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New Delhi, Sept 19, 2022: The federal government’s reported move to set up a national commission to study the socioeconomic and educational status of Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam will prolong the issue of granting reservation to the poorest in the country, bemoan Christian activists. The national media on September 19 reported that the government was all set to constitute the commission. Franklin Caesar Thomas, coordinator of the National Council of Dalit Christians, and John Dayal, a veteran journalist and activist, say several commissions and committees set up by previous governments have endorsed the socio-educational backwardness of Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin people. “The government is repeating what was done two decades ago by retired chief justice of India Ranganath Misra commission, Justice Rajender Sachar commission and a high powered committee led by Prof Satish Deshpande who found religion did not matter where social status of Dalits in India was concerned,” Dayal told Matters India. Dalits, he added, deserved affirmative action irrespective of religion. Article 341 part three discriminated against Pasmanda Muslims and Dalit Christians, he added. Franklin cited several government commissions and committees and studies that have found the socioeconomic and educational backwardness among Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam. They included the

Religious choices are best left to the individual while ensuring the rule of law and constitutional guarantees The situation is tense in India’s northern state of Punjab bordering Pakistan where militant Sikh religious groups continue to put pressure on churches and prayer halls of Catholics, independent churches, and itinerant pastors working among Dalit communities in outlying western districts. Both communities are minorities in the Hindu-majority nation, but Punjab has a large Sikh community and a tiny Christian population. At last count in 2011, Sikhs were about 57.6 percent, Hindus 38.4 percent, Muslims1.93 percent, and Christians 1.2 percent. Efforts at rapprochement have not picked up real traction with the National Minorities Commission actively using institutional muscle on behalf of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was routed in the last legislative assembly elections in Punjab. The BJP once ruled Punjab in a coalition with the Shiromani Akali Dal, representing the Sikhs, but the coalition broke up on the issue of the contentious farm laws introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The farmers’ protest and the long siege of the national capital New Delhi forced Modi to withdraw the laws, but it was too late. The state elections saw the Delhi-based Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

The Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021 has already been passed in the state Legislative Assembly. The Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, was passed in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in December. However, it was not tabled in the Legislative Council, as BJP at the time had 32 seats in the Legislative Council – six short of the majority mark. The party now has 41 members in the Upper House. The Karnataka Cabinet had then decided to pass an Ordinance to get a clearance for the Bill. An Ordinance is a temporary law passed by the president or a governor when Parliament or a state Assembly is not in session. The ordinance was cleared by Karnataka Governor Thawarchand Gehlot on September 17. It was then required to be approved by the Assembly within six months or it will cease to be in effect. The Karnataka anti-conversion bill says that “conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or marriage’’ is prohibited. Under the Bill, a person who engages in “forced conversion” will be punished with three to five years imprisonment. Forced conversions of members from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities will lead to

Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore says he will disclose stance on Karnataka’s latest anti-conversion law in court. Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore had a guarded response a day after the provincial government in India’s southern state of Karnataka gave its final seal of approval to a law criminalizing religious conversions. The state’s Legislative Council or upper house passed the contentious Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill with a majority vote on Sept. 15. The anti-conversion law was already in force after the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules the state, promulgated an ordinance on May 17 with the signature of the state governor after it failed to muster enough support in the Legislative Council, whose final sanction is a must for any law to come into force. The law was passed by the state Legislative Assembly last December but the BJP was one seat short of a majority in the 75-member upper house. Having mustered up enough numbers now, it went ahead in what is perceived as a well-planned political strategy. The ordinance now stands repealed or canceled with the passage of the bill within six months of the governor issuing it, as required under the Indian Constitution. The opposition Congress and Janata

It is not that Indian churches are without their problems. But Dilip Mandal is wrong to use proselytisation as the yardstick to measure Indian Christianity. Periodically, experts of mainstream media come up with theories on why Christianity is a “failed project” in India. Recently, senior journalist and author Dilip Mandal put forth the argument that Christianity has no future in India and, therefore, there is no reason for the Rashtriya Swayamevak Sangh or the Vishva Hindu Parishad to spread false alarm or panic about the proselytising capacity of Christian missionaries. Mandal also points out that the Christian population in India is either static or dwindling. Mandal is, obviously, not open to recognising the idea that conversion was not the main purpose of the educational, medical and social work of Christian missions in India. Compassion International, a Christian organisation mentioned by him, in a detailed statement pointed out that their sole purpose in India was social outreach. And no official complaint of conversion has been filed against organisations such as Compassion International. Dilip Mandal’s severe criticism that the Christian missionary’s work in India became “a tool for Brahmins and elites” seems baseless. He argues that the failure of Christianity in the early centuries in

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