Party organises Dalit Christian convention in Kottayam

Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan has called for initiating measures for solving the problems faced by the Dalit Christian community who in spite of being at the receiving end of social and economic backwardness on account of being Dalits have found themselves without any social or economic support for being Christians.

Inaugurating a Dalit Christian convention organised by the party here on Wednesday, the first of its kind by the CPI(M) so far, Mr. Vijayan pointed out that a section of the Dalit community had converted to Christianity on the basis of the ideals propounded by missionaries as they were fed up with the untouchability practised in the Hindu society at an earlier period. While they could get over the problem of untouchability, their social backwardness continued as the Christians who had earlier converted from ‘Savarna' communities continued to discriminate against them, he said.

“While they are Christians in terms of religion, they remain Dalits socially,” Mr. Vijayan said. Since the reservation provisions in the Constitution keep them out of the quota net, they find themselves without any support system to come out of their social and economic backwardness. This is proved by their abysmal lack of representation in the administrative system and their continued failure to come out of the economic backwardness, he said.

The CPI(M) leader called for a two-pronged strategy to change the plight of the Dalit Christians; one in which a series of remedial and social welfare measures which could be initiated without delay, and two, commencement of a comprehensive discussion with all stakeholders for expanding the reservation net so that the Dalit Christians could also be included in it.

The measures to enhance their material conditions include providing land and shelter for the landless and the homeless under special schemes. Programmes for enhancing their social status, like training programmes for those who appear in competitive examinations, schemes to meet the expenses for higher education, extension of loans at subsidised rates for entrepreneurs and those engage in self-employment schemes, etc., he said.

The Dalit Christian community enjoys a nominal reservation of one per cent now. To enhance the benefits under the reservation system, a discussion should be initiated among all concerned so that a solution could be reached through consensus.

CPI(M) district secretary K.J. Thomas, in his welcome address, said this was an attempt to bring together the Dalit Christians now spread over various Christian congregations, including the Latin Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Church of South India, Church Mission Society and various Pentecostal churches, for fighting a common cause.

P.J. Samuel, chairman, Kerala State Development Corporation for Christian Converts from Scheduled Castes and Recommended Communities, chaired the convention. Archbishop Stephen Vattappara, Left Democratic Front convener Vaikom Viswan, V.N. Vasavan, MLA, and others spoke.

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