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Dr EmanualNahar

All of these articles by Dr. Emanual Nahar

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Ambedkaertimes.com congratulates Dr. Emmanuel Nahar (Department Political Science DCS Panjab University Chandigarh) on being nominated by the Chancellor of Panjab University, the Hon'ble Vice President of India, to the Senate of the Panjab University , the governing body of the university, for a period of four years 2009-12.

Posted on November 07, 2008


Dr. Emanual Nahar
Department of Political Science DCS Panjab University Chandigarh

Dalits throughout India also suffer in many instances form de-facto disenfranchisement. While India remains the world’s largest democracy for many of its Dalit Citizens, democracy has been Sham. During the elections, many are routinely threatened and beaten by political party, landlord, upper caste in order to compel them to vote for certain candidates. They already under the thumbed of local landlords and police officials, Dalit villagers who do not comply has been harassed, beaten and murdered.

Human Rights were solemnly proclaimed as universal by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Today, a large number of countries have joined the international body and accepted this declaration as the varitable Magna Carta.. The concept of human rights is though as old as the ancient doctrine of natural rights founded on natural law, the expression human is of recent origin. It is only natural rights, which eventually lead to the formation of human rights. Human rights are those minimum rights, which every individual must have against state or other public authority by virtues of his being a member of human family, irrespective of any other consideration.

In the language of United Nations commission for Human Rights. Human rights could be generally defined as those rights which are inherent in our nature and without which, we cannot live as human beings. 1 Former chairperson, Human Right Commission Justice Venkatchaliya has defined: Human Rights in there own nature and without we cannot live as human beings. An importance of Human Rights has increased. Piano and Oltan have stated that human rights are those rights which are considered to be absolutely essential for the survival, existence and personality development of a human being. 2

Human Rights are mans to a greater social end, and it is the leged system that tells us at any given point in time, which rights are considered most fundamental in society. Even if human rights are thought to be inalienable, a moral attribute of person that the state cannot contravene the rights still have to be identified. It means it has to be constructed and codified in the leged system.

The subject of human right is, therefore, of Universal concern, cutting across Ideological, Political and cultural boundaries. These rights are essential for the full development of the human personalities and for human happiness. The concept of human rights has been regarded as the backbone of democracy in the modern world. The Both nationally and internationally and almost all over the world, human rights have now become a live issue and hallmark of present civilization. The foundational norm governing the concept of Human Rights is that of respect for human personality and its absolute worth, regardless of colour, race, sex and religion or other consideration. Today, Human Rights are internationally agreed values, standards or rules, regulating the conduct of states towards their own citizens and towards non-citizens. (i) The aim of a Universal System of human rights is to revise and restore human dignity in all societies (ii) To create human personality (iii) To abolish discrimination (iv) To create congenial type of conditions of life (v) To make reasonable opportunities for the full development. The real significance of the declaration lay in the push it give to the movement of Human Rights in the positive direction.


The Universal Declaration Human Rights (December, 1992) sets out 30 Articles and divided into two kinds. The first refer to Civil and Political rights and the second are economic, social and cultural rights. Article 1 and 2 of the declaration states that all human beings specially dalits are born equal in dignity and rights are entitled in the declaration without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, religion. 3

Inspite of this, the dalits and minorities in India as such do not enjoy rights in the Declaration. Article 3 of the UDHR states "; Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." This has been reiterated by Article of the International Conneaut on Civil and Political Rights adopted on December 16, 1966 and entered into force on March 23, 1976 . Every human being has the inherent right to life. The rights shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the life. Similarly, Article 21 of the Constitution of India (COI) provides for the protection of life and personal liberty "No person shall be deprived his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by Law". 4

Article 7 of UDHR states "All are equal before the law are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law, and one the other side, one can compare this with article 14 of the COl" the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law of the equal protection of laws within -the territory of India. Some other principles underlying the provisions of two major UN declarations find an echo in the COl. First, Article 18 of the UDHR states " Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. Secondly, Article 1 of the Declaration of the Elimination of all forms of intolerance and of Discrimination (DEID) on religion or belief, adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 25, 1981 , states; Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In tune with this spirit, Article 25 of the CO! provides for freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion. 5


The present world Schedule scenario has witnessed a dramatic rise in the violation of human rights all over the globe and India is no exception. The human rights violation of Dalits is one of major problems of this country. In the last 59 years of India ’s independence the Dalits in India have been targeted. They are denied access to land forced to work in degrading conditions, and routinely abused at the hands of the police and upper caste community members who enjoy the state’s protection. Caste motivated, rapes and other abused are a daily occurrence in India . Between 2001 to 2002 close to 50,000 cases were registered under the SCs/STs prevention of Atrocities Act. The dailt oppressed socio-economically, politically, religiously, culturally and they are also known as Schedule Caste, Schedule Caste tribes, Dasyas, Avarnas, untouchables, Harijans, Girigans, Dasas, etc. discrimination against them in all pervading and has religious sanction. The Indian Constituent guarantees to all citizens, the fundamental rights and the equal protection of the laws. It provides a number of safeguards to dalits to ensure their all round development and protection against all kinds of exploitation the daltis in India . But most of the provisions of the constitution have remained only on paper because their implementation has been faulty half hearted and inadequate and inequality, discrimination, exclusion and stigmatization can jointly contribute to the utter maraginalisation of scavengers in India . No doubt, dalits were never given any human rights or treated with dignity, hence cannot be restored to them as such. 6

Dalits are one of the marginalized and neglected section of the Indian society who continue to suffer from utter violation of their human rights even today. The constitution of India promises to protect SCs/STs form social injustice and all forms of exploitation. But the state has not been able to protect them. Even Article 1 of the universal declaration of Human Rights states:

“ All human beings one born free and equal in dignity and rights. But caste system of India gives different status to different persons on the basis of caste, no one is free from the stigma of caste. Dalits are slaves by birth.”

