Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Dalit Indians threaten poll boycott
Christians and Muslims say their decades-long plea for privileges is still being ignored
- Bijay Kumar Minj, New Delhi
- March 2, 2011
The National Council of Dalit Christians and the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz held a press conference yesterday to castigate the federal government for delaying their demand at a press conference in New Delhi.
Christian and Muslim groups have for decades demanded statutory benefits to help their socio-economic advancement.
The Indian constitution provides special seats in legislative houses, jobs and educational institutions for dalit groups in Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh religions.
But Christians and Muslims are denied these benefits on the pretext that their religions do not recognize the caste system.
Christians argue that such a stand violates the constitution that grants equal rights to all citizens.
The meeting was held hours before the election commission of India, a federal body, announced assembly elections in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
â€śIf the government fails to address our plea we will organize mass rallies in all five states where dalit Christians and Muslims are in sizeable numbers,â€ť said Ali Anwar Ansari, a member of parliament and president of the dalit Muslim group.
Ansari demanded the federal government must decide on the matter now, when parliament is in session and the five states are preparing for elections.
He said all national parties, including the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, support the groups, â€śbut for an unknown reason the federal government is dilly-dallying the case.â€ť
The government has ignored the issue because â€śour groupâ€ť does not indulge in violence in pursuit of its demands, the Muslim leader remarked.
M. Mary John, president of the Christian council, says the Congress party that heads the ruling federal coalition â€śis the main hurdle.â€ť
The federal government has discriminated against â€śour groupâ€ť by asking for â€śauthentic dataâ€ť on dalit Christians and Muslims in order to grant them the special rights, he said.
The government had made no such demand when it granted scheduled caste status to dalit groups in Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh religions. â€śWhy is the government asking us now?â€ť he asked.
Father Cosmon Arokiaraj, secretary of the Indian Catholic bishopsÂ´ commission for tribal and dalit communities, said dalit Christians in Tamil Nadu may not vote for the ruling party if it does not persuade the federal government to meet their demand.