Eight Point Program

ACTION PLAN FOR THE INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT OF CATHOLIC DALITS IN TAMIL NADU


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the name of Jesus!

The Catholic Church of Tamilnadu has faced a lot of challenges in its long history. The sacrifices of the martyrs and missionaries laid the base on which Christianity was founded in Tamilnadu. When Christianity began to get rooted in India, people primarily decided to embrace it as mark of protest against casteism seeking their right to live with equality and human dignity.

It is a historical fact that the missionaries declared emphatically that there was no place for caste discrimination in Christianity and opposed casteism. However, when people from different castes became Christians, they carried along with them the hierarchical caste system with all its evil. In the long run casteism got entrenched with all its evil forms and designs in the Catholic Church. As a result the Dalits were discriminated against within the Church. Though there is no place for caste discrimination and untouchability in Christ’s teaching, it is painful to see that the forms of untouchability and discriminatory practices are still prevalent in the Church.

The Dalit Christian Movements placed their demands before the Church leaders seeking equality and social justice within the Church. In this context, the Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC) and the Tamilnadu-Pondicherry Catholic Religious of India (TNPCRI) declared the Ten-point programme for the development of Dalit Catholics at Vellore on 30th January, 1990. The period of ten years from 1990-2000 was declared as the Decade of the Development of Dalit Catholics. Though the Ten-point programme was declared in 1990, no worthwhile initiative was taken to implement the programme even after ten years.

The Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council requested the Madras Institute of Developmental Studies (MIDS) to undertake a scientific evaluation of the implementation of the Ten-point programme for the period between 1990-2000. The evaluation report was submitted to the TNBC at Vailankanni in July 2003. The TNBC constituted a review committee to study the evaluation report and make recommendations. Based on the recommendations of the review committee, the TNBC and the TNPCRI involved in a series of consultations at various levels and evolved the “Action Plan for the Integrated Development of Catholic Dalits of Tamilnadu”. The clarition call of the Holy Father John Paul II given to the Bishops of Tamilnadu in Vatican on 17th November 2003 also stressed the need for proactive measures of the Church towards the development of Dalit Catholics.

Therefore we, the TNBC and the TNPCRI, call upon all the priests, religious and the faithful of the Catholic Church of Tamilnadu to effectively implement this action plan.



  • (Sr. Leema Rose)
    President
    Religious Conference
    Tamilnadu-Pondicherry
  • (Bishop Peter Fernando)
    President
    Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council
  • Bishop Chinnappa
    President
    TNBC Commission
    for SC/ST/BC

ACTION PLAN FOR THE INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT OF CATHOLIC DALIT CHRISIANS IN TAMILNADU



I.  Abolition of Caste Discriminations
A. To identify the prevailing caste discriminations in places of Worship, Cemeteries and Festivals within a year.

TNBC – SC/ST Commission, Diocesan SC/ST Commissions and Parish Councils

B. To promote common Cemeteries in places where there are private Cemeteries. Abolition of all the discriminatory practices in places of Worship.

Diocesan Bishop and Diocesan Laity Commission

C. To take appropriate steps to include abolition of untouchability and promotion of equality in Liturgy, Catechism and Human Rights Education.

Commissions for Bible, Catechism and Liturgy and Commissions for Justice and Peace.

D. To denounce and dissociate from all Festivals, Rituals and other Cultural events that uphold caste domination and discrimination.

Diocesan Bishops, Diocesan Commissions for Family and Youth, Parish Priests.

E. To promote caste-renouncing marriages between Dalits and non-Dalits. To give preference in education and employment to the couples and their children, besides offering financial assistance to such marriages.’

Diocesan Bishop, Diocesan Commissions for Family and Youth, Parish Priests.

F. To initiate intensive and continuous campaign for caste – renouncing marriages. To take up continuous efforts such as training programmes to create caste renouncing consciousness among the priests and the religious.

Educational Institutions, Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC) and Heads of Religious Congregations.

II. Education
A. To admit all Catholic Dalit students in Catholic educational institutions.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations, Secretaries of Diocesan Educational Councils and Parish Priests.

