Could Modi become India’s Abraham Lincoln?
HYDERABAD, India, Sept. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The Most Rev. Dr. Joseph D’Souza issues the following statement in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments on India’s “Dalit Uprising” and the persistence of caste-based-discrimination in the country:
“The Dalit issue is the single most significant civil rights issue in the world, and maybe in world history. Today, Prime Minister Modi went where no other Prime Minister has gone before. He condemned the system which has disenfranchised hundred-of-millions of Indians for centuries.
“Modi reminded me of the beloved author of India’s constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. His courage to criticize members of his own party and to acknowledge the destructive effects of caste on Indian society were courageous, important, and significant. The Indian constitution enshrines the rights of Dalits yet it remains largely unenforced.
“Should he chose to, Prime Minister Modi could become an Ambedkar of our day. He could be a kind of Abraham Lincoln for India intent upon liberating the most oppressed people on planet earth, perhaps even in human history. This is the right thing to do, and it is the sensible thing to do. Modi’s ambition for economic development in India can never be realized as long as the country systematically discriminates against millions of its own citizens.
“While there can be no ‘end of caste’ in India without massive social reform, today – perhaps for the first time in my lifetime – I actually believe that there could be a casteless India. In fact, I pray for and imagine an India where there are both equal rights and equal opportunity for all Indians regardless of the fortune of their birth.
“Modi is right: caste is a poison that threatens to destroy India. The Dalit uprising has spoken to our conscience, and has granted us an opportunity to correct centuries of wrong and to show the world we are not only a great nation but a good nation.”
Most Rev. Dr. Joseph D’Souza is the Moderating Bishop of the Good Shepherd Church and Associated Ministries of India. He also serves as the President of the All India Christian Council. He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for his work as a human rights activist. He is also the founder and International President of the Dalit Freedom Network. He can be reached at: moderator[at]gsoim[dot]org. Additional biographical information is available here.
The Dalit Uprising, which began in the Indian state of Gujarat in July, has gripped the entire nation. Two-hundred-fifty-million Dalits (sometimes called “untouchables”) have revolted against the Indian system, and demanded the civil rights granted to them by India’s constitution. The entire uprising was prompted by a video of the abuse of seven Dalit teenagers that was uploaded to social media this summer.