The report of the National Commission for SCs/STs issued in 1997 highlighted that untouchables, the imposition of social disabilities on persons by reason of their birth in certain castes was still practiced in many forms throughout the country. The report described caste based discrimination:

  • Dalits bridegrooms were not permitted to ride a mere in village.
  • Dalits are not allowed to sit own charpoys.
  • Dalits cannot draw water from hand-pumps and common wells.
  • Separate houses for dalits.
  • Untouchablility still practiced.
  • Atrocities after elections on dalits

Even the UNO Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination has observed in its Indian report that India has failed to protect its marginalized people, the Untouchable and the tribals. Even state has failed to punish the faulty. As per the constitutional provisions a number of measures both protective as well as the constitution of India has abolished ‘Untouchability’ and its practice in any form has been strictly forbidden. Latter, the Parliament enacted Untouchability (offences) Act 1955 to give effect to Art. 17 make it more stringent. It could be seen that some change has occurred. The practice of Untouchability was relatively less in the political sphere but its magnitude was still very high in access to the village temple, religious community events, high caste water (public) taps, water tank and in international social relations. The Act 1955 was amended in 1976 and was renamed as the Protection of Civil Rights Act. 1955, but this Act, along with the normal provision of the Indian Penal Code had been found to be inadequate in providing safeguards to the Schedule Caste against several crimes. Thus, yet another Act, known as the Schedule Caste Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 was also passed by the Indian Parliament. In addition in pursuance of the constitution 65 th Amendment Act, 1990 a National Commission for dalits was constituted with wide functions and powers of civil courts to take up matters which are of vital importance for socio-economic developments of the dalits. In spite of these provisions the dalits are facing many problems. National Commission of SCs/STs from the state government/UT statement showing offence and maximum atrocities in UP, MP, Rajasthan and Gujarat (in 1993-1997)

National Commission SCs/Sts Report from 1993-1997 7

Sr. No.



Grievous offence



Other IPC




































The atrocities on them are increasing day by day 8 and Dalits have been massacred by the upper caste after the independence of India there are a large number of private Senas which are engaged in these humans massacres of Dalits in Indian Society.

  • Kumher Massacre: Bharatpur (Rajasthan) about 500 house of dalits were set on fire. 13 persons were killed 27 injured and 9 were missing.
  • Chunder Carnage (Andhara Pradesh), 1991 all the dalits of Chundur village were murdered in a planed way.
  • Deoli Massacre (Mainpuri) in UP, 24 dalits were butchered Nov. 18, 1981 , and 14 dalits of Kafalta village were killed in 1980.
  • BajitpurMassacre: Nov. 15,1978 , 168 families of Bajitpur villager in Bihar were killed. In 1997, 25 dalits were killed by Ranvir Sena, again in 63 dalits were slaughtered in 1997.

The rising trend of crime against dalits in reflected in the fact that in 1981, recorded cases of murder, rape, arson and other offences. These increased figures of nation crimes and atrocities have been doubled at present time. Even there are thousands of such cases which either are not reported or hushed up at local level.


Article 23 of Col and Article 4 of the UDHR states that every one has the right to life, liberty and the security of person and no one shall be held in slavery or servitude. But the basic human rights is being grossly violated in India . 20 lacs bounded labours in India , dalits from a sizeable number and they are bounded against debt. Although bounded labour has been legally abolished under the bounded labour system Act 1976, but it still exists in India . The first systematic survey of bounded labour was carried by the Gandhi Peace Foundation and the National Labour Institute in 1978. 9

  • Total 2.62 million of 1000 villages in states in the ten states
  • 61.5% SCs/STs and 25.1% STs were bounded labour in these states and;
  • Majority percent in Agricultural section (89%)
  • Category of bounded labours: stone Quarries, migrant labours, Kilns, fishermen, forest labours.
  • States: Bihar labour in Punjab , sugarcan fields in Gujarat , Siri anda Palli in Punjab . Bhil Labours in Rajaasthan, Kamia in Chhatigarh.

Compulsion of marriage within the caste alone violation of Article 16 of UDHR which states that marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses and without any limitation due to race and nationality. The dalits have no such freedom in selecting their spouse and anyone who dares to so is killed. Mr. Gurcharn Singh, a dalit who married a Jat girl Jasbir Kaur was brutally murdered by her brother on November 29, 1999 at Chandigarh. 10 Another case, a upper caste woman of Barnala married with Schedule Caste NRI. But police registered the case against Schedule Caste and harassed in 2005.

Article 6 of COI & Article 7 of UDHR States “ All are equal before the law are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law, and one the other side, one can compare this with article 14 of the COI, the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law equal protection of laws within the territory of India. Some other principles underlying. The provisions of two major UN declarations find an echo in he COI. First, Article 18 of UDHR states” Every one has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance is being violated in case of dalits. The caste system doesn’t allow them to become priests, to enter temples and read to religious books. The conversion of dalits into Christianity invites untold atrocities from caste Hindus and there have been numerous cases where the Christian priests, and the dalits have been harassed and killed in various parts of India .

