In a promising development for Christians in India, a Commission has been asked to investigate whether a government benefit for society’s poorest people can be extended to include minority religions, including Christianity.
Good news has emerged from India with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of India appointing a Commission to investigate whether the Scheduled Caste benefit can be extended to minority religions, including Christianity.
Scheduled Castes are the most disadvantaged in Indian society (or Dalits) who have access to different government support, such as political representation, banking services and subsidised education. However, the country’s Constitution currently stipulates that no person who professes a religion different from Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism can be a member of a Scheduled Caste.
Removing the threat of ‘delisting’
Not only does this mean that Christians (as well as other religious minorities, such as Islam) who are living in poverty are deprived of the vital protection and benefits afforded under the Scheduled Caste designation, it also means that those who leave a religion covered in the Constitution to one that is not are at risk of being ‘delisted’.
In the case of Christian converts, given that many of them are already at acute risk of persecution for converting in the first place, being stripped of this status will bring additional hardship and marginalisation. Additionally, since the threat of ‘delisting’ hangs over anyone who is living in poverty and decides to convert to Christianity, taking away this possibility altogether will remove a potential barrier from some people deciding to follow Jesus.
K G Balakrishnan, former Chief Justice of India, will lead the Commission. He is from a Dalit background, which is positive for Christians, who will be among those who will serve as witnesses during the hearings. The Commission is required to submit its report within two years.
This is a critical matter for our brothers and sisters in India and comes as the Supreme Court investigates the growing number of attacks on Christians in many parts of the country. These are potentially very positive developments for our Indian family. Please pray for outcomes that lead to real change for Christians across the country.
- For the independency of the Commission so that it will be able to conduct an unbiased investigation
- For the protection of those involved in the Commission and those who will give evidence
- For positive outcomes from this investigation and the Supreme Court’s hearing, leading to real change for Christians in India.
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