Caste & conversion: another layer among the SCs
The Scheduled Caste (SC) community has to actively push for the recognition and emancipation of their Abrahamic counterparts, who still lag behind the opportunities.
Criteria for SC Status:
- Historical status: As per the anthropological and census enquiry of the British administration, a Scheduled Castes Order was passed in 1936 stated that “Indian Christians” and “Bengali Buddhists or tribal religion” practitioners were excluded from the list of Scheduled Caste.
- Statutory orders: According Section 2 of the Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order of 1950, to the “No person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste”.
- ‘Untouchability’ a criteria: The Scheduled Caste list is religion-neutral but untouchability is a doctrinal feature of the Hindu Brahminic society.
Dilemma with Dalit ‘Christians’ and ‘Muslims’:
- Original Identity unidentified: It is difficult to identify their original religion of origin whether they got converted from Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism.
- Just for Caste-based votes: A new constituency of SC Muslims or SC Christians will add another layer to the divisiveness of the SC category, which is already fraught with caste divisions.
- Less to acquire: In the redistribution of state resources meant for the Scheduled Castes, the generationally advantaged educational groups will have more to draw from.
- Difficult to revert back to their ancestral status: The converted Muslims and Christians who were dalits to uplift their status are suffering from lack of defined benefits and thus want to get back to their original status.
- Exacerbate caste division: Their voting patterns, educational portfolio, and employment opportunities starkly identified for political benefits, creating animosity among SCs.
- Blurred contributions: People who converted to Islam, this sudden shift divorced them from the cause of their struggle for Islam.