B. To motivate all the Catholic Dalit students to pursue higher studies and ensure their admission into Catholic educational institutions and hostels.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations, Secretaries of Diocesan Educational Councils and Parish Priests.

C. To give preference to all Catholic Dalit students in Higher Secondary Schools and Colleges in subjects like science and mathematics that offer greater job opportunities. Special cut-off marks to be fixed for admission of Catholic Dalit students.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions, Provincials / Superiors of Religious congregations, Secretaries of Diocesan Educational Councils.

D. To offer special concessions in educational and hostel fees to eligible Catholic Dalit Students (family’s annual income not exceeding Rs. 25,000/- first generation learner / parentless)
To give special concessions to the concessions to the Catholic Dalit students in higher education on the basis of their family income.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations, Secretaries of Diocesan Educational Councils and Hostel Directors.

E. To conduct free and compulsory Special Coaching Classes in subjects like English, mathematics and Science for the Dalit students weak in studies.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions.

F. To identify Catholic Dalit students with an aptitude for professional education and employment in the beginning of every academic year and conduct necessary follow up training during vacations.

Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions, Diocesan SC/ST Commission and Diocesan Multipurpose Social Service Society.

G. To establish evening study centres in Dalit villages and in place where Catholic Dalits are in a considerable number and appoint at least one Dalit teacher with a minimum monthly remuneration.

Diocesan Bishops, Secretary of the Diocesan SC/ST Commission, Director of the Diocesan Social Service Society and Local Religious Congregations.

H. To constitute a Scholarship Fund in all the dioceses and religious congregations to assist the Catholic Dalit students to pursue their college education and professional studies

Diocesan Bishops, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations.

I. To evolve a reservation policy within a year in every diocese and religious congregation in proportion to the Dalit population of the diocese or a minimum of 40% and admit Catholic Dalit students in Teacher Training Institutions, ITIs and Polytechnics.      

TNBC and TNPCRI

J. Every Catholic educational institution in a diocese should submit a report to the secretary of the Diocesan SC/ST Commission at the beginning of every academic year with all the necessary details of admission of Dalit students, priority given to them and educational assistance and special privileges offered to them.

Diocesan SC/ST Commission and Heads of Catholic Educational Institutions.

III. Employment
A.  To fix a reservation policy, in proportion to the Dalit population in a diocese, which would cover appointments in all Catholic educational institutions, offices and service organizations. 

Diocesan Bishop, Heads of Institutions, Diocesan Educational Council, Diocesan SC/ST Commission and Superiors of Religious Congregation.

B. To set up Career Guidance and Training Centres in all the dioceses for Dalit Catholics and work in collaboration with such centres run by religious congregations.

Diocesan Social Service Society, SC/ST Commission and Religious Congregations.

IV. Integrated Socio-Economic Development
A. To implement special projects for the socio-economic development of Catholic Dalits.     

Diocesan and Religious Social Service Societies, Diocesan SC/ST Commission.

B. To appoint Dalits or persons with a Dalit option as the directors of Social Service Societies.

Diocesan Bishops, Diocesan Multipurpose Social Service Society, Provincials and Superiors of Religious Congregations, Directors, of Religious Social Service organizations, SC/ST Commission.

C. To establish and promote People’s Bank (with Dalits as shareholders) to help Dalits attain economic self – sufficiency.

Diocesan Bishop and Social Service Centres.

D. To encourage and guide Catholic Dalit entrepreneurs to avail bank loans with subsidies.

Social Service Societies, SC/ST Commission.

E. To give preference to Catholic Dalit engineers and construction workers in all the construction activities in Christian institutions.

Diocesan Procurators, Procurators of Religious Institutions, Heads of Institutions, Parish Priests, Superiors of Religious Houses.

F. To give opportunities to Catholic Dalit Entrepreneurs to supply provisions and other materials to all Catholic institutions.

Diocesan Procurators, Procurators of Religious Institutions, Heads of Institutions, Parish Priests, Superiors of Religious Houses.

G. To distribute land owned by the Church to deserving Catholic Dalits for community cultivation and construction of houses.

