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15 December 2017

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01/02/2015 INDIA

For Indian activist, pope's peace message entails rights for Christian and Muslim Dalits

The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) issues an appeal. Half of the world's slaves are in India, mostly Dalits and Tribals. Non-Hindu "untouchables" do not have access to the rights and benefits provided by Scheduled Caste (SC) status.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - In a message relayed by AsiaNews for 48th World Day of Peace, which was marked yesterday, Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said that it is necessary "to grant Christian and Muslim Dalits the status of Scheduled Caste (SC)" so as to end "the discrimination they suffer because of their faith," and stop "the violation of the secular nature of India's Constitution."

Released in October 2013, the First Global Slavery Index shows that India is home to almost half of the world's slaves: 13.9 million of nearly 30 million. Nearly 90 per cent of them are caught up in human trafficking within the country. Most of them are Dalits ("untouchables") and tribal. Last but not least, out of India's 25 million Christians, 20 million are Dalits.

As non-Hindus, Christian and Muslim Dalits were never granted the status of Scheduled Caste (SC), which since 1950 gives so-called "untouchables" some benefits and privileges, including reserved places in schools and public sector employment. Later, amendments extended the same benefits to Sikhs and Buddhists.

"India is a multi-religious society," said the Christian leader, "and the survival of such a society is only possible if all religions are treated equally, without favour or discrimination."

"Secularism implies that people of different faiths are equal before the law, the constitution and the government," Sajan George said emphatically. "A second requirement is the separation of religion and politics. If this existed, there would be no discrimination."

"However, Dalit Christians are unfortunately victimised twice; first, because of their faith, and second, because of their caste. This way, they are pushed to the margins of society."

For the GCIC's president, Pope Francis' message for the World Day of Peace, titled 'No longer slaves, but brothers and sisters,' "is a prophetic call to end the double discrimination suffered by our Dalit brothers and sisters".

Lenin Raghuvanshi, secretary general of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), also called on people to listen and heed the pontiff's words.

Often radical Hindu groups accuse Christian missionaries and Catholics of converting by force" or in exchange of "economic benefits" members of society's most vulnerable groups, i.e. Dalits and Tribals".

However, "conversion to Christianity does not bring any benefit or improvement in Dalits' socio-economic status," Sajan George noted.

"In fact, they are still trapped in the old caste system, based on prejudices and discrimination, which only lead to poverty and deprivation through the denial of equal opportunities and access to resources and services."






See also

20/11/2013 INDIA - UNITED STATES
Christian leader: religious freedom is central to the dialogue between Washington and New Delhi
The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) backs a bipartisan US resolution concerning relations between the two countries. The United States is "concerned" about the violations of freedom of religion. India's political parties and religious organisations must "publicly oppose the exploitation of religious differences and denounce harassment and violence against religious minorities, especially in the run-up to India's general elections in 2014."

11/11/2016 13:21:00 INDIA – UNITED STATES
Christian leader urges Trump to promote “freedom of conscience” in the world

Sajan K George is the president of the Global Council of Indian Christians. His organisation sent a congratulatory message to the new US president. "Christianity has become the major target of scorn, prejudice, abuse and persecution.”



27/08/2013 INDIA - UNITED STATES
Sajan George gets the 'Martin Luther King' peace prize
The head of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) was given the award for his work on behalf of religious freedom. Submitted by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (founded by the Rev King) and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the award marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington (28 August 1963).

07/04/2014 INDIA
Christian leader wants to see a "new" democratic India that is against corruption and for the elderly
Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), lays out an "agenda" for the new Indian government. He talks to AsiaNews about the discrimination experienced by Christian and Muslim Dalits, the gap between rich and poor, and the need to empower women. He focuses on people with disabilities, who are still the victims of "of a medieval and retrograde mind-set that keeps them on the margins of the community."

04/03/2008 INDIA
Orissa survivors, UN ‘political refugees’
The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians makes a proposal to that effect, blames government for doing “nothing to ensure the safety” of victims. Hyderabad archbishop complains that anti-Christian violence is getting worse by the day.


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