Dalit Withdrawal from Hinduism Spreads

Three months since the social upheaval created by the Nov. 4 "conversion movement" launched by Udit (formerly Ram) Raj in New Delhi, a major battle has erupted between the Brahminical social order and the Dalits-people outside of the caste system. Raj, Kancha Ilaiah, and other Dalit leaders are engaged in a fierce ideological fight defending the necessity and legitimacy of "religious conversion" as the means of social change for the Dalit community. In response, the extremist Hindu group Rahtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates have launched a campaign against Raj, accusing him of being driven by political ambition. Others call the conversion movement a "Christian conspiracy."

Publicly, thousands of Dalits have converted to Buddhism. Privately, Dalits are turning to Christianity in many parts of India. One church in a major city has reported an acceleration of people coming to faith in Christ-more than 10,000 in the last year. In one state, hundreds of villages en masse decided that their liberation lies in turning to Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, Raj has announced another series of public conversion events in three locations in the state of Uttar Pradesh May 26. More than 500,000 Dalits are expected to participate in these events.