John Dayal (born 2 October 1948) is an Indian human rights and Christian political activist. He is a member of the National Integration Council (NIC) of India, Secretary-General of the All India Christian Council and a past president of the All India Catholic Union. He has been outspoken in opposition to communal polarisation, bigotry and the spread of hatred between religious communities.
All India Christian Council
|Assumed office |
|Vice-President, All India Catholic Union|
|President, All India Catholic Union|
|Preceded by||Maria Emilia Menezes|
|Succeeded by||Remy Denis|
|Born||2 October 1948|
New Delhi, India
John Dayal was born in New Delhi to Christian parents from South India. He studied Physics at St. Stephen's College, Delhi before deciding to become a journalist. He served as war correspondent or foreign correspondent in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Europe. He became editor and CEO of the Delhi Mid Day, a small afternoon newspaper, and treasurer of the Editors' Guild of India. In June 1998, Dayal was one of the signatories of a statement by a group of journalists calling on India to return to the global nuclear disarmament agenda. He continues to provide commentary and analysis in print and on national TV and radio. Dayal has headed the governing boards of several colleges of Delhi University, and has taught as a visiting teacher at several universities in north India.
John Dayal became an activist in the early 1970s. In this role he has worked on such issues as displacement of tribal people, opposition to nuclear weapons, forced disappearances and impunity. During more than forty years he has investigated a great many cases of human rights abuse aimed at minority group of Christians.
Dayal was one of the founders of the ecumenical All India Christian Council (AICC) and the United Christian Forum for Human Rights. Dayal was National Secretary for Public affairs of the All India Catholic Union (AICU) during the presidency of Norbert D'Souza (1996–2000). In 2000 he was elected vice-president of the AICU and on 20 September 2004 he was elected AICU president, succeeding Dr Maria Emelia Menezes. He held that position until 2008 when he was succeeded by Dr. Remy Denis. In March 2005, Dayal was a member of a delegation led by Vincent Conçessao that presented a memorandum on minorities to the prime minister. The delegation was assured that the government would issue a White Paper on minority communities.
Dayal has been appointed to many fact finding committees and tribunals. In December 2007, he was one of a five-member Fact Finding Team that went Phulbani area of Kandhamal district in Orissa to investigate recent violence against Christians. According to his account, he was forcibly expelled by the police. In September 2008, Dayal won the Maanav Adhikaar Paaritaushik (Human Dignity Award) in memory of Professor M. M. Guptara. In 2010, Dayal was again nominated as a member of the National Integration Council. As of March 2012, Dayal was secretary general of the All India Christian Council, founded in 1999. Dayal is married and has a son and a daughter.
In January 2002 the AICC issued a statement signed by Joseph D'souza and John Dayal asking State governments and the national government to prevent efforts by the Sangh Parivar to stir up communal violence in the Adivasi tribal belt in Northern India. It talked of a "vicious Hindutva communal rhetoric .. targeting Christians in the region". It said RSS cadres were running schools that "follow a curricula and textual material, which is outside the pale of any academic and public scrutiny, blatantly rewrites history, and poisons young minds". In 2005 Dayal again expressed concern that Ekal Vidyalaya ("single teacher") schools run by the RSS Hindu nationalist organisation in tribal districts were spreading hatred towards members of the Christian minority.
Dayal has made unsubstantiated claims that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has spent millions of dollars in an attempt to convert tribal people in central India into Hindu nationalists. On 17 October 2004 a ceremony was organised by the World Hindu Council (Vishva Hindu Parishad – VHP) in Orissa at which about 300 tribal Christians were "reconverted" to Hinduism. Dayal said the event was part of a well-organized and respectful ghar vapasi program, that he wholeheartedly agrees with. In a 2004 interview following the defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the return to power of the Congress Party, Dayal said that the change was because "People have rejected the ideology of hate, consisting of xenophobia, narrow nationalism and a sustained persecution of Muslims and Christians". He went on to compare Hindutva to neo-Nazism and Apartheid.
Attacks on other religionsEdit
Dayal has said that militant groups exploit economically backward people in attacks on Christians and Muslims: "Dalits and tribals are used as instruments. He said, though the Irish and Scottish Missionaries introduced distilled alcohol (Indian-made foreign liquor or IMFL) the depiction of Anglo-Indians and Christians as alcoholics is real and threatens to consume Christianity. He also said Christians are paid, drugged, alcoholized, they are in a stupor. Even wine at communions should be banned". Speaking after the Bharatiya Janata Party had made gains in riot-affected parts of Gujarat, Dayal said "[Christians] have never been more afraid ... I have been expecting the very worst since the B.J.P. came to power, and the worst, I think, may still be in the future. With levels of violence in Gujarat rising, on 1 October 1998, Dayal remarked "The AICU is surprised that Union Government and members of the ruling coalition, including the BJP, have not come out categorically in denouncing the violence against Christians".
