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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

Delhi-based Concerned Citizens Group is hoping to involve AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal in talks between the two faiths Activists from Sikh organizations shout slogans after offering prayers at the Golden Temple on the 38th anniversary of Operation Blue Star in Amritsar on June 6 Representatives of different faiths in New Delhi have begun work to establish peace between Christian and Sikh minorities at loggerheads in Punjab over religious conversions. The growing number of churches and churchgoers in the Sikh-majority state in north India has led to sporadic friction with Sikh religious organizations who accuse Christians of using forceful and fraudulent means of conversion. A C Michael, convener of the Concerned Citizens Group in New Delhi said in a press note issued on Aug. 12 that the group at its recent meeting decided to meet Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is also the founder and leader of the Aam Adami Party (AAP) that rules Punjab. The interreligious group “feels that the good offices of Mr. Kejriwal could play an important role in bringing about a much-needed peaceful atmosphere between two clashing groups as Mr. Kejriwal enjoys the goodwill of both communities,” Michael said. AAP’s Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had called the latest attack on a

The Oxfam alleged that the Income Tax survey was undertaken without giving a reason. It said that in January 2022 they had a detailed week-long audit of the FCRA accounts by the auditors appointed by the FCRA division. In a latest development in connection with the Income Tax raids which were going on for three days at multiple locations and at the offices of Centre for Policy Research, a think tank, Oxfam India, Bengaluru-based non-profit Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF) in connection with the alleged tax evasion, all the firms submitted they did not do anything unlawful. Oxfam India on Friday issued a statement and said that the Income Tax department officials conducted an Income Tax 'survey' at its Delhi based office from September 7 to September 9. "During these 35 plus hours of non-stop survey, the Oxfam India team members were not allowed to leave the premises; the internet was shut down and all the mobile phones were confiscated. The Income Tax survey team took away hundreds of pages of data pertaining to finances and programmes of Oxfam India. They also took all the data by cloning the Oxfam India server and the private mobile phones of the senior leadership team

On the eve of the US hosting the first in-person Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) Ministerial in Los Angeles, a group of more than 40 influential lawmakers on Thursday urged the Biden administration for a robust engagement with the Congress on this critical trade issue. A letter written by Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Rosa DeLauro, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders, along with 42 House Democrats urged the Biden administration to learn from the failures of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The first in-person IPEF Ministerial in Los Angeles, beginning Thursday, is being attended by Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal among others. "We urge you to consider the lessons of past trade negotiations that too often were conducted in secret, with members of Congress, workers and their unions, environmentalists, and consumer advocates largely unable to review text and ensure their interests were addressed,” the lawmakers wrote. "…If negotiations on IPEF and APEP proceed, we urge you to ensure that any agreement benefits American workers, not corporate offshoring, and to provide Congress and the public with clearer insight into your approach to the negotiation process, including through robust consultation throughout the process and congressional approval of any binding commitments,” it said. The letter

Bengaluru-based trustIPSMF funds some media organisations known for investigative stories that question the governments of the day Searches at the Centre for Policy Research office in Delhi's Chanakyapuri started around noon. The Income Tax Department is conducting searches at the Delhi offices of independent think tank Centre for Policy Research and charity organisation Oxfam India; and at Bengaluru-based Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF) that partly funds a number of digital media outlets such as The Caravan, The Print and Swarajya. No response has yet been received from any of the organisations facing action. Sources in the tax department told NDTV that the "surveys" are connected to simultaneous action in Haryana, Maharashtra and Gujarat, among other places, "over funding of more than 20 registered but non-recognised political parties". News agency PTI said, citing sources, that the action is part of a probe over foreign donations. No official statement is out yet. Bengaluru-based trust IPSMF funds some organisations known for investigative stories that question the governments of the day. The most recent cover story in The Caravan — a magazine and portal backed by the Foundation — questioned a probe report that cleared PM Narendra Modi of any role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. The Supreme

States ordered to verify allegations of persecution after federal government described cases as fake Christian leaders have lauded India’s top court for directing the states to verify allegations of persecution against the community people after the federal government refuted their complaints as baseless. “We are satisfied with the Supreme Court order,” Archbishop Peter Machado of the Archdiocese of Bangalore (now Bengaluru) told UCA News on Sept. 5. Archbishop Machado, based in Bengaluru, capital of southern Karnataka state, is one of the petitioners in the public interest litigation (PIL) that sought direction to end the persecution against Christians in the country. A division bench comprising Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli in an interim order directed chief secretaries of eight states to verify allegations of persecution of Christians listed in the PIL. The verification, the court said, would help it know the reality after the federal government described the incidents listed in the PIL as fake cases and urged the court to dismiss the petition. The top court in its Sept. 1 order also directed the states to provide information such as preliminary police reports, status of investigation, arrests made and charges filed. The top court also directed the petitioners to provide a detailed breakdown of the

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