based ‘World Council of Churches’.
In the October month of this year, Catholic Church has organized a congregation under Pope Benedict-XVI, which has advocated for faster evangelization considering the changing scenario of the world. It is under this theme that Indian arms of churches have thrown slogans like ‘Break the barriers – Build the world of equality’ for Dalit brothers.
But, reality is that church has just tried to put old wine in the new bottle. They have demanded to include dalit Christians in the scheduled caste on name of ‘ Dalit Liberation Sunday’. They have criticized Manmohan Singh government to break their promises in this regard.
The slogan looks pleasant from the hindsight, but reality lies in stark contrast to the ‘words’. When church has not been able to create equitable order for 2.5 to 3.0 crore dalit Christians, how can they do justice to non-Christian dalits?
The big question on the entire church organizations is- If after conversion of several hundreds of years, their situation is as good as Hindu dalits, then what church has done for them over this long period? Despite 70 percent of total converted Christians come from dalit framework of Indian society, but their role in the church establishment is almost non-existent. Discrimination is persistently increasing within the church system. Church is trying to shift the blame on Hindu system.
Christianity does not believe in discrimination of any kind. This was the main reason our dalit ancestors have opted for this faith. Even Catholic Bishop Conference of India (CBCI), in its resolution passed in 1981 had said that there was no place for caste-based discrimination in Christianity. This is a bad system. The study of father Anthony Raj also proves this fact. Vatican severely criticizes caste based discrimination and untouchability. But, dalit Christians face this at every step. Handful of clergy controls all the resources of church. Through this demand of including, dalit Christians in the scheduled caste’s category, church has played double game. They have successfully divereted the anger of dalit Christians towards government and secondly, they have time and money to spend on more conversions, which will help them to firm their roots.
Welfare of dalit Christians has never been an agenda for church. They have just been tool for the expansion of the church empire in India. This can be understood through an example. There are 168 Bishops and there are just four who come from dalit community. There are 13,000 diocesan priests, 14000 religious priests, one-lakh nuns and 5000 brothers in India. However, merely few hundred of them are from dalit community. Recently, only dalit priest from Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, Father William Premdas Chaudhry has described agony of dalit father in his autobiography, “An Unwanted Priest”.
There is a common feeling that church has highest amount of land after government of India and they have land in the posh colonies. In India, church has some constitutional rights. Regulation must be imposed to control church and their institutions. There are 480 colleges in only Catholic Church, 63 medical colleges, 9500 secondary schools, 4000 high schools, 14000 primary schools, 7500 nursery schools, 500 training schools, 900 technical schools, 263 Professional institutions, six engineering colleges and 3000 hostels, 787 hospitals, 2800 dispensaries and health centres currently being run by the Catholic Church. If institutes are, being run by Protestants is included, then the number reaches to 45 to 50 thousands.
Now, my question is how many deans, teachers, professors and doctors are from dalit Christian community in this huge empire of church? How many of them are doctors in medical hospitals? How many dalit Christians are director of social institutions of church, which gets crores of foreign funds for the welfare of converted Christians? Before celebrating ‘Dalit Liberation Sunday’, the church should answer these questions. Church should tell how many dalit Christian students get education in their convent schools? Reality is that church has become business enterprise and now it is being driven by profit motive. If church has guts, it should bring a white paper on the issue.
It is a harsh truth that many people won’t believe, that condition of Hindu dalits has considerably improved and Christian dalits are now left in this race. Hindu dalits have started ‘Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’ to help entrepreneurship among dalits. But, I want to ask why any such model for development of Christian dalits has not come from church despite having ample resources? I demand instead of ridiculing dalits, they should first create a system which gives them proper rights and justice in the present system.
The Writer is the President of Poor Christians Liberation Movement (PCLM).