In Article 23 (1) right to work, Article 23(11). Right to equal pay, and Article 26 right to education of UDHR find place in Indian Constitution under Article 41 Article 39(1) and Article 45. This basic human right is also being violated as far as daltis are concerned. The Indian caste system forces them to do only lower.-Jobs and their abilities and talents are just ignored. The reality is that the dalits are still denied their basic human rights and their legitimate development. In south India , thousand of dalits girls are forced to become Devedasis.

A profile of dalits in India shows Report of SCs/STs Commission (1994-96) Govt. of India New Delhi 11

According to this report their percentage of literacy 37.44% is far below that of the national average (52.21%) in the 1991 census.


Total populations




Dropout by high school


Below Poetry line


Agriculture labour


Dalits throughout India also suffer in many instances form de-facto disenfranchisement. While India remains the world’s largest democracy for many of its Dalit Citizens, democracy has been Sham. During the elections, many are routinely threatened and beaten by political party, landlord, upper caste in order to compel them to vote for certain candidates. They already under the thumbed of local landlords and police officials, Dalit villagers who do not comply has been harassed, beaten and murdered. 12


A group was set up (in 1996) by central government to tackle all the problems, which recommend that:- 13

  • Free Legal aid should be provided to the persons subjected to any disability arising out of Untouchatrlity”.
  • Special mobile courts should be set up in all the states of India
  • Effective and deterrent action should be taken in all reported cases.
  • The Schedule Caste organizations may be authorized to lodge complaints with the Police.
  • Prosecution machinery should be suitably strengthened the special PCR sell setup in the states should be given necessary powers to prosecute offenders.
  • Inter caste marriage should be encouraged.
  • To educate dalit youth group.
  • To protect human rights, serious efforts be made to end poverty, inequality and economic exploitation.
  • Freedom of thought and speech and to participate in decision-making and form associations.

The basic rights of Dalits are violated frequently in the country. Under these circumstances there is great need to change the mind set of upper class and to create for societal movement to ensure that the basic human rights. There is also need to educate and create awareness among the Dalits regarding human Rights. This kind of approach may yield for reaching result in the course of time. Apart form the above suggestion that there are provisions of reservation and representation political (reservation) in various bodies, reservation in government services admission to educational institutions and several other areas) to the dalit community in order to improve their access and participation in the economic, social and political spheres, which come under the category of promotional or development measures. To ensure dignity and self-respect to Dalits there is need to launch a democratic movement far and wide in India against the forces of status-quo and discriminations, while on the other hand there has to be global concern for human rights and action against age old practice of untouchbility and graded inequalities is required.  



  • Bacht. R. Peter (1999) Human Rights: University in Practice, Mac-Millan Press Ltd., Great Britian: p. 38.
  • Bishal Tapan (2006) Human Rights: Gender and Environment, Viva Books, New Delhi, pp. 60-61.
  • Bishal, Tapan (2006) op. cit., pp 73-74.
  • Ibid.
  • Ibid.
  • Singh, Ram Gopal and Gadkar, Ravindra Devendra, (ed.) (2004) Restoration of Human Rights and Dignity to Dalits, Manak, pp. 1-12.
  • National Commission of SCs/STs Report from 1993-1997, New Delhi, 1997.
  • Ibid.
  • See Report of Gandhi Peace Foundation and the National Labour Institute (1978), New Delhi.
  • The Tribune, (Nov. 29, 1999), Chandigarh.
  • See Report of National Commission of SCs/STs from (1994-96), New Delhi 1996.
  • Mishra, Pramod (2006) Human Rights Reporting, Isha Books, Delhi p 222.
  • Singh, Ram Gopal and Gadkar, Rivindra Devendra (ed.) op.cit. p. 82.

* Dr. Emanual Nahar, Deptt. of Pol.Science , DCS, Panjab University Chandigarh .

Posted on October 26, 2008

Dr Emanual Nahar

Marginality is one way of describing the condition of weaker sections
who was systematically excluded form participation in Indian Society.

1.0 The Concept of marginality

The concept of Marginality is generally used to analyse socio-economic, political and cultural spheres, where disadvantaged people struggle to gain access to resources, and full participation in social life. In other words, marginalized people might be socially, economically, politically and legally ignored, excluded or neglected and therefore vulnerable to livelihood change. ( ghana s. gurung and Michael Kollmair 2005 pp9-10). The following common definition of marginality. Laitin observes that ‘marginality’ is so thoroughly demeaning, for economic well-being, for human dignity, as well as for physical security. Marginal peoples can always be identified by members of dominant society and will face irrevocable discrimination.” (Laitin 1996 : 38-39)

Sommers to define the meaning of socio-economic marginality in his study that –

“Socio-economic marginality is a condition of socio-spatial structure and process in which components of society and space in a territorial unit are observed to lag behind an expected level of performance in economic, political and social well being compared with average condition in the territory as a whole” (Sommers et al. 1999, P.7)

B.B. Pande expressed in his article, “through economic marginalization is the root cause, marginalization was arise also on account of caste, tribe, religion, gender, regional factions, and geographical location as well as” generally those who suffer on account of caste and tribal disabilities are in most cases the ones who are the most marginalized as well. (Pande B.B.2007, pp392-394). The social disabilities of caste, tribe etc., are closely intertwined with the pre-feudal and feudal society disabilities that in a way created their own kind of marginalized and de-marginalization techniques. (Robinson Rowena, EPW 2007, pp839-843).

