Christians hail caste inclusion in census
Thursday, May 13, 2010 AT 01:23 PM (IST)
Tags: CBCI, catholic church, caste, census
PUNE: The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), the apex body
of the Catholic Church in the country, has welcomed the government's
willingness to include caste in the national census.
The CBCI has said that the move will facilitate identification of the
dalit Christians - the erstwhile untouchables converted to
Christianity - and help them get benefits extended to dalits belonging
to other religions.
In an interview to a Christian website, Fr Babu Joseph, CBCI
spokesperson, welcomed the Centre's proposal and said that since caste
remains a social reality, there should be the "actual picture of
people belonging to a particular caste." However, such data should be
used for 'our long term aim of removing caste' from society, he said.
The Church, which does not endorse casteism in its community, however
recognises existence of dalits in its fold and has been demanding that
they should be given all the concessions given to dalit Sikhs and
Fr Malcolm Sequeira, spokesperson of Pune diocese, has said that mere
religious conversion does not bring any changes into the
socio-economic status of the dalits. Therefore, dalit Christians
should not be discriminated on the grounds of their religion. Fr
Sequeira said that the census form should have two separate columns
for caste and religions, so that even dalit Christians or dalits of
any religion may be able to specify their caste as well as religion.
Tribals from northeastern states converted to Christianity continue to
get quota meant for scheduled tribes even after conversion. This
benefit is not extended to the dalits Christians, formerly belonging
to various scheduled castes.
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