To prevent misuse by missionaries, fix a cut-off date for Dalit Christian reservation

Before approaching to the core of the problem, I would like to quote Mahatma Ghandhi ji. “My fear is that though Christian friends nowadays do not say or admit it that Hindu religion is untrue, they must harbour in their breast that Hinduism is an error and that Christianity, as they believe it, is the only true religion. So far as one can understand the present (Christian) effort, it is to uproot Hinduism from her very foundation and replace it by another faith “. (Gandhi, Harijan: March 13, 1937).

It is the true nature and history of all Abrahamic religions of the contemporary world. Conversion is the fuel of their religions. The target of Jesus was Jews. Hence the Bible is against all types of conversions. “… You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert; and when you succeed, you make him twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are” (Mathew, Ch. 23, line 15). They are irrational in their endeavours. The Dalits of India are only an accidental prey of this vicious transaction. Conversion is the total destruction pagan civilizations. Hence Swami Vivekananda observed: “For every conversion that is lost to Hinduism, it is not just one lost, but one more enemy to Hinduism. Conversion is perversion. Every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more.” (Swami Vivekananda – Prabudha Bharata, April, 1899).

Christians of Dalit origin are responding well towards the contemporary socio-cultural question which persists in their social formations (Church). Not ignoring the fact that the condition of Dalit converts to Islam is more pathetic than Christian or Buddhist converts. The Christian Dalit presence in both Church and society is visible. Of course, their cultural progress compared to their Hindu, Muslim or primeval counterparts are enviable. It is nothing compared to the rest. But the economic backwardness is defusing their competency in acquiring higher education, self-employment, government jobs, and so on. Accordingly they failed to command due social status in the ‘savarna dominated’ Christian society. Education and economic progress are closely linked with social life. It is the current reality. Therefore any imbalance that is reflecting in the educational field, even though it is negligible, will be reflected hundred times more in the economic as well as social scenarios. Due to historical reasons Dalit Christians are also economically marginalized group in the Church compared to their savarna counterparts. In the near future, because of the educational backwardness along with the lack of proper reservation support, will definitely result in the marginalization and impoverishment of this particular section.

The contemporary Church at its institutional capacity is reluctant to support them. It is serious problems as far as the Dalit Christians are concerned. That is why they are clamoring for the extension or else the enjoyment of the benefits that are enjoyed by the Scheduled Caste communities, with which the former have kith and kin relations. (Ainslie Thomas Embree, Utopias in Conflict, Religion and Nationalism in Modern India, New Delhi, 1992, p 85). At the same time the pathetic social and life condition of the Christian converts is not ignorable fact. There is no chance of getting justice from the Church or the rest Christians in the near future. Surely it will, sometimes, result in the extinction of a community or the birth of violence in the particular representing community as an alternative mechanism for survival. Once a peace loving section is breaking away from the principle of peaceful coexistence, will be a disastrous one. History attests this general fact well in its pages. There are several instances in our history. Above all, the particular socio-political situation that prevails in the state gives a good reason to doubt in such a manner (UGC, MRP, No. F. 5-2 (040)/2003 (MRP)/SWRO dated 06-08-2003).

Considering all previously mentioned facts and figures, the pollster is interested to give an alternative suggestion to solve the social question of Christian converts from the Dalits social formations of our country. Here the suggestion is only applicable to the contemporary specific situation. Extension of Reservation to the Christian converts from Dalits should not be sop to the future conversion. Thus fix a prior cutoff date while considering them for any sop. So whilst granting reservation to the Christian converts utmost care is necessary. It will not be an incentive to future religious conversions. Before any such steps a concrete anti-religious conversion enactment is necessary. (Can reconsider the O. P. Tyagi’s ‘Freedom of Religion Bill 1978’. It proposed ‘fraudulent’ conversions of all types were illegal. The same was in the line of Arunachal Pradesh’s step to curb fraudulent conversions.

“The Bill aims to protect all the minorities, including those belonging to minority religions. This gives them protection against forcible conversion by misguided elements of the majority at some future date should such a possibility ever arise. They should be happy about the Bill”). Similarly the cause of Dalit Christians should be protected well. So not share the present space of Schedule Caste reservation to the dalit converts.  To create a new space of reservation of a fixed percentage from the general quota and give it to them for period of one generation that is for about twenty-five years; not until the days of deluge. Being a culturally progressed section the Christian converts can mint advantage out of it within a short period of one generation.

Before identifying the true Dalit converts, a cutoff date should operate as an essential condition. It is better to fix at 1956, which is the birth year of present day linguistic state mechanism, or earlier to 1947. The progenies of those who have converted prior to that cutoff date will be treated as eligible persons for the newly carved out reservation seats in the government appointments and educational institutions. It will help to discourage future conversions. Those converted after the cutoff date should be provided support and employment from the Church. The government should make it the responsibility of the Church as a statutory affair by an enactment and by this way the Dalit society can protect their interest in the space of the Church. Their share in the Church appointments, including holy and lay opportunities, should be decided on the basis of their population share in the concerned Church order.

The above exposition is confined only to the prevailing situation of Malabar Coast and far South of India. Therefore it is not reasonable to apply as model for the entire nation. Consequently the suggestions are more applicable to South. Similar studies may be viable in every regions of India. Subsequently the data are generated through general random sampling method. (UGC, MRP, No. F. 5-2 (040)/2003 (MRP)/SWRO dated 06-08-2003). For this purpose, the investigator used personal interview and questionnaire methods. Most of the persons interviewed and responded to opinion poll (questionnaire) are government employees and persons occupying strategic positions in the society. That is why the examiner had given assurance to the participants in the data generation programme of the total concealment of their whereabouts. In short, the suffering subalterns until the early decades of the last century were forced to count their hardships and social set back as the outcome of some unknown curse in the past. Anyhow they found solace under the shade of their primordial religious practices.

In this situation, Christian missionary bands, and so on had extended their sympathy and compassion to the suffering millions through the extension of ‘providence’. They offered a ‘promised land’ to them. But really the ‘promised land’ to the new converts was only a mirage or raisins of sour. In short discrimination and untouchability further extended to the Christendom of Kerala was the outcome of the missionary enterprises. Thus the educational or civilizing efforts of the missionaries that started in the early decades of the nineteenth century was in snails’ progress.