These definitions clearly indicate the marginality is a process that emerges and evolves with time in various types and scales under socio-economical and geo-political environment. Thus, it reinforces and reproduces and state of marginalization to a great extent (Kirkby, 2000). Colonization, apartheid and ethnicity can be taken as examples of situations where one group assumes superior status. In this process, marginalized people are often condemned for making their living in marginal environment despite the fact that they are unlikely to have access to resources needed to overcome restrictions imposed by marginal environment (Kirkby, 2000, Larsen, 2002a).

The marginalized sections in Indian society are primarily constituted by the fact of economic marginalization-that is, the product of multiple forms of resourcelessness like ‘landlessness, homelessness’, ‘joblessness’, etc. Economists and social scientists have commonly used the ‘Below Poverty Line’ (BPL) identification as the root cause of all forms of economic marginalized. In India , during the British rule and even after independence, a substantial section of the population could be identified as marginalized because of their BPL status.

Actually, the term marginality has also undergone a change in usage. In the 1980s, it was used for those who had become inactive in their religious community (Albrecht et al., 1988). by the 1990s however, those who were merely inactive members were now said to be peripheral members. The marginal term members’ was now reserved for those were still members but who are expressing dissatisfaction, attaching either the doctrines or the practices of the group or rallying disaffected individuals (Barkar, 1998, pp. 76-83). Dissidents’ would be an equally good name and is probably more precise. Between the core members and the marginal there is, of course, a spectrum of positions and it is not easy to define at what point one become a marginal.

1.1 Dalit Christians and Marginality

This study paper is confided the study of politics of marginality and dalits Christians in Punjab . Although, the issue of marginalisation in a nation state such as India has been widely discussed by various scholars. Very few have attempted to offer a systematic analysis of the issue through a theoretical or conceptual basis. This study examines the socio-economic conditions of specially Christian Community of Punjab . In the State of Punjab , they have been socio-economically oppressed, culturally subjugated and political marginalized for centuries. It is fact that backwardness of dalits have certainty altered their political aspiration and often denied them opportunities of entering into an active political life. Neither the centre nor the state government paid any special attention toward marginalized and neglected community i.e. Dalit Christians. They are not only ignored in the socio-economic spheres but also in political field by the centre and state government. Today, a section of Christians have now begun to identify themselves as ‘Christian Dalits’. They have launched a movement demanding the benefits of reservation similar to those of the Hindu Schedule Castes. (Ghanshyamshah, 2001, pp. 203-204).

The dalit Christians issues cannot be seen in an isolated manner from the rest of the dalits of India . These issues are relating to religious change and leading to socio-economic mobility, identify, differentiation stratification, urge for self determination and participation, movements toward viable and sustainable communities, reservation and discrimination as well as issue relating to dalit Women, official church and its personnel. Lancy Lobo rightly observed that the problems of Dalit Christians are not only social and religious but also economic and Political.

In Punjab , they are constituted about two percent of the total population of the state. In the Mahja region (borderland of state) percentage of dalit Christian’s population is highest amongst all districts of Punjab . A large numbers of people of this community are converted from the downtrodden class and adopted the Christian religion. They joined the Church seeking liberation and solace in the ‘New Community’. But the Churches failed to fulfill their expectations. There is cultural distance between the upper caste Christian’s clergy and Dalit Christians (Ghanshyan Shah, 2001, p29). In fact, the upper caste Christians have separate identity from other Dalit Christians families. A tussle between the upper and lower caste Christians is evidence in many churches particular in Kerala State . (M.N.Srinivas (ed) 1996.p272). But in Punjab , rural Christians (99 percent) in Punjab are landless marginal, backward, and poor along with low status and illiteracy are considered by Christian leaders to be the major problems. “They are socially depressed, economically backward and need and politically powerless community in Punjab .” (Emanual Nahar, 2007, pp153-154)

1.2 Socio-Economic Profile and Marginalization

Education: - Education is the catalyst that helps to form creativity, attitude, capacity, value and confers status. It is also an important variable which constitutes to the socio-economic status of a person or a group. Education is also a means which enabled them to break the physical distance in inter-personal relations imposed by castes differences. it is also a key for social mobility and providing a new opportunity life. So for the general literacy rate of Punjab is concerned that 69.95 percent (for males is 75.63 percent, for females it is 63.65 percent) Literacy among the dalit Christians is Punjab on the whole is still low.

Majority of the population of this community is residing in rural area of the Punjab ’s. This study shows that49.58 percent illiterate and 17.96 under metric 22.5 percent metric, and 10.41percent graduates. The borderland state of the Punjab has only less than 10 percent Christians are educated rest of the illiterate The literacy rate among Dalit Christians special border area is far below comparatively than schedule caste of Punjab .

Occupation: The survey of this study shows that 72.41 percent of the working population of Christians is engaged in agriculture sector in overall as Punjab . About 14.17 percent Christians are employed in various professions. In Punjab only 3.75 percent Christian possess agricultural land and more than 95 percent Christians are landless.

