02/08/2019, 13.50
INDIA
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Andhra Pradesh approves reserved quotas also for Christian Dalits

The resolution passed unanimously in the State Assembly. The law is supported primarily by the Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. The norm that excludes converts to Christianity from reserved seats dates back to 1950. National Secretary of the Office for the Dalits of the Episcopal Conference: "It is a great support to our cause".

Hyderabad (AsiaNews) - The state government of Andhra Pradesh has approved a resolution that extends the number of reserved seats in schools and public employment to Christian Dalits. This is an extraordinary exception in the Indian panorama, where only the Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh members of the disadvantaged castes are protected by the Constitution.

Moreover, recently the National Parliament has granted 10% of quotas to the poor of the upper castes, provoking heated debate in the country.

Commenting to AsiaNews Fr. Z Devasagayaraj, national secretary of the Office for Dalits and Disadvantaged Castes of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), says: "This resolution is really important. Most of the Christian Dalits live in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. If the Chief Minister supports such an initiative, he gives our cause great support. He, together with other regional parties, will play a decisive role in the formation of the next Indian government ".

The resolution was unanimously approved by the State Assembly on 6 February. It was introduced by the same Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who had repeatedly assured Christians of the poorer classes of wanting to support their demands. Formally, the law asks the Indian Parliament to grant the status of "Scheduled Castes" to the Dalit Christians, that is to say disadvantaged caste. Now the final decision passes to the Delhi deputies.

From a legal point of view, in India, Christian Dalits are excluded from the advantages granted to the outcast of other religious communities. As the Constitution provides, the quota system was established in an attempt to correct discriminatory practices based on caste membership. In fact, in the past the high caste allowed the dalit only to be used in humble and degrading jobs, such as the manual collection of waste or the disposal of carcasses of dead cows (which are considered sacred when alive and venerated by the Hindu faithful).

The law that excludes the former untouchable Christians - but also Muslims - from forms of protection is a presidential Order of 1950. For its part, the Indian Church has always protested against this "shameful" form of discrimination against converts to Christianity and he has repeatedly fought for the extension of the right to study and work even to the poorest classes in society.

In conclusion, Fr. Devasagayaraj explains that "it depends on the central government to include or not the Christian Dalits in the affirmative action programs [a political instrument that serves to promote the participation of discriminated sectors of the population, ed]. However, state governments can make recommendations. At present, six States have already submitted these proposals. Now Andhra Pradesh too. This means that the state would support the law [which includes Christian Dalits], if it were presented in Parliament ".

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