In February 2002, after a renewed series of attacks on Christians, Dayal said "Physically, many of the incidents are now less obvious, but there is a 24-hour reign of terror, which occasionally bursts into violence".
Dayal represents the conservatives in the AICU. At a seminar in Goa in August 2009, former Union minister Eduardo Faleiro said that church property should be brought under the ambit of state laws, as was the case with other religions. This was endorsed by Remy Denis and other liberals. However, Dayal opposed any change. He said that the "Christian situation" was radically and materially different from that of the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions, and existing laws were sufficient.
In March 2012, two Baptist churches in Imphal, Manipur were ordered to vacate within 15 days. The authorities threatened to use force if the churches were not dismantled on schedule. The All India Christian Council took up the issue with the national and state minority commissions. According to Dayal, "Christians in Manipur are facing increasing threats from the public as well as the state government". The same month, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia said that it is "necessary to destroy all the churches of the region". As AICC Secretary General, John Dayal asked that India and other countries help assure the safety of churches in other countries of the Arabian peninsula. The AICC pointed out that destruction of churches would be counter to the United Nations Charter and to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance And of Discrimination Based on Religion Or Belief.
A survey by the NGO Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan found that the "Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers" was being abused. Apart from encouraging Dalits to remain in menial jobs, in many cases some or all of the money was embezzled. In March 2012, Dayal said "There is a massive scandal of graft between bank officials, politicians and middle men to fleece ignorant people who are given 50 per cent of the loan only but made liable for the full amount even as rest of the money is taken away by crooks. Collectors in villages must crack down on such miscreants and wherever such cases are found, government must waive off the loans or it would be condoning cheating and criminal actions".
John Dayal has spoken out against bills that prevent or penalise conversion to Christianity passed in various states in India. A deeply religious person, Dayal has written "How a community treats its poor is, for the Bible, the acid test of its life. And the way a community will be changed is through the poor".
Rediff.com columnist Varsha Bhosle wrote in 2002 that "John Dayal and his Catholic cohorts are the worst act I've ever seen... Christian activists ... aggressively seek to weaken Hindu society in terms of numbers as well as space". Noting that Dayal had objected that on the 2001 census form a scheduled caste, or Dalit, could choose only among the Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faiths, she said "If conversion to Christianity certifies social equality, why would there be a 'Dalit Christian'? As for guaranteeing economic freedom, don't make me laugh".
Discussing Dayal's 2005 letter to the prime minister about attacks on Christians including the rape of nuns, murder of priests and destruction of churches, P.N Benjamin, coordinator of the Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue, said Dayal "opens his mouth and wields his pen only to spew venom on the Hindu community". Benjamin said most of the attacks on Christians had been in response to aggressive evangelizing. In 2008, journalist François Gautier described Dayal as a fanatic who was "radicalizing" his flock. The assertion was made in an op-ed in The Indian Express that accused Sonia Gandhi of responsibility for the 2006 Mumbai train bombings.
Rajiv Malhotra, in his book Breaking India, has also criticized Dayal for spreading lies about Hinduism and painting a biased picture of the situation of Indian minorities for a western audience..
Testimony against India at U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit
John Dayal on 4 April 2014, appeared at a hearing on The plight of religious minorities in India which was convened by Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. This commission is a mostly white bipartisan caucus of United States House of Representatives that was set up with the help of the Council on Foreign Relations. In his short testimony he made unsubstantiated remarks about his views of religious tolerance in India. While as a member of National Integration Council (government of India), he, as a witness, recommended the panel of commission to incorporate his concerns in U.S.-India relationship and U.S. policy vis-a-vis the United States-India strategic dialogue which is framework of engagement of the United States Department of State with India. Further, he cited the house resolution 417 and urged that human rights should be the part of strategic U.S.-India dialogue.
Dayal's attempt to advance this resolution was strongly criticized by others, such as the United States India Political Action Committee, the Hindu American Foundation, as well as U.S. Congresswoman (D-HI) Tulsi Gabbard. The HAF expressed concerns that the panel was 'unbalanced' in favor of anti-Hindu activists. In particular, Gabbard characterized his testimony as a thinly veiled attempt to covertly influence the upcoming General Elections in India which would "contribute to further sectarian division", an action deemed "inappropriate" for the US Congress and "against the shared interests" of both nations.
A partial bibliography:
- John Dayal. The Indian Emergency (1975–77).
- John Dayal. Human Rights: A Close Look. p. 79. ISBN 81-7495-105-9.