The majority of the Dalit Christian working as helper, Plaee, Paledri,roads and building labour, causal labour night soil labour, Bratha Labour and unskilled agricultural labours. They depend on the landowner for their daily bread. The system of Athri is in fact bounded labour system in which the person is bonded o his Sepi (Landowner) for the lifeline. The poor, illiterate and dalit people of this community specially in Mahja or border area of the Punjab belonging to this category.

The state of Punjab, has given a lot of benefits to SC’s/ST’s but these benefits are not meant for economically weaker section i.e. dalit Christians of Punjab and overall position of this community in Punjab as Community is marginal, poor and backward comparatively than other sections.

Income : There is al lot of differences between the annual Income of dalit Christians and other sections of the society. They are landless and have no any resource of income. Most of the dalit Christians are unskilled labours and agriculture labours. It is a fact that than 90 percent working in agriculture sector in rural area of Punjab and so majority of the dalit Christians belonged to lower income group.

1.3 Socio-Economic Marginality

Dalit Christians in Punjab were largely converted for the down trodden people of the society by missionary and adopted a Christian religion. Actually their socio-economic marginality and social degradation in society compelled them to follow the Christian religion. Very few Christians of the educated, employed and urban respondents claimed there is change of the socio-economic status of the Christians but majority of the respondents refused to accept there is no any type of change after adoption of Christianity in the Punjab . They have the same socio-economic conditions like other dalits of the society. Today, various denominations have failed to solve their socio-economic problems. even they unable to bring big changes in their status. The following table shows:-

  • High status 19.45 percent
  • Moderate status 30.14 percent Both urban and Rural Dalit/Christians of Punjab
  • Low status 50.41 percent

Christians do not enjoy state patronage which is given to other scheduled caste and backward classes. After conversion to Christianity, they have lost the right to reservation in government jobs. They stand at the lowest rural rung of the society among the Dalit classes specially in the border area of the Punjab . In this area, they remained socially separate and were forced to live in separate residential localities called Thathi. Due to poor conditions in rural area of Punjab they are also treated merely as ‘object’instead of as ‘subject’.

After 1947, Christian Community in Punjab has not gained either political or socially and their development has remained stunted. They are also ignored by the political parties and administrative set up. They are suffering from what is called ‘ structural violence’. They stand no where in the Jat Sikh dominated society; they have been neglected throughout on the basis of religion and suffer from what is called “Symbolic violence”. Although their conversion to Christianity was a protest against the ‘Obnoxious caste’ system but a change of religion as not cleared their scar.

Along with dalits, Dalit Christians also exploited by the rich man/landlord in various parts of the Punjab State . They are engaged by landlord at lower wages or to make them work without wages against their will. They could not organized themselves to raise a voice against the low wages. Actually the economic (Thraldom) of the dalits including Dalit Christians is aggravated by social disabilities and back of political influence.

In the agrarian society of the Punjab state, the status, conditions, prestige and power of any community caste or groups is determined by the possession of land and the land holders maintained their economic power and social superiority over the dalits by keeping them at a low economic level at rural revel. So for the Christians are concerned they are landless and have worse conditions still connected with their previous castes and treated ‘untouchable’. Even today, they are humiliated by higher castes because of their lower socio-economic status. They do not have their own separate identity, traditions and cultural values. Actually the dominant majority either Sikhs or Hindus generally powerful, are attempting to impose its own culture values on weaker sections in the Punjabi Society. So that is why they are also suffering from the stigmatized identity in the State of Punjab . (Emanual Nahar, 2007, pp-240-241)

1.4 Politics of Marginality and Dalit Christians

In the State of Punjab , Dalit Christians have similar conditions like dalits of society. They are ‘harmless creature’they has been targeted & harassed by landlords, police, fanatic and powerful person of the society and state has failed to punish and provide to security to Dalit Christians. The following acts and rules are enacted only for SC/ST in Indian society.


  • Protection Civil Right Act, 1955
  • Protection Civil Rule, 1977
  • SC/ST prevention of Atrocities Act 1989

These are supposed to give the SC/ST dalits special protection against various kinds of atrocities but not applicable to the Dalit Christians of SC origin. The fanatic and communal groups are playing dirty politics with this community to keep distance and to make discrimination on the basis of religion by debaring from these acts.

The third paragraph of the Presidential Order of 1950 also played politics with marginal community i.e. Dalit Christian on the basis of religion. This order was amended by the parliament to extend the constitution benefits to the Dalit Sikhs (1956) and the Buddhist (1990) along with the Hindus. But refused to give benefits to Dalit Christians. This order was anti-Dalit and it tended the divided the Dalit on the basis of religion. Actually frantic members of Parliament who played this politics with Dalit Christians and opposed this benefit. In Punjab , either Congress or Akali Party both are playing politics with this community.

Since 1952, there was the provision of legislative council in which every section of society had the provision for representation to which the community’s interest. This facility was also enjoyed by the Christian community from 1952 to 1967. When the Akali party come to power they moved a resolution to abolish legislature council with the help of congress MLA’s. After this not a single Christian was nominated or elected in the state of Punjab .

Recently, the Congress Government of Punjab (2007) has increased the reservation quota for Balmiki and Mazbi Sikhs through Amendment. But refused to give this benefit to Dalit Christians which was promised by the Congress party during election time. Punjab Assembly also recommended reservation for Rai Sikhs to the centre government and Parliament resolved to include Rai Sikhs in schedule caste list in Punjab . But refused to Dalit Christians. It is totally discriminates with their community on the basis of religion.

