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There are occasional rays of hope amid the gloom but at the moment, there is reason to be pessimistic The fate of the 70-year-old struggle of India’s converts from its erstwhile “untouchable” castes in the Hindu hierarchy may well be in the hands of a former chief justice of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan while in office had asked Church leaders if they were willing to say on oath that they exercised caste discrimination in their congregations. There was silence in the courtroom. He was at that time hearing appeals against Article 341 Part 3 which assures affirmative action including scholarships, jobs and political representation to this group of citizens as long as they remain Hindu. If they convert to Christianity or Islam, they lose the benefits. The converts may also be jailed if the government discovers that they had studied in Church schools on scholarships given to Christian students. "Dalits who embraced other religions were denied the benefits of affirmative action by presidential order" Justice Balakrishnan was the first Dalit, as the former untouchable castes now call themselves, to become the chief justice of India. His elevation was the direct result of a question raised by former President K R Narayanan, the

New Delhi, Nov 3, 2022: Journalism now faces great challenges from inside the profession and outside, says veteran journalist John Dayal, after he was selected for a prestigious award by the national association of Catholic journalists in India. The Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) has also chosen a grassroots Jesuit activist and a Holy Spirit nun, besides Dayal, for its annual awards this year. The award was announced November 2 by the association’s president Ignatius Gonsalves and secretary Capuchin Father Suresh Mathew. John Dayal, who is also a writer and human rights activist, was selected for the Louis Careno Award for Excellence in Journalism for his bold, continuous and consistent writing against communalism and fundamentalism gaining ground globally. The award citation hails Dayal as “a prophet of our times” who is among India’s foremost voices against human rights violations, particularly on the persecution of religious minorities. “He has been a member of several government bodies, including the National Integration Council, and holds senior roles in numerous non-government organizations and networks, including as co-founder and secretary general of the All India Christian Council, 1999-2014, national president of the 1919-founded all India Catholic Union between 2004 and 2008, and a member of Justice and Peace Commission of

Uttar Pradesh state has seen a rise in persecution against Christians after the anti-conversion law was enacted last year Christians in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have sought action against pro-Hindu groups misusing the state’s recently enacted anti-conversion law to harass and persecute minority communities. A group of 125 people, who called themselves Khrist Bhakts (devotees of Christ) called on the chief of police and administration in Varanasi, a prominent Hindu pilgrimage center on the banks of the Hindu holy river Ganges, to ensure Christians’ freedom of faith. A memorandum they submitted to the police commissioner and district collector highlighted false cases registered against Christians and those who follow Christ but have not yet converted to Christianity. The clauses of the anti-conversion law are misused to fabricate cases against Christians, they said. The state government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), criminalized religious conversion done through allurement, force, or coercion among other means in February 2021. Christian leaders say any Christian charity activity can be misinterpreted as allurement, force, or coercion carried out for conversion. In the latest case of alleged misuse of the law, eight members of a socially poor Dalit community, including three women, from a slum area in Mangatpuram were

Police said that the arrested 12 persons were making arrangements for a mass religious conversion of Hindu tribals in the region. According to police, after gathering specific inputs, a team of its personnel conducted raids and made the arrests. Police said that the arrested 12 persons were making arrangements for a mass religious conversion of Hindu tribals in the region. The arrested persons were being grilled by the police. Preliminary investigations revealed that many people belonging to Chikkamuduwadi Tandya were kept in a house in Kanakapura town. Sources stated the police will investigate the matter further. More details are yet to emerge regarding the case. Hindu activists for a long time have been alleging forceful conversions in the region by Christian missionaries. Earlier, attempts to build the tallest statue of Jesus in the world in Kapalabetta in Kanakapura taluk were made. The Hindu activists then alleged that state Congress President D K Shivakumar was supporting the building of the tallest statue of Jesus Christ to impress former AICC President Sonia Gandhi in his constituency. Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and other Hindu organisations had announced agitation against the building of Jesus Christ's statue at Kapalabetta. The Karnataka High Court later gave a stay order on the construction work

Vishwa Hindu Parishad says benefits of affirmative action must be denied to those who become Christians The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or World Hindu Council has urged the Indian government to withdraw the benefits of its affirmative action program to Hindus who convert to Christianity. Vijay Shankar Tiwari, the national VHP spokesman while addressing a press conference in Jaipur city in northwestern Rajasthan state on Oct. 19, alleged those converting to Christianity continue to use their Hindu names and credentials in official documents and draw benefits from the government’s reservation policy for Dalits and tribal people. “The central government should make a plan and do a survey to ensure that those people who are from the SC [Scheduled Caste, the official name for Dalits] and ST [Scheduled Tribes] communities and adopted Christianity don’t get the reservation benefits,” he demanded. Tiwari further accused Christian missionaries and Muslim clerics of acting as pressure groups to pass on the benefits of education and employment reservations in government institutions under India’s affirmative action program to those converted to their religions. “Since these religious groups claim their religions do not have any caste system and that every individual is equal, they do not come under the reservation schemes,” said Tiwari. He