- John Dayal; Ajoy Bose (1977). Delhi under emergency. Ess Ess Publications. p. 239.
- John Dayal, Ajoy Bose, India. Shah Commission (1978). The Shah Commission begins. Orient Longman. p. 351.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Justice & Peace Commission, All India Christian Council (2002). John Dayal (ed.). Gujarat 2002: untold and re-told stories of Hindutva lab. Justice & Peace Commission and All India Christian Council. ISBN 81-7495-114-8.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- John Dayal (2007). A matter of equity: freedom of faith in secular India. Anamika Publishers & Distributors. ISBN 978-81-7975-177-0.
- "John Dayal". The International Council of Evengelical Churches. Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- "Profile of NCM: Dr. John Dayal". Minorities. Archived from the original on 25 October 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- Smitu Kothari; Zia Mian (2001). Out of the Nuclear Shadow. Zed Books. p. 374. ISBN 1842770594.
- "Indian Journalist Warns Underground Church in India "At Par" With China". MinoritiesOfIndia.org. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
- John Dayal (18 August 2008). "A Salute to the laity in India". Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- "Catholic Union concerned over Modi's remarks". Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. 13 September 2002. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "John Dayal elected All India Catholic Union National president". The Milli Gazette. 1–15 October 2004. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- "Office Bearers". All India Catholic Union. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
- Mahendra Gaur (2007). Indian Affairs Annual, Volume 2. Gyan Publishing House. p. 45. ISBN 978-8178354347.
- "John Dayal expelled from Phulbani, Orissa". 31 December 2007. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- "Geneva-based Indian Human Rights Award for John Dayal". Sulekha.com. 12 December 2008. Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- Carl A. Moeller; David W. Hegg; Craig Hodgkins (2011). The Privilege of Persecution: (And Other Things the Global Church Knows That We Don't). Moody Publishers. p. 117. ISBN 978-0802454171.
- "FAQ". All India Christian Council. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- "More Indian Repression of Tribal and Christian Minorities". Congressional Record, V. 148, Pt. 1, January 23, 2002 to February 13, 2002. Government Printing Office. 5 February 2002. p. 616. ISBN 9780160760747.
- Jacob Chaterjee (19 July 2005). "AICU president suspects Hindu charitable trust of forming anti–Christian schools for Indian tribals". Christian Today. Archived from the original on 24 August 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- Giorgio Baravalle (2004). Rethink: Cause and Consequences of September 11. design.Method of Operation. pp. 476–477. ISBN 0970576862.
- Praveen Kumar (2011). Communal Crimes and National Integration: A Socio-Legal Study. Readworthy Publications. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-9350180402.
- "John Dayal: "People have rejected the ideology of hate"". The Milli Gazette. 1–15 June 2004. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- Abdul Gafoor Abdul Majeed Noorani (2000). The RSS and the BJP: A Division of Labour. LeftWord Books. p. 91. ISBN 8187496134.
- Julian West (25 February 2002). "New Spate of Attacks Targets Christians". Washington Times. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Devika Sequeira (5 August 2009). "Conservatives oppose call for Church assets reforms". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
- "Two Manipur churches served eviction notice". Christian Today. 3 April 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Pervez Bari (31 March 2012). "Christian Council condemns Saudi cleric's call for destruction of Churches in West Asia". TwoCircles. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- DIVYA TRIVEDI (30 March 2012). "A blot upon the nation". The Hindu. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Joshua Newton (1 June 2003). "Fending off Hindutva". Christianity Today. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- Varsha Bhosle (2 September 2002). "Towards Balkanisation, IV: Catholics". Rediff.com. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- P.N. BENJAMIN (13 September 2005). "When Intolerance Begets the Loss of Reason". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Francois Gautier (8 December 2008). "Sonia's presence in Delhi is costing India dearly". Expressbuzz. Retrieved 14 April 2012.[permanent dead link]
- Lakshman, Narayan (5 April 2014). "Concerns in U.S. about religious freedom in India". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via www.TheHindu.com.
- "H.Res.417 - 113th Congress (2013-2014): Praising India's rich religious diversity and commitment to tolerance and equality, and reaffirming the need to protect the rights and freedoms of religious minorities". 9 January 2014.
- Lakshman, Narayan (19 November 2013). "Protect India's religious minorities: U.S. House resolution". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 September 2017 – via www.TheHindu.com.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 March 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Chitnis, Deepak (27 December 2013). "More people in the US don't know about Modi than do know about him: Sanjay Puri". American Bazaar Online. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
- Rajghatta, Chidanand (5 April 2014). "US rights panel under fire for 'influencing' Indian election". Times of India. New Delhi. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
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