The dalit Christians is Punjab politically marginalized and powerless community in India . In the current Lok Sabha of 543 members there are only 8 Christians and 36 Muslims and 11 Sikhs in the Lok Sabha. All the Christians are from south. Not a single Christian from Northern India . Even, in the current Legislature Assembly of Punjab there are about 30 schedule caste, One Muslim. Since 1952, not a single Christian elected as a member of Legislature Assembly of Punjab so far. Actually economic backwardness and lower social background of the community and dominated sikh society has given them little or no scope in the Political arena specially in the state of Punjab .

1.5 Sum up

In Punjab , the dalit Christians is in microscopic minority, economically poor, political powerless, socially depressed. A change of religions has not cleaned their scar and not brought big changes. Both Congress and Akali both are playing politics with this community. There is a need to educate and create awareness among the Dalit Christians for social justice. The Christian leader should shoulder the responsibility and make sincere efforts to organize Christian community on one platform. They should join with all other dalit liberation organizations for socio-economic justice. On the other side, government should pay special attention for marginal community. It is also a moral duty of community that they should organize themselves and start a social movement for their rights.

1.6 Reference

Dr. Emanual Nahar, Deptt. Political, DCS, P.U. Chandigarh.

1. Pande, B.B. (2007) Criminality of the Marginalized Sections or the lumpen-Proletariat Criminality See in C. Raj Kumar and K Chockalingam, (ed) Human Rights, Justice and Constitutional Empowerment Oxford University Press, New Delhi, pp 392-394.

2. Robinson, Rowena (2007), Indian Muslims: The varied dimensions of marginality, Economic and Political weekly Vol. 42, No.10, pp. 839-843.

3. Tharamangalm J. (1996) Caste among Christians in India see in M.N. Srinivas ( ed) Caste its Twentieth century Avatar” Vivking by Penguin Books India, New Delhi, p. 272.

4. Nahar, Emanual (2007) Minority Politics in India : Role and Impact of Christians in Punjab Politics, Aurn Publisher, Chandigarh .

5. Darden, J. (1989) Blacks and other Racial Minorities: The Significance of Colour in Inequality. Urban Geography, Vol. 10.

6. Davis , B. (2003a) Marginality in a Pluralistic Society. Eye On Psi Chi 2(1):1-4.

7. Davis, B. (2003b). What is Marginality?

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Posted on September 07, 2008

Minority politics in India
Role and Impact of Christians in Punjab Politics

Dr. Emanual Nahar
Sr. Lecture, Political Science DCS Panjab University Chandigarh
Mobile No. 09815974293, Ph. No. 0172-2726868(R)

This study is confined to the problems of Indian Christians and more particularly to the Christian minority in Punjab. Regarding the History of the Christianity in India as well as in the Punjab, the various studies and traditions show that the history of Christians in India data back to Apostle St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ who not only visited South India but also came to Takshila in Northern India. This study shows that there is also historical evidence of Christian settlement in Kerala. It is also believed that traders from East Syria and Persia settled in Malabar and brought the traditions of the Church founded by St. Thomas with them the year 52 A.D. is now accepted of St. Thomas at Malabar in India.

This study in mainly related with an expansion of Christianity in Punjab. The Christian faith spread in Punjab virtually through conversion of the downtrodden people of the society by the missionaries. They were great by successful among the lower, deprived and depressed caste of the Punjab Society. They set up many educational and medical institutions and various places of Punjab.

They opened mission stations, Churches and hospitals. Most of these mission stations and school were supervised by a missionary. The Primary purpose of the missionaries who came to Punjab in the nineteenth century was evangelism. They preached the Gospal in town, villages and Basti and distributed sacred scripture among the people. Many outstanding educational institutions were established to develop the western education in the English language. They also worked only in those areas where the Dalit and depressed classes were neglected. So in the Punjab the missionaries were known mayhap of the downtrodden people. They tried to elevate the neglected classes to high social position.

The major focus of this study is to identify the socio-economic and Political conditions of the Christian community in Punjab. Inspite of their conversion to Christianity, they have suffered a serious discrimination, this study shows that Christian in Punjab converted from the down-trodden classes and adopted the Christian religion. After this they continued to face discrimination. Firstly, along with dalits in general, and secondly, on the basis of religion. Although their conversions to Christianity was a protest against the obnoxious caste system and though they had joined the Church seeking liberation and solace in the new community. A change of religion has not cleaned their scar. The Church has not only failed to fulfill their expectations but even discriminated against them.

After conversion to Christianity they have lost the right to reservation in government jobs. In the Majha region, they are always under debt and under the control of landlord class. A large majority of rural Christian of Majha region have deplorable conditions. Socio-economic problems have compelled them to work in the landlord fields. They are exploited socially and economically by the upper class and landlords. About 70 percent Christian have low economic status and 98 percent are landless and remained socially separated and still attached with old traditions of the previous caste. All these the facts shows that conversion to Christians has not brought a big Change in socio-economic, social status of the community especially in Majha region of the Punjab.

Their Dalit Christians caste origin is continuing to haunt them and is depriving them of equal rights even in the new religious structural to which they have converted. After independence, the state extended various benefits to the SC/ST for their welfare. How much of these benefits are extended to the Dalits Christians. They have to feel that they are blatantly ignored and denied state benefits.

