Our political system is beset with so many flaws that it would be just impossible to clean up the Augean stables or to find solutions in a large democracy such as ours. While we may boast of the sanctity of our ‘higher than thou’ ideals in religion, diversity, et al, we as a nation are not getting anywhere with our time-tested values of tolerance and secularism, with inimical forces ganging up to undermine the secular and religious values of our nation
Venkata Seshasai Deevi
Today, we see many greedy political parties that have insatiable lust for power, political dominance making empty and tall promises to the gullible masses in their devious intention to grab power just by hook or by crook before elections. More often than not, those promises are far beyond the reach of even the most influential politicians and the elite, let alone the common man. As soon as the elections are over, you will never get to see those worms ever again. When confronted, they would offer so many ingenious and convincing excuses for failing to fulfill their tall promises they made before the elections. Unfortunately, the memory of the electorate is too weak that they would have forgotten them in no time. The gullible people are just happy with whatever they managed to get, if any. All they aspired to get were a few bottles of booze, a packet of beef briyani and some hard cash for the day’s hard work. That’s all they will get. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Chandrababu Naidu at a Christian function in AP
But then the phenomenon of vote bank politics has become so ubiquitous among political parties that unscrupulous politicians would do whatever it takes to appease the electorate, by hook or by crook. Preferably, by crook, most of the times.
A case in point is AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. In a brazen attempt to grab power, he has vowed “not to rest until he has restored Dalit Christian’s SC status”. Clearly, this is an unconstitutional move that aims to provide reservation if Dalit Christians give up their original religion and converts to another faith. They lose whatever privileges they may have enjoyed Under SC/ST.
To put things in clear perspective, let’s define the meaning of the word, dalit. A dalit is a member of the lowest class in India. Dalits are also referred to as ‘Panchamas’ i.e. people who do not belong to any of the Four caste systems namely: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vysyas and Shudras. People who are engaged in works such as making arrangements for funeral of dead bodies, tanning of animal hides, cleaning septic tanks, etc are included in this group. They were oppressed and exploited to the maximum extent by people belonging to other four groups.
After attaining Independence, the plight of these people was highlighted by intellectuas and social reformers like Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Special provisions were made in our Constitution to provide them with an opportunity to grow along with other classes of people in the society. Accordingly reservations in education, jobs and politics were introduced for the people who belong to Scheduled Castes. While making this provision, the architects of our constitution clearly stated that these reservations are applicable only to those oppressed caste people who follow Hindu religion. In Christianity and Islam, caste system doesn’t exist at all and there is no question of exploitation based on one’s caste. Later Sikh and Buddhist religions were also included in this list. As such, backward caste people who have faith in any one of these three religions are entitled to reservations. If they convert to Christianity or Islam, automatically they will lose their privileges they enjoyed before their conversion.But Dalits who converted to Christianity have been agitating to be included in Scheduled Caste list. Those who support them argue that their social status doesn’t change when they change their religious faith.
The most important point to note here is that people belonging to certain castes have been included in a Schedule as they were discriminated by the society and exploited in various ways. As they could not develop at par with other sections of people, our Constitution came to their rescue and granted them certain privileges. If we study the present topic, i.e. (Aren’t Dalit Christians eligible for reservations?) keeping the above mentioned facts in view, we can easily arrive at a conclusion. When people change their religious faith, they have nothing to do with their previous faiths. They are no more Dalits. As such, they will be freed from certain taboos and superstitions, if any, existing in their old religion. Hence, there is no need for any support from the statute.
If Dalit Christians are given reservations, it will definitely lead to other people agitating for political and other favours from the Government. Further, the matter is referred to a Constitutional Bench to study the ramifications of implementing the same. Unless the Supreme Court issues clear guidelines, it is unconstitutional to provide reservations to dalit-Christians.
(The author is an educationist and writer on politics and current affairs)