Thursday, April 10, 2008

** Caste not sole factor.. SC

'Caste not sole factor for backwardness'
Pioneer News
April 11

The Supreme Court on Thursday held caste as one of the determining but not the sole factor to decide social and educational backwardness of an individual.

"Determination of backward class cannot be exclusively based on caste. Poverty, social backwardness, economic backwardness, all are criteria for determination of backwardness," Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said.

The list of socially and economically backward classes (SEBCs) is not solely based on caste, hence their identification is not violative of Article 15(1) of the Constitution, he said.

"When SEBCs are determined by giving importance to caste, it shall not be forgotten that a segment of that caste is economically advanced and they do not require the protection of reservation," he said.

However, the five-judge Bench, upholding the Central Act to provide 27 per cent reservation to OBCs in Central institutions, discarded the contention of anti-quota activists that castes cannot be used even as one of the criteria for identifying SEBCs.

"Caste plays an important role in determining the backwardness of an individual. In society, social status and standing depend upon the nature of the occupation followed," the Chief Justice said. "Caste is often used interchangeably with class and can be called as the basic unit of social stratification," he said.

The petitioners had contended that caste cannot be the basis for reservation as with the change in time, the caste system has undergone change and many persons have shifted their traditional occupations and have become doctors, engineers and lawyers. Related stories below:
1) Caste vs. Merit @

2) Sachar >> : Sachar report and logic

3)Who will save Harijans? @

4)Dalit Christians @
1,000 Dalit Christians to reconvert to Hinduism in TN
13 Apr 2008

CHENNAI: Thousand members who belong to Dalit Christian community will officially get reconverted into Hinduism on Monday in Tirunelveli town in a colourful function being organized by Hindu Monks Tamil Nadu Council.

This event gains significance in the backdrop March 9 police shootout in which two people were killed when clashes broke out between the members of upper caste Catholics and Dalit Catholics.

Speaking to TOI, Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) president Arjun Sampath said: "185 families of Dalit Christians will formally return to Hinduism. All of them hail from the interior villages of Tirunelveli district. This event is being organized on the occasion of Ambedkar’s birthday."
HMK had earlier tried to hold the event at Nellayappar temple in Tirunelveli. However, the HR&CE department which governs the temple refused permission saying that the temple premises could not be used for such purposes.

"So, we’re now holding the function at Nellai Sangeetha Sabha - which is a private hall", Arjun said. It’s learnt the function will start with a ganapathi homam and would be followed by prayaschitha yagam (atonement ritual) and sudhi chadangu (purification rite)

"We’ll purify all those who return to Hinduism by sprinkling ‘ganga theertha’ and ‘sethu theertha.’ We’ve specially brought waters from Rameshwaram sea and the Ganges for this purpose", Arjun said and added all of them would also be bestowed with holy Hindu names.

Further, those who want to follow Saiva cult would be given bhasmam (sacred ash) and a string of rudraksha while the vaishnavite converts would be given namam (tilak) and a string of tulsi. The Dalit Christians who return to Hindu fold would also be given a mantra deeksha (formal initiation) both in Sanskrit and Tamil.

HMK has also engaged the services of several notaries who would be present during the re-conversion function. "The members who return to Hindu fold will take an oath before them and sign affidavits. Later, we’ll get the conversion certificates from Arya Samaj to get their names changed in the gazette", Arjun said.

Depending on the success of this re-conversion, HMK also plans to re-convert 20,000 Christians in Villupuram district. "We’ll take it up in August", Arjun said.

India has a total 24 million Christian population. Of this Dalit Christians constitute 15 million while tribal Christians account for 3 million.

In Tamil Nadu, Dalit Christians complain of discrimination at the hands of upper caste Christians. They have separate burial grounds and seating arrangements.

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