Dalit Rights

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INTRODUCTION

Research and studies have recently been initiated on the under-privileged people, namely, the Dalits in India. Though it is an encouraging fact, yet more systematic and classified studies are required because the Dalits are located over a wide range of areas, languages, cultures, and religions, where as the problems and solutions vary. Since the scholars and historians have ignored the Dalits for many centuries, a general study will not expose sufficiently their actual condition. Even though the Dalit Christian problems are resembling, Catholics and Protestants are divided over the issues. Some of the Roman Catholic priests are interested and assert their solidarity with the Dalit Christian struggle for equal privilege from the Government like other Hindu Dalits. On the other hand, most Protestant denominations are indifferent towards any public or democratic means of agitation on behalf of Dalit community. They are very crafty and admonish Dalit believers only to pray and wait for God’s intervention.

However, there is an apparent intolerance in the Church towards the study and observations concerning the problems of Dalit Christians because many unfair treatments have been critically exposed. T.N. Gopakumar, the Asia Net programmer, did broadcast a slot on Dr. P.J. Joseph, a Catholic priest for thirty -eight years in the Esaw Church, on 22 October 2000. 1

Joseph advocated for the converted Christians that the Church should

upgrade their place and participation in the leadership of the Church. The very next day,

1

T.N.Gopakumar, Kannady [Mirror-Mal], Asia Net , broadcast on 22 October, 2000.

1

with the knowledge of the authorities, a group of anti-Dalit Church members, attacked him and threw out this belongings from his room in the headquarters at Malapparambu, Kozhikode, where he lived for about thirty years. Finally, he was admitted in the

Government hospital and the Church authorities asked him to vacate the campus. Ironically, a group of his fellow priests conducted a fasting on 21st October 2000, praying for the repentance and good sense of Dr. Joseph. The Asia Net commentator added, that “the man spoke on behalf of the down-trodden and is crucified like his Savior.”2 Though there are many who have to be expelled from the campus are still remaining, the one who spoke for the Dalit believers was illegally mustered out. The writer’s studies in SAIACS became an immediate reason for selecting this topic of research. All these years, my mind has been disturbed much on the discrimination among Christians and I was distressed about this issue. In SAIACS, I have been aware of a real difference in terms of Christian relationship and unity. Here, the unique way that SAIACS respects and regards their service staff workers, irrespective of their background, and very specially, the common meals served has challenged my mind and I realized that here I can boldly develop a study that addresses issues on discriminations. Besides, my interactions with Dr. Graham Houghton motivated my thoughts and he has encouraged me to be a voice and model on the Dalit people. This inspired my mind to initiate a research on the downtrodden that is the Dalits of Kerala. Rationale of the Study The unique culture and character of the people of Kerala State have greatly impacted the origin and growth of the Pentecostal Churches in Kerala. From the beginning, this denomination has consisted of different ethnic groups, that is Dalits and non-Dalits. 2

Ibid.

2

After a period of nine decades, statistics indicate that there is a reasonable and recognizable proportion of population of both the communities in the Church. At the beginning, Pentecostals maintained a cordial relationship and unity in the Church. But due to various reasons, beyond their control, the Pentecostal Dalits still

remain marginalized in many areas. Though Pentecostalism claims biblical foundations, believers from different sections,...
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