CBCI Office for Scheduled Castes/Backward Classes and Committee for Tribal Affairs
CHAIRMAN
Most Rev Anthonisamy Neethinathan
Bishop of Chingleput
Add : Catholic Bishop’s House Thimmavarum,Kancheepuram Dt. – 603 101 (Tamil Nadu )
Tel (O) : 044-27426649
Fax (O) : 044-27431784
Mobile: (0)9443338643
Email (Office) : chengaidiocese@yahoo.co.in
E-mail(P) :bpneethi@gmail.com
Website:www.chengaidiocese.org
MEMBER
Most Rev. Vincent Barwa
Bishop of Simdega
Add : Bishop's House, P.O.Simdega - 835 223, Dt Simdega
(Jharkhand)
Mobile: (0)9771037422, (0)8809915742
E-mail: Vincent_barwa@rediffmail.com

Most Rev. Sarat Chandra Nayak
Bishop of Berhampur
Add : Bishop's House, Pukudibandha Junction,Narendrapur P.O.-760007 Ganjam Dist. (Odisha)
Tel (O) : 0680-6450442
Mobile: (0)9437681965
Email (O) : bishopofberhampur@gmail.com

SECRETARY
Fr. Z. Devasagayaraj
Add : CBCI Centre, 1, Ashok Place,
New Delhi - 100 001
Tel (O) : 011-23344470,23344695
Tel. (P): 01123362669
Fax (O) : 011-23364615,23715146
Fax(P):011-23362669
Mobile:(0)8802025025
E-mail (O) : cbciscst@gmail.com
E-mail (P) :devasagayaraj@gmail.com
Website:www.dalitchristianscbci.org

COMMITTEE FOR TRIBAL AFFAIRS :
CONVENOR
Most Rev. Vincent Barwa
Bishop of Simdega
Add : Bishop's House, P.O.Simdega - 835 223, Dt Simdega
(Jharkhand)
Mobile: (0)9771037422, (0)8809915742
E-mail: Vincent_barwa@rediffmail.com
SECRETARY
Fr Stanislaus Tirkey SJ
Add : CBCI Centre, 1-Ashok Place, Gole Dakkhanna, New Delhi - 110 001
Tel (O) : (011) 23344470, 23344695
Fax (O) : 23364615
Mobile:(0)9868011663
E-mail : cbcist@gmail.com
E-mail(P):stanytirkey@gmail.com

The Commission for SC/ST/BC is the official body of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India formed for the overall development of the Dalits, Tribals and Backward Classes. Dalits mean broken people referring to the untouchables who suffer the stigma of untouchability. Realizing its responsibility to uplift the downtrodden, the CBCI General Body meeting held inGoa in 1986 established the Commission for SC/ST/BC. The Standing Committee in April 2006 constituted a separate ‘Committee for Scheduled Tribes.’ It functions in close collaboration with the Office for SC/ST/BC so that more attention could be given to the issues of the Scheduled Tribes in the country.

VISION
  • To empower Dalits, Adivasis/Tribals
  • To organize and to build inclusive communities.
NATURE AND SCOPE
  • To lobby and to do advocacy with the policy makers for empowering Dalits, Advasis/Tribals, Dalit Christians and Tribal Christians.
  • To network with other churches, NGOs and peoples’ movements
  • The specific task would be to get equal rights for the Dalit Christians and to protect the rights of the Tribal Christians. Though their social and economic development is the concern of the Office, specific development works are done by the Caritas India and other CBCI Commissions.

ROLE
To coordinate, to inspire and to animate the regional commissions.

DALITS
The Indian society is structured according to the hierarchical caste system that has pushed the Dalits to the lowest level down the centuries with the denial of right to education, property, development and participation. Caste is the most flagrant attempt in the history of humankind to institutionalize inequality with religious and philosophical foundations. Driven by acute poverty, unemployment and illiteracy, the vast majority of Dalits are engaged in menial jobs, undergo extreme exploitation, inhuman treatment and atrocities. The term ‘Scheduled Castes’ is an administrative concept introduced by the British administration.

