Post by: Hee Chan Yun
I am now working in Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) India as a legal intern. It is a 7-week internship and currently, our intern team is working on an important case of ADF that could possibly affect the lives of 2 million Christians in India.
Casteism was officially practiced in India and although it is now constitutionally forbidden, it had been so deeply rooted in society that it is still being practiced in many parts of the country, and people from the lower caste are still suffering from its aftermath and prolonging discrimination. The government being aware of this has been providing exclusive benefits to those population who used to be marked with the stamp of low Caste- the untouchables-in various fields such as political representation, government jobs and education, which could be compared to the affirmative action policies in the US provided to racial minorities.
However, the Indian government restricted such benefits to Hindu Dalits (a Hindi word for the untouchables) and refused to extend the benefits to Dalits that converted to other religions. Under political pressure, it extended the benefits to Dalits that professes Buddhism and Sikhism but has been denying such benefits to Dalit Christian converts. The government’s rational is that once a Dalit converts to another religion, he or she would not suffer from Casteism, since Casteism does not exist in other religions besides Hinduism. But it is an obvious disregard for the clear fact that Casteism being deeply rooted throughout Indian society, conversion to another religion would not alter society’s discriminatory attitude and the chronic economic, educational and social backwardness originating from centuries of Casteism.
Such denial of benefits to Dalit Christian converts has the effect of discouraging Dalits’ conversion to Christianity, or Dalit Christians pretending to be Hindi. We could sense the government’s hostility and resistance to the expansion of Christianity in the country, which could also be interpreted as the world’s struggle against God’s Kingdom.
Therefore, our case is to tackle government’s policy of denying such benefits to Dalit Christian converts, and our job as interns is to compile as much data from reliable sources as possible to substantiate our point that Dalit Christian converts do suffer from discrimination as much as their Hindi counterparts, and denying such benefits is a clear violation of equal protection law under the Constitution.
We have been visiting Indian courts frequently, the Supreme Court as well as lower ones, which is a valuable experience- legally, culturally and socially. It is also a blessing to be in a warm, friendly Christian group. Research itself is no doubt a good training, and as for myself who lack practical work experience in an organization, the internship is helping me to learn how I should handle group work and behave in a collective force. But I am thankful merely for being given such an opportunity to be in a country, experiencing a totally different culture from my own, and to learn from Christians doing His work through law. There are more weeks ahead, and I wish to be closer to this family, and perhaps through working discover the Lord’s plan for my path ahead. I thank God and The Center for Global Justice for granting me such an opportunity!
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.