Today, Christians are facing socio-economic problems. Their problems in general are an integral part of the overall Dalit problems in this country. They have a feeling that there is a violation of their constitutional rights. Discrimination against Dalit Christians in the matter of employment, promotion in public services, economic benefits and facilities in education is becoming the policy of the state. In general the state discriminates against their institutions in granting aid. The state government has imposed many limitations to prevent minority schools from appointing their own teachers.

This study in the nature of an essay in the political culture and political behaviour it relies exclusively on combination of historical/ empirical/case study methods. The study depends on the primary, secondary and field investigation sources. For the issue on the Christian participation in electoral political processes, data was collected through the survey and interview methods.

The Political participation, political activities and political understanding of the community were assessed by their general understanding of the political process prevailing in the country. Their openness to political activities, their capacity to organize themselves for any political expression in the total political frame work of the state politics. Three religions Majha, Malwa and Doaba (20 villages) rural and urban have been selected for comparative study to observe the socio-economic status and political participation to community.

  • The study analysis the major problems of Christians in India and shows that community bears a stigma imprinted by history and suffers from what is termed as ‘symbolic violence’.
  • The major problem faced by the Churches is the right propagates their religion and undertakes social, economic activities in India. It is always alleged by the some groups that the missionaries indulge in conversions in India by providing different type of facilities to the depressed classes.
  • The rural Christians population is mostly dependent on the landlords for their daily needs. Rural indebtedness which is a serious problem of the people in general has a serious impact on the socio-economic backwardness like Dalit Christians on limited borrowing for crossing to their capacity is a routine feature of the community. It is fact that lack of institutional credit facilities affected their social life particularly in case of labourers and also gives birth to bounded labour.

The study also analysis in the agrarian society of the Punjab that, the status, conditions, prestige and power of any community or caste or groups is determined by the possession of land, the traditional socio-economic set up was based on agricultural productivity and customary relationship upon all other villages and claimed their serious under the relationship which were called Jajmani relationship.

In the Punjab, the land holders maintained their economic power and social superiority over the Dalits by keeping them at a law economic level at rural level. But the new generation and educated from the dalits do not like to work in the field of landlord. They have crossed the limitations of landlords. They like to work near urban area. Migrated labour from UP, Bihar is taking occupation of dalits at village level. Such type of labour is preferred by landlords because it is cheaper.

The study shows, about 38.33 percent of the respondents from all the regions claimed there is change of the socio-economic status of the Christians. On the other side about 56.23 percent of the respondents refused to accept that there is no any type of change after adoption of Christianity in the Punjab. Conversions to Christianity have not bought a big change in their social status. The study shows a majority of the urban Christian of Majha, Malwa and Doaba that is 19.45 percent are in the higher status. In Doaba region Christian have better position. About 50-41 percent are in the low socio-economic status from the different regions. .

In urban areas occupation rigidity is of a different variety. They are doing jobs in missions, hospitals and educational institutions, government and semi-government departments or doing their own private business. On the other side, socio-cultural and economic conditions of the community differ from region to region and conspicuously and also from rural to urban areas. In general social status of the community is comparatively low as compared to other communities than the rest of the classes particularly in the boarder Majha region of the Punjab.

It is believed that the Indian Christian community was given a better treatment by the British government. Although they were granted identity in general and special representation provisions for religious, minorities were extended through the government of India Act of 1919 and 1935 but that is not much evidence that proper representation was given to Christian community along with other minorities. Secondly, they feel that they are being blatantly ignored and denied state benefits by the b^ Congress and Akali Dal in Punjab.

This study also analysis that Dalit Christians were betrayed by their own community leaders like H.C. Mookerjee, Raj Kumar and Amrit Kaur. They made recommendation to give up all special privileges which are given to Indian Christians. Dalit Christians have to feeling that the few upper caste leaders betrayed the million Christians have Dalit background.

In 1956 and 1990 Parliament amended the presidential order to extend reservation facilities to Dalit Sikhs and Buddhists on the basis of religion. So, it is continuing discrimination against the dalits Christians. It is discrimination on religious grounds and violation of articles 14-15 and 25 of the Indian constitutions which guarantee freedom and justice to all people.

It does not mean Indian democratic state is not providing any protection to minorities in India. Indian constitution recognizes religious minorities and different articles and provisions have been made for all the sections of the society. The drafting committed formulated the various general and specific provisions into many articles and placed them in Part XIV under the title Special Provision Relation to Minorities. The general provisions which are enjoyed by both majority and minority equally are called general provisions. The greatest safeguard for the religious minorities in a multi-religious society is that the secular state acts as a guardian of the religious minorities and treats all religion equally.

Economic backwardness and lower social background of the Dalit Christians give them little or no scope in the political arena which is a highly caste ridden and dominate society in Punjab. Although casteism in its primitive form is fast disappearing in urban and slowly in rural areas, but it is manifested now through other ways. Today, caste has become a political entity. Political leadership and active involvement in political process seem to be controlled by/economically stronger communities. It is difficult for economically backward Christians to make progress in Punjab politics. They are considered as negligible vote bank by the political parties. Basically, community lack ‘social pull’ which is essential in the political field. The Christians too is most parts of the Punjab suffer from the same disability.