RSS body demands action against Global Hunger Index surveyors for ‘defaming India’ The Swadeshi Jagran Manch urged the Centre to take steps against a German NGO which ranked India 107th among 121 countries on the index. The Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an affiliate body of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on Sunday urged the Union government to take action against German non-governmental organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe which last week ranked India 107th among 121 countries in the Global Hunger Index, PTI reported. The index has been prepared in an irresponsible manner to defame India, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch claimed in a statement. Ashwani Mahajan, the co-convenor of the body said that India was self-sufficient in food grains and a net exporter country. In the Global Hunger Index released on Friday, India fared worse than its neighbours Pakistan (99th), Nepal (81st) and Bangladesh (84th) for the second successive year. In 2021, India was ranked 101st out of 116 countries on the index that calculates the hunger levels and malnutrition across the world. This year, India had the highest child wasting rate in the world of 19.3%. Child wasting rate – one of the four indicators of the index – refers to the share of children under the age

In an interview with Karan Thapar and the activist discuss the report’s findings that the Delhi police and government did precious little to stop the violence. In an interview to discuss the recently released Citizens Committee report on the 2020 Delhi riots which, sadly, has not got the attention it deserves from the media, human rights activists and the founder of Karwan-e-Mohabbat, Harsh Mander agrees the report is “a devastating critique of our country”. He says: “It’s a credible, convincing indictment of all that has gone wrong in our country. It should have led to nationwide outrage. The fact that it’s barely being discussed reflects even more deeply how far the rot has gone.” In a 30-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Mander added: “The report underlines how dark a moment this is in India’s journey as a republic, how every institution is crumbling and with what consequences.” The interview first discusses in some detail the Citizens Committee report’s findings about the response, behaviour and alleged complicity of the Delhi Police. How they failed to act for three days even though they had received at least six internal alerts from the Special Branch. How the Committee has found a mass of information

Some Church leaders upset as all criminal cases under a scrapped provision of Information Technology Act are to be dropped Church officials in southern India have expressed concern over India’s Supreme Court asking to drop criminal cases filed under a controversial provision meant to ensure government control over social media. Human rights groups including a Catholic priest though say the move will stop the government machinery from unfairly targeting its critics and innocent citizens. The Supreme Court on Oct. 12 directed the federal and state governments to drop all cases initiated under the provision of section 66A of the Information Technology Act 2000, some seven years after it was scrapped. The provision criminalized online communication that was "grossly offensive, menacing,” or the sender knew to be false “to cause annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will.” A Bench led by Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit directed “all Directors General of Police as well as Home Secretaries of the States and competent officers in Union Territories to instruct their entire police force in their respective States/Union Territories not to register any complaint of crime with respect to alleged violation of section 66A,” reported The Hindu newspaper. Father Jacob G Palakkappilly,

External Affairs Minister meets American counterpart Antony Blinken External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his American counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, discussed human rights during their bilateral meeting on Tuesday. The two sides spoke of their commitment to further democracy, governance and human rights, Mr. Jaishankar said. He said each country approached these issues differently. “Each country approaches the set of issues from their history, tradition and societal context. Our yardstick for judgment are the integrity of the democratic processes, the respect and credibility that they command with the people, and the non-discriminatory delivery of public goods and services,” the Minister said at a joint press availability at the State Department. Questioned on F-16 assistance to Pakistan, U.S. says relationships with India, Pakistan distinct “India does not believe that the efficacy or indeed the quality of democracy should be decided by vote banks,” Mr Jaishankar said, adding that the two sides looked forward to a “healthy exchange” of views. Mr Jaishankar had told The Hindu in April this year at a press conference following the India-U.S. 2+2 Ministers meeting in Washington DC that people were entitled to have their views on India but that India was equally entitled to views on their views and the

For much of September, Leicester in the United Kingdom saw sporadic bouts of communal tension between Hindus and Muslims. The incident, while unfortunate, was purely a local law and order issue that the city police handled. Unusually, because of the charged communal situation in India, the issue became the focus of prime time television debates in India. A UK journalist pointed out that communal programming by India’s pro-government news channels, already under criticism for pushing hate, had “completely distorted” the events in Leicester. This mainstream media programming was driven by intense social media interest in India about these faraway events. A BBC investigation estimated that half of the tweets about tensions in Leicester actually originated from India. Much of the communal messaging that pushed hashtags such as #HindusUnderAttack displayed “classic signs” of “inauthentic activity, ie a likelihood that individuals are deliberately using multiple accounts to push a narrative”. The BBC singled out OpIndia, the Hindutva website based in India, for spreading misinformation around Leicester. Representing Hindutva, not India However, what was truly odd about this narrative over Leicester was that the government of India soon barged into the conversation. On September 19, the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom issued an official statement

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