Diocesan Bishop, Diocesan Multipurpose Social Service Society, Diocesan SC/ST Commission, Provincials and Superiors of Religious Congregations and Directors of Religious Service Organizations.

V.  Participation in Administration
A. To ensure due representation of Catholic Dalits, particularly Dalit women in Parish Councils, Finance Committees, Diocesan Pastoral Councils, Diocesan Finance Committees, Social Service Societies and Governing Boards of Educational Institutions. 

Diocesan Bishops, Diocesan Multipurpose Social Service Society, Diocesan SC/ST Commission, Diocesan Educational Council, Provincials and Superiors of Religious Congregations, Directors of Religious Service Organizations and Parish Priests.

B. To ensure due representation of Dalit priests and religious in decisions making bodies

Diocesan Bishop, SC/ST Commission and Heads of Religious congregations.

VI. Vocation Promotion
A. To conduct vocation camps in parishes and schools and make Dalit students participate in such camps in good numbers.  

Diocesan Bishops, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations, Rectors of Seminaries, Heads of formation Houses, Vocation Promoters, Secretary of Diocesan SC/ST Commission.

B. To appoint Dalit priests and religious as Vocation Promoters and Rectors and Heads of Formation Houses to promote vocation among catholic Dalits.

Diocesan Bishops’, Provincials / Superiors of Religious Congregations, Rectors of Seminaries, Heads of Formation Houses, Vocation Promoters, Secretary of Diocesan SC/ST Commission

VII. Constituting an Effective SC/ST Commission
A. To constitute SC/ST Commission in every diocese with the basic infrastructure, sufficient staff and financial resources and with the authority to co-ordinate all the activities for the development of Catholic Dalits.

Diocesan Bishop and Secretary and Members of Diocesan SC/ST Commission.

B. To endow the Diocesan SC/ST Commission with the power and authority to monitor and promote all the activities for the betterment of Catholic Dalits.

Diocesan Bishops and Secretary and Members of Diocesan SC/ST Commission.

C. To encourage people’s movements working for Dalits by offering them financial assistance and guidance.

Diocesan Bishop and Secretary and Members of Diocesan SC/ST Commission.

D. To empower the SC/ST Commission to collect necessary information regarding activities for the development of Catholic Dalits

TNBC - TNPCRI

VIII. Obtaining the Rights of Dalits.
A. To demand from the Central and State Governments equal rights for the Catholic Dalits on par with other Dalits on India and take up strenuous efforts to obtain them.  

President, Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council, President and Secretary of TNBC – SC/ST Commission, President and Secretary of CBCI – SC/ST Commission and Representatives of Dalit movements.

B. To approve and support with involvement all movement activities of Catholic Dalits to obtain their rights.

President, Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council, President and Secretary of TNBC – SC/STCommission, President and Secretary of CBCI – SC/ST Commission and Representatives of Dalit movements.




Monitoring Committee

1 Diocesan Bishop 1
2 Secretary, SC,ST Commission 1
3 Director, Social Service Society 1
4 Vocation Promoter 1
5 Representative from Educational Institutions 1
6 Representatives from Religious Congregations 2
7 Representatives from Catholics (3men + 2 women) 5
8 Coordinator of Diocesan Commissions 1
9 Secretary, Diocesan Pastoral Council 1
10 Members nominated by the Bishop (2 men + 2 women) 4
Total 18



Regional General Monitoring Committee:

Ex-Officio Members:

1 President and Secretary, Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council 2
2 2. President, TNBC-SC/ST Commission 1
3 President and Secretary, TNPCRI 2
4 Secretary, TNBC-SC/ST Commission 1
5 Vice-President, Dalit Christian Development Forum 1
6 Representatives of Dalit Christian Development Forum(M1+F1) 2
7 Secretaries, Diocesan SC/ST Commission 17



Elected Members

Diocesan Representatives from the Laity 18



Regional Central Monitoring Committee

1 President, TNBC-SC/ST Commission 18
2 Secretary, TNBC-SC/ST Commission 1
3 President and Secretary, TNPCRI 2
4 Dalits Representatives from the Laity (zonal) 5
5 Secretaries, Diocesan SC/ST Commission (zonal) 5
Total 14