The lack of cohesion is another important reason which has been responsible for hindering the Christian community from better participation in Political life in the Punjab. There are some problems:

1. The Christians community is scattered over a wide area of the state.

2. Group ism within local churches / missions.

3. There is no unity between the religious and lay leaders

4. Various denominations are not helpful to make the standing in the politics. Due to these problems, Christian’s community has no proper organization or political party. Neither individual lay leader nor a religious leader of community took an initiative or make effort to organize the community to lead the Christians on political path.

This study also analysis that Dalit Christians in Punjab are rarely found in active politics. There are a few Christians who are members of village Panchayats or town where there is considerable population of the Christians are elected automatically as community representatives. Although the community has not been in a position to win any election of Vidhan Sabha or Lok Sabha but they are a deciding factor about 15 Legislative Assembles and two Lok Sabha's seats. But they have no any political value in the village affairs. They study shows that Christians are very rare in political parties. Only an active and educated Christians have the awareness about the membership. Actually, at the rural level, majority of the Dalit Christians are attached with landlord and political leaders not with political parties. Secondly, their socio-economic conditions do not allow them for/active participation in Punjab politics. These-miserable conditions have much to do with the character of their active political activities. It does not seem to have affected their general political participation much.

This study shows indicates that all the regions of the Punjab, 90.83 percent in Majha, 90.00 percent in Malwa, and 95.00 percent in Doaba against of the Christian have active participation during the Panchayat/MC election. This study shows that it is not only a new trend among the Dalit Christians voters in Punjab but it is also through out the country. Economic status and participation in election process seem to be directly related. High income groups Christians are more interested in an active politics.

But one important finding during the survey time with regards to the voting behaviour of Dalit Christians in that, while the regular voters represented mostly lower education and economic levels. They were not concerned with party, ideology and manifesto. They were more concerned with groups of the landlords in the village. In the urban, Christians always vote on the basis of the party also prefer candidate's character, policy, programme, agenda performance, quality and integrity. Majority of the Christians were attached with congress party. With the passage of time, Christian voters shifting from Congress (I) party to other political parties. The reason is only that party could not fulfill the expectation of the community and shifting from congress and opted for alternatives behaviour they could find them. This change of allegiance is guided by the secular concern to assert in the power structure in order to gain benefits that may accrue from it, than by mere parochial interests. This has led them to search for alternatives as they are no longer prepared to accept for role of passive voter-supporters in the overall environment of subjugation and sub­ordination.

It has also been observed (1952-2007) from the results of various elections, that Christians are ' not influenced by communal and religious considerations in the exercise of their vote for example in 1977, 1985 and 1997 elections many Christians candidates contested the elections as an independents. They supported the Akali Dal and Janata Party alliance in 1977. In 1985, during the Longowal wave, Akali Dal managed to get the Christians support from many constituencies of Gurdaspur and Amritsar in Malwa region of the Punjab.

The Socio-Economic hierarchy of the upper caste and landlords in the Political institutions

This study deals with profession, property land and income of the community. Most of the Christians are unskilled and agricultural labours. They do not possess any land and property and do not fall in the higher group. They are not in a position to contest election and hierarchy of upper class an landlords in the political institutions do not allow them for active political participation in Punjab politics. After 1967, in Punjab the Sikh Community has made its dominance in congress as well as Akali Dal in the Punjab politics. This study shows Jat Sikhs have virtual monopoly over the political power in the state. The scope of minorities entirely depends upon the Sikh leaders.

The main findings and observation of the study:

  • Conversion to Christianity has not brought about a big change in the social status of Christians. In spite of their conversion of Christianity.
  • It is a fact that some selfish Christian priests use religion as instrument for collection money from the western countries by showing the social work and poverty in India. It is also fact that some independent groups and Churches is using social service as an instrument for making conversion in India.
  • Christians are suffering from stigmatized identity of their having remained untouchables, foreigners and powerless communities, secondly; dominating cultural and tradition of other caste, religious and groups of majority always impose its own culture and values in the powerless communities, the social identity and social relationship are determined by powerful majority rather than by minority norms and values.
  • It is also a fact that in the agrarian society of the Punjab state, the status, conditions, prestige and power of any community or caste or groups is determined by the possessions of land, the traditional socio-economic set up.
  • It is fact, that the economic backwardness of the Dalit Christians of Punjab is aggravated by social disabilities and lack of political influence.
  • In Punjab, socio-economic backwardness does not seem to have directly affected the general political participation. But this has greatly affected the entry of Christians interactive political involvement in Punjab.
  • The socio-economic hierarchy of the landlords and Jat Sikhs in the political institutions like Vidhan Sabha, Lok Sabha, Village Panchayat corporations, boards and cooperative societies are the principle means through which the landlords and upper caste deprive the dalits of the fruits of their labour.

In the conclusion, the disadvantage of socio-economic backwardness has certainly altered their political aspirations and often denied them opportunities of entering into an active political life. In Punjab the Christians community in minority and is economically poor, political powerless, socially depressed and needy in general. Politically, they are considered as negligible vote bank by political parties like congress or Akali Dal. Both parties are playing teachers to capture voters through various menas. The community’s limited participation in electoral has increased their bargaining power. A more complete and an active participation can change the political scenario of Punjab especially in Majha region, if they organize themselves politically. There is a need to educate their political rights. They also need to understand the political strategy and attitudes of Political parties and politics of upper caste in particular.

Posted on August 24, 2008

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