[The following is the text of the Press Statement issued by Dr. John Dayal, Secretary General, All India Christian Council, on the Address to the Joint Sessions of Parliament on 21 February 2013 by President Pranab Mukherjee.]
NEW DELHI, (Dr. John Dayal) — The All India Christian Council has expressed its disappointment that President Pranab Mukherjee, in his first Address to the Joint Session of Parliament on 21 February 2013 did not adequately address the concerns of the religious minorities, the Dalits and the Tribals who face targeted violence and threat to security, lack of representation in middle and senior government positions including the judiciary, and still require adequate resources for education, employment and livelihood.
Council President Rev. Dr. Joseph D’ Souza said the President should have taken this opportunity to assure the minority communities of the government’s seriousness in enacting the Communal and targetted violence [prevention, reparations and rehabilitation] Bill which had been drafted by the National Advisory Council. Such a law, combined with a comprehensive development promise in the implementation of the 12th Five Year plan by way of more scholarships, specially for professional classes, and a development focus at the level of not just districts but administrative blocks which had religious minorities in large numbers were urgently required. Ideally, he said, there should a Special Component for Religious minorities in government’s plans and programmes.
Dr. John Dayal, Secretary General, there was also urgent need to work out oversight and coordination mechanism to see that State governments implemented such plans. At present, several states had defaulted in matters of scholarships and minorities’ welfare, Dr. Dayal said.
The Christian community has for the last many years demanding a study on the pattern of the Justice Rajender Sachar to identify to get a correct picture of the socio economic and development status of the community, specially among Tribals and Dalits who suffer sever debility and underdevelopment in many pockets. The government continues to remain silent on this. It also does not categorically announce when it will bring forward the Equal Opportunity Bill which ahs been in cold storage for several years.
The council has welcomed that under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, more than 32 lakh claims have been filed and nearly 13 lakh titles have been distributed.
While welcoming government’s schemes under the Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme, the effort is to ensure that 15 per cent of the targets and outlays of the identified schemes benefit the minority communities, the Council said the Christian community must get its due share of these funds and resources.
The Council also welcomed the Integrated Child Development Scheme during the 12th Plan with a total outlay of Rs 1,23,580 crore, and the path-breaking ‘Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act’, which provides for stringent punishment for persons who commit or abet such offences. The council hopes that the recommendations of the Justice JS Verma committee on reforms in laws to prevent and punish rape would be implemented in letter and spirit without dilution. The National Mission for Empowerment of Women’s pilot project in public hospitals in 100 districts, called “One Stop Crisis Centre”, for providing all necessary services for women subjected to violence, was a welcome measure, the council said.