"To live as a Christian in India today, you have to pay a price". An empirical approach to the Dalit Christians experiences of governmental and social discrimination in India
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This thesis addresses the situation for the Dalit Christians in Andhra Pradesh, India. Due to the rise of Hindu Nationalist movements in the 20th century till today, the Dalit Christians experiences discrimination and hostilities on the grounds of their religion. This thesis emphasises to find out in what way the Dalit Christians experience this discrimination as well as how this affects them. Thus, the research question is: How do the Dalit Christians in Andhra Pradesh experience their situation regarding the matter of discrimination from other people, institutions and religious groups, and in what ways will the discrimination affect them socially and politically? The empirical approach to the study has been conducted by interviewing 18 Dalit Christians including focus groups and families on the issue. I have addressed their stories and experiences and analysed this in the context of the Social Dominance Theory by Sidanius and Pratto. This theory maps the hierarchal structure, which is found in the caste system. In the findings I have discussed similarities and differences to what is presented in this theory. The subordinates are controlled by the dominants by legitimising myths that enhance the social hierarchy. In this context I find the Scheduled Caste Order to be relevant as this enhance the Hindu Dalits over the Dalit Christians who experience a double suffer by being Christians and therefore outside of this compensatory discrimination. At the same time they experience the upper caste stigma in the fact that they are Dalits in the light of the Laws of Manu. The RSS and other Hindutva groups show dominance over them by violent attacks, verbal abuse and different aspects of terror. By analysing these types of hostilities I have mapped different aspects of their experiences. Even though the Dalit Christians experience to a different degree persecution based on their religious conviction, they tend to stress the importance of being united. Instead of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies, they indicate the importance of education as a possibility to rise economically and socially. Their struggle is non-violent and their religious conviction is not changed due to this persecution. The study contributes to the understanding of subordinates in the hierarchal system. It contributes to understand their experiences and how the religious conviction can be a motivating factor even though the struggle is based on the religious conviction. Lastly it contributes to present research on the Dalit Christians struggle in the Indian context related to the rise of Hindu Nationalism.