ADIVASIS/TRIBALS
The Tribals were the indigenous people of this land. In spite of various invasions they have maintained their separate identity. They have had a history of isolation which gives in many ways a unique character to their problems. They are faced with the task of achieving integration without doing violence to their rich cultural and artistic heritage. They face challenges of poverty, illiteracy and social prejudice. In the name of development they are displaced, made landless and uprooted from their dwelling places.

In the case of the Dalits an important problem is to break through the barrier of untouchability, not simply in its formal legal sense but in its wider social application. Both the Dalits and Tribals suffer the crucial problems of displacement and land alienation due to the process of globalization. According to the Census of India 2001, 16.2%, i.e 162 millions are the Dalits and 8.6, i.e., 86 millions are the Adivasis/Tribals.

Backward Classes
They belong to the backward castes but do not suffer the stigma of untouchability. They are economically poor.

The Dalit and Tribal Christians
Of the 24 million Christian population, the Dalits constitute about 16 millions and the Tribals 2 millions. Together they form 18 millions. Majority of these Dalit Christians are in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Most of the Tribal Christians live in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Northeastern states.

Thrice Discriminated
Dalit Christians are thrice discriminated people within the church, within the society and by the State. Dalits embraced Christianity seeking a better life with dignity. But they experience discrimination within the church. The dominant caste converts do not accept the people of lower castes as their equals. Unchristian and discriminatory practices are being continued within the church. Whether Christians or Hindus, the dominant caste people treat the Dalit Christians with the same contempt and subject them to the same ill treatment as their Hindu counterparts.

Discrimination by the Government
The third paragraph of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950, popularly known as the Presidential Order, stipulates that "no person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of Scheduled Caste." Even a cursory reading of the Order reveals its discriminatory nature. By restricting the benefits to a particular religion, the Order has divided the entire Dalit community on the basis of religion. Instead of caste and socio-economic backwardness being the criterion for reservation, the linkage of caste and religion is treated as the crux of the problem.

The Order violates the letter and spirit of many articles of our Constitution. Article 15 says: "The State shall not discriminate against any citizen only on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them." But here we see the state itself discriminating the Dalit Christians on the basis of religion.

Church’s Response to Caste Discrimination and Untouchable Practices
The Church leaders have accepted that caste discrimination and untouchable practices exist within the church and exhorted the people to move towards greater equality. Pope John Paul II on 17 November, 2003 in his address to a group of bishops from Tamil Nadustated: “They (Christians of SC origin) should never be segregated from other members of society. Any semblance of a caste-based prejudice in relations between Christians is a countersign to authentic human solidarity, a threat to genuine spirituality and a serious hindrance to the church’s mission of evangelization. Therefore, customs or traditions that perpetuate or reinforce caste division should be sensitively reformed so that they may become an expression of solidarity of the whole Christian community.”

The Statement of the CBCI (Mangalore January 1978) says: “The dignity of man confers certain inalienable rights upon him, whatever be the accident of his birth. Any curtailment or, what is worse, denial of these rights is an act of injustice. Hence, discrimination of any type must be part of our Christian concern. When, unfortunately, it is practiced within the Church itself, it becomes a counter-sign to the Gospel values we profess.” The Statements of the CBCI in Kottayam (1988), Varanasi, (1998) and other statements have called caste discrimination not only a denial of human dignity and equality, but also against the fundamental teachings of Christ.

Activities
  • Lobbying, Advocacy and Struggle for equal rights to Dalit Christians.
  • Meeting the political party leaders, Prime Minister, President, Ministers, Members of the Parliament
  • Conducting rallies, demonstrations, signature campaign in the international level and national level.
  • Animation work at the regional level in order to establish commissions at the regional and diocesan level.
  • Intensive Coaching for Employment with a special emphasis on the coaching for Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams.
  • Support the Public Interest Litigation Case in the Supreme Court by providing the relevant materials and books.
  • Collaborate with a Dalit Lay movement called National Council of Dalit Christians (NCDC).
  • Work jointly and collaboration with the National Council of Churches (NCCI) under the banner of National Coordination Committee for Dalit Christians(NCCDC)