On 25 April 2018, DSN-UK in collaboration with Amos Trust, Churches Dalit Support Network and with the support of the Methodist Church held an event in London on “Dalit theology on caste Discrimination”. Among the special guests was DSN-UK patron Revd Dr Vincent Manoharan from Tamil Nadu in India. As a keynote speaker Vincent spoke passionately about discrimination faced by Dalits in India. He outlined that Dalits face social, economic and political discrimination and violence.
“A study undertaken in 2004 in the state of Andhra Pradesh, which status still continues, revealed that more than 140 forms of untouchability practices exist against Dalits, right from the remote village to metropolitan cities.”
Vincent highlighted that Dalits face various forms of atrocities, including:
“killing, stripping naked/molesting/raping of Dalit women/pushing them as jognis-the temple prostitutes, forcing Dalits to eat / drink inedible or obnoxious substance like human excreta, maiming of limbs, destructions of homes and threatened to vote or not to vote to a particular candidate during elections”.
Dalits also continue to face deprivation as majority of them are poor, struggling to access basic goods and services such as land, education, employment, food, health, drinking water etc. Moreover, despite the reservations, policies and programmes directed at improving the situation of Dalits, their voices remain unheard and underrepresented in India’s politics.
Vincent also observed that caste-based discrimination against Christian Dalits exists with the Church in India. He noted that Dalits face discrimination within the hierarchy of the Church as well as in the Church based institutions. He ended his presentation by looking at the ways to end caste-based discrimination within the Church through practical theology.
Other two speakers were Dr Elizabeth Joy from the Churches Dalit support Network and Rev Dr Jacob Devadason.
The event in London was followed by two other events, in Birmingham and Manchester, where Vincent spoke on the same topic.
We are very thankful to the Amost Trust for their assistance in organising the events and Methodist Church for their support, without which these events would not have happened.